Getting around the Perhentian Islands can be tricky when they don’t have any roads. You either have to walk or take a water taxi. Culture Trip uncovers how to flag a boat and which trails to follow from one beach to the next.
Before explaining the ins and outs of getting around the Perhentian Islands, it’s worth mentioning how to reach them. Most visitors fly into Kota Bahru in nearby Kelantan State before taking a taxi or bus to Kuala Besut’s port. Fixed price ferries at RM35 ($8.60 USD) one way or RM70 ($17.30 USD) for a return connect the mainland with the Perhentian Islands. The skipper drops passengers off at the jetty closest to their accommodation. Pro tip: Make sure you know your address on either Perhentian Kecil (Small Perhentian) or Besar (Big).
Some tour operators have special promotions and discounted fares. Don’t accept the first offer and you might save up to 30%. Ferries only depart when they’re full (you have to wait for more passengers to fill any remaining space). Sadly, overcrowding is common. Be prepared for up to twice as many passengers as the boat’s official capacity and a skipper racing as fast as possible in all weather conditions.
Water taxis take passengers from one beach to the next. They’re the only way to get between Kecil and Besar. Walk up to the beach’s jetty and the skippers will almost always approach potential customers first. Negotiate a price before getting in the boat. Expect anything from RM12 ($3 USD) for a short trip on the same island up to RM25 ($6.20 USD) between islands. Popular routes pass from Kecil’s Long Beach (on the east coast) to the western Coral Bay. If you’re on Besar, speedboats connect Deep Bay (south), KK Bay (southwest) and Mango Bay (northwest). Pro tip: We recommend a water taxi to Turtle Sanctuary Beach on Besar where you can swim with the reptiles in the shallow waters.
If you want to visit the other Perhentian Island, negotiate a rate for a return journey. The price covers the cost of the boat regardless of the number of passengers. It might be cheaper to share a water taxi with other tourists.
The only alternative to water taxis is by walking. Jungle trails connect beaches on both Perhentian Kecil and Besar. An easy 10-minute path links Kecil’s backpacker hotspot Long Beach to nearby Coral Bay on the opposite side of the island. More often than not, walking shorter distances will be quicker than getting a water taxi (finding one, negotiating a price and then getting from one jetty to the next). Other paths lead to D’Lagoon from behind Long Beach’s Bubu Resort. You can also walk to Kecil’s Adam and Eve Beach and Turtle Beach on the island’s west coast. Besar’s fewer trails pass around the southwest. A trail loops from Arwana Resort on the south to the northwestern coast.
Apart from a handful of paths, almost impregnable jungle covers the rest of the islands. Don’t stray from the trails and anticipate insects and hundreds of mosquitoes. If you’re at one of the restaurants, bring a flashlight. Only attempt the shorter routes (Long Beach to Coral Bay) after dark. Get a water taxi for longer distances.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.