Two weeks ago I was in beach heaven with some of my closest friends.
The gist: 5 of our friends were going to Perhentian Kecil over the weekend. Emma (my bestie) and I told them we weren’t able to make it. Instead, we sneakily arranged to go (and informed 2 of our friends so they could accommodate us when we got there) and surprise them. This is an account of the longest shortest beach trip I’ve ever had.
Perhentian islands, just south of the Thai border, is situated in the far north of Malaysia. There are two main islands, Perhentian Besar and Perhentian Kecil. Known for its clear waters and marine life, Perhentian islands has become a tourist destination from what it once used to be – a waypoint for traders between Bangkok and Malaysia.
We left Kuala Lumpur (Hentian Putra bus station) at 10PM on Friday night and were supposed to arrive at 6AM at Kuala Besut jetty. The company we took is called Mahligai Express, but don’t count too much on the bus times being accurate…Due to some unforeseen circumstance and a tour of some of the most disgusting toilets Malaysia has to offer, we ended up arriving at the jetty at 11AM…5 hours late. That’s 13 hours on a bus. 13 fluffing hours. But at least I got my beauty sleep, that’s about all the benefit you’ll get from a long bus journey…that and an ache in your neck.
The bus stopped somewhere close to the jetty, but not directly in front of it. Luckily enough, the guys that had been sitting behind us knew vaguely where to walk to and we found the jetty just fine. Once you’re there, all visitors are required to pay a Marine Park Conservation fee of RM5 per person. We were able to catch a boat and then paying for the return ticket at one of the chalets along Long Beach (Turtle Bay Divers).
The boat takes 30-45 minutes from Kuala Besut jetty to the islands. With our heads bobbing, hair flailing everywhere and beads of sea water jumping at our eyes – we were utterly ready to:
2. Lay on the effing beach and do absolutely effing nothing
So we landed at Perhentian Kecil’s jetty, paid for our boat tickets at Turtle Bay Divers, then walked to Panorama (the chalets we knew our friends were staying at) and weaved through the chalets to look for them. We spied one of our friends on the balcony, and luckily enough he walked back into the chalet and we were able to walk right in to surprise them. Their reactions: “WHAAAAAAAAaaaaaaaa-AHHHHHtttttt? SSSSEEEERRRRRIOUSLYYYY???”
…and then Emma and I showered, bikini-ed and sunblocked that shiet up and went to the beach to slug and do absolutely effing nothing.
We also bobbed around like buoys in the clearest bluest saltiest waters I have ever seen (and tasted) in my life. The weather was perfect. Blue skies, turquoise blue waters, white sand and sun sun sun. Beach heaven. If you dream of beaches, dream of this one because…perfection.
Our Saturday was spent that way, mucking about until the sun went down. If you’re wondering where to eat for cheap, there’s nowhere on this island that offers that. All food and drinks come at fairly extortionate prices, but whether you get quality and value for that money is another question. We had dinner at Panorama’s restaurant and we were pleasantly surprised to find that the food was really good! (Especially the tuna spaghetti!!!)
After dinner, we spent almost all night on the beach (until around 3AM), messin about with glow poi and staring into the great starry abyss that is space. Before the trip, I’d compiled a playlist for this beach trip and that came in really handy whilst we were being beach bums. Walking down the beach and seeing all the lights at one end, then walking along the jetty at the opposite end and hearing the low rumble of music from across the water is a wonderfully relaxing feeling. We were so lucky that the sky was almost devoid of clouds, so the stars practically filled the night sky. Sleep was the last thing we wanted to do, but we are human after all, and we finally left the beauty of the night to the sandy “comfort” of our beds.
Four of us woke up for sunrise at 07:11, and though it was stunning, we were all silently rushing the sun to come up so that we could go back to sleep. Woke up again for breakfast and then went snorkeling for a few hours. We got stung by a couple jelly fish but if you swim fast enough, it doesn’t hurt so much.
We got some clownfish nervous when we swam close to their anemones – they’d swim out to challenge us but when we got closer they’d chicken out and swim back into the anemone. Too cute! Snorkeling is fairly tiring and we had to think about packing up our stuff to catch the last boat back.
The last boat back to the mainland is at 4PM. We were really sad to say bye to beach heaven, but … good riddance SAND. Sand gets everywhere and for weeks and weeks you find it in your bed and your shoes and your … just everywhere.
We took a taxi from Kuala Besut to Kota Bahru to have dinner (they’re famous for Nasi Dagang and Nasi Kerabu – both really delicious!) then went to the airport to wait around and twiddle our thumbs. By the time we got home (1:30AM) we were drained. And that, my friends, is how it felt like a really long trip – which in actuality was 2 days (a day+ of which was spent on the beach).
If you ever have a the time and the chance, even for such a short weekend trip, do it! It may be tiring but you’re only young once, and the beauty is worth it. I will definitely be doing this again (perhaps for a slightly longer trip)!
RM40 – Bus (single ticket) from Kuala Lumpur to Kuala Besut jetty
RM5 – Marine Park Conservation Fee
RM70 – Boat (return ticket) from Kuala Besut jetty to Perhentian Kecil jetty
RM200/night – Panorama chalet (Room G1) has 2 double beds and accommodates 4 people comfortably
RM100 – Panorama chalet (half day late check out)
RM20-30/meal – Panorama restaurant (the food is really good though)
RM3 for a large bottle of water
RM12 for a large bottle of Coke
RM20/day – Snorkeling gear (including flippers)
RM70 – Taxi from Kuala Besut to Kota Bahru
RM7 – Nasi Dagang and Nasi Kerabu
RM20 – Taxi from Kota Bahru to Kota Bahru Airport
RM105 – Air Asia flight from Kota Bahru (the closest airport to Kuala Besut jetty) to Kuala Lumpur
… don’t forget sunblock because on the island it costs over RM30 for a small tube!
Swimmers, sunblock, waterproof camera/camera casing, sunnies and flip-flops (the sand gets extremely hot at midday).
Try not to bring valuables to the beach – instead try to hide them in unusual places in your room (like in the gratings of the window of your chalet behind the curtains – that’s what I did!).