Perhentian Islands is one of the hottest attractions in Malaysia. Filled with beautiful sandy beaches, world-class resorts and a plethora of water activities, it’s the perfect example of why Malaysia is a perfect tourist destination.
In this guide, we’ll walk you through the most important things you need to know about these beautiful islands before you visit. This way, you can maximise your stay and ensure that everything goes smoothly for your trip.
Whether you want to know where to stay, what to do or how to get around these islands, you’ll learn everything in this ultimate travel guide. So without further ado, let’s get started!
Malaysia Time (GMT+8)
Best Time to Go
The best time to visit the Perhentian Islands depends on what you want to experience on your trip. For instance, the most plausible time to visit the islands if you’re on a tight budget would be during the non-peak months (April, May or June).
On the other hand, visiting the peak months (July and August) will let you enjoy the water activities the most. This is because the diving and overall water condition during this time are at their best.
Plus, non-peak months also mean that you’ll get to spend time on the islands with fewer tourists as opposed to peak months. It all boils down to personal preference so do keep these factors in mind before you book your trip!
Things to Know
Currency: Malaysian Ringgit (Check the current exchange rate)
Language: Standard Malay, Kelantanese Malay, English
Calling Code: +60
How to Get Around
Ferries: Riding the ferry is the primary way of getting to the Perhentian Islands. This will drop you off at the jetty nearest to your booked accommodation, which we recommend you memorise beforehand.
Water taxis: In the Perhentian Islands, you’ll most likely have to cross a body of water to get to your destination, you have to ride water taxis. This mode of transportation is the main way to get to the two main islands (Kecil and Besar) and their different beautiful beaches.
You can also negotiate with the driver of these water taxis so that you can have a return trip. This way, you won’t have to worry about finding another water taxi on your way back to your accommodation.
Walking: Since there are no roads in the Perhentian Islands, the main way to get around on foot is by walking. This isn’t a bad thing, however, considering the beautiful sights that you’ll be treated to during your walks to your destination.
Furthermore, you can also find hiking trails that you can easily miss if you take water taxis, so win-win!
Where to Stay
Address: Petani Beach Perhentian Island Kecil, Terengganu, Malaysia
Phone: +60 16-448 8297
Alunan Resort is one of the most laid-back lodging options in the Perhentian Islands. It’s located on the Island of Kecil but it’s more of a luxury-style resort as opposed to a budget-friendly one, which the island is commonly known for.
This place is perfect if you want to stay in front of the beach itself, as you’ll be a stone’s throw away from the shore. From there, you can engage in various activities such as swimming, snorkelling and even diving thanks to their in-house diving centre.
As for the accommodation itself, you can expect to get the best value for your money from a premium resort such as this. For instance, their rooms are quite large, even the most affordable ones.
Outside of your room, you’ll get to enjoy numerous facilities, with the most notable ones being their sundeck and swimming pool. Meanwhile, if you want to be treated to some delicious dishes, they also have a solid selection of restaurants.
BuBu Long Beach Resort
Address: Long Beach, Perhentian Island Kecil, 22300, Terengganu, Malaysia
Phone: +60 16-260 3541
Staying at BuBu Long Beach Resort is a must if you’re looking to pamper yourself and your loved ones during your visit to the islands. Aside from world-class comfortable rooms it also features a spa where you can relax and alleviate all the accumulated stress in your body.
One of the things we personally like about this resort is that it’s located on the Northern tip of Island Kecil. This location is great because it’s noticeably cleaner, treating you to an even better-looking beach, which you wouldn’t think to be possible.
They can also arrange numerous activities and tours for you and your company during your stay on their premises. Some of the best things you can do here include going on a fishing trip, snorkelling, island hopping, jungle trekking and more!
You can even advise them in advance to arrange a candle-lit dinner on the shore if you’re looking to impress your partner. Speaking of dinner, the resort also features two restaurants that serve exquisite dishes.
Seahorse Diver Guesthouse
Address: Long Beach, Pulau Perhentian Kecil, Besut, Terengganu, Malaysia
Phone: +60 19-984 1181
If you’re looking for a cheaper place to crash in for multiple nights, check out Seahorse Diver Guesthouse. This place is great for all sorts of budget travellers because of its highly-affordable rooms, but don’t worry, the quality of your stay won’t be anywhere cheap.
