Northeast of Peninsular Malaysia, nearby the city of Kota Bharu, there are two small islands that form the Perhentian Islands. The names are Perhentian Besar, the larger of the two and popular among couples and families with children, and Perhentian Kecil, the smaller island and very popular among budget travelers. Both the islands have plenty of accommodation available to stay overnight. This ranges from luxurious resorts that offer cabanas complete with air-conditioning, to simple lodges where you will have to do with cold water and a fan.
There are no (internationally renowned) hotels. Perhentian is most popular because the great places for diving and snorkeling; in most cases you can enjoy the underwater world right in front of the resort. It is also very popular because the island is easy to reach; though during the monsoon season (October to March) practically the whole island is closed to tourists. As Perhentian Island is part of a marine park visitors have to pay a conservation fee of RM5. The island is situated about 20 kilometers off the northeastern coast of Peninsular Malaysia.
Perhentian is the perfect destination
First time we went to Perhentian Island left us wanting to come back for more as we did not get the opportunity to really explore the island because of a 5-day diving-course. Years later we have visited the island numerous times. Often visitors of Wonderful Malaysia ask us if we would choose Perhentian Island (or other islands on the eastern side of the peninsula) over islands like Langkawi, Penang and Pangkor on the western side of the peninsula.
Langkawi, Penang and Pangkor cannot be compared with islands at the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia, but they all are equally beautiful on their own. Penang is renowned for its busy, engaging, multicultural atmosphere, Langkawi is known for its beautiful landscape and wildlife and Pangkor is still the quaint island as it was years ago. If you are looking to visit an affordable tropical destination within Malaysia, Perhentian is a great choice. Diving and snorkeling together form the highlights of your visit to the island. The islands of the Terengganu Marine Park are well-known for the stunning clear waters, fantastic coral reefs and amazing marine life. You can stay overnight for RM50 per night, but also for well over RM300 per night. If you want to experience that ultimate tropical feeling during your visit to Malaysia, Pulau Perhentian is the perfect place.
Dinner options at Perhentian
When we visit the island we usually try a number of different restaurants to avoid eating at the same place every night but also to get a good impression of the food on the island. We found out that food overall is pretty good on the island, though prices did go up a bit over the years (still very affordable). For example; the simple restaurant in front of the basic Paradise Resort (Perhentian Besar) was a great place to eat. Most tourists shared our views as the restaurant was packed every evening. The food was tasty and very affordable. Also, there was plenty of choice and the service was excellent. The restaurant of the Coral View Resort for example also offers good meals; furthermore, there is a splendid view of the bay right in front of the resort. We did also enjoy a good meal at Tuna Bay Resort; but we did notice all the other resort guests preferred western food over the delicious local cuisine.
Local dishes are often influenced by the Thai cuisine (this goes for the local dishes in the whole Kelantan area). We especially enjoyed the Black Pepper Beef, Singapore Style Bee Hoon and the Daging Merah (around RM18 per dish). Most local restaurants also serve western meals; for example the lunch menu contains popular meals like BLT, burger with fries, club sandwich. Often there also is an extensive smoothie and mocktail list (around RM10 per drink). In most restaurants there is also a cocktail menu (with of course many other alcoholic beverages). On both Kecil and Besar there is no real party scene. If you are searching for something that can be considered as nightlife; you are best off at Perhentian Kecil.