The Perhentian Islands: Slumming in Serenity

Our technologically advanced motorboat allowed us to reach the Perhentians in no time & we were soon stunned by beauty of the islands. After a drop-off at the expensive island the boat pulled into Long beach bay, the backpacker haven of the islands, offering affordable accommodation.

Bright blue, crystal clear


Our favourite lunch spot on the beach

A long stretch of golden sand merging with the jungle behind, & water as clear as crystal. I haven’t seen tap water as clear as this stuff!! It was unbelievable. You could see right down to the sea bed some 8 feet below as if there were no water at all. Unfortunately, we were forced to stay in a shack,… in the woods,… up a hill… But this was a small price to pay for the stunning scenery that surrounded us. We quickly dumped our bags & headed to the beach for some well deserved & long overdue relaxation. We laid out for most of the day, reading books, & every now & then, gazing out at the clear waters before us. It was BOILING as well! We went for a swim, chucked our Maryland Terps football about & then went for a snorkel over by the pier on the far side of the beach.
The next day our snorkelling was rather overshadowed, despite it seeming amazing the day before. We went on a boat trip around the 2 islands, stopping off at the best snorkel points on offer. It was the most unbelievable boat trip EVER! We were constantly ogling out in awe as we swept alongside the glorious rock formations & ruthless jungle beyond them. The sun sparkling off the clear waters, our first snorkel point was a light house jutting out of the ocean in one of the bays. The depth of the water coupled with this structure had provided the perfect spot for sea life to thrive. & MY GOD there was a lot of sea life!! Hundreds of tropical fish, all different shapes, sizes & colours, each one more intriguing than the last!! & the coral was out of this world. It surpassed all that we had seen before. The area the coral covered was huge, just shy of a football pitch… pure coral. The colours were mesmerizing & the shapes so alien I could barely register them.

We left with high hopes for the remaining spots, & next up was Shark Point. It wasn’t the best time to see sharks as they are most active at dusk, but Nicky & I were determined to see one. We ventured far away from the bustle of other snorkelers into colder waters. Sure enough we managed to see 2 reef sharks! Underwater camera in hand I attempted to chase one & get a good shot… turns out sharks are pretty fast!! After 3 minutes of high paced pursuit i gave up as he meandered off into the dark depths. I was exhausted!! We made our way back to the boat, but not before encountering what can only be described as a ‘ Jellyfish Minefield’. There were thousands of tiny jellyfish, the size of a watch face, bobbing menacingly at the surface. Their sting was quick & sharp with no lasting effects, almost like a static shock… you know, the one were you cower away, hands curled to body & yelp ‘aahhhh’ with a rising intonation!? Yeh, that shock. I adopted the ‘Im guna swim as fast as I can so the torture time is minimised. Nicky opted for the ‘Im guna go very slowly through here & try & avoid these jellyfish, even though there are WAY too many to achieve this’. Needless to say I soon heard ‘Rhys, I don’t like it!’ as the situation became overwhelming. After shark point we ate dinner at a fisherman’s village, the only population of locals on the islands, after which we headed to Turtle Bay.

Turtle Beach

We jumped off the boat & began scouring the area for sea turtles. Soon enough we found two of them grazing on the vegetation that sprawled across the sea bed. They looked like antelope grazing the plain. Their movements so graceful for a large heavy creature, & much prettier to look at than I had imagined. Not the dull brown I had envisaged but a captivating cocoa infusion shell & a tantalising tawny breeze face. We dived down as deep as our ears would let us to get a closer look as well as awaiting the sea turtles’ inevitable climb for air, rising effortlessly from the depths to take a peak at the topaz sky. I was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time & managed to swim side by side with it for a good 15-20 seconds as he ascended, then submerged once again to plummet down to the sea bed for more grazing. Turtle Beach was the next port of call for some relaxation. It looked like a beach out of Robinson Crusoe, a few logs here & there, the jungle an enticing 20 feet from the shoreline. The green mass of dense undergrowth menacingly threatening to take over the tranquil stretch of sand before it. A picturesque paradise.



Full Moon


That night we topped off our extraordinary day with a stroll through the jungle across the island to Coral bay. We made it to a west-facing look out point in perfect time to see the sun set on another memorable day on our adventures. After that we headed to the beach for a Malay barbeque,… i.e. exquisite fish & damn good meat! The moon was glowing bright, its full circumference glimmering into the night sky as we dined with the waves lapping at our feet, just 8 feet from the table. Sir Thomas More, we found it! 


~ Rhys ~

2 Responses to “The Perhentian Islands: Slumming in Serenity”
  1. Manderson says:

    Sounds great. I will be there soon enough!

  2. Chris says:

    Good stuff Rhys. definitely going to look this up now for my adventures into southeast asia.

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