When it comes to beaches on the Perhentians, there are some great strips of sand and others that are not quite so hot.
Garbage, especially on Perhentian Kecil, is something the islands are struggling with, but some of the best beaches on both islands are near totally undeveloped and litter and building waste is less of an issue. This collection of beaches is not exhaustive, as even with 12 days on the islands we didn’t have time to visit them all. Got a favourite? Let us know.
D’Lagoon Beach, Perhentian Kecil
The northern most developed beach on Perhentian Kecil, d’Lagoon is a very narrow, compact beach that can get very dirty with an onshore breeze — swimming out through piles of plastic bags for a snorkel wasn’t pleasant. The coral has deteriorated markedly and while you’re still likely to run into bumphead parrotfish and perhaps a reefshark or two, we’d say you’re better off snorkelling on the back beaches like Turtle or Adam & Eve. The greater bay is popular with both snorkelling trips and shallow divers and so can get quite congested with boats coming and going. All that said, with a few hammocks strung by the beach, you could do worse.
Turtle Beach, Perhentian Kecil
Rivals the nearby Adam & Eve beach for the title of most beautiful beach on Perhentian Kecil. Just over the island from d’Lagoon, this is a stunning bay with thick sand, plenty of shade and some decent snorkelling offshore. The beach gets progressively rockier towards the northern end and on the far side of the islet there is some good coral. This is a popular spot for snorkelling with reef sharks — come before 08:00 for the best chance of swimming with some. One word of warning: a completely psychotic macaque lives on this beach and will steal anything you leave laying around. It can be extremely aggressive — it chased us into the ocean when we visited. If you’re going snorkelling here, either bring nothing or bury your stuff so the macaque has nothing to steal.
Adam & Eve Beach, Perhentian Kecil
About a 10- to 15-minute walk to the south of Turtle Beach via the jungle trail, Adam & Eve beach is an equally beautiful strip of sand, if not even more lovely. There is solid snorkelling offshore, especially around the southern headland, which you can swim around to reach an even more secluded beach. There are plenty of shade trees, especially at the northern end, and loads of space, so it is extremely unlikely this beach will ever be all that crowded. If you’re after a beach to lose a day on, this one should be near the top of your list. A few more beaches are dotted along the coastline running down to Coral Bay, including Romantic beach, which is also a popular dive site. All can be reached by boat only (excepting the beach immediately to the north of Coral Bay, which you can walk through Shari-la resort to reach.
Coral Bay, Perhentian Kecil
The second busiest beach on Perhentian Kecil, Coral Bay has a large L-shaped pier towards its northern end where the regular ferries from Kuala Besut land, and the northern end of the beach also sees a lot of small boat traffic, with a number of dive schools, snorkelling trips and water taxis using the beach. This means peaceful and quiet it isn’t, though it isn’t as hectic as Long Beach on the other side of the island. On the upside, the northern strip of the beach is also lined with a selection of simple beach restaurants that do a nightly seafood barbecue after the sun has set. Before the pier was constructed the sunsets must have been spectacular here, and of course you can still experience a pier-free sunset experience by watching the sunset from the pier! There are plenty of kayaks for rent here for those who want to kayak to either the north or south, where there are less developed beaches to relax on.
Keranji Beach, Perhentian Kecil
Keranji beach is the next beach south of Coral Bay that has permanent accommodation on it and, with a decent and very comfortable restaurant, this is a good spot to break an around the island wander, or to be the destination for a half-day excursion. While we didn’t try the snorkelling here guests said it was quite reasonable both to the north and south of the beach along the island’s rocky coast. With just the one place to stay here, boats landing are few and far between, but they are common going by out to sea as they shuttle between Coral Bay and other spots on the island.
Petani Beach, Perhentian Kecil
The southernmost beach on Perhentian Kecil, Petani Beach isn’t so hot on the accommodation front but has some good open beach for lazing around. They seem to be losing some of the beach at the centre where the coast was propped up with sandbags (or at least was when we passed through in April 2014) but it is still a decent strip of sand. A long walk from Coral Bay, you’re likely to have the beach largely to yourself save the few guests at the accommodation here. Once the fancy but rather incongruous hotel at the eastern end of the beach is complete (Impiana is closed) we’d imagine the beach won’t be so quiet anymore.
Long Beach, Perhentian Kecil
This is Perhentian Kecil’s most developed beach with resorts, guesthouses, restaurants, dive shops and bars along most of its length. When empty the beach is beautiful — clear near-white sand with calm turquoise waters lapping at it.
