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Top 7 things to do in Perhentian Islands

Long beach, things to do in Perhentian Islands

The Perhentian Islands are backpackers and divers paradise that attracts tourists from all over the world, and it’s no surprise why.

The Perhentian Islands are a stunningly beautiful and secluded spot on the East Coast of Peninsular Malaysia, facing the South China Sea with crystal clear water, soft white sand beaches, and lush rainforest. There are plenty of things to keep you busy here on the Perhentian Islands! These islands have something for everyone, from swimming and snorkeling to lounging on the beach under the trees.

If you plan to visit the Perhentians, check out our list of the top seven things you must do while visiting the Perhentian Islands!

things to do in Perhentian Islands - long beach

About the Perhentian Islands

Perhentian Islands consist of two islands, the Pulau Perhentian Besar (the big island) and Pulau Perhentian Kecil (the small island). Both islands are next to each other and are one of the most popular diving and snorkeling destinations on the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia.

We drove from Kuala Lumpur to Kuala Besut jetty, the gateway to take the speedboat to Perhentian. An alternative way to reach the islands is to fly to Kota Bharu, then take a taxi to the Kuala Bersut jetty. 

The peak season to visit the Perhentian Islands is between April to November, when the weather is best. Monsoon season is not the time to visit due to the strong winds and should be avoided if possible.

Top 7 things to do in the Perhentian islands

Long beach at Perhentian islands

1. Snorkeling

The Perhentian Islands are blessed with beautiful clear water and marine life. It is the best place for multiple snorkeling trips to see various colorful fish and corals just by putting your head in the water. If you don’t have your gear, you can always rent it from the many dive shops on the island.

snorkeling at pualu rawa

If you are lucky, you can swim with the green sea turtles, relatively tame and not afraid of humans. On my snorkeling trip in the Perhentians, the boatman took us to Rawa island and Serenggeh Island. Here, I managed to swim with one green turtle for a minute before he dived deep into the water.

Snorkling at perhentian islands

If you enjoy the beauty of the Perhentian Islands underwater world, I recommend doing a snorkeling excursion while you are here!

You can also choose to do sea kayaking near the main islands of the Perhentians.

Don’t miss the video shot during our stay at Pulau Perhentian Kecil. It is at the end of this article. 👇👇

2. Scuba Diving

The Perhentian Islands are well-known for their beautiful dive sites in Southeast Asia. There are many dive schools on both islands to cater to your diving needs, whether you are a beginner or an experienced diver.

If you are lucky, you will be greeted with the colorful coral reefs, various fishes, and hopefully some small sharks and turtles.

A shoal of fishes - things to do in Perhentian Islands

Since we are not divers, we took the Discovery Scuba Diving (DSD) course. This course is conducted by Sea Voice Divers, located at Coral Bay. It’s a great beginner’s option for people like us who are not experienced divers and need to try it out before committing to an entire diving course.

The DSD program consists of a short classroom session with an introduction and explanation of safety. A practical session follows it in shoulder-deep water before venturing out to the sea below eight meters under the close supervision of the instructor.

Beautiful clowndish (Nemo)  - things to do in Perhentian Islands

I was initially nervous, but our instructor was very patient and followed us closely. The nerves wore off after a while, and I immersed myself in the beauty of the undersea view and various colorful fishes and corals.

I would strongly recommend doing a DSD program if you are interested in diving but have never tried it before. You can take up the PADI certified open water diving course for fun dives at one of the dive centers if you want to be a certified diver.

Discovery scuba diving at Perhentian islands

3. Enjoy the panoramic view from the windmill at Perhentian Kecil

hiking to windkill - things to do in Perhentian Islands

One of the most popular things on Perhentian Kecil is to hike up to the windmill and enjoy the panoramic views from up there. The hike takes about 20-30 minutes, depending on your fitness level. It’s not a strenuous hike, but it can be pretty tiring in the heat. 

hiking to windmill

Once we got to the base of the windmill, we saw a broken wooden staircase. This staircase was initially built to access the top of the windmill. However, it has since deteriorated over time and is no longer usable. 

wooden stairs at the windmill - things to do in Perhentian Islands

We descend from the wooden staircase until the broken part. The view was breathtaking.

panoramic view of perhentian kecil island

We were greeted with stunning views of the islands, the turquoise water, and the white sandy beaches. 

The windmills are no longer in use since the Island’s electricity is directly provided from the mainland. Nevertheless, it’s still a popular spot for tourists to visit. 

After enjoying the views, we went back down and stopped for a refreshing drink along Long Beach.

4. Chill at Long Beach at night

long beach at night

One of the best things to do on the Pulau Perhentian Kecil is to relax on the beach and enjoy the stunning views. Long Beach is the most popular beach on Perhentian Kecil for a good reason. It has crystal clear water, white sand, and plenty of beach umbrellas and sun loungers. There are also many restaurants and cafes along the beach so you won’t go hungry.

awatif cage at long beach - things to do in Perhentian Islands

When night falls, Long Beach comes to life. The beach was lit up by the lights from the cafes and looked beautiful. It’s definitely worth staying on the beach until midnight!

