You should first decide to witch resort you want to go, the boat brings you for the same price to every beach, but if the place doesn´t have a jetty you get a free transfer if you stay).
In Kuala Besut you can buy only (open) retourn tickets, in case of bad weather the slow boat (70 minutes) is less likely to cancel the trip then the fast boat (40 minutes), you can´t use the fast boat ticket for the slow boat.
I'm not sure if there're buses going to Perhentian islands from Cameron highlands. From KL, one can fly or take a bus to Kuala Besut, then a boat to Pulau Perhentian.
By Road (Taxi/Express Bus):
Distance by road from Kuala Lumpur - via Cameron Higlands - Kuala Besut: Follow Route North/South Highway - via Kuala Lumpur/ Simpang Pulai Toll/ Kampang Raja-Cameron Highlands/ Gua Musang/ K.Krai/ Machang/ Jerteh/ Kuala Besut (approx. 480km & approx. 7hrs)
By Coach :
From Kuala Lumpur Putra Bus Station - Jerteh Bus Station/ Kuala Besut Bus Terminal (7 hours)
Bus Company Tel. No. Departure From - To
Mahligai Express (9:00pm) Kuala Lumpur - Kuala Besut
Even though there are some trails around the island, the easiest way to go from beach to beach or island to island is by boat. Most resort and chalet owners can arrange for a boat and driver. From island to island, the trip costs from MYR 10 per boat and from one beach to another on the same island costs from MYR 8. You can charter a boat for a half-day tour round the islands from MYR50 onwards depending on the type of resort you stay.
Speed boats cost from MYR 60 (return), approximately 30 minutes from Kuala Besut jetty to Perhentian island and they run several times a day from 0830 to 1730 hrs. You can expect delays or cancellations if the weather is bad or if there aren't enough passengers. The boats will drop you off at any of the beaches.
Slow boats cost from MYR 40 (return), approximately 90 minutes from Kuala Besut jetty to Perhentian island and they run several times a day from 0830 to 1730 hrs. You can expect delays or cancellations if the weather is bad or if there aren't enough passengers. The boats will drop you off at any of the beaches.
We were a group of 8 adults and 7 children, all below 10 years. We negotiated with a Water taxi to take us from the Teluk Pauh beach (next to Perhentian Island resort in Perhentian Besar) to Long beach (in Perhentian Kecil) . We wanted to go to Long beach at 5.30 PM, and return at 8.30 PM.
After a bit of negotiations, the boatman agreed to settle for RM 180 for the whole group for a return trip.
So we were able to avoid the higher boat fare in late evening.
For travelling within the islands, again, the only means of transport available is ferries/boats. They are kind of ‘water taxis’. There are jetties in all the major beaches. For short distances travelling between beaches in the same island, the one way ferry fare is varies from RM 5-10 per person. If you want to travel from one island to another, the one way ferry fare is RM 10 per person. After 5-6 PM, the water taxis charge double the rate.
We took a train (Express Timuran) that runs between Singapore and Tumpat (in Kelantan state, north of Peninsular Malaysia). We had booked the train tickets online thro the Malaysian Railway website KTMB.com.my. You have to register first on the website.
While going to Perhentian, we boarded the train in Johore Bahru at 18:57 hrs. The train arrives at Tanah Merah Railway station next day morning at around 7:15 AM. Kuala Besut Ferry terminal is located 45 KMs east of Tanah Merah railway station by road. Cabs are easily available at Tanah Merah railway station that will take you to Kuala Besut Ferry terminal for RM 60. The cabs take 1 hr to reach Kuala Besut Ferry terminal. The condition of the road is good. While returning, we took the train again. The return train to Singapore is at 8.59 PM (at Tanah Merah Station) and reaches Singapore at 10:15 am the next day. Be reminded that since this is an International train, the Immigration inspectors will check and stamp your passport at Johor Bahru station (last station in Malaysia). After this station, the train enters Singapore. At the Singapore entry point (called Woodland check point), you will have to get down with all your bag and baggage. You will have to proceed to clear your Singapore immigration. So keep your passport and immigration document ready. Once you have cleared your immigration, you are expected to board back the train again. The train then proceeds to Tanjong Pagar Railway station in the heart of Singapore (called Singapura railway station). The last leg of the journey may take arounf 30-40 minutes.
