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3 days in paradise: Malaysia’s Perhentian Islands

This is a guest post from 30traveler

The Perhentian Islands of Malaysia are brochure perfect.

Perhentian Besar, the more grown-up of the twin Perhentian islands, is ideal for romance. Curiously, it’s equally well suited for couples traveling with toddlers, due to the low key vibe and bath-like water. I loved Perhentian Besar so much I took quick trips there in both 2012 and 2011. One of the best things about the Perhentian Islands is that you don’t need to devote weeks to visiting them.

If you’re looking for a quick, relaxing getaway, here’s how you can make the most of just a few days in Malaysia’s Perhentian Islands:

Malaysia Perhentian Islands

Malaysia Perhentian Islands

[Day 1] – Head to Perhentian Besar by way of Kota Bharu.

Make your way to Kota Bharu in the north east corner of Malaysia. Domestic flights are cheap. Air Asia fly to Kota Bahru from Kuala Lumpur, and Firefly fly from Penang.

To have the best possible start to your trip, arrange in advance to take Tuna Bay Resort’s morning boat to Perhentian Besar. The Tuna Bay boat is the largest, safest boat for the approx 30 minute boat trip from Kuala Besut. Tuna Bay can arrange a taxi from the airport to the boat jetty or you can do it yourself at the airport. The taxi ride will be about 45 minutes.

Tuna Bay or next door Abduls Chalet are actually both great choices for where to stay. Dump your bags in your bungalow and hit the ocean. You’ll be able to spend all afternoon in the water because it’s incredibly warm. If you snorkel, there are many kinds of fish to see off the beach outside Tuna Bay Resort.

Perhentian Islands, Malaysia

Perhentian Islands, Malaysia

In mid-afternoon, head up to see the crown jewel of the Perhentians, the massive bay up near Perhentian Island Resort. Take an easy and cheap boat taxi (less than $10 per person). Be dazzled! Stay until your tummy starts rumbling for dinner.

Head back to your resort via dinner at either Watercolors or Coco Hut, the two best restaurant options.

[Day 2] – Explore the island.

It’s time to go exploring! After breakfast, take a boat taxi (5 minutes, less than $5 per person) to the local village on the small island, Perhentian Kecil. If you’re lucky you might see turtles swimming next to your boat on your way over, we did! Ask a local to show you the start of the walking track (heading south). This easy walk gives the exhilaration of trekking through a tropical jungle without too much exertion. We walked in sneakers and teva sandals. You’ll pop out at various beaches where you can take a dip to cool off. Walk as far as you feel like, turn around and come back the way you came.

If you want to check out the lively backpackers beach, boat taxi up to Long Beach on Perhentian Kecil. Grab lunch there before returning to Perhentian Besar.

In the afternoon head down to the Southern tip of Perhentian Besar where there are no resorts. You might be the only one there. There are plenty of fish to see, so bring your snorkel if that’s how you roll.

Return to either Watercolors or Cocohut for a candlelit evening meal.

An alternative plan for Day 2 is to hire a Kayak and kayak around to the east coast of Perhentian Besar to Flora resort.

[Day 3] – Enjoy your remaining hours on the islands before departure.

The last boat leaves around 12 noon, so either laze around Tuna Bay/Adbuls beach or take one last trip up to the big bay at Perhentian Island Resort. The memory of this view has gotten me through many dreary days at home! It’s probably the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.

Don’t leave the Perhentians without having one of Nia’s shakes. She has a kiosk between Adbuls and the Perhentians.

30traveler.com is a blog devoted to travel beyond backpacking, featuring short and long trips with a focus on  vegan/vegetarian travel.

Feature image photo credit

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