Malaysia's state of Terengganu is blessed with three marine parks - the Perhentian Archipelago, the Redang Archipelago and the islands around Pulau Tenggol. These marine parks are protected under the Marine Parks regulations administered by the Department of Fisheries, thereby preserving the marine environment around the area.

The Perhentian islands, which means 'Stopover Islands' in Malay is Terengganu's northernmost park. They offer relaxed diving in an idyllic, serene atmosphere. Only 20km by ferry from Kuala Besut, this Marine Park consists of Pulau Perhentian Besar ('Big Stopover' Island) and Pulau Perhentian Kecil ('Little Stopover' Island) with several smaller islets to the northwest.

The two main islands are heavily forested and ringed with sandy beaches, typical of tropical islands. Accomodation for visitors are predominantly aimed at budget travellers and is mostly on the larger Pulau Perhentian Besar, which not only has wonderful beaches but also forest trails over the hills.

The beaches are more suited to swimmers and snorkellers rather than divers because they lead to shallow water over sand with lots of rays, cuttlefish and parrotfish. For divers, the group of small rocky islets to the nortwest of Pulau Perhentian Kecil is a location not to be missed. The tiny islets have irregular patches of stunted soft tree corals in many colours and deeper down, one can explore the wonders of king-size barrel sponges with Alabaster Sea Cucumbers. Common to the area are harp and black corals, while large hard corals are absent. There are large off-white soft tree corals growing on an experimental artificial reef laid down for the Deparment of Fisheries to the west of Pulau Perhentian Kecil. The rate of growth is unusual for this region.






 

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