The Perhentian islands rise steeply from the sea, their rock base soon giving way to lush, dark green rainforest curtained in vines and dotted with palm trees. It takes at least 30 minutes to reach them by boat and it is only close up that you see the handful of small, sandy beaches, few and far between and so narrow that they double in size at low tide.
The beauty of the islands has gained them the expected popularity and many of the unfortunate side effects – litter, ecological damage, tourist hotels as densely packed as the islands’ undergrowth. A clean, quiet stretch is not easy to come by, but one of the best efforts is offered by BuBu Long Beach.
Long Beach, where BuBu is located, is a fair-sized cove. Several tourist spots are jammed tightly together and BuBu Long Beach is the only one that offers any breathing space.
Understanding that in such surroundings its visitors will want to spend the bulk of their time outdoors, BuBu’s clean, air-conditioned rooms are just big enough for comfortable beds and a clean bathroom with a hot shower. The two restaurants are both open to the sea breeze and a beautiful view. Where all other places have chosen to use bright plastic beach umbrellas, BuBu’s beach chairs are shaded with natural umbrellas of wood and dry fronds. The warm water is so shallow that you can walk out a couple hundred metres and still be only waist deep. Schools of fish swim up to you and around you, clearly visible in the transparent water.
BuBu’s numerous activities cater to a variety of guests; couples and families, those who want adventure and those who want to relax; jungle trekkers and sunset cruisers. For people like me who believe beach holidays should be spent entirely in, on or under water, BuBu was paradise. I went snorkelling every day I was there, enjoying my first experience doing so with a lifejacket, floating completely still in the water while a stunning array of fish, a turtle and several small sharks swam under me.
On our first day we had been taken out to snorkel by the rocks near the jetty. This was to assess our ability and to get us used to the safety signs we would need. We were told how to move about without causing any further damage to coral reefs which have already seen their share of abuse. I was impressed every time I spoke to the staff, who in addition to being friendly and helpful, were genuinely concerned about the sea, beaches and sea life, protected them and encouraged guests to do the same.
As much as I enjoyed myself, I also enjoyed observing fellow guests. A 20-year-old came back glowing with excitement after her first diving class with a BuBu instructor. A French family with four boys came snorkelling with us. The youngest, a set of twins who looked about five, bobbed happily up and down snug in their lifejackets, exclamations of glee coming up through their snorkels. Later that day, we watched the same boys back on the BuBu beach playing football in ankle-deep water at low tide.
All BuBu’s activities can be arranged ‘a la carte’, though its many packages offer the best deals. Some of the packages come with buffet meals included, and while the food is good enough, I suggest you have at least one meal at their fantastic Santai restaurant. Though as unassuming and quiet as the rest of BuBu, the food at Santai – from preparation to presentation to unbelievable flavour, can stand among the best of KL’s fine dining. It is understandably popular island-wide, especially their nightly beach buffet which features the catch of the day, so it is recommended that even guests make reservations.
The Perhenthian Islands are incomparable, and the best way to enjoy them is by staying at BuBu resort.
For reservation, contact 603 21426688 (KL Sales Office),
This article has been edited for ExpatGomalaysia.com
Get your free subscription and free delivery of The Expat Magazine.