Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Guide to Perhentian Kecil

*All photos are taken using Motorola Moto G gen 1

I've recently went on a trip to Pulau Perhentian Kecil for 6 Days 5 Night with my friend in an attempt to obtain the PADI Open Water Dive license. Unfortunately I was the only one in the group who did not manage to get the license - but I brought back many wonderful memories & experiences from this trip.

Here's a guide on what I think is useful for those of you keen on travelling to Perhentian.

Getting to Perhentian from KL

The fastest way to get to Perhentian from KL is by air to Kota Bharu, then by taxi to Kuala Besut jetty, and then by speedboat to the island.

The cost of our flight ticket was RM154 return , inclusive of a 20kg check-in luggage.

Rates for taxi from Kota Bharu Airport to Kuala Besut jetty is fixed at RM78 per way (as of July 2015). You are required to pay the fare before exiting the airport. Once the payment is made, you can hop onto any of the grey taxis parked at the taxi lane of the airport. If no grey taxis are in sight (which was the case for us, as we arrived during lunch time), you can hop onto any regular taxis too.

If you're a solo traveler or you're travelling in pair & you're travelling on a tight budget, you might want to consider sharing a taxi with another solo traveler to the jetty as the rates are charged per cab not per head.

The journey to Kuala Besut from Kota Bharu airport takes about 45 minutes to one hour, depending on the traffic or how your taxi driver drives.

Alternatively, you can also take a bus from KL to Kuala Besut straight, if you don't mind being on a bus for long hours.

Note that there are only THREE speedboat services available per day, that is 8am, 12pm and 4pm. We touched down at about 1pm at Kota Bharu airport so we had plenty of time to spare before heading towards the jetty. We manage to have Nasi Dagang for lunch at a Malay warung (small Malay food stall) before heading towards the jetty.

There are plenty of warungs on the way to & at Kuala Besut jetty.

Before Heading to Perhentian

There are no ATM on the island make sure you have enough cash for your daily expenses before heading to Perhentian. Foreign exchange is available on the island though, but expect a lower exchange rate.

You might want to consider stocking up on some snacks like bread, cup noodles, chips and perhaps a few bottle of water as the prices of everything on the island is double of what it cost here on the mainland. (Scroll down to read about the prices of F&B on the island) There are quite a number of sundry shops selling all the basic necessities around the jetty area. If not, you can also be a kind traveler and contribute to the economy and business of the traders on the island !

Phone reception on the island: Definitely not the best in Pernisular Malaysia. Maxis/Hotlink has a decent coverage with OCCASION 3G (the reception is better by the beach/on the sea when on the speed boat).

All travelers to Perhentian are required to pay the Marine Conservative fees (Adult: RM5, Children RM3) before heading to the island.
The speedboat to the island takes about 30-50 minutes, depending on which area of the island you are heading to.

Please do avoid bringing a trolley bags at all cost. At most places, the speedboat just stops in the middle of the sea and you are required switch to another smaller speedboat to head on to your respective resort/hotel/hostel. The smaller speedboat will stop at the shallow area of the beach so you're required to waddle through shallow water after alighting from the boat. And besides, even if you alight at a proper jetty, you still have to make your way through the soft, sandy beach (which by the way, is really trolley-bag-unfriendly) to your resort/hostel/hotel.

It is therefore, highly recommended that you wear water-proof footwear/footwear that can be easily removed such as flipflops and shorts when you're heading towards Perhentian.

Matahari Divers

We choose Matahari Divers as the price they quote is the cheapest we can find on the net. Matahari Diver is founded by Jeng, a friendly Perhentian-born young lad who you will find sweeping the floor every morning, greeting everyone he sees.

We paid RM1200 per pax for the 4D3N PADI Open Water Dive Package for a triple share Air-Conditioned Room.

Our package is inclusive of:
- 3 night accommodation with private bathroom
- Return speedboat ticket from Kuala Besut-Long Beach-Kuala Besut
- Padi Open Water course with an experience instructor and equipment provided
- Free coffee/tea at dive center
- Free Matahari Divers T-shirts
- Free WiFi
We paid RM180 extra for a night extension at Matahari Chalet.

Our room at Matahari Chalet was simple and good enough to sleep in. Air-condition was really cold, and we had to turn it off in the middle of the night for almost all nights. Our hot shower wasn't working but it didn't really mattered as we were out in the sun for the whole day. No electricity from 12pm-6.30pm but again, we were out during day time so it didn't matter too.

No electric kettle and hairdryer here too, but you can get hot water from the dive school if you brought along any 3-in-1 or cup noodles :) Do take note that most budget accommodation on Perhentian Kecil do not offer kettle and hairdryer.

For more information, visit

The beautiful scene at Matahari Divers, taken at different time of the day.

Long Beach

The most happening beach on Perhentian Kecil.

