Perhentian Islands Things to Do
While many travellers visit the Perhentian Islands to laze on beautiful beaches, unwind in hammocks and take leisurely strolls to the shoreline to float about in the tropical waters, both Perhentian Besar and Kecil offer visitors far more than just delightful beach-bumming.
For those who are looking for a touch more excitement than watching coconuts fall to the sand, you’ll be delighted to learn of the numerous snorkelling and diving sites, jungle treks frequented by monitor lizards and the thriving turtle conservation volunteering programmes.
The main reason for our visit to this edge of paradise was to participate in a hands-on hatch and release turtle volunteering programme and the experience was undoubtedly one of the most memorable encounters during all of our travels through Southeast Asia. There are numerous different companies, organizations and resorts that offer similar volunteering programmes. Our personal recommendation would be The Turtle and Reef Conservation Project offered by Bubbles Dive Resort on Perhentian Besar.
Bubbles has a protected, demarcated turtle hatchery on the beach right by their resort where they allow the turtle eggs the opportunity to hatch in safety away from poachers and predators. The hatchlings then get released the same night with very little human contact aside from measuring a few and placing them in the release buckets. The programme aims to educate, create awareness and allows guests to participate in coral and turtle data collection in the most scenic and eco-friendly of settings. A truly treasured and magical experience set below a moonlit sky with glowing phosphorescence in the gently crashing waters. The resort is on its own secluded beach and only accessible by boat and so and staying at Bubbles is essential for those wanting intimate encounters with new-born turtles. Room rates start at MYR 250 per double room during low season and volunteering donations fees are suggested at around MYR 50.
Diving and snorkelling
With Terengganu Marine Park being right on your doorstep as well as world-class diving and snorkelling sites being here in salty abundance, many of the Perhentian’s treasures are located below sea level. There are excellent wreck dives that allow divers to enter and explore the wrecks up close and personal as well as a plethora of exquisite marine life dancing below the turquoise surf. Expect to see sting rays, eagle rays, blacktip reef sharks, schools of barracuda and tuna, eels, ‘Nemos’, colorful fish of all shapes and sizes all swimming between gently swaying anemones, corals and sponges.
Sea kayaking is also another fun means of observing the ocean’s treasures without having to get too wet. With the clear water in the Perhentians, visibility is remarkably good and kayakers can enjoy gazing below the water at tropical fish and even rays or turtles if you’re lucky. This is also a handy means of transporting yourself to various beaches that are inaccessible on land. Fortunately the sea surrounding the islands is rather calm during on-season and so even kayakers who are not experienced or particularly skilled should have little trouble navigating the gentle waves.
For those growing tired of sea and sand, the Perhentian Islands also boats tropical jungle treks through lush, fertile vegetation. There are numerous jungle trails that one can hike and explore on both Besar and Kecil and those travellers looking for bird-song and native wildlife will find it here. Home to large monitor lizards, monkeys (including macaques near d’Lagoon) and a variety of birds; nature lovers and hiking enthusiasts will enjoy the dense jungle and opportunities to stumble across waterfalls and deserted beaches.
With all the hiking and swimming activities on offer in the Perhentian Islands, you can be sure that at the end of the day your stomach will be grumbling. These pangs of hunger can be easily quietened by indulging in the popular seafood barbeques that are on offer at many resorts and restaurants all over Besar and Kecil. Fresh fish and massive prawns are the order of the day and slathered in delicious tangy sauce and washed down with a coconut juice guarantee culinary satisfaction.