Reef Chalets | Perhentian Islands,| Malaysia | Perpetual Journeys
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The Reef Chalets garden

The Reef Chalets on Perhentian Besar

When planning our trip to Malaysia, we originally wanted to visit the beaches of Langkawi but like our other destinations, we would be arriving in rainy season. We told ourselves that we were sick of grey skies and that we’d have our beach time elsewhere. Then the Perhentian Islands caught our attention!

Finding Accommodation

So the next task was to find some accommodation on these islands that would keep to our tight budget. Booking and Agoda only offered luxury resorts; any affordable accommodation required us to call or simply walk in when we arrived.

After several emails to several different lodgings (most ignored), we thankfully heard from The Reef Chalets on Perhentian Besar. They told us their prices and availability for the end of June and with confirmation from us, it was all sorted.

The Reef Chalets

The Reef Chalets is a small, family run place that includes 20 rooms; 12 seaview chalets and 8 garden rooms. The rooms are arranged in a half moon shape surrounded by a tropical garden with large trees & grass area. All rooms and chalets are wooden built in the style of a traditional Malay village on stilts. The beach is literally on the chalets doorstep. White sand, clear water and a view of Perhentian Kecil.

Most backpackers like ourselves will more than likely head to Pualau Perhentian Kecil (the small island) as it’s known to have cheaper accommodation and more nightlife. That said, if you are heading to the islands solely for exotic beaches and a bit of peace then Perhentian Besar is the one! At all times of the day, the 2 beaches that were accessible on foot from The Reef Chalets were almost empty. This was unbelievable for us seeing that our last beach destination was Koh Samui. Think powdery white sand beaches, crystal clear seas and tropical sealife to yourself (almost).

The Rooms

For our stay, we had a family garden room:

  • 1 queen bed
  • 1 bunk bed
  • Air conditioning/fan
  • Attached bathroom
  • Balcony with seating area
  • 50 metres from the beach


In addition to their accommodation, The Reef Chalets offer various activities:

  • Kayak Rental
  • Snorkelling Trips
  • Snorkelling equipment rental
  • Fishing Trips
  • Visiting the local village on the smaller island
  • Water taxis to visit the numerous beaches on each island
  • Sunset boat trips
  • Live music on the deck
    • To all the musicians out there, in exchange for a performance, they offer free accommodation, food and a snorkelling & fishing trip.

Amenities include:

  • Board games
  • Book rental or exchange
  • Laundry
  • Free Wifi (internet it is limited on the island – we found it to be quite a nice break from the gram though)
  • Outside kitchen with hot water and guest fridge


We, of course, had to sample one of their snorkelling trips. Honestly, we could not have had a better time. The different places we visited on the trip allowed us to see so much of the marine habitats that surround the island.

Rawa Island, our first and favourite stop, was a beautiful deserted island with newly growing coral reefs. We’re certain that our incredible experience was because of their experienced diver, Awe, who guided us around the reefs.

Awe would convince us to venture out so we could see as much as possible, named all the wildlife we could see, showed us the stingrays and porcupine fish that otherwise would have gone unnoticed and graciously pulled Hayley back to the boat when her lazy tendencies kicked in.

So if you’re travelling to the Perhentian Islands and feel a little nervous about not pre-booking and would rather not end up slumming it on the beach, definitely get in contact with The Reef Chalets. This family-run community will welcome you with open arms and make you feel at home immediately.

The Reef Chalets 3 ideals are:

  1. Guests must have fun
  2. Staff must have the flexibility to enjoy the island and have fun
  3. Both guests & staff must be welcomed into the Reef Chalets community.

Great vibes and friendly staff that are determined to make your stay the best it can be on this perfect island and at a brilliant price so go for it!