The problem is the beach is rarely empty, and the southern end in particular is very littered, both with trash from tourists and thoughtlessly tossed garbage related to ongoing construction and whatnot. It’s a great shame. During the day there are a lot of comings and goings, primarily taxi boats and dive shop boats, but some stretches have been marked off with floating buoys — ostensibly to keep the boats out, but in practice they often ignore them and just power on through. Foolishly there is seemingly no mooring setup, so sharp anchors are tossed into the sand – steo onto one of these and you’ll know all about it. The northern area is quieter and less developed and there is a long pier at the far northern end. Come the evening, beach bars get going at the southern end of the beach and they can keep going well into the wee hours. The beach can be a fun place, with plenty of beachside restaruants and lots of opportunities for snorkelling trips, banana boating and even waterskiing, but it is a shame it has been at such a cost. The rubbish in particular is a problem — and watch out for those anchors.
Turtle Beach, Perhentian Besar
Considered by many to be the most beautiful beach on Perhentian Besar, Turtle Beach is known as such for, you guessed it, turtles. As with PIR beach just to the south, you’ll have to be unlucky not to see turtles here and it makes for very pleasant snorkelling as the beach can only be reached by boat. It’s a very popular spot on the Perhentian Besar snorkelling trips and justifiably so.
PIR Beach, Perhentian Besar
The northernmost developed beach on Perhentian Besar, this is a cracker of a beach with extremely fine sand and so much space that even with a 100-plus room resort facing onto it, it never seems all that busy. It’s a shame about the very large pier that has been built towards the western end of the bay — why Perhentian Besar needs quite so many piers is a bit beyond us — but one advantage is that it allows you easy access to the deeper waters of the bay, where, as with Turtle Bay to the north, you’ll find plenty of turtles and perhaps a small reef shark or two.
West Beach, Perhentian Besar
We came up with the name for this beach ourselves, but it basically stretches from Coral Cove in the north to Mama’s in the south. Once a very attractive sandy beach, West beach lost most of its sand many years ago — if you’d like to see it in its former glory ask Aziz or Jimie at Mama’s to show you a photo. The northern stretch in front of Reef and Coral Cove is okay for swimming and paddling, but south of Reef it isn’t really worth getting in the water for. This section does have a couple of decent restaurants on it though, making it a good place for sundowners as the sun sets behind Kecil. Paradise Restaurant sells alcohol, should you want to enjoy your sunset with an iced Tiger beer or glass of wine.
Tuna Bay, Perhential Besar
The most developed of Perhentian Besar’s beaches, Tuna Bay stretches from Coconut Chalet in the north to Abdul’s in the south, with the mostly midrange resorts facing onto some decent stretches of palm-shaded beach, with pontoons scattered offshore for lazing and jumping in. There is though a good degree of boat comings and goings here and while we didn’t snorkel personally, we were told the coral was in pretty bad shape — plenty of fish though. This stretch is slightly better positioned for sunset than West beach and the resorts with their large deck restaurants take full advantage of the view. If you’re after lazy time on the sand, we reckon walking south to Teluk KK is a very good idea.
Teluk KK, Perhentian Besar
The southern tip of Perhentian Besar’s main west coast is given over to the very little developed Teluk KK. A couple of buildings and a pier lie towards the northern end and a campground is to the south, but what is really great here is the rocky point and the totally deserted beach that runs off to the east. If you want secluded and romantic of a late afternoon, this is it. Offshore on the rocky point to the east is good snorkelling, and strong swimmers could swim around the point to reach Shark Point, where you can snorkel with reef sharks. Be warned that it is a long swim there and back – ideally we recommend visiting Shark Point by boat. This was probably our favourite beach on Perhentian Besar.
Teluk Dalam, Perhentian Besar
South-facing Teluk Dalam has a mix of accommodation, from flashpacker through to midrange, with a broad, shallow beach of very fine white to grey sand. Like Long Beach on Perhentian Kecil, rubbish is a bit of a problem on this beach, especially at the high-tide mark, where sections that are not directly in front of a resort tend to be a bit neglected. The water, while quite clear, is more suited to wading than swimming as it is quite shallow. If you want a quieter section, head to the eastern extent that is not developed, but expect some rubbish. There are a couple of pontoon piers here and between the resorts, dive shops and taxi boats, so there is quite a bit of boat traffic coming in and leaving at Teluk Dalam. Southfacing, you don’t get much of the sunrise or sunset here.
Bubble Beach, Perhentian Besar
Last off the rank, just around the headland to the east to Teluk Dalam, Bubble beach is home to a single dive resort and a well managed turtle hatchery and protection centre. The beach is lovely. Protected and sleepy, we much preferred it to Teluk Dalam. There is good snorkelling (and shallow diving) right off the beach and there is plenty of shade for those who just want to lay down and get over it all. Secluded and sleepy, it’s a five-minute, 10-ringgit spin from Teluk Dalam and you’d be mad not to check it out — we left it till our last day on Perhentian Besar and regretted leaving it so late.