Perhentian Islands : all you have to know travel guide
The islands of Malaysia are among the most amazing islands in Southeast Asia. Islands where you can see different ethnic groups living in harmony with nature. These islands will make your trip unforgettable. Two of the best islands in Malaysia are the Perhentian Islands. If you want to know more about the Malaysian islands, we invite you to read our article malaysia island.
The Perhentian Islands consist of two small jewels very well known by the locals, but also by the tourists: Pulau Besar and Pulau Kecil.
The duo of tropical islands is located on the northeast coast.
Pulau Kecil is the small island while Pulau Besar is the big island.
The duo forms one of the best destinations if you are looking for beautiful beaches in Malaysia.
Pulau perhentian is the ideal place to isolate yourself from the rest of the world and renew your relationship with yourself and nature.
Go and see the Perhentian islands of Malaysia, you won’t regret it!
When and how to go to the Perhentian Islands
I. Weather : When to go ?
It is important to choose the right season before going on an adventure, in Malaysia there are two seasons.
The Perhentian Islands like the rest of the islands in Malaysia, experience the dry season and the monsoon season.
The first season is between March and October: it is the best season.
The second season is between October and February: the islands will be closed.
It is best to plan your trip during the dry season.
It will be warmer, the sea will be calmer and the restaurants and hotels will be open to welcome you.
If you go during the monsoon season, it will be almost impossible to find a boat.
In the monsoon season, most hotels and restaurants are closed, the duo of islands is completely empty of life.
If you visit the Perhentian Islands during the monsoon season, you may find yourself without accommodation or a restaurant: try it and let us know ????
II. Itinerary and transportation to the Perhentian
This is the preferred mode of travel for backpackers : the bus.
This is a very economical way, and perfect if you are not in a hurry and have a limited budget.
Take the night buses, and bring a good jacket, because Malaysian buses are freezers ???? They like to keep the air conditioning as low as possible.
If you are driving from Kuala Lumpur, you have to take a bus from TBS (Terminal Bersepadu Selatan).
From Kuala Lumpur head to Kuala Besut bus station.
We recommend taking the night bus to maximize your time on the Perhentian Islands.
Once you arrive in Kuala Besut, head to the pier where the boats leave.
The boat schedule is not fixed, but starts at 7:00 am and ends at 4:00 pm.
If you leave from Kuala Lumpur, just put in your GPS, the port of departure for the Perhentian Islands: Jetty Besut.
It is preferable to stay one night in Besut, in order not to be stressed by the timing and to catch your boat in time.
This is even more advisable if you are traveling with your family in Malaysia.
To get to Pulau Perhentian, the ideal way to travel is by plane.
In about 50 minutes, from Kuala Lumpur, you can reach the nearest airport to the islands: Kota Bharu Airport.
Then, from the airport, take a cab (a grab, via the app), direction Jetty Besut.
It will take about 1 hour to 1h30 by car.
In the end, if you leave early in the morning from Kuala Lumpur, you can be on the island in the afternoon.
Perhentian Islands : Pulau Kecil and Pulau Besar
Perhentian Islands are divided into two islands : Pulau Kecil (the small one), Pulau Besar (the large one).
They are close to each other: you can travel between the islands in 5 minutes by boat.
Boats from Kuala Besut take tourists to their chosen destination.
I. Pulau Kecil
Pulau Kecil is distinguished by a long strip of golden sand.
The name of the beach on Pulau Kecil is Long Beach, although the area is not the most popular but it is the most lively.
Long Beach is home to most of the budget accommodations, beach bars and local restaurants.
Long Beach is very popular with young tourists because of its lively nightlife and budget-friendly plans.
Pulau Kecil has another coastline known as Coral Bay.
Very appreciated by the lovers of relaxation and farniente vacations.
Coral Bay is perfect for a retreat from the party life and a focus on yourself.
II. Pulau Besar
Pulau Besar, the big island, is the ideal destination for couples or family vacations.
The large island has several of the ideal settings for relaxation.
There, you will find several hotels, guest houses and local restaurants of very good quality.
However, keep in mind that Malaysia is a conservative Muslim country.
You will find that many restaurants do not serve alcohol.
III. Pulau Kecil VS Pulau Besar : which one to choose ?
What is the difference between the 2 islands ?
It all depends on what you are looking for.
Everyone will tell you, Perhentian Kecil is different because of its nightlife, more festive.
You will be able to dance, and drink(alcohol is present on this island).
On the side of Perhentian Besar, the night atmosphere is calm.
It is ideal for people looking to get away from the hustle and bustle.
Alcohol is prohibited in many hotels.
Which one to choose ?
If you come for 5-6 days on the Perhentians, you can very well do 3 days on one island, and 2-3 days on the other.
This is what we did in 2012 and also in 2021.
Alternatively, another possible solution would be to spend your entire stay on an island, then take a boat, during the day or evening, to go from one island to another.
If you are sporty, you can also rent a canoe and make the trip between the 2 islands.
We did it in 2012, and it also allowed us to visit other corners of the 2 islands.
Which hotels to choose ?
