pristine empty beaches

Magnificent Magnetic Island and all its attractions

You’ll be blown away by the many attractions of Magnetic Island. No pun intended! This is possibly Australia’s best kept secret for a tropical island. Easy to get to and offering a vast amount of natural beauty, we tell you what to see, when and where to go, on this stunning gem, Down Under.

Quick Index Magnetic Island

                                                                                                    

Where is Magnetic Island?

Discover Magnetic Island only1invillage
Magnetic Island is in the far NE of Australia. It is in the state of Queensland.

Magnetic Island is located in North Eastern Australia. The closest big city is Townsville. It is a jumping off point for the Great Barrier Reef. A clear favourite destination for Australians who live in the city of Townsville. Magnetic Island lures in international and local Aussies by the hundreds of thousands. Known as ‘Maggie’ to the locals in Australian Slang – once you go, you’ll want to go back for more!

Magnetic Island belongs traditionally to the Wulgurukaba people. In is called Yunbenun.

                                                                                            

Is it really magnetic?

Well, the story goes that Captain Cook observed some ‘magnetic effect’ on his compass as he was sailing by. Scientists can’t agree if it has any more magnetic pull than any other island in Australia. What is clear, though, is that Magnetic Island has many attractions! You won’t be repelled or repulsed!

                                              

Things to see and do on Magnetic Island

Magnetic Island and its many attractions walks by only1invillage
Magnificent vistas of this granite boulder strewn island await! The best thing to do on Magnetic Island is the fabulous walking trails.

                                              

Walking and Hiking

Magnetic Island is just full of beautiful walks and hiking trails. If you love hiking and getting rewarded with great views, you’re in luck. There are over many secluded bays and hills to discover. The natural scenery is just breathtaking. This is one of the best ways to explore this beautiful island. So, lace up those shoes and let’s get going!

Magnetic Island and its many attractions walks by only1invillage
Running shoes are fine to wear on all the walks. You’ll have to take them off though when you go for a cooling dip in one of the bays. It’s sweaty work all that hiking!

The walks and trails on Magnetic Island range from seriously easy to fantastically difficult. There is no drinking water available, except at The Forts Walk, so you must carry all your supplies. Don’t get caught out! Remember to always tell someone where you’re going if you set out on a long hike.

Magnetic Island and its many attractions walks by only1invillage
There is only 1 walk where you can refill your drinking bottle. The Forts Walk where you will see the wild koalas. For all the other walks there is no water along the way. We know this because we did every single walk!

Below we give you the official grading and time and the time it takes us to do the walking! You can use this online version to plan your walks. This walking map has less detail than the paper version. See below.

Magnetic Island walking trails
There are so many walks to keep you fit and occupied on Magnetic Island. We did every walk on this map! Pay attention to the grading of the walks, some are harder than you think.

Most walks you can do in hiking sandals or running shoes. You don’t really need hiking boots. Thongs or flip flops are not recommended as there is lots of uneven ground and rocks to stub your toes on. Also lots of the paths turn sandy, and it’s annoying getting sand and small stones under your feet. However, you can manage most walks wearing thongs or flip flops, if you don’t have any other shoes.

The walking tracks and hikes on Magnetic Island, offer splendid views. In addition, you’ll see native wildlife and the Australian Bush. Below we sort the walks into easy and moderate. Depending on your level of fitness you may find the moderate walks difficult. 

There is also a paper version of this map, which has more up to date walks and a bit more information on what you’ll see, along the way. We refer to use the paper map and we did every single walk on it! You can pick up a copy of this map at the ferry terminal.

Magnetic Island and its many attractions walks by only1invillage
This paper map shows 9 walks on Magnetic Island. We are proud to say we covered every walk on the island, including the snorkelling!

Easy Walks on Magnetic Island

                                              

Picnic Bay to WestPoint- 16kms return (5hrs)

This really is an easy walk on flat sealed road. This is labelled as walk number W3 on the paper map.

Attractions of Magnetic Island walks West Point Beach
The walk to West Point is easy but long. 16kms long to be precise. But that’s return!

The road is not really picture worthy. It’s a black road with some trees and grass on either side. There’s no path, so when you hear the occasional car coming, move aside!

Magnetic Island West POint walk start bitumen road only1invillage
Told you, it’s just a boring bitumen road. The start of the West Point walk isn’t that interesting.

But, the beach is very beautiful, if isolated. We had a bit of an accident and dropped the phone on the way. We were not able to fix the phone to get our own shot of the beach.

West Point Beach Magnetic Island
West Point Beach (picture courtesy of Magneticislandproperty.com.au)

                                              

Horseshoe Bay Lagoon- 200ms return (15mins) – official time according to somebody.

Magnetic Island and its many attractions walks by only1invillage
Horseshoe Bay Lagoon Walk is along some boardwalk. We are happy to report it is easy and is 15 minutes long.

Labelled as W9 on the paper map above. We are glad to report it is easy and it only takes 15 minutes.

This is an easy one to miss! It is not very well signed at all. We went down the wrong road and it took us 40 minutes to realise we were going nowhere! Here is the correct way to go. As you walk along the road to Horseshoe Bay, go past the Koala Bay Village. Before you see this road sign,

Magnetic Island and its many attractions walks by only1invillage
If you’re coming from Horseshoe Bay, the rocks to start the Lagoon Walk are just opposite this sign. Don’t miss it, we did!

