The Perhentian Islands are two islands named Pulau Perhentian Kecil (Small Perhentian Island) and Pulau Perhentian Besar (Large Perhentian Island). The Malay name Perhentian is translated as 'place to stop' and this is exactly what you are supposed to do here, just stop en enjoy. Kecil is popular amongst backpackers and people looking for a party. Besar is said to be the quiet island and more suited for honeymooners. We checked out both!
Coming from Taman Negara, we arranged a busticket (90 Ringgit p.p.) and open boat return ticket (70 Ringgit p.p.) at one of the tourist agencies in Kuala Tahan. The bus left at 8 am to Jerantut, where you can get some cash and food before ging to Kuala Besut Jetty. In between there is a bustransfer at Gua Mansun, this is the place where you can buy and eat lunch as well. Around 5 pm you will arrive in Kuala Besut from where you will be directed to the jetty to take the boat to one of the beaches on one of the Perhentian Islands. They drop you of at the beach you like so make sure you know where you want to go before getting on the boat. Also make sure you bring enough cash since there aren’t any atm’s on the islands.
We changed islands after two days and took a watertaxi. From Coral Bay to Flora Bay costed us 20 Ringgit p.p.
There are plenty of places to get a nice meal for a good price. We like to eat on the beach so that’s what we did. We stayed at Coral Bay and there are plenty of small restaurants that serve Western, Indian, Malay and Thai food. We don’t recall the names of the places we’ve eaten but you can just stroll along the beach and find a place that you like.
We didn’t really go that far from our bungalow to get our food. We really liked the people at our ‘resort’ and their food, so we just went for the easy way and ate there 3 times a day. Especially their milkshakes are really good, tipped with some candy and sprinkles. On Flora bay there are a couple of other restaurants were you can eat grilled fish and if you want a beer, B'First is the place to go.
We struggled to find a place to sleep at Kecil. We arrived late, and were traveling in August when all the Europeans are on holiday and come to Perhentian apparently, and therefore lot’s of places where already fully booked. We got the boat to drop us of at Long Beach but when we arrived, we didn’t really like it so decided to walk to the other side to Coral Bay. All the places we passed on the beach were full so we kept on walking.
Along the way we spoke to the owner of a bungalow and he told us he had bungalows/rooms for only 50 Ringgit. That sounded good so we decided to keep walking and asking around and eventually we would end up there if we couldn’t find anything because it was one of the last places. And this is where we ended up.. The path getting there was a struggle with our backpacks on, having to pass fallen trees that blocked the road. And the only reason we stayed here, was because it was getting dark. The bungalow/room he was talking about had a bed and a matras on the floor and that almost filled up the space. We’re not even describe the place further on, we just did not like it. So our tip: when you go to Kecil, either try to book something in advance or get there early in the morning.
After Kecil we probably would have liked almost any place and we were so happy when we arrived on Flora beach, looked around, saw Fauna Beach Chalet, walked up there and asked if they had a bungalow free and showed us a basic but really nice bungalow on the beach for only 80 Ringgit. This place was great! This is how you should spent your time on an island. As said, the bungalow was simple but it had 24 hour electricity, a nice shower, a good bed en it was right on the beach. The people were friendly, they could help us with our transport to our next destination, what else do you need?
Kecil is the backpacker island and especially on Long Beach you don’t have to get bored if you like fireshows, hang out on the beach at night and you like loud music. The other side, Coral Bay where we stayed, is more relaxed and quiet. We didn’t check out Long Beach during the day, and we didn’t like Coral Bay with all the boats. We went for a short walk to Rainforest Beach and that’s a great one. You can also go to one of the abandoned beaches by watertaxi.
Since we didn’t really like Kecil, we were happy to go to Besar with the watertaxi. We spent our time here laying on the beach, cooling down in the water, enjoying the milkshakes at the restaurant, trying to play some volleybal, enjoying the view from the hammock, feeding the squirrels and just relax and doing nothing. It was our little holiday during our travels.