After hearing people talking about how great Perhentian Islands are, I wanted to go there, too. Since the islands are located in the state of Terengganu, I never had the time to go there due to my hectic work schedule and everyday routines in Kuala Lumpur. After I quit my job sometime in March 2017, my friend and I took a bus from Terminal Bersepadu Selatan (TBS) bus station to Kuala Besut.
Initially, we wanted to travel the day before, but since there weren’t tickets available, we tried travelling on the following day instead. We were surprised to know that all of the tickets were almost sold out. We were lucky enough to get tickets from the Perdana Express bus company, whose one-way ticket from Kuala Lumpur to Kuala Besut cost around RM44 per person. It may not be the cheapest, but that was the only bus company available at the time. That being said, it’s handy to book your tickets in advance. You can purchase them at www.busticketonline.com.
Did you know? Perdana Express is a double-decker bus company that offers comfortable seats and free Wi-Fi. There are also power plugs available at the last rows of their bus seats.
Since the journey took about 8 hours and we arrived during the late evening, we decided to spend one night in Kuala Besut. Before dusk, we purchased our boat tickets from a tour agency nearby. A return-ticket from Kuala Besut to Perhentian Islands costs RM70 per person. Always get your tickets from a certified tour agent.
There are two banks available in Kuala Besut: BSN and Agrobank. If you’re a foreign traveller, you can only perform withdrawals at any of the BSN ATM machines. Withdraw enough money for your trip before getting to the island. As of April 2017, there are no ATM machines available in Perhentian Islands.
When we were in Kuala Besut, we needed to withdraw more money from the one-and-only ATM machine in the area. Unfortunately, it ran out of cash, hence we thought of returning back to the machine on the following day instead.
The next day, we were disappointed again. The machine still had no money in it. We had no choice but to take a taxi to find the nearest ATM machines. Apparently, all the BSN ATM machines ran out of cash! That was what the locals told me. They said that’s pretty common.
Then, our taxi driver drove us all the way to Jerteh, which is around 30-minute drive away from Kuala Besut. It’s absurd that the taxi fare was RM50!
Now that you’ve read this story, remind yourself to take enough (or maybe extra) cash with you before you reach Kuala Besut.
At noon, we went to the jetty to catch our speedboat. There we were asked to pay a conservation fee. As a local, I only paid RM5. As for my friend, who is a foreigner, he had to pay a little more.
After hopping into our speedboat, we were ready to start our holiday. The boat journey was lovely. The waves were quite strong, and our speedboat went up and down the waves like a rollercoaster. Yes, it hurt my butt a little, but hey, that was fun!
Exploring Perhentian Islands
After our 45-minute boat ride, we arrived safely at the Rainforest Camping, an accommodation situated at the Rainforest Beach, also known as Sandy Coral Beach. We were planning to stay there for 3 days and 2 nights.
Upon our arrival, we were greeted by a friendly girl from Czech Republic. She was one of the volunteers working at the accommodation. After we checked in, she showed us our tent. It was a big tent that can accommodate two people. For a night stay in the tent, each of us was required to pay RM25.
Many of the tents were not occupied simply because it was still the low season. After the month of April, there will surely be many more tourists flocking into the island. Since it was still the end of the monsoon season, downpours were expected. There was no rain when we first arrived at the island, though. It was sunny. Thank goodness for that!
After we kept our bags in our tent, we went exploring the island. Before we left the camp site, we told the receptionist that we’ll be back for dinner. I was hoping to return before 7:30pm. That’s when everything gets dark.
As we explored Perhentian Kecil, we saw several lovely chalets that were facing the ocean. We also came across these cute little guys:
We stopped by the pipeline to watch them doing their thing. I thought it was very entertaining. They seemed to be having a busy day. It just reminded me of my working days. The ants weren’t the only ones that were interesting to watch. We spotted some squirrels, too!
The ocean was also worth watching. It’s gorgeous. The sounds of the trees rustling and the tune of the breezy wind were also very calming. I was very happy to have the chance to see the ocean. Its crystal-clear water was very soothing to the eyes. After working hard for a whole year, spending a couple of days in paradise was what I needed. Thanks to my friend, Cis, for inviting me.
We walked for another 20 minutes before we finally reached Long Beach, the island’s main beach, which is very popular among backpackers.
As we walked along the white sandy beach, we found many restaurants, small shops and guesthouses. Long Beach is famous for its parties and nightlife. During the peak season, Long Beach can get very crowded. If you prefer a quieter place, then I highly recommend the Rainforest Camping on Perhentian Kecil (small) island.
At Coral Bay, you’ll also find the area to be quieter than Long Beach. Although its beach isn’t as great as the one at Long Beach, it’s still a perfect getaway, especially for couples. Love snorkelling? That’s great. Coral Bay is just perfect for that. It is also said that the sunset at Coral Bay is extremely beautiful.
After walking under the hot sun, we headed straight into the ocean to cool off. With such a gorgeous ocean, who can resist? Neither was the water very cold nor very warm. It was perfect. We spent about 30 minutes in the water. It was rejuvenating. I could also see some couples swimming around the corner.
