Perhentian Islands – Malaysia

To get to the Perhentian Islands off the East coast of Malaysia, from Lankawai Island off the West Coast of Malaysia, we took a ferry to the mainland, then an overnight bus to the East coast. Our bus arrived at the small town of Kuala Besut at about 3am, and we waited until about 6am before the offices for the jetty opened. The jetty is the main departure point and gateway to the Perhentian islands, so boats started early. There are two main islands, Kecil which is a more backpacker and ‘party’ island, and Besar which is the bigger and quieter island.

We stayed at Bayu Dive Lodge, which is mostly for people who would like to get their diving certification. We were on the island for the last week before they close their doors to the public for the monsoon season, which lasts a few months. We were not getting training, but since there were almost no other customers due to season ending, they had plenty of room and we were able to stay.

Our accommodation was literally a ten second walk to the beach, where we were able to snorkel directly off the shore to see lots of tropical fish, anemonies and some corals. Every day we walked to the far end of the beach, where there was a lot more reef with corals and fish. We would swim out to Shark point, where we saw black tip reef sharks. Along the way we would pass lots of corals, anemonies, and a wide variety of fish. We even saw some blue spotted sting rays a couple of times.

There are no roads on this island at all, every resort and accommodation is on the beachfront around the island. If you want to get to another part of the island, you need to take a boat around the island, or hike through the jungle to the other side. On our stretch of beach there was a few restaurants and resorts, but otherwise it was pretty dead. At night the most noise we had was from the waves lapping on the shore, and the giant fruit bats feeding in the trees and flying about. The beach was dark and the sky was lit up by millions of stars that looked so clear. We even spotted a scorpion running on the beach while on one of our night walks.

On a few days we hiked through the jungle for about an hour each way, to get to Perhentian resort on the other side. This was a fancy resort that had Turtle point directly off its beach. We would make ourselves at home on their private beach and deck chairs before heading out to swim with the turtles, reef sharks and many sting rays. The hike each way through the jungle was really beautiful. The vegetation was dense and we were on small mud paths through the trees. We managed to spot wild monkeys and also water monitor lizards on the trek, and could not believe the size of the giant ants we came across many times!

Being so close to nature, it was only a matter of time before we would encounter a snake, but didnt expect to take a shower with one! While washing off our swimming gear in the shower after snorkeling all day, a baby python about 1.2m long decided to come in from outside, between the roof and the wall and drop down into the shower with us! It would not leave and made itself at home behind the toilet cistern. After about an hour or two, it was not moving, so we had to get the staff to help, and they managed to get it out and released it into the jungle.

We heard that there had been a sighting of whale sharks the day before, so we went on a paid snorkel trip to hopefully find them. Our trip took us to Rawa and Burong islands where we unfortunately did not see any whale sharks, but did see turtles, sting rays, a huge titan trigger fish and also a beautiful clown trigger fish. We also saw lots of clown fish with their anemones, as well as schools of parrot fish and some gigantic bump head parrot fish. We also so loads of amazing corals of all types, colours and sizes, it was really awesome day of snorkeling.

After a week of being in paradise, we needed to leave the island and make our way to Melaka. We left the island by speed boat as a storm was starting, so there was really big waves splashing over us as we made our way to the mainland. It was extremely scary and many times we thought the boat would capsize. When we arrived at Kuala Besut, we were completely soaked to our skin and caught a taxi to the bus depot where we waited a few hours for the night bus to arrive and take us to Melaka.

We arrived the next day in Melaka, and only spent 2 nights before boarding a bus to Singapore. There is not much to do in Melaka, but there are some nice restaurants where we sampled the Malaysian dish “Nasi Lemak”. There are a number of historical streets, churches and buildings, but we did not have time to see them all.