We arrived at Pulau Perhentian Kechil or ‘small island’ on Sunday 2nd August. We anchored off of Long beach (anchorage 112 in the Sail Malaysia cruising guide) at
We were still on our own as Inspiration Lady and the others were still at Tioman. Long beach, as a holiday destination, is lovely. There’s Bubu’s at one end and the World café at the other end and lots of small resorts and dive shops in between. I was happy because we discovered that not only did the world café have a proper coffee machine (practically unheard of in the islands) but it was being run by a lovely Italian couple Ranieri and Mathilda who made the most amazing Cappuccinos. Bill managed to impress them with a bit of Italian just about remembered.
Long beach is a beautiful sandy beach but the bad thing is that the tourist boats and water taxis are allowed to go where they like at any speed they like making swimming off the boat very dangerous. Added to that as the sun went down about 3 different techno machines started up sending out a cacophony of noise which continued until 3am! That wasn’t so bad, we couldn’t hear it downstairs so well but around midnight fireworks starting going off ……
The next morning we left to anchor at the other island Pulau Perhentian Besar ‘big island’ at anchorage 109
We had the private Perhentian Island resort (PIR) (would be my recommendation if anyone wanted to holiday here) in front of us that has a protected sandy beach and Coral View Island resort next to it. This photo was taken from Coral View as we ate a delicious lunch there.
One of the things we wanted to achieve here was a PADI dive course for Bill. We have recently bought a good second hand diving set and I wanted Bill to take a proper course. Beyond the Coral view was a row of eateries and dive shops, although not as many as Long beach. All the dive shops were the same price but in the end we decided the Turtle Bay divers back on the small island seemed to be a bit more switched on. So we took Camomile back to anchorage 112 and Bill signed up for the 4 day open water course at MYR980 (about £170). Fortunately the fireworks had been a one off and we got used to the music.
Wednesday 5th Bill went back to school. Note his little homework bag with his reference book in it, I also gave him an apple for break time!
The first day was mostly theory but in the afternoon they started on the skills required to pass the course. None of the resorts have pools here but there’s an area alongside the rocks on the edge of the bay that gently shelves allowing you to gradually get deeper, ideal for learning to dive, and it’s cordoned off.
Bill had been teamed with a guy called John plus there were 2 Korean girls in his class and the four of them gradually submerged with Aswan their excellent diving instructor.
I watched from the dinghy on the other side of the line. Bill seemed to be doing very well.
I was glad I hadn’t joined him because the course is much more advanced now than when we last attempted it in the Red sea many years ago. Not only did he have to work up gradually to taking his mask off (a complete no no as far as I’m concerned) and put it back on underwater, he had to swim without it, swop regulators, share his spare regulator with John and vice versa as well as other skills.
Meanwhile I went and played with the pussy cats, literally. The dive school has adopted a mummy cat and her kittens, 5 of them. This one is my favourite they have named her Seabelle and she was mine for the taking. I enjoyed playing with her every day and would have loved to keep her but all things considered we decided it would be best if we didn’t.
The next day after spending the morning doing more theory, there are 5 sections to work through, and skills in the cordoned off area we had lunch together. In the afternoon Bill was going on his first proper dive, he looks quite happy going off…..
….. and even happier coming back after a successful dive where he learnt how to regulate his buoyancy, practised rescuing a tired diver, clamp removal and more mask removal. They had seen large parrot fish, angel fish and barracudas.
On the third morning he took the ‘quiz’ and passed so that was the theory over. In the afternoon they went diving at shark point and I was going to go with them for a snorkel but the weather closed in and the sea became a bit rough so I stayed behind. Bill said they didn’t see any sharks but saw a green sea turtle among other things, and got down to 16m but the visibility wasn’t very good with the bad weather. John’s wife Angela, who already had her PADI, went with them.
