The Perhentian Islands are a small group of islands surrounded by coral reefs. The islands are off the coast of Northern Malaysia, close to Thailand.

There are two main islands: Palau Perhentian Besar, and Palau Perhentian Kecil. Kecil is the smaller of the two islands, known for its more budget friendly accommodations and therefore popular with backpackers. Besar is catered more towards family and luxury travel, and is home to a few resorts.

The Perhentian islands are part of a protected marine park, which means no fishing or collecting corals; making is a great destination for anyone interested in scuba diving in Malaysia.

How to get to the Perhentian Islands:

There is no airport on any of the Perhentian Islands, so the only way to access is by boat. A ferry runs from Kuala Besut, which is a small town known as the gateway to the Perhentian Islands. Make sure you take a licensed speed boat, as the unlicensed ones have a reputation of not picking you up to bring you back at the end of your day.

That being said, the licensed speed boats are also known to go over the limit of how many people should be in each boat. So keep that in mind. Please note that visitors are required to pay a marine park fee on top of the cost of the boat trip.

Dive sites in the Perhentian Islands:

  • Sugar Wreck: A 90m long super boat that was sunk during a monsoon in the year 2000. Coral hasn’t covered the entire ship year, but it’s home to plenty of fish and some larger pelagic species can be seen occasionally in the area.
  • Tokong Laut: Possibly the best dive site in the area, there is a large pinnacle, sandy sea floors, and caves perfect for underwater photography. Expect to see scorpionfish, cuttlefish, turtles, and plenty of hard and soft corals.
  • Vietnamese Wreck: This ship was sunk in 1976 and today is home to all kinds of marine life including stonefish, scorpionfish, nudibranch, and the occasional barracuda and leopard shark. It can be dark, so bring a flashlight.
  • Terumbu Tiga: Clear waters with coral reefs, caves, and swimthroughs. Lots of marine life in the area including blacktop reef sharks, trevally, barracuda, and more.

Other things to do in the Perhentian Islands:

The marine park, perfect for scuba diving and snorkelling, is the big draw for tourists visiting the Perhentian Islands. However, those staying awhile may also enjoy kayaking, jungle trekking, and turtle conservation activities