It’s not hard to decide to go to Perhentian Islands. Any photo of these stunning islands with white sand beaches and crystal blue water will make you want to set off!
However, finding the perfect place to stay can be trickier! That’s because there are a range of options and none stand out as the ultimate best. At least, when you are looking online.
I was won over by the Perhentian Island Resort’s beautiful beach… and I am very glad I picked it. It has the best and most stunning location of any accommodation I saw on the Perhentian Islands.
But is it a great place to stay beyond the views and beach?
In this Perhentian Island Resort review, I share all the good and the bad about a stay here and let you know why I recommend it for your next holiday. This will give you clarity about whether it’s the right choice for you or not.
I stayed here as a woman alone with my 7 year old son. I hope you enjoy this Perhentian Island Resort blog.
This article was originally written after I stayed here in October 2019. At this time, there was construction happening and new things afoot at this resort. However, enter the pandemic and it seems this is no longer the case. Readers have reported to me that things have aged and the resort is no longer as well-managed. I have updated the review to take this into account.
Thankfully, this resort still has a stunning location and beach and I would still recommend it for these things. Just have the right expectations for the food and rooms.
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Perhentian Island Resort Review
Our stay started well with email before we got there. I booked a private transfer through the hotel to pick us up in Redang Island and speed boat us over to the resort. The Perhentian Island Resort hotel was always very responsive and very easy to deal with.
When we first arrived, after staring wide eyed at the gorgeous beach, our first experiences were less positive.
No one helped us with our bags. I was travelling alone with a 7 year old and two heavy backpacks and his third lighter one. No one even helped us get them on the jetty from our much lower boat and then we were left to wander around the resort to find the reception area.
However, once we hit the reception things improved. The staff are very friendly and helpful (as they were every time I dealt with them). They gave us our welcome drink, showed us everything on a map and then showed us where to stow our luggage as we were too early to check in to our room yet.
We were then able to go straight to our lunch.
Check in is at 3pm although I saw them cleaning our room at 1pm so we could probably have had our room earlier except we decided to go explore Perhentian Kecil for the afternoon instead. Everything was quick and smooth on our return.
Check out is even easier – we could leave our bags outside our room before our departure and they took them to the jetty and onto our boat without us doing anything.
Perhentian Island Resort Rooms
We stayed in a premier beachfront twin room which was fantastic for us. It has two single beds, two bedside tables, a cupboard area with mini fridge and tea and coffee making facilities. There is a decent sized couch, air conditioning and a fan.
The bathroom has a shower, toilet, basin and a good range of toiletries.
Our balcony has sea views (as we do from the bed with curtains open) as well as two chairs, a table and a hanging rack.
The room was very clean, comfortable and we felt at home straight away. It’s also quite spacious with a lot of room.
The sea views are definitely the highlight though! I do recommend paying extra for this. Despite being in the middle of the resort, it is also nice and quiet.
My only complaints are that the couch has stains on it and the cleaning service during our stay was not very good. The bathroom was not cleaned at all and our towels were taken and not replaced! Note that there is no television.
The room is very well lit and there is lighting on the walls in the panels around the beds. I don’t know why most hotel rooms in the world need to be badly lit, but that is definitely not a problem here!
Something I really loved about this room is the power board (not sure what it’s called exactly!) on the bedside table. It had two power points, including an international one, two USB points and you can connect your device via Bluetooth to pay music or whatever via a small speaker.
I really think every hotel needs to get these!
There’s also a choice of other room types of varying quality. They all appear to be the same size and there are blocks of chalet style options with a Perhentian Island Resort superior room or Perhentian Island Resort deluxe room throughout the resort.
The rooms are quite spread out which gives a sense or privacy. I read on Pulau Perhentian Island Resort review sites about people having issues with older rooms so it’s worth paying for more to get a better room.
These other room types are also where I have heard complaints from our readers. Many are not renovated like pictured above. Despite the resort’s website showing all rooms in this style, many are an old wooden style with bathrooms that don’t function correctly. I highly recommend you pay for the highest room category you can to get the best quality room possible.
I loved our room and highly recommend the beachfront option.
Perhentian Island Resort Restaurant Options
The main restaurant has beach views and serves meals all day long including buffet breakfasts, lunches and dinners for a reasonable price.
