3 REASONS TO GO PERHENTIAN ISLANDS

Video containing snippets of my trip (:

Poor student + doing internship so I’ve got only the weekends to spare + dying to dive (every . single . day) => birth of this trip. HAHA. You have no idea how happy I was when I discovered this little gem. 

The Perhentian Islands is situated off the coast of northeastern Malaysia in Terengganu, pretty close to the borders of Thailand! Perhentian Besar (“big island”) and Perhentian Kecil (“small island”) are the two main islands. Difference? Besar attracts more families and couples with its higher-end accommodations while Kecil appeals more to backpackers because things are cheaper there. Went with the latter.

Kecil was easy to love. An ideal place to escape to, chill, dive, snorkel, catch sunrise/sunsets and watch the stars – all of which you can do even if you’re on a shoestring budget. You can do a 2D1N trip with 3 dives for under S$250 – all transport, accommodation, food and dives included. #CHEAP

(S$200 is possible if you don’t mind staying in dorms and eating the cheapest food there.)

WHY GO PERHENTIAN? 3 solid reasons right here.

REASON #1: LAIDBACK CHILLAX VIBES

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Take in the calming blue waters right in front of you, soak yourself in there or just be a beach bum and catch a nap under one of the colourful umbrella tents (seen below) for just 10RM. When you need a break from work, this is it.

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Your sun-kissed skin gets a break with the evening sky taking over. As night falls, gaze above at a sky full of stars *cues Coldplay song* or turn your eyes to the on-beach fire performances that are in sync with the beats. It’s entirely relaxing, not crowded (the pictures speak volumes) and definitely less commercialized than islands like Phuket and Boracay.

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REASON #2: GLORIOUS SUNRISE

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Best place to catch the sunrise? Long Beach @ Perhentian Kecil. This IS the perfect way to start the day so please just crawl out of bed for once. Beautiful and stunning are such understatements; I was in awe as I watched the colours of the sky change in the most spectacular fashion ever – the pink, orange and yellow hues that dominated the sky were incredibly gorgeous before they dissipated and made way for the rising sun. Caught the entire phenomenon in its full transformative glory from start to end :’)

Thankful for pictures that help crystallize memories. These photos aren’t filtered at all and they already look crazy pretty. Imagine seeing it in real life.

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REASON #3: CHEAP & GOOD DIVES

Probably the CHEAPEST place to dive in SE Asia. Average 70-90 RM/dive. Tell me if you know anywhere cheaper than this.

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We did ours with Turtle Bay Divers (#2 on TripAdvisor) and it felt like the BEST choice ever. Here’s why:

  • Emailed to enquire about the dives and they went the extra mile to provide me with additional information on the speed boat transfer and even offered to help me reserve accommodation.
  • Lowest price on the island. About S$25/dive for 50-60 minutes.
  • All equipment was well-prepared for us beforehand.
  • Dive masters carried out the pre-dive brief professionally, with the aid of a hand-written pictorial guide that was so useful! And they made every dive feel super safe.
  • Special shoutout to dive master Koos (who will never see this) – it was an absolute joy being led by someone who radiates so much positive and fun vibes. With his sharp eyes, he went all out to spot sharks and turtles for us – totally made our last dive the most memorable 🙂

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For such excellent service and amazing experience, 10/10 will recommend. Turtle Bay Divers’ dives times are 8.30am, 12.30pm and 3pm. We dived at Tanjung Basi, Tokong Laut (The Pinnacle) and Shark Point. Awesome marine life, with visibility best at Tokong Laut – no wonder it’s one of Perhentian’s most popular dive sites. Visibility was very poor (5 metres) at Shark Point but 4 black tip reef sharks and 1 hawksbill turtle made up for it. FIRST TIME seeing them after all 🙂

Panorama Diver (#1 on TripAdvisor) seems really good too! It offers buffet breakfast to all its divers at only 10RM and considering how no food place was opened before our first dive at 8.30am, this is REALLY A PLUS POINT. My friend had to pay 50RM for that breakfast. Turtle Bay Divers doesn’t offer food options just so you know.

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This information-loaded part of the post is specially done up for a friend (HI REGINA hehe) who has plans to head there for some leisure dives soon. Makes me happy to be writing and knowing it’s gonna be of some help OH-YAY 🙂

HOW WE GOT THERE FROM SINGAPORE

Night coach from Transnasional Express @ Basement 1, The Plaza, 7500A Beach Road, to Jerteh (approx. 12 hours including jams) –> taxi to Kuala Besut jetty (approx. 20 min) –> speed boat to the island (approx. 45 min). Approx. total journey time: 13 hours! Yes, it’s crazy.

Note: Konsortium offers night coach too but it’s around S$40+ more expensive than Transnasional. Ultimate budget travellers who don’t mind inconvenience can go Larkin to take the coach – much cheaper because prices are in Ringgit. For the comfort-seekers, flying to Kota Bahru is an option too.

APPROX. COSTS BREAKDOWN

Transport: S$78/pax for 2-way night coach + 20RM for taxi + 70RM/pax for 2-way speed boat + one-off 10RM conservation charge before boarding boat + 2RM water taxi transfer = S$110

Food: Getting a meal for under 15RM is easy. Best meal I had was @ D Rock Gardens for lunch – delish, cheap and overlooks the entire Long Beach. #1 on TripAdvisor which I didn’t try is Ewan Cafe that’s located along the path between Long Beach and Coral Bay. Cheapest would be 5RM burgers sold at stand-up stalls along Long Beach!

Accommodation: Dorms and chalets can be as cheap as under 50RM/pax/night but without fan and hot shower. You can even pay 50RM for an overnight tent HAHA ULTIMATE BUDGET. Air-conditioning, hot shower and 24/7 electricity comes at a higher price – check out D Rock Gardens chalet. Stayed in their newly built cottage-like “bungalows” – cosy, clean and comfy!

MUST-KNOWS

  • Boats leave Kuala Besut jetty for the island from 7am-5pm, hourly.
  • Boats leave the island for the jetty at only 8am, 12 noon and 4pm. Just hop onto any water taxi (2 RM/pax) you see on the beach and it’ll transfer you to the boat.
  • No ATM there.
  • Mosquitoes and sandflies are merciless. Bring your insect repellants/sprays.
  • Check the electricity supply timing of your accommodation before booking – some don’t provide it all day.
  • Be aware of trigger fish in the waters which may attack (if triggered, of course).
  • June to August is the super peak season. Book your accommodation early, especially if you’re looking at budget chalets – they get sold out fast! Prices of accommodation also soar during peak.

HAPPY DIVING! You’ll love it. 😉

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