You can rest assured that each room in this place is clean–plus, you’ll have the beach right outside the guesthouse! Meanwhile, if you really want to add a bit of luxury to your stay, you can book their deluxe room which features a balcony overlooking the beautiful sea.
There is also a shared kitchen where you can prepare your own meals since the place doesn’t come with a restaurant. This comes with a shared lounge where you can also meet other tourists on vacation!
Aside from offering cheap rooms, this place is also a premier dive centre on the Perhentian Islands. They provide high-quality diving gear and PADI scuba diving courses so you’ll know you’re in good hands!
Perhentian Island Resort
Address: Pulau Perhentian Besar, Besut, Terengganu, Malaysia
Phone: +60 3-2144 8530
Bearing the name of the island itself, Perhentian Island Resort is arguably the number one place to stay in this tourist destination. For starters, it’s located at one of the best spots on the island of Besar, which is where you’ll find one of the most beautiful beaches in Malaysia.
The resort’s exclusive beach is made up of some of the whitest and purest sand you’ll find on the island along with crystal-clear cerulean waters. On a side note, you can also spot some sea turtles going about their day during one of your swims to this beach–how cool is that?
Aside from its beach, we also think that the resort itself is worth highlighting because of its top-notch rooms and wide selection of facilities. Among these facilities, our favourites include the swimming pool, tennis courts, beach volleyball courts, karaoke rooms and massage rooms.
If you want to replenish your energy after a whole day of fun water and land activities, you can also visit the resort’s restaurant and cafe. You’ll find a myriad of delicious dishes here ranging from local delicacies to Western favourites.
Tuna Bay Island Resort
Address: Tuna Bay Resorts Kampung Pulau Perhentian, Kuala, 22300 Besut, Terengganu, Malaysia
Phone: +60 9-690 2902
Tuna Bay Island Resort is another lodging option in Besar Island because of its great location and equally impressive rooms. It’s a widely-popular resort in the Perhentian Islands because it also features one of the best prices, so be sure to book your dates as early as you can!
Starting with the location, Tuna Bay Island is nestled along a nice long stretch of beach that features pure white sand. It’s a beachfront resort, which means that you’ll have the convenience of getting to the beach as soon as you leave your suite.
Speaking of rooms, the ones featured here are all equipped with air conditioning units and plush beds, so you won’t have to worry about comfort. We recommend booking rooms with balconies so that you’ll have an unobstructed view of the beautiful sea.
Lastly, this place also features an amazing bar and restaurant where you can indulge in local delicacies and the freshest seafood on the island. You can also have a few drinks, as you’re watching the sunset!
Where to Eat in Perhentian Islands
Ewan’s Cafe and Restaurant
Address: Pulau Perhentian Kecil, Besut, Terengganu, Malaysia
Phone: +60 14-817 8303
If you’re looking for a budget-friendly restaurant that serves high-quality food, Ewan’s Cafe and Restaurant is for you! This humble spot on Kecil Island serves heartwarming meals that don’t break the bank, making them one of the hottest restaurants for tourists visiting Perhentian.
Among all their offerings, our favourite is the tom yang soup, which we love because it features just the right amount of spice and sweetness. They also don’t hold back on toppings, as this dish can come with gigantic prawns that are a treat to feast on.
What’s more impressive is that this restaurant features a strong Wi-Fi connection, which is rare around these parts.
Address: Pulau Perhentian Kecil, Besut, Terengganu, Malaysia
Phone: +60 16-448 8297
Bayu Restaurant can be found in the aforementioned Alunan Resort and it’s a great place to dine in if you’re looking to experience fine dining on the island. It serves various dishes from seafood to Mediterranean and more!
What’s different and great at the same time about this restaurant is that they don’t stick to a single menu. Instead, they carefully curate a new one for every season so that they can serve their guests something new all the time!
Also, dining here is a whole experience in itself because it treats its guest to a picturesque panoramic view of the sea.
Matahari Chalet & Restaurant
Address: Pulau Perhentian Kecil, Terengganu, Malaysia
Phone: +60 16-920 2569
Matahari Chalet & Restaurant is a great option if you and your company can’t decide on what to eat. This is because this humble restaurant features an impressively diverse menu that can cater to different kinds of tastes.
For instance, if you fancy something familiar to your taste, they serve an amazing version of the classic burger and fries combination. On the other hand, you can order some of their seafood offerings if you want to taste the best produce that the Perhentian Islands has to offer.
