Pulau Perhentian is made up of two islands, Pulau Perhentian Besar (Big Perhentian Island) and Pulau Perhentian Kecil (Small Perhentian Island), separated by a narrow strait. The Perhentian islands are known for teir hypnotizing azure waters framed by white sand and a whole lot of praise from previous visitors.
You’ll come to Pulau Perhentians for the same reason you’ll visit any other beach paradise, except this one won’t cost you a bomb. Accommodation options are numerous and cater to the ones on a shoestring as well as those who want to live a little like a king; for the latter group, perhaps it will cost a bomb. Activities on the island are mainly snorkelling, diving, trekking and anything else to do with that inviting diamond of a sea.
Each of the two islands have somehow carved out a personality of their own.
Perhentian Kecil (pronouched kuh-chil) has more of a party atmosphere than its neighbour, Besar. And while the view from the main beach is somewhat marred by speedboats and sea taxis docked at the shore, the simultaneously energetic yet laid-back vibe of Kecil is infectious. Chalets and rooms here are slightly cheaper. People who choose to stay on Little Perhentian think along the lines of, “I’m young, I’m poor, I wanna relax but I also wanna party.”
If you’re up for a bit of unwinding, head to Perhentian Besar (pronounced buh-sahr) instead. The options for sleeping are slightly more upscale and resorts there even have a spa to loosen up those knots. The best beach on this island is the one in front of the secluded Perhentian Island Resort. It is not uncommon to see budgeteers taking advantage of this free beauty by commuting from their respective places of accommodation, up a long flight of stairs, across a bridge and down again just to spend a day frolicking in the perfect cyan-turquoise waters here.
Prices for the rooms on each island are dependent on the high and low peak seasons so choose the time to visit wisely if you want to get the most value out of your money. The island remains open to visitors almost all year round. Between February and October, the monsoon season is away. In December, ferry services from Kuala Besut jetty will cease. As you can deduce, monsoon season is between November to January and possibly February.
Like mainland Malaysia, food is cheap and delicious. Be aware that on Perhentian Besar, the only options for eating are resorts’ restaurants but there is no rule that says you can only dine at your own.
It is important to note that the island does not have electricity for most of the afternoon until early evening. Some restaurants, resorts and chalets have their own generator and can keep the power going for the whole day, it’s best to check when making your booking if you require constant electricity.
A speedboat from Kuala Besut jetty is the only way of reaching either island and going from one to the other is possible with the help of sea taxis.
All in all, Pulau Perhentian presents a great opportunity to savour island life in its gorgeous backdrop. It’s not surprising to find out that visitors who can, will stay longer than they intended.
By the way, the correct pronounciation is per-huhn-tee-ahn - not per-henshen. And the correct spelling is Perhentian, not 'Perinthian' as we've seen elsewhere.