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The Perhentian Islands

Listed under Islands in Malaysia.

  • Powdery White Sand – Image by Flashpacker Family
  • Photo of The Perhentian Islands
Powdery White Sand – Image by Flashpacker Family
Powdery White Sand – Image by Flashpacker Family
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The Perhentians have long been a popular beach destination in Malaysia, but were originally a break in the long journey between Bangkok and Malaysia ("perhentian" in Bahasa Malaysia means "stopping point"). Though the islands were supported by fishing income early in their history, they are now part of Pulau Redang National Marine Park and fishing is strictly prohibited. Consequently, tourism is the primary source of income, and the staggering beauty of the fine sand beaches, crystal-clear water and thriving marine life has resulted in a booming tourist trade.

Split into two separate islands, Besar ("Big") and Kecil ("Small"), each Perhentian offers a specific brand of relaxation. Besar is the more isolated of the two and as its name would suggest, is bigger in size. Beaches dot the circumference of the island but the centre is a tangled maze of forest and jagged rock. The resorts on Besar are more expensive and cater mostly to couples or newlyweds. In contrast, Kecil's two main beaches are perfect for the backpacker set, with the quieter Coral Bay a sunset-watching haven and Long Beach renowned for its partying and unfortunately for petty theft.

I came to the Perhentians with Allen, who was kind enough to join me on my painful birthday climb of Gunung Agung. Since it was high season and we had heard sufficient horror stories of how the islands were full and last-minute beach camping was the only accommodation, we called ahead and found rooms at Senja Bay. Senja turned out to be a perfect choice: it had free WiFi, great food and hot water - and some of the better sunset views on the beach. Since Kecil is fairly tiny, we were also able to traipse over to Long Beach via a 15-minute easy hike through the forest.

Written by  Jodi Ettenberg.

Other expert and press reviews

“Wherever you stay, plan your accommodation in advance”

It’s not easy to walk from beach to beach searching for the best bungalow. The season for the Perhentians is short so, by April, many places are booked solidly for stays in June, July and August. If you’ve got your heart set on a particular p… Read more...

Written by  David Lee. Read more on GoBackpacking

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