For many, the Perhentian Islands are paradise. Located just off the north-eastern coast of Malaysia, they offer the clearest blue water, white sandy beaches, endless snorkelling and diving possibilities, fresh seafood and lively beach bars.
But as with every paradise, it doesn’t always fit into the backpacker lifestyle or budget. Here’s a few tips I picked up whilst there that may help you decide whether this particular paradise should be a stop on your itinerary too.
Getting to the Perhentian Islands is slightly more complicated – and expensive – than it may first appear. Initially you have to make your way to the jetty at Kuala Besut and purchase return tickets to the islands, which usually cost around 70RM ($23) each for the fast boat, but can sometimes be bartered down to 60RM ($20) with the agents. Then just before you board your boat you will be required to pay a conservation charge of 5RM ($1.60) each which apparently aids with the conservation of the marine parks and coral reefs. If you are staying on Long Beach, once you have completed your hopefully non-scary boat ride, you will be required to then pay 2RM ($0.70) each for a water taxi to take you right up to the edge of the sand (and even then, you may have to be prepared to wade through the ankle-deep water with your bags). This involves transferring people and bags across from the larger fast boat to the smaller water taxi….slightly unnerving when you have all your worldy possessions and electronics with you, but the only choice unless you want to try and swim ashore with your backpack or suitcase above your head. It’s this kind of situation where a budgeting app that would track and convert would be handy, as financial management is crucial when you have numerous small expenses that add up.