A Travel Guide to Pulau Perhentian Besar, Malaysia

Exploring Besar – The Greater Part of Malaysia’s Perhentian Islands

If you want more seclusion and serenity in Malaysia's Perhentian Islands, choose to explore Besar.

Yes, I head to Perhentian Besar when everyone asks me to go to the Kecil islands instead. But, why? Is it because it is bigger? No, but because it offers more… More in terms of seclusion, more serenity, more focused courses and better waters.

Also read: 15 Incredible Photos of Islands and Beaches You Won’t Believe Are in Malaysia

Perhentian means the place to stop, and what a stopover it is! It makes you want to translate your sojourn into a permanent stay. Wish I could just teleport myself to these islands at the blink of an eye. It’s more than just crystal clear waters, white sand shores and a diverse marine underwater life. It’s an experience wrapped in two packages. While the smaller island, Perhentian Kecil is the hub of nightlife and eateries, the larger one, Perhentian Besar is the calm one with some of the most beautiful resorts. Let’s focus on the serene Besar bit of the island for now.


Image credit: Christiaan Briggs

How to head there

If you are landing at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA), you have to book a flight or take the overnight bus to Kota Bharu. From there, head to Kuala Besut Jetty point that takes you to Perhentian Islands in about 45-60 minutes, depending on the distance of the property from the jetty.

Commuting within

Commuting around Besar is not about well-paved roads and jeeps. It’s one wavy ride through boats or water taxis as they are fondly called. However, some parts are accessible on foot.

Things to do

1. Relax and chill

Unwind at a hammock all day long if you have nothing planned for the day. Sometimes, this is the best way to chill. Read your favourite book, catch up with some new folks around and chat over sandcastles, beer and tides.

2. Watch the sunset

Image credit: Patrik Axelsson

You get to experience some of the most scenic sunsets out here. Just get out to the beach before sunset, grab your drink or chat with your friends over dramatic hues of the sky so high. These moments are bound to make memories for a lifetime. Imbibe the vastness of the ocean brine.

3. Snorkelling

For first-timers, you must try your hands at snorkelling. For those who have tried it earlier, loop in to check out some of the most virgin marine life. Discuss the snorkel spots beforehand and head to two or three of them to experience the varied colours of coral, fish and other aquatic forms of the underwater world.

4. Scuba diving

Image credit: Maxime Guilbot

Needless to say, this heart stopping sport is a ‘do before you die’ sort of thing. You must head to Perhentian Islands for refresher courses, first time fun dives or to get certified. Most of the resorts at Besar offer PADI certified courses and their dive centres are well equipped with all the necessary supplies.

5. Kayaking

Pick up your kayaks on rental and head out to explore the expanse of the ocean. Most of these activities require pre-booking. Do check the equipment, rentals and facilities available with the resort or chalet in advance.

6. Turtle conservation

Save the endangered species of turtle by volunteering and learn how to conserve them at various resorts. Turtle conservation is usually a part of their program where you can understand how to handle hatchlings, manage the hatchery and release them into the ocean when the time is right.

7. Jungle trekking

Besar is a strip of islands lined by palm trees. It nests a dense jungle for the explorer to trail out. Check with the resort and go jungle hiking or trekking to uncover beautiful trails, scenic views and catch a glimpse of monitor lizards, monkeys, squirrels and more, if lucky.

8. Bonfire

By night, join in the bonfire parties or start one yourself. This vacation is all about relaxing and chilling with your friends and family. Make the most of it and do whatever you can with your time here.

Also read: 8 Obscure Islands in Malaysia for an Exotic Beach Vacation

Hotel booking

Image credit: Lyf&Spice

Book your stay as per your budget. Various sites online offer good deals and packages. You have them all at Pulau Perhentian Besar – be it rooms with or without air-conditioners, terrace rooms, resorts that offer breakfast and many others right from chalets, simple hotels to fancy resorts. Some of the top accommodations include Bubbles Dive Resort, Perhentian Tuna Bay Island Resort, Coral View Island Resort, Arwana Perhentian Eco Resort & Beach Chalet amongst many others.


Image credit: Phalinn Ooi

Monsoons: The islands are shut during monsoons, approximately between October to February. Keep the dates in mind before booking your tickets.

Wi-Fi: If you are heading here for a truly remarkable experience, you will not need internet connection on your phones and gadgets. However, you must know that the islands have limited connectivity, with most of the network confined to the restaurants or coffee shops.

Packages: Look for package deals combining your stay with transportation or those which include snorkelling or diving. Search for similar packages or check with the resort in advance.

Also read: 10 Least Explored Destinations in Malaysia

About Author

Aditi Shukla
Aditi Shukla

Aditi Shukla is a blogger, content writer and editor, and an avid traveller, foodie and music fanatic. She believes travel helps to communicate with the world, broaden your horizon and simply have fun! Her motto is to travel and eat as much as she can around the globe and share her experiences to inspire others. She runs her blog Lyf&Spice to share her travel experiences, gourmet journeys and lifestyle tips.


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