Crocodile Rock Bistro
Address: Near Rainforest Beach, Pulau Perhentian Kecil, 22300 Besut, Terengganu, Malaysia
Phone: +60 9-691 4111
Dining on the beach has never been more amazing than in Crocodile Rock Bistro. In this unique restaurant, you’ll get to dine at one of the restaurant’s tables on the sandy beach itself, making your dining experience extra scenic!
Whether you’re craving Asian or Western food, you’re bound to find something to your liking in this restaurant. If you want our advice, we recommend the pizza, especially if you’re with a group because the serving size is quite generous.
Aside from that, we also recommend dining here because of the ambience. It’s often loaded with tourists, which is great because you’ll get to meet people from different parts of the world!
What to Do in Perhentian Islands
Meet sea turtles and other marine life through snorkelling
One of the most in-demand activities in the Perhentian Islands is snorkelling and it’s not hard to see why. These islands house some of the healthiest marine life you’ll ever see in Malaysia, and dare we say, the entire Southeast Asia.
The waters around these islands are those rare spots where you’re always bound to see sea creatures during your snorkelling session. One of the most common ones you’ll encounter are sea turtles, so be sure to say hi!
There are tons of snorkelling spots around the big and small islands, and it’s up to you to choose which suits you the most. Some are best for budget travellers while others are more expensive so choose wisely!
Explore the sea and secluded islands via kayaks
Thanks to the calm waters found around the island, you and your loved ones can go kayaking peacefully and admire nature’s best offering. This is one of the best family-friendly activities you can do here because it isn’t too scary but it’s not boring either.
You’ll find several kayak rentals around the island, which will charge around RM100. The price is more than worth it, however, as you’ll get to visit the secluded lagoons and beaches that aren’t necessarily reachable via water taxis and trekking.
Camp overnight at the beachside
If you don’t want to break your connection with nature while you’re on the island by checking into a hotel, we recommend setting up camp! This way, you can stay at the beachside and sleep peacefully to the sound of waves crashing into the shores.
The best place to camp on the Perhentian Islands is Teluk KK. Here, you can set up your tent and enjoy the best seats in the house when it comes to admiring the stars and the beach at the same time.
Watch an amazing fire show
If you want to witness something unique and exciting before you cap off the day, check out the fire show held in Bubu Long Beach. These performances aren’t for the faint of heart, but that’s what makes them all the more exciting!
It’s worth noting that the people performing these are trained professionals so just try to relax and enjoy the show. You’ll be surprised at how they utilize fire in different ways to provide you with a spectacular show.
Enjoy a movie night at Ombak Resort
Address: 406, Coral Bay, Pulau Perhentian Kecil, 22300 Besut, Terengganu, Malaysia
Phone: +60 9-691 1021
If you want to spend your night doing something that doesn’t require you to watch thrilling fire performances, you can go on a movie date at Ombak Resort! You may be thinking to yourself, “Why would I do something I can normally do at home?”, and you have an excellent point.
However, how many times can you say that you’ve watched a movie on the big screen with the sound of the ocean just beside you? Not only that but you’ll have the chill beach vibe with you and the other tourists on the island, who by the way, can become your friends after the movie!
Drink the night away with your friends
For the party-goers out there, you’ll be pleased to know that there are several bars by the beach around the Perhentian Islands. These establishments play lively and chill music, whether they be live or not, and most importantly, serve delicious refreshments.
You can even meet new friends in the process! This is one of the best times to expand your network, as you’ll get to meet people coming from different parts of the planet.
Visit different islands
Another in-demand activity in this blue paradise is island hopping, which makes sense considering that it consists of several islands. This is by far the best way to visit these different islands as you won’t be strapped inside a car or a ferry.
Instead, once you arrive at whichever island you visit, you can depart from the motorized boat and explore freely with your friends. You can trek through an island’s jungle or swim in its pristine waters, the choice is yours!
Also, you won’t have to worry about getting lost, as you’ll be accompanied by a guide to make sure that you don’t steer too far away from the others.
Trek through different jungles
Some of the islands you’ll find here will have jungles, and it would be best to explore them if you can! This is because not only will you be treated to beautiful sceneries, but you’ll also meet different wildlife as well!
Some of the most common species you’ll find during your trek includes spiders, geckos, lizards and monkeys!