DIVING PERHENTIAN ISLAND
The Best of Perhentian Divesites
The islands of Pulau Perhentian Besar and Pulau Perhentian Kecil are one of Malaysia’s top tourist attractions. They are surrounded by turquoise blue sea and lined with tropical rainforest and white sand beaches providing an idyllic tropical island getaway
The Perhentian Islands comprise of two main islands, Perhentian Besar (Big Perhentian) and Perhentian Kecil (Small Perhentian). The name Perhentian means stopping point in Malay as the islands became a staging point used by traders travelling from Malaysia to Bangkok.
Perhentian Kecil attracts more travellers due to cheaper accommodation options, while Perhentian Besar is a little more expensive and caters more to families and those who want to avoid the backpacker party scene. The Perhentian Islands also comprise of the small, uninhabited islands of Susu Dara, Seringgi and Rawa, which lie off Kecil. All the islands are protected under marine park status, which means that fishing, collecting coral and littering are strictly prohibited.
Due to the eastern monsoon, the only time to visit the Perhentian Islands is effectively limited to the beginning of March or April until late October. This is similar to many other islands on the east coast of Malaysia. Outside this period the seas can be very rough and choppy with currents that make swimming dangerous and overcast skies with frequent rain. For this reason most accommodation (but not all) are closed.
Why Choose Perhentian Island
Perhentian Kecil attracts more travellers due to cheaper accommodation options, while Perhentian Besar is a little more expensive and caters more to families and those who want to avoid the backpacker party scene. The Perhentian Islands also comprise of the small, uninhabited islands of Susu Dara, Seringgi and Rawa, which lie off Kecil. All the islands are protected under marine park status, which means that fishing, collecting coral and littering are strictly prohibited. However in practice litter is one of the major problems that face the islands.
When is the best time to travel
The Perhentians islands are almost completely closed from November to March with irregular boats, and most of the hotels, resorts and diving centres closed. In the other months the Islands are fully booming with nice tropical weather.
- Dry season from April to October, average temperature of 27°C.
- Rainy season from November to March, average temperature of 29°C.
- Peak touristic season runs from July to August
- The diving season is also from April to October.
- The best visibility is generally around summer time.
- The water temperature is between 27°C to 32°C year round.
- During the peak season and local holidays prices tend to rise sharply. You should book in advance.
- During the rest of the year, you can negotiate the room rates. Lots of budget resorts do not accept reservations in advance so you will need to go there directly to look for a room.
- There are no ATMs on the islands so bring enough cash for your stay. However, diving centres and resorts tend to accept credit card.
The islands are home to many nesting hawksbill and green turtles, this number has drastically reduced over the last few years due to oil spills from oil tankers and oil platforms not too far away. The Department of Fisheries have started a turtle hatchery on the island to help with this problem. There are also Turtle conservation volunteer programs which you can take part in whilst on the island which monitor and protect nests and also educate local children about the need to save our oceans and marine life.
Many dive schools conduct regular reef clean up days and also take part in other larger reef check and conservation efforts.
PERHENTIAN, MERDEKA 62 CONSERVATION EVENT COUNTDOWN
Map of Perhentian Island outbound divesites and snorkeling points.
Map of Perhentian Island inbound divesites and snorkeling points.
Inbound/Outbound Map of Perhentian Island with top divesites and snorkeling points.
Illustration of map is graphically rendered accurate to scale according to Google Map with depth overlay from Navionics Boating apps.
Credit to Aqualight Motion for illustration and graphic design, Original illustration in high resolution JPEG or Adobe Illustrator/EPS format are available for download at minimum fees.
In September and October when plankton numbers increase, this becomes a popular site for spotting the largest fish in the sea – the Whale Shark
In 2015, I spotted my first whale shark in Perhentian. My group was making our decompression stop at 5m of water when I spotted this huge mouth coming towards us. It was about 7m long. It seemed to drift past us but when we tried to keep up with it, we realised how swiftly it was moving – it disappeared as quickly as it had arrived. We felt humbled by the sheer size and grace of the shark – it was, after all, only a baby shark (adults can grow up to 16m).