The Perhentian Islands are located around 25km from Kuala Besut on the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia. The islands are reached by speedboat or slow boats from the Kuala Besut jetty, or by chartered boat from the nearby Redang and Lang Tengah Islands.
There is a RM 5 conservation charge per person for going to the island.
Remember that there are no ATMs or banks in Kuala Besut or on the Perhentian Islands. Visa and Mastercard are only accepted at a few resorts. The closest ATMS are in Jerteh.
Boat Services to the Perhentian Islands
Apart from chartered boat services that depart from nearby islands (Redang, Lang Tengah) all boats to the Perhentian Islands depart from Kuala Besut.
Speedboats cost RM 70 return (RM 40 one way) and depart according to demand, usually four to five times per day, starting at 07:00 in the morning. Boats will drop you off at the resort or beach of your choice and the trip takes 30-45 minutes.
Slow wooden fishing boats are also sometimes available but need to be chartered. The cost is RM 300 per trip and they usually require 12 persons minimum. It can take up to 2 hours to reach the island this way.
If the sea is rough you can be assured of a bumpy ride and you may even get wet. You may need to disembark in shallow water if there is no jetty at your beach, so dress (and pack) accordingly.
Getting to Kuala Besut
Kuala Besut is 50km south of Kota Bharu and 110km north of Kuala Terengganu on the east coast of peninsular Malaysia in the state of Terengganu.
The closest airports are in Kota Bharu and in Kuala Terengganu.
- Air Asia flies daily to Kota Bharu from Kuala Lumpur and Johor Bahru and to Kuala Terengganu from Kuala Lumpur.
- Malaysia Airlines flies daily to Kota Bharu and to Kuala Terengganu from Kuala Lumpur.
- Firefly flies daily to Kota Bharu from Penang and Kuala Lumpur (Subang airport).
By road – public transport
Apart from the Kuala Lumpur service that goes directly to Kuala Besut, most long distance buses to this region are bound for Kota Bharu but will drop you at Jerteh (around 15km from Kuala Besut) if you ask. From Jerteh you can easily get a taxi to Kuala Besut (RM 10-20), even if you arrive in the early hours of the morning as taxi drivers often wait for buses to arrive.
From Kuala Lumpur, Mahligai and Mutiara have coach services twice daily (morning and evening) to Kuala Besut. The trip takes 8-9 hours and costs around RM 30. The bus station is walking distance from the jetty.
From Singapore, Transnasional has an overnight business class service to Kota Bharu. Ask to be dropped off at Jerteh. The trip takes around 9 hours and costs SGD 45. You can board the same bus in Johor Bahru (around RM 50) or opt for the economy service (around RM 40).
From Penang, there are several bus services to Kota Bahru or Jerteh.
From Kuala Terengganu you can take any northbound local bus or coach service and ask to be dropped off at Jerteh..
From Kota Bharu there are direct local bus services or you can take a taxi.
Several travel agents and tour operators offer transfers (usually via air-conditioned minivan) between Kuala Besut and the Cameron Highlands, Taman Negara National Park or Kuala Lumpur. Costs are around RM 60-90 per person each way.
By road – self drive
From Kuala Lumpur take the east bound highway (East Coast Expressway) in the direction of Kuantan. From Kuantan, take the coastal road (highway 3) north, in the direction of Kuala Terengganu (follow signs along the way). From Kuala Terengganu, take either highway 3 or highway 14 to Jerteh and Kuala Besut. Travelling time should be 7-8 hours.
From Singapore / Johor Bahru Cross the border at Woodlands or the Second Link and from Johor Bahru take the Plus highway north. Exit at Yong Peng. Follow highway 1 to Labis and Segamat, highway 12 to Kuantan, then use either highway 14 to Kuala Terengganu or coastal highway 3 via Kemaman, Paka and Dungun. From Kuala Terengganu, take either highway 3 or highway 14 to Jerteh and Kuala Besut. Travelling time should be 8-9 hours.
From Penang take the East-West highway 4 towards Kota Bharu via Grik and Jertih. From Kota Bahru, proceed south on highway 3 to Jerteh and Kuala Besut. Travelling time should be 8-9 hours.