The Perhentian Islands are a diving paradise and hotspot for nature lovers.
The name “Perhentian” in Malay means “stopover point” where seafarers sailing in the South China Sea would drop by and take shelter between the islands during storms or monsoons in the day. Perhentian comprises two main islands, Pulau Perhentian Besar (large island), and Perhentian Kecil (small).
The Perhentian Islands are surrounded by stunning white sand beaches and a turquoise blue sea, which is home to a wide variety of sea creatures such as sea turtles, sharks, coral, jellyfish, and playful reef fishes. They were once home to significant green and hawksbill sea turtle nesting populations, which now face a problem of population decline due to oil spills from nearby oil platforms and tankers.
Today, the island’s main business is tourism, in which people from all around the world enjoy sunny days, powdery white sandy beaches and crystal clear water. The best time to go is from February to October as year-end is normally the time for the East Coast Monsoon.
Some of the highlighted activities at the Perhentian Islands are scuba diving, snorkelling, canoeing, banana-boat riding and swimming. Apart from water activities, visitors may get to experience more adventurous activities like camping or jungle trekking. The forest provides lush greenery where visitors get to learn fascinating information about the local flora and fauna. The more relaxing pursuit is sunbathing while sipping on your favourite drink. Besides beach activities, the resorts offer pool and spa facilities.
Most people will choose Perhentian Island as their favourite destination for snorkelling and scuba diving as it has some of the most diverse marine life, surrounded by clear, blue water that heightens the pleasure of water-based adventures. More popular dive sites include The Pinnacle and Sugar Wreck. Common spots are Shark Point, Pulau Rawa, Turtle Highway and many more.
There are seven dive centers on Kecil’s Long Beach and Coral Bay: Sunlight Divers, Turtle Bay Divers, Seadragon Divers, Quiver Dive Team, Matahari Divers, Angle Divers and Spice Divers. Some of the dive teams offer affordable diving tuition for beginners.
Perhentian Island is also famous for sea turtle watching. Visitor gets to wake up very early in the morning to watch turtles come to the shore to hatch their precious eggs as the babies make their first important steps from the nest to the sea. It is part of the National Marine Park at Redang Island which means that fishing, collecting coral and littering are strictly prohibited. This is a part of ongoing conservation efforts to protect marine life.
Each point has its own specialities: The mid ocean is a spot to watch sea turtles, while some other locations are best for the coral and tropical fish, and some spots are suitable for visitors curious about how to make friends with a baby shark. Please don’t forget to bring your best camera, as the result of photo-taking at sunset will simply be magical. I suggest you to bring a waterproof casing for your camera, as photos of beautiful Mother Nature are even more magical and rewarding taken underwater.
Fear not, as some resorts also provide Pulau Perhentian underwater photography and videography experts with whom divers can place their video camera, plus qualified and trained personnel to shoot their unforgettable experience while underwater.
Short island hopping will normally take two hours to complete. Visit Air Berani for a little dip to get a feeling of refreshing waterfall streaming while catching small prawns. For a longer experience, visit other island-hopping areas such as Dayang Bunting, Beras Basah and Singa Besar islands for eagle-watching, fish-feeding and sunbathing.
Text by Abyana M. Nizam | Photos By Tan Aik Chung