Perhentian Island Diving Experience

Perhentian Island Diving Experience

Southeast Asia countries have divine qualities that attract all divers from around the world. This time, I’m gonna share my scuba diving experience in one island in Peninsular Malaysia called Perhentian.

There are two Perhentian islands that you can visit namely Perhentian Kecil (literally translated to Small Perhentian), and Perhentian Besar (Big Perhentian). According to locals, these are the two islands that are normally visited for weekends getaway. It is only a short plane ride and boat ride away that it doesn’t require too much effort to come here.

About Perhentian Islands

Sunset paradise 🙂

The two Perhentian Islands have completely different vibes. You may fancy Small Perhentian Island if you are on a tight budget or just want to save money. Small Perhentian Island is also more crowded, hence more social, than its neighbour.

In Small Perhentian Island, the mode of transportation is only by foot as no vehicles can be found there. While in Big Perhentian Island (Perhentian Besar) you can find numerous luxurious accommodation with less crowd.

Getting Around Perhentian Kecil

There are two main beaches that you can visit while in Perhentian Kecil (Small Perhentian Island). One being the beach where you’ll arrive called Coral Bay and the other one is called Long Beach.

Long Beach

Long Beach is wavy and there are more restaurants alongside the shore. I would say that Long Beach represents the more luxurious end of the island.

Coral Beach

Coral Beach is calmer and closer to the reef where you can easily snorkel or dive.

If you have spare time on your hands, you can also visit Mira Beach or the beach near Fishing Village. It requires an hour walk through the forest to the village. Naturally, these beaches are very quiet and private as less tourists came there.

Best Time To Visit Perhentian Islands

The best time to visit Perhentian Islands is between May to September. The monsoon season starts from November to February. During the monsoon season, the islands are closed down for tourists.

I went to Perhentian Kecil at the end of February to early March and personally it was perfect for me as the island was practically empty. The boat ride to the island was a little bit choppy but it was fine.

How to Get To Perhentian Islands

By Plane:

Perhentian Island can easily be reached by plane through either Terengganu or Kota Bharu. If you are coming from outside the country, these two cities rarely have direct flight (except for Singapore), so you might have to transit in Kuala Lumpur.

Flight from Kuala Lumpur to Kota Bharu and Terengganu takes roughly around 50 minutes to one hour. From both airports, take a bus or minivan to Kuala Besut jetty before taking a speedboat to Perhentian Islands.

Green seas!

It is a little bit faster to go from Kota Bharu to Kuala Besut jetty as it takes maximum 1 hour as compared to Terengganu that normally takes 1.5 hours. Boat ride from Kuala Besut to Perhentian Islands take around 35 minutes.

The fare (one-way) from the airport to Kuala Besut jetty costs RM25.

You can book your land transport from Kota Bharu airport or Terengganu airport to Kuala Besut jetty here.

By Bus:

Another way to go to Perhentian Islands is to go by bus from Kuala Lumpur, Johor Baru, Penang, or Singapore. The bus takes roughly 8 to 9 hours.

Personally, this would be my choice of transportation back from Perhentian Islands to the airport as I was scuba diving and had to pay attention to no-fly time. It might also help save more money by taking the bus overnight. The fare to Kuala Besut jetty costs RM44.

You can book the bus easily here.

Crossing from Kuala Besut jetty to Perhentian Islands:

There are a lot of speedboat operators when you arrive at Kuala Besut jetty. If you booked your accommodation in Perhentian Islands beforehand, typically they can help arrange the boat transport.

Boats from Kuala Besut jetty to Perhentian Islands leave at 8:00 AM, 12 PM, and 4 PM.

Scuba Diving In Perhentian Islands

There are more than 20 dive sites around Perhentian Islands with various marine life and different dive types. Overall, Perhentian Islands’ dive sites are great for macro lovers. Seriously, you can learn to spot tiny teeny nudibranchs that are only 1mm in size!

To me, the most memorable dive sites around the islands are San Choi Wreck and Terumbu Tiga.

Credit: Koci Al Zaifah

San Choi wreck can be seen at 18m depth and it is divided into 3 wrecks with around 16m length each. You can find many nudibranchs, scorpion fishes, and schooling fishes here. Be mindful of your buoyancy though as the inside of the wreck is quite small and believe me you don’t want to be accidentally touching the marine lives.

Terumbu Tiga rocks
Credit: Koci Al Zaifah

In Terumbu Tiga, you start off with three huge rocks that you can swim through while finding those tiny nudibranchs and zuma shrimps.

Because I went just after the monsoon season, sometimes visibility can be really bad (around 5m). However, there were also days where the visibility is excellent, so, don’t worry too much about this.

Diving With Sea Voice Divers

Buddy check and jokes!

I dove with Sea Voice Divers in Perhentian Kecil and it is one of the best dive shops I dive with! You’ll be surprised at how warm the team can be and they make you feel at home.

Additionally, they are also very knowledgeable and being around them removes all my nervousness about things that I don’t know, cause I felt like I can always ask them about it.

Truly, this is one of those dive centers that I can personally recommend! And no, this is not an ad 😀

Living Costs & Budget

Beautiful homemade burger at Ombak Resort

Lastly, living cost in the island is very cheap! My spending from scuba diving and accommodation which I booked as a package from Sea Voice Divers are around RM1000.

I stayed there for 5 days 4 nights and only spent around RM700 in total. How crazy was that?! The best roti canai (seriously, this is a must!) in the island costs around RM3 to RM7 depending on which flavour you choose. Additionally, meals at small restaurants cost around RM20 – RM40. If you have more money to spend, you can visit Ombak Resort or BuBu Resort that have really nice food.

If you fancy a movie at night, Ombak resort always screen a movie at 7.30PM.

Also read about my diving experience in Nusa Lembongan

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