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The Perhentians – A Secret Malaysian Paradise


A travel journey – As seen on 1972 Blog


In the depths of early morning we arrived in the middle of nowhere, Malaysia.

Eight hours by bus from Kuala Lumpur to Kuala Besut, we descended the steps, looking haggard onto a deserted forecourt with our backpacks and a sense of uncertainty. We had been told that we would be dropped off at the ferry terminal where a boat would take us to paradise, also known as the Perhentian Islands, but there was no water in sight.

In typical Asian fashion, we had paid to be taken close to our destination but not exactly where we wanted to be. A roar of engines erupted from somewhere close by and suddenly surrounding us, locals started appearing on mopeds and tuk-tuks. Instantly our guards were up and suspicious of the circumstances we found ourselves in.


the perhentian islands


After some very broken English conversations, we realised that we were now required to pay a bit more to take us to the ferry terminal, much to our dismay. However luckily for us, I had managed to connect to an unsecure Wi-Fi network and downloaded the route on google maps which stated it was only a ten-minute walk.

So off we went. 70litre bags strapped to our backs, bikes pursuing us, blocking our way and making us have to push pass. Eventually they realised they were getting no money that night so drove off, shouting what was presumably abuse at us into the distance.

Unbeknown to us, the fun had only just started.

How to get there

The ferry terminal appeared before us like a ghost in the darkness. No lights shined to welcome us and once inside there were already a number of backpackers and locals huddled amongst the benches waiting. A burst of angry squawking erupted from the silence as two chickens went head to head, until the owner kicked the cage and they calmed down.

We settled down and watched the first rays of light pierce over the mountains and calm sea, warming our faces and bringing in the new day.


the perhentians - a secret Malaysian paradise


A man appeared out of nowhere and started to usher us to the dock where a number of small boats were docked, gently bobbing in the water. Taking our bags, they passed out life vests, and suddenly we were off, silently cutting through the waves leaving the main land behind.

By the time the islands came into view the sun was already in the sky, the heat already starting to prickle my skin and a smile crossed my face. This was exactly where I wanted to be.

Where we stayed

We were staying on Perhentian Besar (big island) in a resort for five days of sun, beach, exploring and diving. We couldn’t wait to immerse ourselves in the emerald water or stroll down the coastal roads to enjoy the peaceful atmosphere there. As we moored up at the dock I knew our time spent waiting was well worth it.

The turquoise water waving upon the ship’s sides brought me a pleasant feeling and wiped away all my weariness of daily life. This was truly paradise.

We quickly got into island life, and it wasn’t long before I had my scuba gear on, GoPro attached at the wrist and suddenly 18m under water swimming with turtles, sharks and the most colourful fish you will ever see.


scuba diving in the perhentians

The smaller island

The Perhentian’s are renowned not only for turquoise water and diving tours but also tropical forests that cover the island. Small paths in the forests lead you to a new world of diverse exotic plants and animals. We spent a full day trekking through the forest, making our way to an abandoned view point overlooking the smaller island called Perhentian Kecil.

What was once a popular tourist route, was now a desolated and dangerous paradise. Climbing down a stairway with numerous steps missing and extremely rusty joints, we made it to a platform for the best ‘Instagram’ photos of the island.

With no one else around we were captivated by the amazing scenery, fresh air, harmless iguanas, and countless brightly coloured birds flying overhead.

The beauty didn’t stop there though. At sunset, we walked along the beach, watching small boats carry fresh seafood from the ocean to the locals waiting eagerly on the docks. Although the island is far away from the main land, the seafood is deliciously fresh and you would have to be crazy not toindulge a bit, which is exactly what we did.


the perhentians in Malaysia


Afterwards we would take to the beach again, the ocean looks like a thousand diamonds gently lapping at our feet, a cold beer in hand and watching the sun set in a bright burst of reds and yellows behind the mountains of the neighbouring island. A thought crossed my mind in that moment.

‘Should I stay and become a diving instructor?…

Hey! Im Lee, AKA Explorewithlee and Taketheleaptravel and I am from the UK. I am a full time travel blogger for Budgetair.co.uk and brand ambassador for Kathmandu and STA Travel while living and travelling in New Zealand. I love photography, videography, writing, blogging and exploring new destinations. These are my adventures, tips and everything you need to know about travelling the world.

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