Malaysian Beach Paradise: Perhentian Islands
Perhentian Islands are a paradise for swimmers and divers: water like gin and no poisonous jellyfish around.
We were practically all the time in the sea swimming. We haven’t had many chances to enjoy jellyfish-free seas during the last years. Penang coast has jellyfish. In Mombasa, one jellyfish found Päivi right away when we went swimming for the first time in Diani Beach. Before that we were staying in the Mediterranean which is unfortunately also infested with the nasty swimming companions. Some days were OK to swim but many times we went to the beach just to see the warning flags.
A paradise for MSG and meat eaters
There is not much else to do in Perhentian than swim, dive and sunbathe. It is a perfect place to chill out. For party animals the place is probably a disappointment as alcohol is not widely available and it is rather expensive. Just a few days before we arrived, the police had raided all the bars and destroyed one of them.
We enjoyed the peace and quiet. Food was the only thing that made us return to the mainland. There were no vegan and msg-free food available in the restaurants and when we bought toast—the only food available apart from flesh-flavoured instant noodles—fearless giant rats raced our chalet all night long to get their share of the toast. It was a sleepless night.
Good old island scams
Compared to other South-East Asian tropical islands, it is pretty much the same. There are scams when getting into the island. In addition to the jetty ticket, 50 Malaysian ringgits (12€) for return, you have to pay an extra 5-ringgit (1€) conservation fee. It is a government enforced fee. Poor Malaysia needs desperately the money for keeping the beaches clean. Despite our donation, there was some trash on the beaches, but not too much. This kind of milking foreigners reminded us of Gili Air in Indonesia and Jericoacoara in Brazil. Remote locations that require special transportation are always perfect spots for rip-offs.
If you go to the Small Island, don’t take the offer to go straight to the Long Beach. They will call a special taxi boat which costs you extra. The way from Coral Bay to the Long Beach is only a 10-minute walk. From the Long Beach you can get a chalet with 20-40 ringgits (5-10€) with shared shower and toilet facilities. Not bad!