There are numerous restaurants and bistros along the beach and cafes and restaurants. They turn on their music, making the atmosphere more vibrant and party-like. 

chill at the long beach at night - pulau perhentian

You can also find street performers singing here and fire shows performed at night! 

street preformer at long beach

This is the place to be if you’re looking for a night out. We had a great time drinking and chilling at the beach bars with friends. The ambiance was fantastic and stayed lively until midnight.

If you love the beach, spend some time at Long Beach at night! You got to experience the carnival-like atmosphere right on the beach.

things to do in Perhentian Islands - chill at long beach

5. Visit the Perhentian fishing village

nelayan village at pulau perhentian kecil

The fishing village is located on the east coast of Perhentian Kecil. It can be reached by taking a fifteen minutes boat trip with the water taxis from Long Beach. 

fishing village to vidit - things to do in Perhentian Islands

The fishing village is a small community consisting of about 30 houses. Most villagers here make their living by fishing. , You’ll often see them going out to the sea in the early mornings and returning in the afternoon with their catches.

the jetty  at the fishing village - things to do in Perhentian Islands

The fishing village is a great place to learn about the local way of life. It is interesting to see how the villagers go about their daily lives.

 You can walk around and explore the village, or you can even go for a swim in the sea. The water here is crystal clear and perfect for a refreshing dip.

floating mosque at pulau perhentian kecil

If you’re interested in trying some of the freshest seafood on the island, the fishing village is the place to go. There are several small restaurants here that serve delicious seafood dishes at reasonable prices. 

ice cream potong

We tried a unique type of ice cream called “Potong,” which was delicious.

If you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of Long Beach, make sure to visit the fishing village!

6. Relax in the resort at Perhentian Islands

mimpi perhentian resort

There are plenty of resorts if you want to relax and pamper yourself during your stay on Perhentian Islands.

We stayed at the Mimpi Perhentian Resort at Long beach, which was beautiful. The rooms were spacious and airy, and the beds were extremely comfortable. We had a wonderful stay at the resort. I recommend it to anyone looking for a place to relax on Perhentian Kecil.

Bubu Long Beach Resort is another luxurious resort next to Mimpi.

You can consider staying at Perhentian Island Resort at the Pulau Perhentian Besar. There is less happening on the bigger island, and it is the perfect place to relax and enjoy the scenery.

relax at mimpi perhentian resort - things to do in Perhentian Islands

For budget travelers, there are also several guesthouses and hostels on both islands. So no matter your budget, you’ll be able to find a place to stay that suits your needs on Perhentian Islands.

After an action-packed day of exploring and swimming, there’s nothing better than coming back to your room, kicking back, and watching the sunset over the ocean.

7. Swim with sharks at Shark Point

Shark Point is one of the most popular snorkeling spots on the Perhentian Islands. It’s located on the west coast of Perhentian Kecil and can be reached by boat from Long Beach. The journey takes about 20 minutes.

When you arrive at Shark Point, you’ll be greeted by a large school of sharks. But, don’t worry; they are harmless reef sharks that pose no threat to humans. Snorkeling here is fantastic, and you’ll also get to see a variety of other marine life, such as turtles, clownfish, and barracudas.

We did not manage to have enough time on this trip to check out Shark Point. However, it is definitely on our list for our next trip!

long beach

How to get to Pulau Perhentian

The best way is to fly to Kuala Terengganu from Kuala Lumpur. After that, get a taxi to Kuala Besut to get a boat to Pulau Perhentian. Otherwise, you can drive from Kuala Lumpur directly to Kuala Besut jetty, but it will take a grueling seven-hour drive. Besides that, it is also better to pre-book the boat online, which is RM35 per trip.

The best time to take the boat is in the morning, especially if you plan a day trip to enjoy the whole afternoon on the islands. 

Long beach get ready for dinner

If you’re planning a trip to Perhentian Islands, I hope this guide has helped you decide what to do during your stay. Perhentian island is the place to be if you’re looking for beautiful beaches, crystal clear water, and diving. The scenery and the nightlife at Long Beach are incredible, and I can’t wait to come back and explore more.

Watch our video shot at Pulau Perhentian Kecil. 👇👇

If you have read this blog post this far, don’t miss out on the video showing the best things to do in Perhentian Islands. Click the image below to watch on YouTube (shot in high definition!).

Check out these resorts in Malaysia

  • Check out our review on Mimpi Perhentian Resort, where we spent our holiday at Perhentian Islands.
  • Pangkor Laut Resort is a luxury resort located on one private island, just fifteen minutes speedboat ride from the west coast of Malaysia. Read our review article on this blog.