Over the years, we have been able to test 4 different hotels.
Hotel on Pulau Perhentian Kecil
We stayed at the D Rock Garden Resort in 2012.
There were 4 of us, and the prices were very affordable, but for minimal comfort.
In 2021, we stayed at the MIMPI which is an upscale hotel, very recent.
The price is much higher than the average for the islands.
You can check their website for the latest rates.
On our side, we had booked the first night on Booking.com then negotiated on the spot for 3 additional nights.
The first night cost us RM420 (84€), and the night in the sea view room cost us RM490 (98€), instead of RM540.
Here’s a video of that stay at MIMPI in 2021:
Hotel on Pulau Perhentian Besar
In 2012, we stayed at Coral View Resort.
The whole bungalow, facing the sea was great.
On the other hand, the other bungalows disappointed us.
In 2021, we tested the Perhentian Island Resort (PIR).
We were able to negotiate a package at an unbeatable price.
4 days 3 nights, full board (breakfast, lunch, and dinner), activities included (daily snorkeling, equipment, canoe), and its private beach for :
Price at Perhentian Island Resort (PIR)
In 2021, we were able to negotiate an excellent rate.
This rate was negotiated directly with an agency on site.
The negotiated prices were better than on booking.com or via the hotel website.
Indeed, we were able to get a 5 days, 4 nights, all-inclusive package at RM920 (about185€ ), for 1 person (it was for my cousin, Bukhari).
The usual rates are as follows
All-inclusive formula (via their website) :
- for 4 nights, RM1540 for 1 person (about 310€ )
- for 4 nights, RM2060 for 2 people (415€ approx.).
This package includes: breakfast, lunch and dinner (buffet), boat transfers, and activities (tennis, badminton, canoeing, daily snorkeling trip, etc.)
Room + breakfast package (via booking.com) :
- for 4 nights, for 2 persons, the room including only the breakfast, would cost you RM1680 (about 340€).
All these prices are only indicative.
Check for special offers when you make your reservation.
We have selected the lowest prices: you will find more expensive, if you decide to take the bungalow facing the sea, or the bungalow for families.
Which formula to choose : all inclusive or only the room?
This will depend on your budget and what you plan to do on the PERHENTIAN.
If you have a larger budget, take only the room, with breakfast, then for meals, take a la carte.
Indeed, the à la carte dishes are generally better than the food served at the buffet…
You will also have the possibility to eat in the other restaurants of Pulau Besar island, or even on Pulau Kecil, by taking a boat (5 minutes trip): it will be an additional activity, and you will be able to vary the pleasures.
If your budget is limited, it is better to stay on the all-inclusive formula.
But it is not necessarily a better choice: you have to compare with the total price (especially if you are several or if you travel with your family in Malaysia).
What to do on the Perhentian Islands : activities
I. Long Beach
In the Perhentian Islands you can relax on Long Beach in Pulau Kecil. It is one of the best beaches for sunbathing, relaxing, playing soccer, swimming and meeting other tourists. With several bars and restaurants, it is easy to spend the day without moving off the beach.
II. Scuba diving
In Perhentian, you can discover the maritime world by scuba diving.
The island duo has several stands offering scuba diving tools.
It is very easy to find a boat to take you to discover the sea bed.
You will also be able to take your PADI (diving certificate).
In 2012, we had experimented the scuba diving, initiation level.
Another alternative, which we like very much: the snorkeling.
You take your snorkel mask, and you go to explore yourselves, the marine funds.
Even if you are not a very good swimmer, don’t worry.
Just grab a mask and a life jacket and explore the underwater world from the surface: don’t be ashamed, you won’t be the only one snorkeling with a life jacket at all.
In Kecil, you can go diving at Long Beach and Coral Bay.
In Besar, you can go diving around the pier.
You can meet many fish, but also turtles and sharks (harmless).
IV. Coral Bay
Besides snorkeling, Coral Bay is a beautiful destination for tourists.
You can get lost in the tropical jungle or explore the bay and small secluded beaches.
Enjoy the delicious food in local restaurants or have a barbecue in the evening with your friends.
V. Visit of the mosque
If you are interested in mosques, you can visit the island’s mosque.
You have to take the boat, and it is quickly accessible.
On this part of the island, you will find the majority of the houses of the locals.
VI. Activities offered by your hotel
We put you the 2021 rates with the MIMPI, for the different activities.
Do not hesitate to consult the FULLBOARD rates which can be interesting (all inclusive packages).
Our tips for the Perhentian Islands
For a long time, the island duo have struggled to maintain their authenticity and lively lives in the era of sprawling resorts and massive tourist travel in Southeast Asia.
Don’t hesitate to visit the Perhentian Islands before the exotic simplicity of the tropical duo disappears forever.
Here are some tips:
- If you are afraid of shaking during boat trips, or if you are pregnant, or with small children: ask for a CABIN BOAT. It is a slightly larger boat than the average one used on the island. You will feel a lot of disturbances during the journey.
- Bring cash. You can still exchange money locally, but the rates are less favorable.
- Contact the hotels directly to organize your trip, especially for boat departures.
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