The Perhenthian Islands is quite possibly our favourite spot in the world so far.

The islands are located around 10 nautical miles (21 km) off the North East Coast of Malaysia. We were headed for the bigger of the two islands - Besal - slightly more developed it offers a wide selection of accommodation and restaurants and is well suited to families. Kecil (the smaller one) is better known for its backpacker vibe.

Getting there has to be one of our least favourite journeys so far. Our crossing over was a tad rocky, unfortunately, Jessica and Millie have inherited my sea-legs (or rather lack of). After 45 minutes lurching and rolling over the waves we all staggered onto the jetty wobbly legged, queasy and more than a bit weary.

Luckily, we were distracted with picture postcard coral fringed white beaches, azure blue waters with a stunning backdrop of lush, green jungle. The pain in getting there was quickly forgotten.

With absolutely nothing to do but swim, snorkel, kayak or dive you can kick back and completely unwind. Blissfully undeveloped you step off the boat and step back to simpler times. No internet, no roads, no traffic and no distractions and the best bit - no shoes. We took our flip flops off when we arrived at our chalet door, we picked them up a week later.

The Perhentian Islands are at their best between June and late October - outside this time its monsoon and you can expect overcast, cloudy skies, wind and choppy seas. We visited right at the end of the season (and spent a lot of time crossing our fingers and nervously checking the weather forecast). Thankfully we were blessed with mostly great weather - a few dramatic evening storms but luckily nothing that stopped us getting out and about.

We stayed at the Tuna Bay Island Resort; a cluster of basic but pristine wooden chalets set right on the beach with a backdrop of tropical jungles.

The breakfast buffet was scrumptious and served in the breezy, stilted beachside restaurant - a perfect start to the day. Our favourite spot for lunch and dinner was Cocohut’s next door; a very friendly cafe serving up great Malaysian and Western dishes with a stunning ocean side view. Abdul’s Chalets a little further along the beach was a great option for simple rice and noodle dishes and the best (and often only) wifi on the island. As season end was just around the corner a lot of places had already shut up shop - luckily we found just enough variety to keep us fed for the week.

As there are no roads or vehicles on the Perhentian Islands the only way around is on foot. Luckily there are lots of stone walkways around to connect you from bay to bay which we enjoyed discovering and we had an adventurous afternoon ambling through winding jungle paths exploring other resorts. Otherwise, water taxi's are abundant and a quick, cheap and easy way to travel if you’re heading further afield.

The Perhentian’s has to be one of the friendliest places we’ve ever visited. We enjoyed meeting the loved-up honeymooners and plenty of families with young kids. Jessica was in her element with new-found friends to build sandcastles and splash around in the shallows with.

All in all, we had an incredible stay on the Perhentian’s and whilst it may not have the plush, luxury of five-star resorts that is what makes it so rustic, special and charming. Without doubt one of the best places we’ve been so far and we’d go back in a heartbeat!

One Response

  1. Rob

    Sounds like you found a suitable replacement for missing the Gilis. Any good snorkelling off the beach? We will have to put it on our “to go” list.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.