My comprehensive guide to Perhentian Kecil, Malaysia

Location: Perhentian Kecil

Perhentian Kecil is the smaller and the more backpacker-friendly island of the two Perhentian islands. I got to spend some time here the past few days and explore what this island had to offer. Here I will be covering accommodations, food, and activities.

Where to stay:

Perhentian Kecil accommodations at first glance look anything but budget friendly. With the booming diving scene attracting a constant string of visitors, the days of 50 MYR ($12.00) bungalows are over. The good news is that there are still affordable accomodations left on the island. For solo travelers, I recommend staying in Long Beach. Coral Bay on the other side of the island is quaint but small with a few resort accommodations and not very many restaurants.

Despite Long Beach’s many restaurants and diving centers, it is still a  beautiful beach and is much more mellow and quiet than the Thai islands despite also having fire shows at night. During the day, there’s plenty of beach to go around and you can get an umbrellas for rent for only 10 MYR for the whole day (a little more than $2.00).

If you are interested in diving, stay at one of the diving centers/hostels on Long Beach to make life easier. I heard great things from multiple people about Ohlala Divers. 

If you are looking to stay in a hostel but do not want to spend too much, Aina Garden Long Beach is located on one side of Long Beach, making it very accessible but quieter than the other accommodations. It has a restaurant and reception on a hill overlooking the ocean with affordable dining options. The dorms are very basic but get the job done.

If you are looking for an affordable bungalow, Aina Garden Long Beach also has bungalows for 100 MYR ($24.00). The neighboring resort, Lemon Grass, has even cheaper basic bungalows with outside toilet. But for 120 MYR (at Lemon Grass), you can get a very attractive bungalow with a bathroom unit inside overlooking the ocean. It’s really a great deal considering there are hostels on the island that charge 100 MYR per night! There’s really no need to spend that much on a hostel.

Views from the restaurant/ reception area at Aina Garden Long Beach hostels and bungalows

What to eat:

Perhentian Kecil has no shortage of food options but for me, is missing the zing in the food scene of other Malaysian destinations. However, if you are craving some Western food you will have no problem getting your burger and fries fix all over the island. 

There are Malaysian food options as well ranging from 5 MYR per meal (yes, that’s correct) to up to 20 MYR for a full barbecue seafood meal. 

Cheapest meal on Long Beach

There are also plenty of roti canai places (Indian bread that comes with curry) to choose from. This is the most affordable option ranging from 6 to 8 MYR and coming in a variety of fillings to choose from. The roti canai on the island was the best I’ve had in Malaysia so far! It makes a great breakfast or snack.

Roti canai, my favorite Malaysian breakfast comes with many fillings

I think it’s just a matter of exploring and finding the price that is right for you in terms of food, but you will have no shortage of places to choose from on Long Beach. Since nothing really blew me away, I won’t name any specifics this time around.

What to do:

1.Diving

The most obvious answer to this question on Perhentian Kecil is DIVING. Diving is relatively affordable on the island. I didn’t go diving so like Jon Snow, I know nothing and will stop right here.

2. Snorkeling

What I do have license to discuss is snorkeling and I can honestly say this was some of the best snorkeling I’ve done. I recommend doing a Long Trip snorkeling tour for 50 MYR(you will see plenty of companies on the beach offering a myriad of tours). The one I did takes you to the following places. 

The highlight for me was swimming with reef sharks. Pictured below:

Swimming with black-tipped reef sharks. Photo from a video I took with my GoPro.

3.) Beaches and swimming

Like I said, you can rent an umbrella for the day at Long Beach making it easy to waste away the hours there without dying of sun stroke.

Turtle Beach, on the bigger Perhentian island, was the most beautiful beach I saw on the island and definitely worth a visit for the clear, gorgeous hue of the water. There are no turtles there by the way so don’t be disappointed. 

Perhentian Kecil is really a paradise for swimming as the sand and water are both very clean. Also, regardless of the time of day and the tides, you can go deeper into the water than some other islands I’ve been.

3.) Windmill Hike

You can hike to the windmill on the island from where you can find some amazing viewpoints. If you don’t use Maps.me app for hiking or traveling, I highly recommend it. On the App you will be able to find the viewpoints, they are next to the windmill, which appears as “power station” on the map. 

The entrance is around Chillout Cafe so just go there and ask and they will direct you to the start of the trail. From there, I recommend using the app but there are plenty of signs along the way pointing to the windmill. 

Beautiful colored water by the bay when doing the Windmill Hike

5.) Other tours

Aside from snorkeling around the two Perhentians, there are plenty of other packages to choose from. I heard amazing things about the tour to Rawa Island and Redang Island. If you have the opportunity, definitely go and maybe even prioritize there two before any other tour if you have limited time or funds.

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