The Perhentian Islands – possibly the best island paradise so far

 And trust me, that’s an achievement. Read on to find out why I’m making such a big claim!
Right up on the north east coast of Malaysia, close to the border with Thailand, lie the Perhentian Islands. There are two: a big one, and a small one. They have proper names of course, but most people here just refer to them by their size. Ironically, there isn’t actually much difference… But still, we went to the smaller of the two, and absolutely loved it. 

   
 Like many of the islands in SE Asia, there are two distinct sides, with distinctly different vibes. We chose Coral Bay, rather than the more popular Long Beach. Diving is pretty much the main activity for both sides of the island (it’s ludicrously cheap) but we spoke to someone who’d done their PADI course at a resort on Long Beach and said it had a bit of the Koh Tao factory feel about it. Maybe it was just because we were doing fun dives, but everything seemed a bit more chilled on Coral Bay. 

We stayed at Maya, which is pretty much the cheapest place there is. You can even camp there if you want to save even more. I can’t remember staying in a friendlier place. There are hammocks all over the place, and our first night turned into an impromptu ‘bring your own booze’ party (where we could finally offload the rest of our Laotian boxed wine…!), with free food laid on by the owner. 
The diving varied from average to the best we’ve done so far. We dived with two dive shops, Quiver and Ombok, and much, much preferred Ombok. Although slightly more expensive, (still only RM80 per dive – about £14) we just had a much better time, especially with Alif our dive master. I think Kat summed it up by saying that if she ever wanted to do her dive master, she’d go to them. We loved it. Diving with black tip reef sharks on our last morning was just the jewel in the crown – amazing.

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