For island lovers looking for an inexpensive, long getaway, Pulau Perhentian is one of the places not to be missed. You have a choice to fly, drive or take a coach to Kuala Besut,
Terengganu is the gateway to Perhentian. Bus service from Hentian Putra in Kuala Lumpur departs daily and the journey takes about 8 hours. The last stop is just a short walking distance to the jetty where you take a speed boat, which can accommodate about 10 to 15 people to either Pulau Perhentian Besar or Pulau Perhentian Kecil. A RM5.00 fee is imposed on all visitors to the island for the conservation of the marine park and is to be purchase at the jetty before getting on the boat.
The speed boat journey takes about half hour and there are numerous resorts on both islands for you to pick from. Budget room with fan and double deck beds is priced as low as RM50.00 during non-peak period to RM80.00 during peak period. And if you are looking for something more comfortable with air conditioning and hot shower, both islands are not short of them either. Price ranging from RM180 and above are all around and it’s just a matter of choice of resort and island to pick from. However be warned that some resorts are reluctant to take reservation or pre-bookings during peak period (May to September) unless of course deposit are paid in advance to secure your booking.
Those that like parties and lively atmosphere should head for Pulau Perhentian Kecil as this is where all the crowds are. Pulau Perhentian Besar is more family orientated, relaxing, peaceful and quiet. There are cafés, bars, and convenient shops on both islands and you can buy anything from mineral water, sun glasses, snacks, to water proof bags in various sizes and underwater casing for your compact camera. The cafes’ and restaurants serve a variety of food ranging from seafood, BBQ to western and local favourites.
Pulau Perhentian is one island that you can hardly feel bored with after a day or two as there are many activities you can indulge in. There is jungle walk where you can practically walk the whole island if you are adventure enough, experience snorkelling around the clear blue sea, dive or take up a dive course from one of more than 5 dive centres around and explore the underwater world, or just plain laze around to bask or read the book that you never seem to get around to. Water around both islands is crystal clear with abundance of marine life, corals and if you are lucky enough, turtle and baby sharks do appear when you least expect it. Going across from Big island to Small Island, and vice versa is just a water taxi away. Fare starts from RM10.00 for a five to ten minutes ride and the fare increases after 7 PM.
During the monsoon season (usually from mid-November to mid-February) some hotels especially the budget ones are closed but there are some that remain open for hard core tourists. However looking at the unpredictable weather these days, anytime could be a good time for a visit to Perhentian.
Text and Pictures by: Justin Hong.