The islands do not have an airport. Kota Bahru is the nearest airport. The best way to reach Perhentian islands is from Kuala Besut Jetty in Terengganu state. There are regular high speed ferries available from the Kuala Besut Jetty, which takes around 30 minutes to reach the islands. The sea is not very rough between March and October months. Kuala Besut Jetty is well connected by road to major cities in Malaysia. There are direct bus services from all major cities in Malaysia. Alternatively, one can take a flight from KL to Kota Bahru. From Kota Bahru, taxis are available to take visitors to Kuala Besut Jetty. We went from Singapore in Train and details can be found in the transportation section.
As stated earlier, the only way to reach the islands is by means of ferry from Kuala Besut. High speed ferries are available from Kuala Besut from 9 in the morning till 5 in the evening.
The other option to get to Pulau Perhentian is to take a bus from Putra Bus Terminal, KL. Choose the bus that gets to Jerteh bus station. There are a few express bus you can choose that suits your time of travelling.
My husband has difficulty with walking, balance and grip and we were apprehensive aobut the journey to Besar but everyone was very helpful...carrying bags and very supportive when getting on and off ferry and taxis
The fare for the ferry is now 70 Rs. You can buy at the airport on arrival in Kota Bahru from agents there. 2 or 3 companies have a desk there. The price was the same as the agents on the jetty. They are next to the taxi pre payment counter. We used the first on and got good advice/service. Their office in Besat also had all the prices for accommodation in Besar and Kecil and staff will phone to check availability. You need to specify what resort you are going to the ferryman so that he can contact a water taxi for you if necessary to transfer on to the island if no jetty. (When the tide is out the water can be very shallow in some places)
-Arrived at Kota Bharu airport after a 35 min flight from KL via airasia.com
-The only going rate for a taxi from the KB airport to the Nan Hotel (which is 100m walk from Kuala Besut jetty) was RM67 (AUD$24) but this is for a whole taxi car
-It was a long and slow 60 min drive from KB airport to Kuala Besut jetty
-Stayed at Nan Hotel because our flight arrived after the last speedboat to the islands
-Bought speed boat tickets to Perhentian Besar for RM60 return per person (AUD$21.4) from one of the many Perhentian travel agents around the jetty. This is the only standard rate.
-boats leave when full (boats fit approx. 15 tourists)
-a nice 30 min speed boat ride to Perh Besar. However because they stop directly in front of all the different resorts for each passenger, it took us 50 min to reach Tuna Bay, our accom, as we were last to disembark.
if you are catching a plane from Kota Bharu back to KL, ensure you leave plenty of time! And I mean plenty. We had a 3PM plane, and boats FROM Perhentian Besar left at 8AM and 12MD. The resort staff told us to catch the midday boat. However we decided to be safe and board the 8AM one. Lucky we did because TWO of our speed boats broke down one after another urging all tourists to transfer ourselves and loads of luggage to the next boat. The normally 30 min speed boat ride ended up taking 1.5 hours. We then got on a taxi at the jetty whose tyre then blew. In total it took us over 3 hours to get from Besar to KB airport! It was all great fun!
We found a cheap, no-frills carrier while waiting for our train in Sentral station in KL. You can book flights and hotel packages to and from peninsular Malaysia to Borneo and even to Indonesia, Cambodia or Thailand. The personal service was simple and friendly but don't miss your flight like we did, cause they won't reimburse you...they made it clear that that's why they're low-cost.
The speedboats can also be used to go from Perhentian Besar to Perhentian Kecil or to go from one beach to another within the same island. Rates for this are posted on signs on the beach or in front of the shops that offer speedboat service, and generally varies from RM 5 to RM 15 depending on distance, although rates are doubled after 6 or 7 p.m. A typical fare during our stay was 10 RM to go from Tuna Bay Island Resort on Pulau Perhentian Besar over to Long Beach on Pulau Perhentian Kecil (one way, per person). Drivers were totally unwilling to negotiate a discount fare, although you might be able to get one if you're not pale skinned and look Asian enough that you can pass for a Malaysian.