Getting to the Perhentian Islands can be a little tricky if your doing it by yourself, but most of the big hotels and resorts will put on transfers from Kota Bharu airport or bus station if you book in advance.
Remember to take out enough money before leaving the mainland as there is no ATM on either island. However, dive shops will accept credit cards and cash advances are available from BuBu Resort on Kecil, but are charged at an exorbitant 10 per cent. There is a RM5 entrance fee to the marine park which you pay with your boat tickets.
The mainland jetty for boats to both islands is in Kuala Besut, around 45kms south of Kota Bharu. From here there are slow boats (RM30 return), which take 90 minutes, and speed boats (RM70 return), which take 30 minutes.
Both run from around 07:30–17:00. Tickets are usually purchased on a return basis and then you tell your guesthouse when you plan to head back. They will phone the appropriate company to book your place with services typically departing the island at 08:00, 12:00 and 16:00.
Ferry trips can be a little rough so it may be wise not to eat or drink too much before embarking. Coming from the mainland they first arrive in Coral Bay on Pulau Perhentian Kecil, then nip over to the main beach of Pulau Perhentian Besar, before finally depositing the last remaining passengers back on Kecil’s Long Beach. As Long Beach has no jetty, smaller boats come and transfer passengers to the shore and demand an extra tip for doing so.
Getting around the Perhentians
The best way to navigate both islands is to walk. There are tracks between most of the beaches which makes for an adventurous spot of exercise in between lounging on the sand. Taxi boats are available from both Long Beach and Coral Beach on Perhentian Kecil and the main beach of Perhentian Besar, but are extremely expensive considering the short journeys involved.
Unfortunately price fixing by the local transport mafia makes negotiations a thankless task. However, this is the only way to get to some of the more remote bays such as romantic beach, sunset beach and turtle beach. Alternatively you could rent a kayak and peddle around, but be careful as the seas can suddenly turn quite choppy.