That Robinson Crusoe moment, castaway and cut off from the rest of the world, is something that we have all let our imaginations run wild about. Miz and I are no different and over the years we have been lucky enough to visit a whole host of islands and beaches, all different in their own special ways. The perfect island is of course down to personal opinion and for us the Perhentian Islands tick most of the boxes.
A forty minute boat ride from the pier at Kuala Besut, and you reach this quiet island paradise, made up of two islands: Perhentian Besar (big Perhentian Island) and Perhentian Kecil (small Perhentian Island). They are both covered in lush greenery, fringed by coconut palm trees and surrounded by white, powdery sand that shelves into the clear, turquoise ocean. We decided to stay on Perhentian Kecil which has slightly more going on. Think one bar, a handful of beach huts and guesthouses (at cheaper rates than those on its bigger yet less developed neighbour) and one place which had WiFi on the whole island.
Our boat pulled up at the jetty on Coral Beach at eight in the morning. As we hurled our rucksacks onto the beach, we began our search for some cheap-ish beach huts. After an hour of searching, which had taken us over a jungle path and onto Long Beach, we had found ourselves our own little piece of paradise. Up some steep steps right at the end of the beach were the D’Rock Beach Huts. A series of elevated beach huts on stilts with panoramic views looking out to the horizon. The huts came equipped with a cold shower, fan and a great balcony, perfect for reading, playing cards (Black Jack is our favourite!) and writing our blogs. The hut cost us RM90 per night which is about £16; above our £10 budget but we couldn’t resist, and an amazing price for the view!
Perhentian Kecil has a range of accommodation from beachside camping at RM20 (£4) per night, basic huts ranging from RM40 – RM120 (£8-£25) per night and a couple of luxury resorts at RM400 (£80).
The islands are perfect for snorkelling and diving. Miz and I took a snorkelling trip which was great. We stopped at five spots around the island and saw a whole host of marine life. Black-tip sharks, stingrays, clown fish and a huge turtle which came up for air right in front of us. It was sad to see that some of the coral was grey and damaged, a sign of the rising temperatures of our seas. Another thing we noticed mixed in with the natural beauty of Perhentian Kecil was the amount of plastic that would wash up on the tide each morning. It’s a worrying sign of the times which will ultimately have an awful effect on our marine life.
We spent our days reading, playing in the sea and generally chilling out and drinking Iced Milo! As we had arrived just after monsoon season, we had avoided the crowds and pretty much had this beautiful paradise all to ourselves. The weather was lovely and was perfect for morning jogs. Food on the island was pretty good and we found a handful of beach shacks serving local meals for a fairly reasonable price. Family Café on Long Beach had a super friendly owner who served up tasty chocolate and banana pancakes.
Over on Coral Beach, Amelia Café had fresh fish/meat BBQ with salad, rice and baked potato which was delicious. The Roti stall next door was great. The guy would roll and fry fresh rotis right in front of you with whichever filling took your fancy for 5RM / £1, a real tasty bargain. Ewan’s café was our favourite place to eat, drink and relax, nestled in between both beaches. Ewan and his family are lovely, the food was consistently great (get a banana and chocolate shake from here!), and one of the only places on the island with WiFi.
As far as evening entertainment goes, Perhentian Islands won’t win any awards for crazy nightlife. One small beachside bar on Long Beach (one of only three places on the island you can buy a beer) and a diver’s resort on Coral Beach named Ombak that played open air movies each evening at half seven. We watched Jumanji, Coco and Non-Stop complete with a bag of caramel popcorn.
We ended up staying for a week on the Perhentian Kecil and could have easily stayed longer, the time drifted by so quickly. We would highly recommend this small piece of paradise to all of you who enjoy natural scenery, splashing around in clear, warm waters and generally lazing around enjoying the peace and quiet. It’s an island where a backpacker’s budget can go a long way and you will end up saying to yourself on a daily basis, “should I stay just one more night?”, we did every day.
Back to the mainland, before our next island adventure…Pulau Kapas.