TRAVELOGUE: Finding Nemo on the Untouched Perhentian Islands in Malaysia

Welcome to Paradise on the Perhentian Islands!

What better reason to leave the cool weather of the Highlands than for some scuba diving and time on a tropical island. The Perhentians are a pair of relatively untouched islands, the smaller of which is Long Beach where we stayed. It reminded Carrie and I of the Corn Islands in Nicaragua.

Claire, Karen and Carrie in the Perhentian Islands
Claire, Karen and Carrie in the Perhentian Islands

The beach was where all the action was. There were restaurants, bars, sundry shops, hotels and dive shops lining the shore. Behind the beach and the single line stretch of civilization there was nothing but dense forest and some walking paths.

As for the cast of characters on the Perhentians, Carrie and I had picked up a couple of new friends on the minivan ride from the Cameron Highlands. One gal was Karen from the UK who was staying at our hostel.

Our other new friend was Claire from Scotland, who we had actually met atop Mt Batur on our sunrise hike in Bali. We hadn’t seen her since, but there she was in the same van. Random! Anyway, the four of us got a room together and thus a new crew was born.

 

A thunderstorm over Long Island - one of the Perhentian Islands in Malaysia
A thunderstorm over Long Island – one of the Perhentian Islands in Malaysia

Our New Crew Goes Scuba Diving

During the two days there, Carrie, Karen and I crammed in five dives while Claire worked on her tan.

A manta ray
A manta ray

On one dive through a shipwreck we actually had a conversation in an artificial air pocket 12 meters underwater.

Caused by divers’ bubbles rising, the pocket allowed us to actually take out our breather, have an echo-filled conversation and breath the underwater air. It smelled and tasted a bit funny, but was perfectly fine and an amazingly unique experience.

During another scuba dive we went to a cleaning station where little shrimps with claws are all congregated by a large piece of coral. Fish come over and the shrimp pick the dirt off them.

Well, instead of a fish they got our hands and we watched as dozens of the little guys crawled all over us and gave us a cleaning. It didn’t hurt, but I definitely felt a lot of little pinches.

Nemo clown fish in Malaysia
Nemos (aka clown fish) in our dive in the Perhentian Islands (taken by Reuben)

Then there are the Nemos. Every dive we go on, the clown fish are the most fun to play with. Think about the fish from the movie Finding Nemo. That’s a clown fish. They really do live in anemones and every time we come over to them they are the most curious fish in the sea. An outstretched hand is usually enough to get them to come out and say hi.

Oh, and on one dive we literally saw dozens of bamboo sharks hiding under rocks and tons of blue spotted sting rays swimming all over.

Other than scuba diving we really didn’t have much time to explore the island. We ate a few meals, wandered around, checked out the nightlife scene and the chicas had a girl’s night out when I went to bed early one evening.

We could have stayed longer, but the world’s biggest party was quickly approaching and we had to get to Thailand.

Click here to read about our epic journey from the Perhentian Islands to the Full Moon Party


Finally, here are a few videos