If you want to spend time with your children on a beach, building sandcastles, and maybe going snorkelling in the beautiful clear blue sea, the Perhentians are worth a visit.

What to expect:

The sea is calm, the sand is mostly white and soft; but watch out for falling coconuts (seriously)! We got told to move away from a shade-providing coconut tree as a girl had been hit on the head- squirrels have been nibbling the coconuts… Also beware the odd bit of broken glass (it’s worth wearing shoes for this and bits of broken coral). It’s a relaxing place (read potentially boring if there for a long time).

Some things to do with your little one when there: 

If bored of dips in the sea and making sandcastles, try one of these:

Option 1:

A 3-4 hour snorkelling trip- 4 stops, lots of swimming and a bit of beach time (do check there is in the route you take though).Current cost 50 RM for an adult with mask hire and life jacket and half price for a little one.

Option 2:

Take a taxi boat to a destination of your choice and arrange pick up.

This option worked better for us, as we could choose where to go and when to come back. We actually chose another beach, but it was really pretty and as they say, a change is as good as a rest. We went to one of the furthest points on Besar ( Blue Lagoon/ Turtle Beach) and it cost 80 RM; no snorkel included but you can hire for 10 RM. They don’t have little masks, though.

Option 3:

Rent a kayak. Daisy enjoyed this more than me, telling me “Go on! Why’ve you stopped?!” When I took a break from paddling.

We hired a little kayak for 15 an hour. For me, an hour was enough, especially as it looked like a storm was brewing…

Option 4:

Check out a hotel swimming pool (but maybe read my post on sharing first.. )

Interested in going to the Perhentians? Here’s how to get there:

You’ll need to take a boat from the mainland. The departure port is called Kuala Besut. The last scheduled boat at 4pm; there may be others going, but it could be pricey.

On the boat, DO get and put on a life jacket as some of the boat drivers seem to in a crazy hurry and though my little one can swim, I must say at one point I was scared she could go bouncing out of the bumpy boat and into the sea.

How to get to the port at Kuala Besut:

There is an airport in Kota Bharu with flights from Penang and Kuala Lumpur amongst other destinations- you can take a taxi or a Grab car from the airport ( there was actually little difference in the price when we went). You can also book your return boat trip at the airport (there’s little, if any point in getting a single).
You can also drive to Kuala Besut all the way from Penang. It takes about five hours, so pack some snacks, stop off at the National Park for a picnic and ideally stay overnight in a hotel near the port as you may miss the last boat and it just makes it a less hectic day.

However you choose to get there, enjoy your stay; we did!