Perhentian Islands | Malaysia Travel Blog

The Perhentian Islands are two paradise Islands located off the north east coast of Malaysia. There are two main islands, Perhentian Besar which is the larger more resorty type island and Perhentian Kecil which is pretty small and more popular with backpackers and scuba divers.

I loved the place and couldn’t wait to put together a Perhentian Travel Blog. Like seriously loved the place. I spent the last week of my ‘traveling alone experience’ on the island and it was perfectly intimately small to mix with other travelers and see the same faces each morning whilst eating breakfast.

 Perhentian Island Blog

Perhentian Island Blog

Perhentian Kecil

Perhentian Island Tips!

  • No cash machines on the Island (Summer 2013) so make sure that you have enough cash to see you through your trip.
  • Poor Internet on Perhentian Kecil so make sure your mum knows you won’t be able to Skype.
  • Electricity is often turned off during the day, so make sure you get what you need to be charged whenever you get the chance to.
  • Lizards are more scared of you than you are of them.

How to get to the Perhentian Islands?

You have to catch a little speedboat from the small port town of Kuala Besut. The speedboat takes around 30 minutes to get to the Perhentians and they are absolutely brutal. My guy captaining the boat was a reckless maniac. He made sure that boat was going as fast as it possibly could – just skidding and skipping across some ridiculously choppy water. I don’t normally worry about putting lifejackets on when traveling on boats, but I for sure grabbed one on this journey. I was 100% sure I was going to bounce off the little wooden bench at the back of the boat and over board. Luckily I clinged on whilst protecting my backpack from falling in also – and the lifejacket came in handy to at least protect me from the stupid amount of spray from the sea. I pulled up to the shore at the end of the journey looking like I had fallen overboard.

However, I did kind of enough the thrill of being on this boat. Just be prepared for how mental and dangerous they are.

Perhentian Island Blog

Map of Perhentian Kecil

Perhentian Island Blog

Where the Perhentian Islands are in Malaysia

Where to stay?

There are no hostels on the island. Just beach huts and guest houses. I tried to book something before getting to the island, but couldn’t find anywhere on the internet to let me do so.

As I was planning on doing my PADI Scuda Diving course on Perhentian Kecil I decided to pay for one of the well worth packages. Qualification and accommodation for the few days it takes.

This gave me a few days to speak to people and I ended up staying in a room in a small guest house right on the beach called Villa Oolala, where the Scuba instructors stay. Ended up being crazy cheap and they had a little beach bar and pizza restaurant. What more do you want!

Perhentian Island Blog

View from my 1st Guest House whilst I completed my PADI

Perhentian Island Blog

Second place I stayed… Villa Oh Lala

Perhentian Island Blog

View from Oh Lala Guest House

Best things to do on the Perhentian Islands?


I don’t have much experience in the water to compare it to, but the diving there is amazing. The sea is warm and the visibility is good. From speaking to people whilst traveling, it is one of the cheaper places to go in the whole entire world and get your PADI. Or if you’re already qualified go and do some fun dives for about $30 a go.

Perhentian Island Blog

Scuba Phil

Perhentian Island Blog

Just completed my PADI Course


A lot cheaper alternative for backpackers, or if you haven’t got your scuba qualifications. To buy a snorkel and mask it was around $15-20. So I rented a mask for about $5 for the day and spent the whole day snorkeling and watching some of the best fish I have ever seen. I also heard stories of sharks – but unfortunately never saw any.

 Perhentian Travel Blog

Jungle Trekking

It’s free and you will more than likely see the biggest lizard you will ever see in the wild. To get between the two main beaches on Perhentian Kecil, you have to walk about 15 minutes through the jungle which is fun. But plan to take a torch or make sure you have enough battery on your phone to use the flash to help you get home. You don’t want to be stepping on any of those Monitor Lizards.


The food is cheap and pretty good. The fish is awesome and most restaurants will cook what they catch and then bbq it that day. You cannot go wrong with that. Also as mentioned in ‘My Top 5 Pizza Blog’’, the pizza on the island was pretty special and worth the visit alone.

Doing Nothing/Beach

If you main aim is to escape and do absolutely nothing, then Perhentian Kecil is the place you want to go. It is out the way of hoards of tourists, which you get in Thailand, so there is, just the perfect amount of people.

 As there is no electricity on most of the island in the daytime, there is no excuse not to go out and enjoy the beautiful white sand and warm clear water.


Even though it is a Muslim country – there is alcohol available on the island. The drink of the island is liquor called Orangutan – I have no idea what kind of spirit it is, but it certainly did the job and tasted pretty good.

Favorite bits?

Being so close to the lizards got me really excited. I didn’t know that the island was inhabited with them before getting there. So I was in for a shock the first day when a lizard a couple of foot long scuttled past me. Then on the second day I saw I couple of HUGE lizards over by a heap of trash. But had gone before I had the chance the get my camera to snap them. I had to snap them – if there is no photo evidence for my instagram – how could I prove that I hadn’t just seen a little gecko and playing it off like I had seen a crocodile.

It might sound crazy and perverted, but I really enjoyed having to shower outside. OK, I was in a corrugated iron type shed thing behind my guest house, next to the beach – but the fact it had an open roof made it feel like I was out in the open.

This is when I finally got to take a photo of a monitor lizard. I opened the shower door to see the biggest lizard I had seen on the island yet. It was the size of a crocodile and it was moving the very very slowly. Shit, this was my best opportunity to get a photo – so I dropped everything (apart from my towel) and sprinted up to my room to grab my camera. As I came back down I could see it was still in sight and I tried my best not to scare it off. But it started to scurry off as I tried to get a good photo.

Perhentian Island Blog

Huge Monitor Lizard running away from me in my towel

Scuba Diving

There were so many little clownfish and they are not shy. They don’t go hiding in their little coral forest. They basically come out and either pose for a photo or try and butt you out their way.

Finding Nemo

Friendly People

At 6am and before sunrise I stopped a man in the street who was riding his bike. I was desperate to find a cash machine before leaving the island. He gave me perfect directions in broken English how to get to the cash machine which was about a mile away. He then realized as he was saying that it was a mile away – how far that was to walk. He then gave me his bike to ride to the cash machine. It’s the little things guys!

Have you been the Perhentians? How was your boat ride over? Let me know in the comments below…

  • Pietro Cirsone

    Hi Phil, this is pietro from Italy trying to organise a trip in these amazing sounding islands. As it is august nothing looks available 🙁 do you think it makes sense to get there with no reservation and look for accommodation when getting there? thanks a lot!

  • Yoe CR

    hey… i was born in perhentian and grew up there. if u have chance to visit us again, pls to do so. contact me for boat arrangement. im sure, i will give better experience to u riding boat. hehe.

  • No cash machines, poor internet and unstable electricity – looks like visiting Perhentian Islands is one of the best ways to stay alone with the nature, feel how our ancestors lived.