We had meals included so ate here a lot. It was ok and there was always something I enjoyed eating. However, had we been staying more than a couple of days I would have got very sick of it. The options are very limited.
Where it definitely won was the ice kacang station on our first evening though. We love ice kacang anyway (a Malaysian dessert with shaved ice and many random toppings), and it was really fun to make our own!
There is also a beachfront cafe but I’m not sure it even opened while we were there. There is meant to be BBQ food and drinks.
The food is another area where readers who have visited since the country re-opened have had issues. The a la carte menu in particular is not meant to be good. The BBQ nights are the best choice for food here when you can attend one. Tuna Bay Island Resort is a short walk away and a better option for food.
Note that no alcohol is served or permitted in the restaurants at the Perhentian Island Resort. The closest place I found to have a beer or wine is not far away on West Beach at Belinda Cafe. It’s about a 5 minute walk.
Perhentian Island Resort Facilities
The beach is obviously the best part of this hotel. It is just stunning. Although it is open to everyone, as a resort guest, there are lounge chairs, deck chairs and towels and it’s easy to get a great position.
A huge plus with this beach is that most of it is roped off to boats so it is safe and there is a lot to explore. You can snorkel right off the beach to see many fish. It’s actually quite rare to see large areas roped off on these islands – this is the only area where I saw such a large area for swimmers.
There is a coral reef on one end and a platform to swim out too. There was an even a 16 kilometre open water race when we were there around the island!
There are also kayaks and snorkels to hire and a dive centre. The resort has two snorkelling trips a day which are easy to join. Tour prices are all reasonable.
At each end of the beach is a sea taxi stand with good prices to get all over the islands. More about this and sample prices here as well as below.
It’s also easy to walk to other parts of Perhentian Besar. This is a jungle trek out the back of the resort to the southern part of the island. On the opposite side of the jetty is an easy path round to West Beach. This is not a resort where you will feel stuck.
There is a decent sized pool and kids pool which is nice for a swim and doesn’t seem to be used much thanks to the lovely beach. There were a few bugs in it when I went for a swim. It wasn’t to the level where I wouldn’t use it but not as clean as I would like either.
There is also a badminton and tennis court, a games area with pool table and a fusbal table and karaoke rooms. Beach volleyball and soccer are possibilities too.
There is a day spa but, unfortunately, no internet. They advertise it as being available in reception area but they admit themselves that it’s really bad and I wasn’t able to use it. Mobile reception is great though.
Since re-opening post pandemic, the grounds are unkept and overall, the resort needs a facelift.
How To Get To Perhentian Island Resort, Terengganu, Malaysia
The Pulau Perhentian Island Resort has the best location on the islands in my opinion.
This is because it is convenient to many places while still having the best beach I saw on the islands. The roped off areas make this spot ideal too instead of mostly having to swim between boats on many other beaches.
To get here from the rest of Malaysia, there are regular ferries from Kuala Besut. It’s easy and you can read exact instructions on how to get to Perhentian Islands here. Any ferry will drop you off at the resort or the resort run their own for the same price.
To get between here and other points on Perhentian Islands is very easy. There are sea taxi stands at each end of the beach and you can travel for a good price wherever you want. An example price is RM10 per person to Long Beach on Kecil.
The Perhentian Island Resort is one of the closer points to Perhentian Kecil which makes this fast as well. In a 5-minute walk, you can be at West Beach on Besar.
Perhentian Island Resort With Kids
This is a fabulous option with kids. The beach is just perfect. It’s nice and calm with a lack of sharp coral. Also, most of this beach is partitioned off so boats only have limited access which makes it much nicer and safer than other beaches we saw.
There is also the pool and other activities here to help keep kids amused. You are also surrounded by nature which always makes things easier with kids.
I love the Perhentian Island Resort.
Other than expecting a gorgeous beach (which over-delivered, it’s so good!), I had low expectations of this resort having read it was tired.
While at the time of my visit this seemed to be improving, it does sound like it’s taken a backward turn since Malaysia re-opened.
I wished the food had tasted a bit better and the room cleaning was a bit better, and it’s a shame things have not improved since I was there. However, I still think this is a great value option for this part of the world. I love the location and the beach area is just fabulous. Just make sure you book a great room type and expect things to look tired if you stay here.
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