The name Pulau Perhentian actually covers two islands, Perhentian Besar and Perhentian Kecil (which mean large and small stopping places, respectively; Big Island and Small Island are sometimes used instead). Both are textbook tropical paradises, which retain considerable appeal despite having been developed for tourism. The essentials of any idyllic island holiday – fantastic sandy beaches, and great snorkelling and diving – are all in place. Both islands have jungly hills in their interior, with paths for walking and opportunities to spot flying foxes, monkeys and monitor lizards. All this is capped by a refreshingly laidback atmosphere that can make it difficult to tear yourself away.

For many years, large-scale development on the Perhentians was kept to a minimum. This was just as well, given that both islands are home to several turtle nesting sites, active from April to early August – the only organized viewing is through the Bubbles resort – and that the impact of the existing resorts on the environment is far from negligible. Shortages of water, for example, can be a hassle during the tourist peak.

The state government’s attitude towards development has loosened up in recent years, however, and a few larger resorts have been constructed. Alcohol is also sold openly these days at a handful of restaurants and bars, although it seems that it is not strictly legal: the police periodically confiscate booze from businesses on the island but it isn’t long before things are back in full swing.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Malaysia features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

7 places to get off the tourist trail in Malaysia

7 places to get off the tourist trail in Malaysia

Already gaped at the Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur, lazed on a white beach in the Perhentians, met orangutans at Sepilok and filled a whole SD card with…

31 Aug 2017 • Marco Ferrarese insert_drive_file Article
9 tips for backpacking Malaysia

9 tips for backpacking Malaysia

Despite having turquoise-ringed tropical islands, misty rainforests, cosmopolitan and arty cities, colourful festivals and one of the world's most interesting e…

08 Jun 2017 • Marco Ferrarese insert_drive_file Article
26 awe-inspiring architectural wonders

26 awe-inspiring architectural wonders

From ancient temples to hyper-modern skyscrapers, these are just a few of the world's most incredible architectural wonders. Whether you're looking to wander l…

01 Feb 2017 • Rough Guides Editors camera_alt Gallery
View more featureschevron_right

Weekly newsletter

Sign up now for travel inspiration, discounts and competitions

Sign up now and get 20% off any ebook