White soft sandy beaches, with listerine-blue water. Simply a paradise...

There are quite a number of restaurants located along the stretch of Long Beach, but I wouldn't say you'll be spoiled with choices- the food choices & pricing offered at all places are almost the same.

Expect to pay around RM7-15 for a plate of fried noodles/rice , sandwiches or Maggie Mee (instant noodles). BBQ dinner set is offered at almost all restaurants here at Perhentian Kecil. Priced at RM25, each BBQ set usually comes with a choice of protein (choose from Fish, Prawn, Chicken, Beef, Squid etc.), Carbohydrates (Rice/Potatoes), a sauce, a banana bread & a fruit. Some restaurants also throw in a drink to go with your set.

Night life on Long Beach is fantastic- Fire Dances, fireworks & so much more!  Grab a can of beer (Tiger RM8 ; Chang RM7) and sit around the mat & small table set up along the beach and enjoy the show.

It can be a nuisance though, if you're looking for peace and quiet.

F&B on Perhentian Kecil

As stated above, choices of food is pretty limited on the island. Expect to fork out a little extra for each meal here at Perhentian Kecil.
The best deal I found on the island was this ALL YOU CAN EAT BUFFET BREAKFAST at Panorama Diver for only RM15

! Panorama Diver is located just right next to Matahari Divers.

Be sure to make your payment at the counter before digging into the buffet!

Fried Rice & Fried Noodles
Sausages & Wedges
Doughnut & Roti Canai
Fried Eggs & Baked Beans

When you're on an island where a loaf of Gardenia White Bread cost RM5, Roti Canai RM6, a RM15 buffet breakfast is simply a gem.
The cheapest (& busiest) lunch place on Long Beach would definitely be this little warung under the grey tent just outside Panorama Diver. You can get a plate of Fried Rice/Noodles for only RM6 here. This little warung opens daily at 9am till sold out.

My plate of Nasi Goreng (Fried Rice) + a small piece of Fried Chicken RM6

You can choose from an array of cooking style for the Nasi Goreng here- from Nasi Goreng USA, Cina, Tom Yum, Pineapple, and many many more.

Things To Do (Other than diving & snorkeling)

Take a short 45 minutes hike from Long Beach to the Wind Turbine up on the hill, overlooking the beautiful D' Lagoon. The view from the top was impressive- I couldn't capture the true beauty of that place using my Motorola phone camera + it was really cloudy on that day. You'll have to see it with your own eyes. 
Some of the steps down the sunken jetty are missing , and the rails are all rusty so do take extra precaution while ascending the stairs.

The sunken jetty & a friend from Switzerland I made while hiking! 
The impressive wind turbine.
The track up the windmill is relatively easy. I managed the whole hike with just slippers cause I didn't bring my sport shoes along. Ask any friendly locals around for direction towards the windmill from Long Beach, they'll be more than willing to help.
How do you know you're on the right track? Easy, just follow the cables... Fun fact: Phone reception throughout the hike is really good lol! My 3G worked really well throughout the whole hike. 

Long Beach Sunrise

I have been waking up before the crack of dawn every morning to witness the beautiful sunrise at Long Beach. A picture speaks a thousand words.

So there's approximately 8,000 words spoken.

Coral Bay

Coral Bay is located at the West side of Perhentian Kecil. Coral Bay is just a brisk 10 minutes walk (with a little terrain) from Long Beach.

Map of Perhentian.
Pathway to Coral Bay. Some uphill & downhill terrain along the path so be prepared to sweat a little!
It is pretty evident why Coral Bay is called Coray Bay from the picture above.

Coral Bay is much quiet & chill compared to Long Beach. There isn't much night life here on Coral Bay, except for a Bistro (Crocodile Rock) playing live jazz music on the beach at night.
Bean bags at Crocodile Rock!
Eggs Benedict RM13
I spent a whole morning just chilling at the bean bag of Crocodile Rock while enjoying my Egg Benny breakfast. It was a nice & fresh respite from Long Beach.
After spending 4 nights on Long Beach we decided to stay a night at Senja, a resort located at the far end of Coral Bay, for a more quiet & peaceful night. One night stay at a chalet with a Queen Size Bed + Extra Bed inclusive of breakfast buffet for 3 pax was RM350

Our cosy little chalet was just located by the beach. We had a better sleep quality here at Senja, because of the absence of firecrackers & loud music here.

Everything at Coral Bay is cheaper compared to at Long Beach. A bottle of 2 litre drinking water only cost RM3 here. BBQ Dinner Set is priced at RM20 at Coral Bay. A snorkeling trip with 3 stops + equipment rental is only priced at RM25.
Coral Bay is renowned for their sunset but unfortunately for us, it was really cloudy on our last evening there so we didn't get to witness the majestic sunset.

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