Their 4th and final dive was the 18m dive and included working with dive computers which went well. Back at the dive centre Aswan congratulated them all on passing and signed off their log books. Bill enjoyed the course and feels more confident to use the kit to clean the bottom of the boat but also he will be able to join our fellow cruisers on a dive now; I’ll stick to snorkelling or better still when he goes for a dive I’ll book into the local spa!
We had lunch with John and Angela but later that afternoon the storm clouds gathered and we had a big storm. Luckily they aren’t too bad in this area. Our friends further south and on the west coast have been having some awful ones.
Sunday 9th we went ashore for Sunday breakfast, a treat we often spoil ourselves with, followed by a delicious cappuccino at the World café; it was getting difficult to leave. There’s a short walk over the hill to Coral bay so decided to do that to walk our breakfast off. The bay was stunning and the water looked inviting but no good for anchoring as it’s on the west side and the evening storms would put us on a lee shore over that coral.
The next day we came ashore prepared for a longer walk and after walking through to Coral bay again continued on the 1½ hour walk around the south west of the island. The views were amazing peeping through the trees tantalisingly as we headed south. The islands in the distance are Pulau Rawa, Pulau Susudara and Pulau Serenggeh we have been considering visiting them.
As we walked up some steps this monitor lizard was having a good hunt around, not sure what he was looking for but once he saw us he scuttled off. Must have been a good metre long.
Eventually we arrived at the village on the southern side of the island. This is a ‘main’ road. The houses are built on stilts to allow the air to circulate under them to keep it cool. They also store things under them and, if they are high enough, washing is hung out to dry. The houses are very simply built out of wood. This lady was cutting up the catch of the day. There were lots of hibiscus flowers growing around the village.
We sat at one of the little eateries on the sea front and watched these guys building a new construction next door. No hard hats, safety boats, high vis jackets or safety harnesses but they were getting the job done although everything was being done by hand. It was going to take them some time to build this structure especially at the speed they were working but it was very hot too.
It isn’t possible to walk any further so after lunch we hired a water taxi to take us back to the anchorage passing their beautiful mosque on the way. Once back we decided we had ‘done’ the small island and moved Camomile to the other island to anchorage 109 by the Coral View resort. It was a relief to get away from the steady stream of water taxis by day and the music by night.
The problem with anchorage 109 is its name – Turtle bay. There are many turtles here and consequently it’s on all 3 ‘tours’; big island, small island and Rawa island. So many times during the day we had this, dozens of boats looking for the ubiquitous turtles. Once the ‘spotter’ has seen one their customers are disgorged into the water, many with buoyancy jackets on, in hot pursuit of the poor thing. They don’t hurt them but the turtles must get a bit ticked off at being followed every day. At one point we had the occupants of 14 boats in the water around us all trying to glimpse a turtle.
Wednesday 12th was another walking day. Behind the PIR is another jungle trek (ask one of the staff where it starts) which we set off on. Our instructions were just keep walking south but the path divided so out came Bill’s compass that his sister Kate had given him and we found the right track.
After about an hour of walking the path came out onto another beautiful beach lined with small resorts. We had been told it was good for snorkeling but the visibility wasn’t very good so we walked west along the beach and re-joined the path to take us back over the hill. It’s difficult to see the gradient but it was quite steep and reminded us of the Cameron highlands but luckily not as far.
The path brought us out to this beach, it was called fish cove. The boulders that surrounded the beach on the southern side were huge. The water was a lot clearer so we went in for our snorkel.
The area around the rocks was astounding. There were also a lot of rocks under the water creating amazing shapes and surfaces for coral to grow on as well as a wall that went down out of sight – would have made a good dive.
The beach continued north back towards the boat. We sat and had lunch with this view.
Tuesday 18th we finally left the anchorage having been there a week and took Camomile 5 miles out to anchorage 113 off of Rawa island at
102˚40.84E this was as far north as we intended to go on this coast.
Simply extraordinary snorkelling off the northern headland, probably the best in this area with lots of fish. Lovely spot but no shelter from the overnight breeze so took Camomile back to small island for one night then left the next morning to start heading south.