Last updated: 09:00 PM ET, Sun August 07 2016

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  • Worldwide Scott | August 7, 2016 9:00 PM ET

    Paradise Lost and Found on Malaysia’s Perhentian Islands

    Paradise Lost and Found on Malaysia’s Perhentian Islands

    Photo by Worldwide Scott

    When we visited Southeast Asia, there was one place I was looking forward to visiting above all others, and that was Malaysia’s Perhentian Islands. Yes, these tropical pearls had been on my radar for years due to their reputation for teal-blue water, sugar-white beaches, and being ever so slightly off the beaten path.

    So when the chance finally came to get up close and personal with the Perhentians, we jumped on the first regularly scheduled boat and headed over.

    But that doesn’t mean it all went swimmingly, though.

    Things started well enough, as on the aforementioned sea-level approach, the natural beauty of the Perhentians was revealed to be simply staggering. As our boat came ever closer to the islands, a landscape full of lush hills and skinny palms posing for a screensaver photo shoot enveloped us, confirming that this was, indeed, the paradise we were looking for. 

    And then it wasn’t.

    We had booked a beach view chalet in the hills at a budget-friendly establishment, and while we knew full well there was no air conditioning to be had, we had been assured that electric fans were on hand to tackle the cool-down duties.

    Arriving in the small hours of the morning, and with heat already sitting squarely in the “stifling” range, we quickly dropped our bags and reached for the dangling silver metal switch on our fan for relief.

    Except it didn’t turn on.

    This is when we found out that electricity was only turned on during the night at this particular establishment, and also the precise moment this particular establishment found out that we were moving on to a different accommodation.

    READ MORE: Why Malaysia Earned Its Spot As The Best Asia Pacific Destination

    Yes, we hightailed it out of there with our tails between our legs, stumbling to the alluring Long Beach in search of somewhere, anywhere to stay.

    We walked up and down the sands, eventually stumbling into a collection of gorgeous villas directly on Long Beach that were way more “honeymoon suite” than “sweat lodge” and booked a room immediately upon sight.  

    Putting aside the petty detail that this second location was out of our price range (meaning we had to subsequently cut our visit to the islands short by a day), our time there quickly became the Perhentian experience I always dreamed of.

    Our days were filled with sipping cocktails and snorkeling — with regular sprints back to the air-conditioned room for respite — and our nights spent dining at local seaside shacks and imbibing at beach bars.

    I suppose the moral of the story is to know your limit for heat tolerance and sometimes quality trumps quantity. Oh, and that the Perhentian Islands are a downright dreamy place to go.

    Good to Know If You Go

    How to Get There: The Perhentians are accessed exclusively by a 30-40 minute speedboat journey that departs from Kuala Besut. Return tickets come in at just under $20.

    Island Breakdown: There are two islands, Perhentian Kecil (Small) and Perhentian Besar (Big). We stayed on Kecil, which has a more backpacker/budget-friendly reputation and more food/nightlife options.

    READ MORE: 5 Must-Visit Beaches in Southeast Asia

    Where to Stay: If you aren’t as high maintenance as me, by all means stay at Bingtang View as you don’t often get the opportunity to stay in a chalet with a view as fine as theirs. If you are like me though, and want to splash out for a little luxury, The Bubu Villas were a dream come true — complete with onsite beach bar/cafe.

    Where to Eat: While you won’t find Michelin stars on the Perhentians, you will find laid back seafood barbecues at Coral Bay and decent local food on Long Beach itself. Long Beach is also the place to be for late night revelry as fire-dancers perform for the visitors and good times roll until the wee hours. 

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Worldwide Scott The Adventures of Worldwide Scott

Worldwide Scott Born in the U.S.A like Springsteen but trying to see the world like Pitbull, Worldwide Scott is the voice behind the hard-hitting travel site of the same name. Employing a groundbreaking strategy of visiting destinations, coming home, and then writing things about them on the internet, Worldwide Scott only tackles the tough questions that other writers wouldn't dare touch: Is travelling fun? Are there pretty places in the world? Do people in other countries wear clothes? Does Europe really exist? And if so, what's the beer like there? Stick around, he's going places.
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