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.

Hot tips

  • 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.
Marine Conservation

 

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.

Terumbu Tiga

Terumbu Tiga (or some dive books have it as "Tiger Rocks") is located to the east of Pulau Perhentian Besar. Boat journey from either Teluk Pauh or Teluk Dalam will take about 15 minutes. In general, the visibility was quite good...

Shark Point

In the outer corner on the west side of Teluk Dalam south of Perhentian Besar, there are a couple of coral lagoons with fringing reefs that reach into the sandy bottom. This area is called ˜Shark Point™ and was said to be the place to observe sharks in the...

Police Wreck

Lying in 15-18 meters of water nearby the big island these three identical decommissioned police patrol boats, 40 meter long, were sunk on 18 of July 2012. Although the wrecks are recent many barracuda have started to live there, and anemones are growing on the walls....

Tanjung Basi

Tanjung Basi is located at the northern tip of Pulau Perhentian Besar. Just like Tanjung Butung, this site is an extension of a rocky headland that stretches out into the sea at a maximum depth of 22 meters. Large granite boulders make up most of the seaward...

Tiga Ruang

Tiga Ruang is located on the northwestern side of Pulau Perhentian Besar just south of Tanjung Basi. It is a shallow dive site that consists of scattered coral heads on sandy bottom. Staghorn and Table Corals colonized the shallower reef slope that ends at the reef...

Pulau Rawa

Pulau Rawa is only accessible by snorkeling and diving boats, a 30-minute journey from either Perhentian Besar (Big Island) or Perhentian Kecil (Small Island). There are no resorts here, hence the water clarity is probably one of the best in Perhentian. Nonetheless,...

Pulau Susu Dara

The best of Perhentian Island Dive Site and Island HopingSituated out north of Perhentian Island, Susu Dara Kecil is located close to her slightly larger twin sister on the right, the Susu Dara Besar, both are separated by a shallow narrow channel running along the...

Tokong Laut

This rocky outcrop islet is situated on the northwest of Pulau Perhentian Kecil and is accessible by 30 minutes speedboat ride. The boulder like terrain gradually slopes down to about 30 meters. Strong to mild currents usually sweeps the boulders bringing...

Sugar Wreck

Sugar Wreck is a sunken freighter located at the west of Pulau Perhentian Kecil and resting 18m below the surface. It sank in 2000 during the monsoon period. It was previously used for transporting sugar and currently, it is the house for many marine life. Reef...

Dive Terumbu Tiga (Tiger Rock), Perhentian Island Underwater Video (60 Sec)

Terumbu Tiga also known as Tiger Rocks or preferably Three Brothers is located to the east of Pulau Perhentian Besar. Boat journey from either Teluk Pauh or Teluk Dalam will take about 15 minutes. In general, the visibility was quite good at about 10-15...

PERHENTIAN, MERDEKA 62 CONSERVATION EVENT COUNTDOWN

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Perhentian Category

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).

Nabila Talib

Divemaster, MV Sri Aman Liveaboard, Perhentian

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