The Perhentian Island off the North-Eastern coast of Malaysia has a little secret for us. It’s not going to tell us all a new secret, but is going to remind us what we know  – Like Mary Oliver’s quote that goes: “Instruction for living a life: Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.”

Malaysia islands: Pulau Perhentian
Malaysia islands: Pulau Perhentian (Source:

The Perhentian Island

The word “perhentian” (per-hen-tee-an not per-hen-she-an or per-hen-shen) translates to “stopping point”. A reference to its history, it holds true even today – metaphorically as a stopping point for your heart, mind, and ecological conservation. The island is divided into two – the bigger one and the smaller one – Pulau Perhentian Besan and Pulau Perhentian Kecil, respectively. The former caters to specific people and is expensive while compared to the latter. There are also other little inhabited islands that are a part of this island. All these islands are a part of a protected marine park.


Best time to visit

Certainly, there is a specific time period which is best for you to visit the Island. The general accommodative period is between the months of February and October. This helps you to make the best of your vacation in a budget you can afford – unless you want to be caught indoors due to monsoon with not many outdoor provisions, with the local people and with costly and scarce food and water resources, which is fine if you’re okay with it! In that case, your time to visit may be off-season, in the months between October to February. (Which we do not recommend, though).


Traveling in the Perhentian Island

You can get around the island through water taxis or walking. Remember, except the main tracks of travel, the island is filled with jungles, so make sure not to get stuck.


The sights

It is not a lie when they said that the climb is worth the view – in the Perhentian Islands, you may not have many man-made tourist infrastructures like museums, nor any specific areas of viewpoint, but the Island doesn’t really specifically need one! A treasure by itself, it steals your attention and eyes with its spectacular on-land views. The beach is serene, and the sea is pristine, though sadly you may notice that these precious islands face the problem of littering. So make sure you don’t contribute something like that. If you’re in a good swing of excitement and adrenaline, you could go jungle trekking. Of course, watch out for big monitor lizards and large spiders, and other lovely hairy friends.

Nemo in Pulau Perhentian
Nemo fish in Pulau Perhentian

The best sights on this island aren’t limited to above the land – In addition to coral and fish, the Island is a home to sea turtles and many species of shark, none of them dangerous unless provoked. (Since we’ve shifted to non-human population, here’s a titbit – Kecil Island has a huge population of cats.) The underwater scenario around the Island makes it one of the most apt places for scuba diving, kayaking, snorkeling, etc.,


Other things to do

The Perhentian Islands are home to a significant green turtle nesting population. Unfortunately, the number of nestings are reducing, owing to the pollution caused by oil in the seas. The Department of Fisheries are running a turtle hatchery on the islands to make the situation better.

You could simply sit on the beach, eat a lot of seafood (non-seafood is available, but surely more expensive as it is imported from the mainland), and at night, if you’re at the Kecil, enjoy some party time. But to respect local culture, alcohols are costly, and scarce, unless you bring your own booze.


Things to remember

But keep in mind – your travel to the Perhentian Island requires a lot of planning. For example, you may need to have a lot of cash in hand since credit cards are accepted only at a few locations. Power outages are common too. There is a significant nuisance from the mosquitoes. Clean water can be a costly commodity. And, don’t disturb any underwater and above-water wildlife. Leave behind a sustainable mark, don’t litter.


Intrigued? Read more about the Island here!

Looking for other places to hop, then perhaps add Lang Tengah Island to the list!


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(Image credits to respective owners.)