The experience was indeed something to remember. Honestly, I have never swum in a beautiful ocean like this. Even though I have been to many islands, including the Gili islands in Indonesia, I never really jumped into the water. That’s a story I’ll write about in another post.
Before I forget, I saw some crabs on the rocks near the shores of the island. They were big, and they moved really fast! I couldn’t keep up with those cute crawly athletes!
We didn’t do much on our first day on the island. We just wanted to hangout and relax. We got ourselves some soft drinks and alcohol, talked about serious topics, and watched the beautiful sunset. It was a good day indeed. We didn’t even notice how fast time went by, and when we looked at our watches, it was already 7:15pm.
We quickly headed back to our campsite. We didn’t bring any torch light with us, so we had to rely on my mobile phone to light up the way. I only had 19% battery left on my phone.
Whenever it gets dark, I tend to get a little nervous simply because I am unable to see anything before me. I was really hoping that we’ll get back to our tents before my phone battery dies. Fortunately, we arrived back to the campsite safely. At Rainforest Camping, guests can only charge their gadgets at night.
At the campsite, I found two dogs and their cute little puppies. Check out this little rascal:
When dinner was ready, I was extremely excited to check out what the kitchen had prepared for us. I couldn’t recall what the dishes were, but I was very pleased with the cooking. The dinner meals were amazing. I thought the chefs did an excellent job.
After dinner, I had a cup of tea. While sipping my hot tea, I could hear the ocean waves and girls giggling on the beach. One of the volunteers said that we could see bioluminescent planktons in the beach water. If you’re interested in those things, you can visit the beach at night. Be sure to take your torch lights with you.
We called it an early night and slept until the next morning.
The next day, we got ourselves ready for the day and headed straight to the restaurant for breakfast. I had a lovely omelette, toast breads and tea. At about 10am, we joined another two guests for snorkelling. We took the long tour; hence we’ll be spending the whole day snorkelling in several different snorkelling spots. The snorkelling long tour package was affordable. It cost RM35 per person only. Snorkelling equipment was also provided by the accommodation.
It was raining that morning. Like the other two guests, we were hoping for the rain to stop. We really wanted to see reef sharks, turtles, and many other small fishes. At about 10.30am, the rain finally stopped. We hopped on our boat and headed off to the popular snorkelling spots. I was happy with what I saw underwater. I saw a turtle feeding for the very first time. I wasn’t lucky enough to find the reef sharks, but I hope to find them someday.
Note: Visit Turtle Beach at night to get a chance to experience turtles laying their eggs, or watch their babies heading off to the sea.
I didn’t get to experience such beautiful moments, though. Well, perhaps someday.
In the middle of our trip, we had to go through some downpours. I was feeling very cold on the boat, and so did everybody. When you travel during low season, you should expect some rainy days. It was a good thing that we managed to fully enjoy a whole day of sun the day before.
Despite the rain, it was still an awesome trip. We stopped by a quiet beach called the ‘Romantic Beach’. While the other travellers were busy snorkelling, I kept myself busy with these lovely corals.
After our snorkelling trip, we went back to our tent to relax for a little while. The rain was still pouring. At night, we sat down at the bar and hangout. It was a laid-back night, yet it was still pretty cool. When you’re spending time with friends, the quality time you share together is all that matters.
We called it an early night again. This time there was a storm. At one point, we all thought the wind was going to blow our tents away! The roof of our tent was also leaking. We were hoping that things won’t get worse. Thankfully, everything was okay. In the morning, we realised we had some company. Check out these crawlies:
It was drizzling in the morning. We had our breakfast and hangout with the other guests. Some of them had already left the island, while some of them were about to move to a different accommodation. It was clear to us that it was time for us to leave, too.
We booked a boat back to Kuala Besut at 12pm. At noon, it was a little sunny, but who knew what the weather was going to be like later.
Important note: Before purchasing your boat tickets, ask your boat agent if the agency has its own boat or otherwise.
When we wanted to book a boat back to Kuala Besut, we realised that the tour agency that sold us the tickets didn’t actually have their own boat. Thus, we had to hop on the boat of other tour agencies. The owner of the accommodation told us that it’s always best to purchase tickets from agencies that actually have their own boats. Fortunately, we were able to get on the boat back to Kuala Besut.
On our way back, we experienced big waves. The weather wasn’t good at all. I thought we might even fall off the boat! If you ask me, the journey back to the mainland was quite an adventure.
Oh well, when you’re travelling during the end of monsoons, this is to be expected. Despite the rain and the stormy night, it was still a wonderful trip.
If you find yourself travelling during low season, don’t take any day for granted. Enjoy the sun, and even if it rains, don’t let the rain stop you from having fun. There’s always a sun after the rain.
Note: The peak season of Perhentian Islands is on July and August.
Travelling to Perhentian Islands soon? Have fun and enjoy! =)
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An ENTP who’s always thirsty for new adventures. Apart from music and writing, I’m also passionate about travel, art and entrepreneurship.