That was exhilarating! I had taken a lot of speed boats before, but none like that. It was so fast, we were jumping on the water, almost flying. Wind on my face, surrounded by beautiful islands, it felt like magic.
I was going to the Perhentian Islands. I knew it was a touristic place, but after several months of living in tropical weather, I felt like going to a tropical island. Why not? Just for a change, to swim and relax. It was the beginning of the season (after the monsoon), so I hoped it would not be so crowded.
‘Perhentian Kecil, Coral bay!’, shouted the boat driver after stopping the boat in a beach. ‘I’m going to Long beach’, I said. ‘Then you get off here, you can walk‘. I complained, before taking the boat I had asked to be dropped in Long beach and I was told it was ok. Long beach was not that far from Coral bay, but it was a hike up and down the hill in the middle of the jungle. At noon. With my luggage.
I left the boat. Seeing me confused, a foreigner asked me what I was looking for. When I asked him how to get to Long beach, he told me that Long beach was not the party place the Lonely Planet described. Being treated as a “Lonely Planet blind-follower party girl” did not improve my mood. I did not want to go there for the party, only because my friends told me the cheapest accommodation was there.
He told me that most accommodation in Long beach was closed because it had been damaged during the monsoon, and only a few expensive resorts were available. Right, he did know the place and gave me some useful information, but I did not really like his attitude.
The magic was gone.
It is a pity I was upset because the beach was beautiful, with white sand and turquoise water, with the jungle behind. But I was not in the mood to appreciate it. Yet.
Resigned, and after confirming from other tourists that Long Beach was under reconstruction, I decided to stay in Coral Bay and found a room for a reasonable price.
After that, things got better. Much better.
Relax in the paradise
Being the beginning of the season, the island was not crowded, and it was indeed beautiful and an ideal place to relax. Apart from a short trek to Long beach to check how it looked (and yes, it was mostly closed and not as pretty) I stayed in Coral bay. Reading. Relaxing. Writing for the blog. Walking along the beach. Swimming.
The first evening I met an Australian couple and a young German girl who was traveling with her mother after spending one year in New Zealand as an au-pair. We played cards in front of the beach and talked a lot about traveling, specially about Australia and New Zealand. We had a good time and met the following evenings as well.
As I soon found out, the Perhentian islands are famous for diving and snorkeling. All along the beach, all guesthouses, hotels, shops and other businesses offered boat trips to the most beautiful snorkeling spots. Most of them offered the same tours around both islands, Perhentian Kecil and Perhentian Besar.
I felt interested by a tour that was different, going to Rawa island and some even smaller islands which were a bit further. It was slightly more expensive but I thought it would be nicer if less people were there, and the guide told me that Rawa had the nicest corals. On the other hand, it was not possible to see turtles as in the Perenthians, but I was more interested in corals than turtles.
The tours were only run with a minimum of two people and, that day, nobody else was interested in going to Rawa island. Oh noooooo. They offered me to join a 10-people group for the classic tour, but I refused. Such a big group would scare all the fish, I thought. Seeing my disappointment, and since i could not pay for two people, they offered to take me to Rawa island alone for a small surcharge. A private tour, wow!
That was wonderful. The small islands were completely wild and my boat was the only one around. I had the ocean, corals and fish all for myself. The water was not very deep so it was easy to see the colorful corals and bright fish… I even saw nemos! Sometimes I stopped swimming and I stayed still, without moving, and the fish came really close to me. I stared at them and they stared back at me. I probably looked very funny with the snorkeling mask and tube.
I was surprised to learn that a lot of people who do not know how to swim go snorkeling (with a life jacket, of course). The boat driver (or tour guide) took the chance that he had only one customer (who in addition could swim) to go snorkeling himself… and hunt a calamari! It was almost half meter long, and so bright… I did not know that calamari were so beautiful.
I do not have an underwater camera so I could not take any pictures, but I keep the snorkeling in Rawa island in my memory as the highlight of my days in the Perhentian Islands.
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