Underwater Bliss in the Perhentian Islands


Hawksbill turtle, Perhentian Islands, Malaysia

From Taman Negara we traveled to the coast and onward to the Perhentian Islands, which lie 10 nautical miles east of Penisular Malaysia.  We chose to stay on the smaller island of the two islands, Perhentian Kecil.


One of the beach restaurants

Besides the stunningly beautiful beaches, the Perhentians are well known for excellent scuba diving and snorkeling.  Many moons ago, Dan got his open water certification, but I had only been diving once before. One of our fellow trekkers in Taman Negara recommended Spice Divers in the Perhentians, and after meeting the dive instructors we were all aboard to start the open water certification course the following day.  Since Dan’s last diving trip was over 10 years ago, they recommended that he retake that course.  The course included tutorial videos and four dives where we learned crucial diving skills.  By taking and passing the course, divers are allowed to dive to a depth of 18 meters. Our class included two other hopeful divers and one awesome instructor.

Dive boat, Perhentian style

Dan and I underwater!

I thought I would be nervous to try diving, but I instantly fell in love with it.  During our five dives (Spice Divers threw in a free extra fun dive!), we saw hawksbill turtles, clownfish hiding in colorful anemones, bluespotted stingrays, giant clams, pufferfish, Moray eels, parrotfish, and scores of other colorful fish. We tried out our new underwater camera and took some videos and pictures from our diving adventures, posted below.

Our instructor, Ben, diving along Temple rock pinnacle

Our awesome dive group!

Giant clam

The snorkeling in the Perhentians is also spectacular, as both islands are surrounded by coral reefs. After a morning of diving, we went snorkeling with friends right off the beach and saw giant clams the size of basketballs (video below), a crowded school of parrotfish (video below), eels, stingrays, and turtles. After our open water course was finished, we took a boat tour that dropped us off at five snorkeling sites around the other island, Besar.  Dan and I got the chance to swim with a giant hawksbill turtle and five blacktip sharks!


Dan walking on Turtle Beach on Perhentian Besar

We only meant to stay 3-4 days on the island, but we ended up staying 9 days.  The diving was fantastic and we were having too much fun with all the people we met on the island.  In truth, we probably could have stayed much longer!  As the saying goes, all good things must come to an end, and it was time for us to head across the peninsula to our last stop in Malaysia: Penang.

The island was full of monitor lizards. The largest one we saw was over 6 feet long!

Viewpoint from the top of the island

Panorama from a hike we took on the island

Our dive instructor, Ben, put together this “best of” video (posted below) of one of the best dive sites of the islands,  Temple of the Sea.

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