Island in the sun – Perhentian Kecil, Part 2: Coral Bay

Written by Frank on August 20th, 2010

© 2010 Frank P. Schneidewind

The trek over Perhentian Kecil’s hill from Long Beach was quite an ordeal for me, but when we finally made it, we rewarded ourselves to one of Fatimah’s tasty Burgers. Fatimah’s Chalets were also right at the trail head on Coral Bay. Check-in took only a minute and Kim dragged me to the water. Coral Bay has its name for a reason, a large reef in the center part of the Bay is home to countless fish. My little niece was a little bit afraid at first, as we attracted the small coral fish by feeding them small pieces of the burger bun. Even the slice of Tomato was in high demand with the fish here, the feeding frenzy was funny in the warm and shallow waters here. Pretty clear, those waters though!

The lady attending the restaurant of Fatimah was also the receptionist, ocean kayak agent, snorkel tour sales person and shopkeeper. A real talent in multitasking. Fatimah’s Chalets were 35 Ringgit per night for us 4, the simple structures had a large bed, a single bulb and a mosquito net. A nice front porch with chairs and a table was 10 to 15 barefoot meters from the shoreline, depending on the tide. Absolutely perfect for us. Kim played wildly on the beach right in front of the hut, this beach is also very suitable for smaller children or non-swimmers. In my case half lame dudes enjoyed the situation and setup here too. My own balance was very limited still and to hobble to and from the beach was all I did over the first days. Sorry, we didn’t take any pictures from our chalet, but it was roomy enough for us and even provided our own bathroom and shower. Everything fairly basic, to tell the truth.

But basic equals cheap and the Perhentians used to be super cheap for a true paradise destination. It won’t be long, until resorts with A/C and the whole nine yards of amenities will surface here. On all our previous trips here, we witnessed gradual improvements in the general infrastructures here. Ugly cellphone towers came first and the pier here in coral bay was made just recently. It is cool for those, heading here right away – because the ferry boats dock there directly and allow dry legs to embark and disembark now. We planned on departing from there, when it was time to do so.

Snorkeling is the big thing here and diving, of course – but other than great times at natural beaches with only a few visitors, one doesn’t expect much here. You will be fed if hungry, higher charges relate to the island location, but there is enough variety in food to be eaten here, especially barbecued seafood dishes. We came here a few years back, when Phuket and Samui got too overpriced and too overcrowded for us, we were still not disappointed this year. There are now warning signs posted everywhere, as a few drug addicts must have made it here. Theft and crime was unheard of, when we came here the first time. I would have loved to snorkel much again, but that would have been tricky with one leg and arm working only.

So snorkeling pleasures have to wait a bit for me and the girls did not feel tempted this time to go without me. For next time, we will not only go snorkel for sure, we will show the world under water to you as well. A waterproof camera should find its way into our possession until then.

Depending where you book, snorkel trips cost 25 to 50 Ringgit, with most offering a 5 to 6 hour trip with 5 stops to submerge several times at various locations around the Perhentians and a lunch in the isolated fishermans village. A great deal anyhow, compared to the rip-off fees in Khao Lak, Krabi, Phuket or Phi Phi for less attractive reefs and more snorkelers then reef-sharks or stingrays!

Watching the islanders servicing larger fishing vessels offshore or getting fresh supplies from them reveals what is on the menus tonight.

Pretty Lala from Chile and her Equadorian cousin were our neighbors, great people on their world trip during a sabbattical break year long break from studies.

Senja Bungalows a bit down the beach offered also beach side accommodations in neat huts, a bit too steep for our taste. Maybe a nice option for travelers with bigger budgets, they are located in the southern part of the bay.

Very popular obviously with female visitors to the Perhentians, like this group from Scandinavia.

The central part of Coral Bay is occupied by a dive shop and 3 or 4 eateries. Evening sunset BBQs with fresh seafood are very high in demand here, most of the tables will be occupied later in the day.

This picture shows the central and southern beach and the jungle in the backdrop.

Our final day here arrived again much too early, but we did not say good bye to the Perhentian Islands for long. There are still more beaches and reefs left to explore for us when I am in a better shape to do that. Twin 200 HP outboards shuttled us back from the pier in Coral Bay to Kuala Besut on the mainland in another high speed run.





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