I got back to Besar for the first time since '99. More resorts, estaurants etc but still a nice location.
BEST BEACH - the one at Perhentian Island Resort. This is open to the public and can be walked to from all resorts except Bubble's Dive Resort.
Bubbles Dive Resort beach is maybe next - Bubbles is exclusive to this beach, there is okay snorkelling off the sand. Only problem is access - boat only.
Abdul's and neighbours' beach is arguably as good - even better snorkelling north of the mid-beach pier. About 5 accomm places/restaurants to pick from.
I stayed at Flora Bay - this beach suffers the low tide blues. Lots of accomm and restaurants - good snorkelling off Shark Point at the east end but this requires a 300m swim from the beach.
Flora Bay to Perhentian Island Resort/Mama's This is a reasonably easy walk with only a few steepish slopes and can be done in flip-flops or other light footwear although better shoes are always a good idea. This track in '99 used to leave about mid-beach at Flora Bay but now there is a much clearer and signposted entrance on the western side of Arwana Resort (far west end of beach) near the litttle mosque. The first 10 minutes behind the beach is a bit hot but once you hit the jungle area there is plenty of shade. After another 10 minutes of mostly not too steep climbing over a low saddle you reach a downgrade where the track splits - for PIR's lovely beach (5 minutes) take the right branch which dives downhill to some squarish metal water towers and then past some of PIR's cheaper A-frame hillside bungalows to emerge beachside near the pier.
To get to Mama's take the left branch which then loops left slightly uphill and continues past the back of Coral Resort to descend to the rear of the very last huts on the southern end of Mama's - 10 minutes from the junction. By the condition of the track, few people use this section - it is much nicer taking the coastal route between PIR and Mama's.
Flora Bay to the southern eastern beaches
Go to the far western end of Flora bay and look for the concrete roadette which runs from there to the water plant behind a lot of the Bay's accommodation. About 50m from the beach end of the concrete you will see a sign JUNGLE TREKKING to the left.
This is a real tough one - super steep for 10 minutes on each side and with lots of rocks and tree roots which make flimsy footwear a no-no. Very good jungle though. Near the Teluk Beach the track splits but any one of about 4 branches will get you to the sand. This track is a good workout but the beaches at each end are well worth it.
It seems to me that accommodation has headed upmarket, but there are still budget places to stay, particularly on Flora Bay.
The really budget conscious can pitch or hire a tent at Teluk beach just south of Abdul's.
I stayed at Awana Resort, a midrange joint with an awsum pool, on account they have a DORM. Don't get too many dorm joints with a pool. Dorm was pretty good - I was the only person in a 4 bedder room. I got the impression other rooms were taken by staff.
Most places these days sell alcohol and for those that don't there are restaurants nearby that do. Prices are a bit high but not outrageous.
There has been bad press re crime the last few years. An island business operator said things were very bad until the season before last - and despite what local apologists said, much of the stealing and drug taking was done by island dwellers, not blow-ins from the mainland.
After sustained complaints by island business interests and victims, mainland police did multi raids involving dozens of cop, sustained every day for over a week. They were pretty heavy handed and hauled away any non-tourist who was found in possession of large sums of foreign currency, passports etc or had cameras and other consumer items they could not produce receipts for. End of problem.
No problem on Besar or Kecil the very end of June/start of July, but a friend emailed me recently saying late July on Kecil at least was pretty busy.