The Perhentian Islands in the northeastern part of Malaysia are paradise on Earth. You can enjoy fantastic snorkeling and diving among colorful corals, tropical fish, sea turtles, and (harmless) sharks! The Perhentian Islands are mainly covered in jungle, palm trees, and pristine white beaches. There are no roads on the islands, so there is no motorized transportation other than water taxis. This is the perfect place to completely unwind. Read this article before your departure to learn everything you need to know about the Perhentian Islands. Find out how to get there, the best time to visit, what activities are available, and where you can enjoy delicious meals and comfortable accommodations. With these tips about all things to do, you’ll make the most of your visit to the Perhentian Islands!
Good to know: The Perhentian Islands consist of two islands; Perhentian Besar and Perhentian Kecil. Most people choose to stay on Perhentian Kecil, where you’ll find the most entertainment, hotels, and restaurants. From here, you can easily take a water taxi to the neighboring island.
From Taman Negara to the Perhentian Islands
By bus + boat: In the village of Kuala Tahan (the base for Taman Negara National Park), you can catch a bus to Jetty Kuala Besut. This journey takes about 9 hours with Han Travel. At Jetty Kuala Besut, you can board the ferry that will take you to the Perhentian Islands in 40 minutes. Check out the departure times of the ferry and reserve your spot on the boat in advance.
From Penang to the Perhentian Islands
By plane + boat: The quickest way to make this journey is by plane. You can fly to Pengkalan Chepa for as little as a few dollars. Compare all flights here. From the airport, take a taxi or bus to Jetty Kuala Besut and then board the ferry to the Perhentian Islands. Check out the ferry departure times and reserve a spot on the boat.
By bus + boat: Alternatively, you can choose to travel from Penang to Kuala Besut by bus. This journey takes approximately 7 to 8 hours. You can book this bus through your accommodation in Penang. In Kuala Besut, you can board the ferry that will take you to the Perhentian Islands in 40 minutes. Check out the ferry departure times and book your boat.
Please note: Due to the long travel time, you might miss the last ferry from Kuala Besut to the Perhentian Islands. In that case, you’ll need to spend a night in Kuala Besut before catching the ferry the next morning. Accommodation options are limited in Kuala Besut. Besut Guesthouse is the best affordable option for a comfortable stay.
What makes the Perhentian Islands so special is that there are no roads at all. The island has only walking trails. There is no motorized transportation, creating the ultimate sense of peace and tranquility. Because the island is mostly covered in jungle, you cannot reach all places on foot. Many beaches are only accessible by boat. To get around, you can take a water taxi that can take you anywhere on Perhentian Kecil and Perhentian Besar. Most water taxis start operating at 09:30. If you want to be picked up from a beach after being dropped off, it’s a good idea to save the phone number of the water taxi.
Important: There are no ATMs on the Perhentian Islands, so make sure to bring enough cash with you.
A visit to the Perhentian Islands mainly involves snorkeling, diving, and exploring beautiful beaches, but there are other fun activities to enjoy. Below are some of the best tips for the Perhentian Islands.
Explore the Underwater World of the Perhentian Islands
Snorkeling and diving are the main reasons many travelers visit the Perhentian Islands. The underwater world is incredibly impressive, with numerous snorkeling and diving spots around the islands. You can find snorkel sets for rent at various shops on beaches like Long Beach and Coral Bay. When you walk into the sea from the beach with your snorkel gear, you can often see a lot of beautiful marine life. Take a snorkeling tour to visit the most stunning snorkeling spots on the Perhentian Islands. You’ll spend half a day exploring Fish Point, Turtle Point, Shark Point, Coral Garden, and Turtle Garden.
Enjoy the View at Windmill Scenic Spot
The most beautiful view of Perhentian Kecil can be admired from the Windmill Scenic Spot. The walk from Long Beach and Coral Bay to the viewpoint takes about thirty minutes. You can clearly see the hiking trail in the Maps.me app. The coordinates of the viewpoint in Maps.me are: 5.927248, 102.719879. The area around the windmill isn’t particularly attractive, but when you walk around it, you can reach the viewpoint via wooden stairs.
Explore Perhentian Besar Island
Perhentian Besar is the largest island, and it also features some beautiful beaches. You can take a pleasant walk on the island, following winding jungle paths from Turtle Beach to Teluk Keke. These are the most beautiful beaches on Perhentian Besar in my opinion. The sand is pure white, the water is incredibly blue, the jungle surrounding the beach is stunning, and you might even encounter playful monkeys. Make sure to bring enough water because there are no restaurants or shops at either Turtle Beach or Teluk Keke. Along the way, you’ll come across a few restaurants, with Mama’s Restaurant being a recommended spot to grab a meal.
Note: To protect the turtles that lay their eggs on Turtle Beach, it’s prohibited to be on the beach after 18:00.
