Chasing Paradise: The Perhentians

If your anything like me and are sun, sand and beach inclined you probably rely on that mid-winter tropical escape; be it in Asia, Europe or South America there are always the common factors of 24-hour warmth, pristine water, white sand beaches and amazing food.

We all know the typical spots, for Australians you’re probably hitting up Bali or Thailand, they are cheap, close and unarguably beautiful, but, if you like something a bit less known, witch a bit more chill then consider this: Malaysia.

Yes it’s close, yes it’s warm, yes the food is the best in South East Asia (trust me) and yes, the water is perfection.

You arrive here by speedboat from a small village port, and as you glide across the turquoise waters with scattered islands upon the horizon you know you’re in for a treat. I was unusually lucky on my journey across to have a whale shark making a rare appearance in the waters as we got all but 5 meters from this magnificent creature.

In the Perhenthians you have 2 islands to pick from, the larger resort style/family friendly island Besar or the smaller and younger inclined Kecil. Both are beautiful and very close to each other, it really depends how you like to vacation, personally my money is on the smaller island. The accomodation here varies from the only dorm on the island (which is great), through to bungalows with varying views of the water depending on how cashed you are ($5-$40 AUD per night) to the couple of dreamy resorts for those that like the comforts of home.

You’ll find two beaches, the smaller sheltered beach that is stunning and quiet or the long beach on the opposite side of the island which is perfect if you like waves in your water and a party at night, both easily moved between via a 10 minute walk across the center of the island.

The Perhentians aren’t for you if you want to spend half the day shopping, there is zero of that, you’ll have to entertain your day with nature. For those less adventurous the one-day snorkel tours are amazing. For around $10 AUD you get a pretty great breakfast before venturing off with your guide. You will spend the day swimming with turtles, reef sharks (that won’t kill you), a thousand colors of fish and coral, have a great lunch in the local village and meet some pretty great people on your tour (hopefully).

If you’re into diving, or want to be into diving this is the place for you, with some of the cheapest rates for getting your license and some of the best dives in SE Asia you are set for the week. Shop around for a dive place you like, some instructors can be hit and miss to ensure the best experience and then chose what you’re into, reefs, fish, wrecks the choice is yours.

Out of the water you will spend your days wandering the islands, drinking mars bar shakes(!), getting a great tan and watching some pretty spectacular sunsets. At night sample the islands far too cheap local rum and party on the long beach.

The only fault in the Perhentians is simply having to leave.

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