Life’s a Beach: Perhentian Kecil Island, Malaysia


The Perhentian Islands is one of Malaysia’s treasures located at the Northeastern part of the peninsula. For the rest of the world, it is a well-kept secret that is barely known. But for locals and travelers alike, this place is hard to miss.

Traveling with new friends from the jungle of Taman Negara, we made our way to what we called “paradise”, which was the Perhentian (Kecil) Island.

To be honest, I didn’t have any idea what to expect other than a few hearsay that it is beautiful. For me, any beach after a few days at the jungle is paradise enough.

Arriving before dusk,  I initially found the long beach not very long. In my defense, it was almost dark. But then I realized that the rest of the stretch wasn’t commercialized yet. We got off at the long beach where we we’re welcomed with a semi-packed stretch filled with tourists. That would’ve intimidated me if I was traveling alone. Thankfully, I got 6 people winging it with me.

I was caught off-guard with the popularity of the island.

With most hostels being full, we were lucky to find a 30RM dorm that could accommodate all of us.

It wasn’t until the next morning when everything made sense.

The view.

The vibe.

The lifestyle.

Long Beach, Perhentian Kecil Island

The Perhentian is a definition of a “backpacking” holiday.

On one side of the island is the long beach, with a stretch of fine white sand and warm, clear water that mimics the color of its surroundings. On the other side is the coral bay, laid back and less crowded that offers sunset views. Around the island are more beaches, which are almost a secret if not for its accessibility. There was a place for everyone: for crowd lovers and for people in need for serenity.

A secluded, virgin beach. We accessed it by swimming during low tide from long beach.

Kayaking at sunset near Coral Bay, Perhentian Kecil Island

A secluded beach that we passed by as we trekked around the island. It’s also accessible by boat.

By night, the long beach turns into a place where the morning swimmers come out to chill, sitting by the sand drinking, chatting, or being awed with the fluid show of fire dancing. Most places are setup for hanging out while some comes with a bit of dancing.

Maximizing what the Perhentian had to offer, there was a day when we went on a snorkeling trip, observing reef fishes, sharks, and even a turtle. It was a bit interesting, but somehow I feel that some of the corals had been disturbed in the past, unfortunately.

That time everyone was observing the turtle.

There was a day when we explored the island on foot, seeing hidden beaches, secluded resorts, and local communities after passing through the jungle with monster ants and monitor lizards.

And then there was diving.

Just when I thought things couldn’t get better, I started to feel differently. The ultimate divers’ vibe in the island made me stay longer to the point that it felt right to open my book of possibilities.

Spontaneously, I took diving lessons on the day I was supposed to leave. It was then that I realized, my beach life was taken to a whole new level. That was what the Perhentian had opened for me see.

From then on, I traveled through beaches differently.

Experiencing nature closer, in its wildest form was exhilarating. I had to see what’s under the deep blue in every beach destination I set foot on.

Diving at the Perhentian Islands

Every morning was a not-so-complicated choice of swimming on the same beach, snorkeling, or maybe diving. Every night was an even trickier one, choosing between getting a drink or staying sober.

Daily life every after dive, at Ombak, Perhentian Kecil Island

That was the life that I lived for the two weeks that I was there.

Yes, two weeks.

The island itself has that relaxed vibe that invites you to just be… to enjoy what it has to offer.

When all of my friends had finally left, the island accompanied me. I didn’t actually feel nor realize that from then on, it was just going to be me–alone amongst the crowd. I embraced the island wholeheartedly, making me feel at peace regardless of what once terrified me.

The moments and experiences that Perhentian had to offer coincided with the awesomeness of the people I was surrounded with. And even at the time that they had all left, I got to admire the beauty in both freedom and solitude.

The Perhentian experience wasn’t just a beach life. That was the island life. And if it wasn’t, then I honestly don’t know what is.
(Read more about the Travel Guide: Perhentian Island-Kecil here ).

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13 thoughts on “Life’s a Beach: Perhentian Kecil Island, Malaysia

  1. Spending two weeks at this piece of paradise seems like a dream. I would definitely undertake diving there. When’s the best time of the year to go there?

    1. Hi Agness, the best time is between March and October. I was there July last year, when days are always hot and sunny! During the off-peak season, most accommodations and dive shops are closed. By then, my reco would be to visit another island in Malaysia (Tioman Island) for another water activity: surfing. Thanks for dropping by! 🙂

  2. Christina

    This sounds like such an amazing and transformative experience! I’ve never been to Malaysia but it looks absolutely incredible. Those beaches look unreal.

  3. What an incredible beach! I’d love to see it in person.

  4. Gorgeous photos! I’ve only been to KL so far in Malaysia, but would love to see more! Thanks for sharing.

  5. The water looks incredible! I’ve never been to this part of Malaysia so I can’t wait to explore more of Southeast Asia!

    Stephanie |

  6. Hi Kattrinna! Thank you for enlightening me about the beaches of Malaysia. Never been there beyond KL. Will try to visit next time. You photo on turtle watching is hilarious. Whne you feel like everyone on the planet is in the same place. 🙂 But tough choices, I say get drunk 🙂

    1. We were all watching the in-house turtle for like 10-15 minutes. In retrospect, it is indeed hilarious! I couldn’t agree more on the tough choice. Struggle was definitely real 🙂

  7. I’ve travelled a lot through SE Asia but have never gotten the chance to visit Malaysia and your post brings it to the top of my list!Perhentian Island looks gorgeous!! I’m all about finding secluded beaches and this definitely looks like the place. I also recently got my PADI so would love to try some diving there. Thanks for a great post!

    1. Malaysia is a relatively cheaper place to travel too and a naturally diverse country to visit. They also have tea plantations (Cameron Highlands), one of the largest caves in the world (Mulu National Park), and Sipadan Marine Park (one of my dive-bucketlist!). Thank you for checking out my post 🙂

  8. Valerie

    Wow, two weeks! I would love to go to Perhentian Kecil Island! Seems very relaxing! Glad you enjoyed!

  9. I’ve been looking to take diving lessons for a long time! This seems like the perfect place. Truly paradise 🙂

    1. Indeed it is! It has a nice overall vibe, a welcoming diving community, nice dive sites and really affordable rates! It’s gonna be amazing for you! 🙂

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