About 20km off the coast of Terengganu, lies Pulau Perhentian. Consists of Pulau Perhentian Kecil (Small) and Perhentian Besar (Big), they are among the most beautiful islands in Malaysia. It has everything to offer for all kinds of visitors, from snorkeling, scuba diving and trekking for the adventurous to the white sandy beaches and aquamarine waters for those who just want to relax.
Pulau Perhentian Kecil
The smaller of the two islands, Pulau Perhentian Kecil is the more popular island among the two. Most visitors will stay at Pasir Panjang (or Long Beach). As it name implies, it is a long stretch of white sandy beach, with a string of budget chalets and cafes. At night, it transforms into a disco-like atmosphere with its loud music all along the beach. Hence, it can get a little bit overcrowded and noisy during the night.
There are accommodation to suit all kinds of budget. The prices here tend to be lower than those on Besar.
On the other side of the island is Aur Bay or Coral Bay. A big part of the beach is covered with dead corals, a sad reminder of what this beach was once. However, it still boast among the best corals and sea life close to the beach. One could see a Clown Fish (popularly known as Nemo) several meters from the beach. A short swim out, one can see corals, beautiful rock formations and all sorts of sea life. As this beach faces the west, it also has one of the most beautiful sunsets around. At night, it is one peaceful and serene beach, very much in contrast to the Long Beach on the other side of the island.
To the south of the island, is the village where most residents of the island stay. It has a few shops and restaurants, police station, a basic clinic and a mosque.
There are also several other private beaches for those wanting to get away from it all.
Pulau Perhentian Besar
Most of the accommodation is clustered on the western side of the island. The prices here tend to be higher than Kecil. This make the island less "happening" than Kecil, but suitable for those who want a peaceful and quiet holiday.
Things to Do
For most, snorkelling is the most convenient activity. Most resorts and accommodations offer equipment rental, typically around RM10-15 for a set of snorkel, mask, and possibly fins included. There is also a reasonably priced RM30-40 snorkelling trip which takes visitors to several popular snorkelling points around the islands. The trip typically lasts the whole day.
Diving is also popular here. There are many dive operators, on both Kecil and Besar. Most, if not all of them also offer PADI and NAUI courses, from the basic scuba diving experience all the way to the instructor course. Some also operate dive trips to nearby islands, such as Pulau Redang.
Getting There and Away
Kuala Besut in Terengganu the main point of departure to Pulau Perhentian. Speed boats cost RM60/30 (return/one-way) and is sold at several agents near the jetty. You can get cheaper fares for the slow-boat, although it can be less reliable and as expected take longer to arrive at the islands. The boats depart several times a day, but it depends on the number of passengers and weather. The charges are the same for all beaches, and you will have to inform the boatman as you depart. For beaches without a jetty, you will need to take one of the smaller boats to get to the beach for a small fee of RM2.
You will also have to pay a one-time conservation fee of RM5, payable at the jetty or as you board the boat.
For your return trip, you will need to arrange for pick-up the day before you depart the island. Just show your return ticket to the operator of the accommodation you are staying in, inform them the time and they will arrange the pick-up for you.
Time to Go and Weather
The island would be closed during the North-East Monsoon, which typically is between November and March. Other than these months, there shouldn’t be a problem visiting the islands.The weather is typically hot and humid all year round, with occasional rain and thunderstorm.