Off the east coast of Malaysia lies the Perhentian Islands, comprising the two main islands of Perhentian Besar (“Big Perhentian”) and Perhentian Kecil (“Small Perhentian”).
It’s a speedboat’s ride from Kuala Besut, in north east Malaysia (you can get a train there from KL). The day I took the boat, the sea was like glass, so it was looooooovely. I wouldn’t really fancy it on a choppy day, however.
I was headed to the Perhentian’s just for a couple of days before meeting friend in Thailand, so, R&R was what I was after. For this, I chose to go to Small Perhentian – to Flora Bay. This is just a thin strip of beach at the base of a hill (when I say hill, i think the whole island is a ‘hill’), perfect for my agenda.
I understand you can walk over a bit of a track to get to the side of the island closest to Big Perhentian, and ‘water taxis’ (some guy in a runabout) are pretty frequent. I didn’t bother, but sociable people did – the opposing shore is where the party action is. It’s quite funny actually, the islands are just in the middle of the sea, but their opposing shores are quite built up and bustling (at least, from what I could see from the boat).
I dived with Urban Island Divers, as always, as a friend had used to work there (Cesar, I believe that was you, once again!) – who were heaps laid back (I’ll post a pic of exactly how laid back, shortly). So much so they were only interested in doing 2 dives a day – no early morning starts here!
I got a dive in the afternoon I arrived, just off to the nearby T3 site. The water was toasty warm, so no wetsuits required. Nice bombies to go around, over, between – but not so nice when jellyfish descended! I had no idea they were there until my guide, Kamil, swam up to me and put his arms above me to wave the dangling tendrils away! Being a thin Malaysian man, he was far more sensibly in a full rashy. So, beware, find out if there are likely to be jelly before believing the ‘nah, you don’t need a wetsuit’ of the locals.
The next day we headed further out to sea to Tokong Laut and Sugar Wreck.
‘Temple of the Sea’ is a tall pillar of a rock, stretching from sea floor almost to surface. Such as nice dive, we took a clockwise route, descending to 23m and then spiralling back up.
Heaps to sea – puffers, lionfish, all the usual small but cool fishies. And bamboo sharks, blue spotted eagle rays, and a banded sea snake for excitement!
So good that when it was the option for the next day as well, I didn’t mind a bit.
Does what it says on the tin. Sugar wreck is is sunken sugar cargo ship, in around 20m of water (19m was our deepest, so it must’ve been reasonably close to surface at top). Again, bamboo sharks were on the loose, but the most most memorable aspect was SO many liofish. I’m use to seeing a couple – maybe 6 per dive, but there were HEAPS. And also cute porcupinefish – a little bit spiky, but mainly just a ball of sweetness.
My final Perhentian dive was a site called Batulai, which wasn’t amazing, but a nice sandy bottom with a coral garden. We did see an Indian Ocean Walkman – which has wings, which you’ll see, if you hit it on the nose, according to the locals,. Mean! – though, a good find.
I’d like to head back to Perhentian (do I say that every place?) – especially with a bit more time an a mind to party it up a little more.