Thursday, February 26, 2009
When Natalie Gruzlewski was told she was going to the Perhentian Islands, she had no idea where on earth they were. After her visit, she can't wait to return.
Perhentian Kecil and Perhentian Besar sit off Malaysia's north-east coast. Longbeach on the smaller Kecil is the hub of the action and is busier and more crowded than the larger Besar. The coral-fringed Perhentian Islands belong to Pulau Redang National Marine Park. That means fishing, collecting coral and littering are strictly prohibited and steep fines apply.
If you like high-rise hotels and high-speed watersports on your holidays, the Perhentians probably aren't for you. They are extremely relaxed; slipping into the island way of life is easy and prices are reasonable. You can unwind with a massage for $10! Water taxis between islands are about $3, and once you've had a good look around you can concentrate on exploring private coves and snorkel straight off-shore. If you want to go further out, hire a boat and dive instructor and be treated to an underwater wonder world.
Watercolours Resorts & Dive Centre
Watercolours Resorts & Dive Centre run daily snorkelling and scuba diving trips and courses in their dive sites. The small, independent company has two beautiful resorts with accommodation options for all budgets. Kecil attracts more travellers as its accommodation is cheaper. Besar has more mid-range and top-end resort accommodation.
Wherever you stay, you are treated to secret shipwrecks surrounded by colourful fish, coral reefs, rock formations with swim-throughs, and green turtles can be seen all year. To-Kong Laut, Temple of the Sea, is a favourite location. It has soft and hard corals, and the sites are constantly changing.
Bayu Dive Lodge
A family owned business; they will take you diving in unspoiled tropical waters with fabulous scenery and no crowds. They cater for all levels of experience, and variety is the key word. Soft and hard corals, sponges and anemones and the range of fish will have you longing to jump back in.
Right next door to the school they have created accommodation to suit your budget. They have western-style bathrooms, hot water, power shower and most have air-conditioning.
Tangerine restaurant on the beach serves breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner. Malaysian and Western food is available.
Located at Teluk Dalam Beach has double bungalows, double A-frames and family rooms. They have ceiling fans and bathrooms. The restaurant serves western and local dishes and drinking water is clean and safe. A water taxi will take you to other beaches.
There's also just as much to see on land. You will hear and spot little black dusky langur monkeys whirling through the trees. They resemble a possum, and the tree-dwelling mammals are found only in South-East Asia.
Right now, the Perhentian Islands are a hit with backpackers and young travellers as they are so affordable, but it won't be long before everyone else catches on! Add them to your list.
The Perhentian Islands, 20 minutes by speed boat from Kuala Besut in Malaysia. Kota Bharu, the closest airport, is easily accessible from Kuala Lumpur or Singapore. Due to eastern monsoons, the season is effectively limited to the period between the beginning of March and late October. Outside this period, seas can be very rough with currents making swimming dangerous.
Watercolours Dive Centre and Resorts five-day/four-night Open Water Diving Packages cost around $640 for adults and $600 for children. Accommodation, meals, drinks, return ferry and PADI open-water course are included. Guided dives start at around $35 per person with a maximum of four people. They run on demand between February and October.
Bayu Dive Lodge Hotel Chalet family rooms start at around $41, including breakfast.
Samudera Chalet dormitories start at around $25 a night.
Malaysia Airlines has flights to Kuala Lumpur with connections to Kota Bharu.
- Perth $1409
- Melbourne $1411
- Adelaide $1426
- Sydney $1429
- Brisbane $1430
Valid until December 31, 2009. Conditions apply.
Prices correct at February 26, 2009.
For further information
Watercolour Resorts & Dive Centre
Ph: +60 17 9380 952
Bayu Dive Lodge Hotel
Ph: +0800 680 0783
Teluk Dalam Beach
Ph: +60 9 6974095
Fax: +60 9 6978679
Level 2, 171 Clarence Street
Sydney NSW 2000
Ph: (02) 9299 4441
Fax: (02) 9262 2026
Ph: 132 627
Visas: Australians can enter Malaysia without a visa. Thirty-day entry permits will be issued, but customs officials can grant 90 day permits at their discretion.
Electricity: Plugs have three pins, identical in shape and voltage to British plugs, so Australian travellers will need a UK adaptor. They operate at 230V/50Hz.
Time zone: Malaysia time is GMT +8 hours.
Currency: Malaysian currency is the ringgit Malaysia (RM). Notes come in one, two, five, 10, 50, 100, 500 and 1000 denominations.
International dialling code: +60.
It is recommended travelers to Malaysia see their doctor at least six weeks before departure, as there are specific vaccinations recommended. Other health precautions and preventions may also be recommended and are best discussed with your doctor. For further information, visit www.welltogo.com.au.
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