Dance with Your Feet in the Sand at Long Beach
If you’re in the mood for a lively evening, head to Long Beach on Perhentian Kecil. The evening usually starts off calmly, but around 22:00, there are often fire shows. If it gets crowded enough, the beach chairs are pushed aside, and the music volume goes up. The real party usually starts around 23:00 or 00:00. The best parties are usually organized at Black Tip Bar or Joe’s Perhentian. Monkey Dives Perhentian and OhLaLa Divers dive schools also occasionally host parties.
Kayaking at Sunset
One of the most enjoyable activities on the Perhentian Islands is kayaking! Rent a kayak from Coral Bay well before sunset and explore surrounding beaches like Romantic Beach. This beautiful beach can only be reached by water, making it feel like you’ve truly landed on a deserted island. Paddle back before the sun sets, and on the way, you can enjoy a front-row seat to the colorful sky spectacle. Of course, make sure to return to land before it gets dark.
The Perhentian Islands are renowned for their pristine white beaches, crystal-clear waters, and laid-back atmosphere. Here are the most beautiful beaches I’ve put together for you.
Long Beach is located on the east side of Perhentian Kecil and is the most famous and bustling beach. You’ll find numerous beach bars and restaurants here. It’s not the ideal beach for swimming, but you can relax and order a cold drink. Kayaks are also available for rent, and you can even play a game of volleyball.
Coral Bay is situated on the west coast of Perhentian Kecil, just a ten-minute walk from Long Beach. It’s much quieter than Long Beach, but you can still find a few hotels and restaurants. It’s a great place for swimming, snorkeling, and renting kayaks to explore nearby beaches. Plus, the sunsets at Coral Bay are breathtaking!
From Coral Bay, you can walk to Mira Beach in about 25 minutes. The journey itself is already enjoyable as you walk through the jungle, along both marked and unmarked trails. The beach boasts white sand, blue waters, and palm trees.
This tiny beach on Perhentian Kecil is only accessible by water. It’s a little paradise with crystal-clear water and white sand that can be almost blinding when the sun is high in the sky. Chances are you’ll have the place all to yourself! Rent a kayak from Coral Bay and paddle to Romantic Beach or have a water taxi drop you off.
Turtle Beach is a charming little beach on Perhentian Besar where you can enjoy excellent snorkeling. If you look closely at the sand, you might even see traces of turtles that have laid their eggs here on the beach.
This beautiful beach on Perhentian Besar is absolutely my favorite. The massive rock formations divide the beach, with the right side appearing deserted. It feels like you’ve landed on an uninhabited island with hundreds of swaying palm trees. It’s incredibly stunning! The island has no amenities, but at Cosmic Divers, you can rent snorkeling gear and order drinks.
Unfortunately, the Perhentian Islands are not accessible year-round. From mid-October to mid-March, it’s the monsoon season, and nearly everything on the island is closed. From mid-March to mid-October, everything is open, and you can travel to the Perhentian Islands. July and August are the best months to visit the Perhentian Islands, but they are also the busiest months, although it’s never extremely crowded on the islands.
Ewan’s Restaurant – Here, you can order the tastiest smoothies on Perhentian Kecil. Besides smoothies, the menu primarily offers Asian dishes with plenty of vegetarian options.
Crocodile Rock Bistro – About a ten-minute walk from Coral Bay, hidden in the jungle, you’ll find Crocodile Rock Bistro. You can enjoy delicious coffee and breakfast here in the morning. They are closed in the afternoon but open again for dinner or a pleasant drink in the evening.
The World Cafe – This restaurant at Long Beach is perfect if you’re in the mood for a more upscale dining experience. The chef is Italian, and you can taste it in the food here.
Pit Stop Station – This is a small restaurant on Long Beach where you can enjoy breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Nia Cafe – You’ll find this restaurant on Perhentian Besar. Here, you can dine with your feet in the sand. Order a flavorful curry with plenty of vegetables.
Most people choose to stay on Perhentian Kecil, as this island offers the most lively atmosphere, hotels, and restaurants. Particularly around Long Beach and Coral Bay, it’s bustling. Unfortunately, many hotels on the Perhentian Islands are expensive, and the affordable ones often have good reviews. It took some searching, but we found a few recommendations on Perhentian Kecil where you can enjoy a pleasant stay without breaking the bank.
On the beautiful Coral Bay, you’ll find Ombak Dive Resort Perhentian Island. It has a fantastic atmosphere, and every night is movie night! You can stay at a reasonable price in a comfortable double room with all the amenities you need, including effective air conditioning, a comfy bed, and a fridge. If you’re keen on diving on the Perhentian Islands, this is the right place. On the beautiful Mira Beach, you’ll find the stunning Keranji Beach Resort, and staying here gives you that ultimate island feeling. You’ll be sleeping in a wooden bungalow right on the beach! Keep in mind that it’s quite remote. If you want to treat yourself to a luxurious stay, Alunan Resort, located in the far south of Perhentian Kecil, is the place to be. You’ll stay in a spacious room with a breathtaking view of the crystal-clear sea. At this small private beach, you can snorkel beautifully.