A few of my loves in life - food, conservation work, travel
Published August 20th 2012
Crystal-clear blue and green waters, white sand stretching for miles, abundant aquatic flora and fauna, sunny skies. Sounds like paradise does it not? Well, that is how I felt when I first visited the Perhentian Islands. Separated from the mainland of the east coast of Malaysia by a half hour speed boat ride, this group of islands are able to take one's breath away no matter the number of times one has visited.
In my opinion, the easiest way for visitors to reach these islands is from the port at Kuala Besut, Terengganu. All boats will take their passengers directly to their destinations on the islands - something like a water-taxi service. And that is how one gets around the islands as well - aside from walking that is. Water-taxis are available all around.
Some visitors opt to rent a water-taxi for a whole day or two (depending on the duration of their stay and their activities). Should one choose to stretch their legs and decide to walk around the island, various tracks that connect the beaches are available as an alternative to water-taxis. However, it is sometimes best to rent a water-taxi as the boatmen act as guides as well, bringing their passengers to beautiful coral reefs or even on a hunt for turtles (just to gaze upon of course - and take a few pictures if one is quick enough).
Comprising of two main islands, Perhentian Kecil (Small Perhentian) and Perhentian Besar (Big Perhentian), one is spoilt for choice in terms of accommodation: from going back to nature and staying in tents to living in luxury in 5-star accommodations. In terms of food, visitors have no need to worry as a variety of foods ranging from local meals to other cuisines are available all around.
While the beaches are a sight to behold, the views at the Perhentian Islands are amplified by the jungle covered hills that flank the beaches. Something for everyone - beaches AND jungles. A priceless combination of nature in my book. This combination gives the Perhentian Islands a well-known reputation for their breath-taking views and experiences. Among the main activities available for visitors are scuba-diving and snorkelling. Not to mention their jungle trekking and turtle conservation sites (and volunteer projects).
During my stay at the islands, I had the pleasure of enjoying the beach and accommodation at the east coast end of Perhentian Kecil, namely, Mohsin Chalet. Ranking 3-stars, the chalets were quaint, clean and reasonably priced. It was a five minute walk from the beach but it offered one the choice of a green jungle view, or the view of stretching crystal waters.
The best time to visit these islands are in the months of July and August - especially so for avid scuba divers and snorkellers. As the islands are affected by the monsoon season, the islands are usually closed off to visitors from November to February. However, any time between March and October is a good time to visit as well.
While I fear that the growing focus on tourism is starting to affect its natural beauty, I believe that it is everyone's duty - locals and tourists alike - to preserve this paradise.