Then you need to look out for two large rocks!

Magnetic Island and its many attractions walks by only1invillage
Look out for these stones to get to the Lagoon Walk off Horseshoe Bay Road. They’re well camouflaged!
Magnetic Island and its many attractions walks by only1invillage
You’ll know you’re on the right path to the Lagoon Walk when you see this sign. Finding this sign, though, is the hard part!

We turn left at Henry Lawson Street and walk until it becomes a sand path. Don’t do this, it’s the wrong way to the Lagoon Walk, off Horseshoe Bay Road!

Magnetic Island and its many attractions walks by only1invillage
Erm, if you see this while looking for the Lagoon Walk (W8 or W9 on the paper version), you’re going the wrong way! Turn around.

On the boarwalk get your camera out for blue butterflies, blue kookaburras and a crocodile.

Magnetic Island and its many attractions walks by only1invillage
Along the Horseshoe Bay Lagoon Walk classified as easy, we see this beautiful blue butterfly.
Discover the magnificent attractions of Magnetic Island 1
An iconic Australian bird, the kookaburra. You don’t often see them with a blue belly. Spot him (or her) among the trees at the Horseshoe Bay Lagoon walk.

Depending on the season, the lagoon can look a bit dry. 

Magnetic Island and its many attractions walks by only1invillage
In the dry season, it can be a bit dry! The lagoon is a bit low on water. You can see the exposed roots of the trees along the boardwalk.

                                              

Hawkings Point Track – 1.2kms return (1hr)

Labelled as walk number W2 on the paper map. This isn’t that easy if you’re not that mobile or agile as it starts with steep steps. Yes, it’s a short walk, but, it’s all up hill. When you get to the top of a huge granite boulder, you’re finished. The views are spectacular. You’ll be looking over Picnic Bay, Rocky Bay, Nelly Bay, Geoffrey Bay and even back towards Townsville!

Start the walk at the end of a residential street called Picnic Street in Picnic Bay. 

Discover the many attractions of Magnetic Island things to do
Walk number W2 on the paper map. Hawkings Point Track starts at the end of Picnic Street in Picnic Bay. It’s one of the shorter walks, but, it’s quite steep.

We always seem to be walking when it’s hot and sunny! Magnetic Island has over 320 days of sunshine, so a cloudy day would be strange!

Discover the many attractions of Magnetic Island things to do
You’re almost at the top of Hawkings Point Track, when you see these steps. Talk about being stuck between a rock and a hard place!
Discover the many attractions of Magnetic Island things to do
Victory is ours! It’s really windy at the top. Here you are looking out over Picnic Bay and the pier.
Discover the many attractions of Magnetic Island things to do
At the top of Hawkings Point Track, you can see Townsville from a different view point.

When you get back down, take a walk along the Picnic Bay Jetty you can see from the top of Hawkings Point Track.

Discover the many attractions of Magnetic Island things to do
The jetty at Picnic Bay was used as the drop off point for passengers until 2001. Now all passengers alight at Nelly Bay.

                                              

Gabul Way – Nelly Bay to Arcadia 1.5kms return (0.5hour)

We are glad to report that this is an easy walk as advertised. It is a little misleading however as the walk starts after Geoffrey Bay, not Arcadia. This is the easier way to do it. There is an elevated walkway which runs alongside the busy road. It is flat if you start at Geoffrey Bay and gently rises as you progress. After you see a spectacular house on the corner on your left, it’s road only. Time to turn back.

Moderate Walks

                                              

Horseshoe Bay to Balding Bay and Radical Bay- 3.2kms return (1.5hrs)

This walk is labelled W8 on the paper map and W7 on the electronic version. It is definitely labelled incorrectly.  If you don’t carry water, don’t stop to take photos and don’t trip on rocks, then, sure, you can do this walk in 1.5 hours! We walked first to Balding and  then Radical as suggested. It isn’t going to take you 1.5 hours, unless you’re a top mountain runner! Also you’ll want to cool off at the nudist beach at Balding Bay!

Walking and hiking trails on Maggie Island
Start the walk to Balding Bay from Horseshoe Bay. After those people in the distance, you need to turn right, into the bushes!
Walking and hiking trails on Maggie Island
The Horseshoe Bay to Balding Bay walk starts on sand and finishes on sand. This is walk W8 on the paper map.
walk to Balding Bay from Horseshoe Bay
Follow the path to Balding Bay. This is just after the previous sign. It’s going to get steeper!
Horseshoe Bay to Balding Bay walk
Continue along the well worn path until you see these signs. Make your choice.
Nude Beach warning to Balding Bay
By the time you see this rock, you will have walked 30 minutes. Prepare to get naked!
Granite rock path to Balding Bay
These are the last granite rocks you need to climb down before you see Balding Bay.
Here comes Balding Bay
Finally after 45 minutes we reach Balding Bay from Horseshoe Bay. You’ll be dying to get naked!
Discover the magnificent attractions of Magnetic Island 2
We finally get to Balding Bay, the nude beach. Why does J have his clothes on? It’s not a 1.5 hour return to Horseshoe Bay, if you’re going to Radical Bay, the next one along.

After a quick swim in the cold water, we feel refreshed to continue on to Radical Bay. You go back up the same steep steps and go past the ‘nude beach’ rock again. 

Signs to Balding Bay
You’ll be hot and sweating again when you see these signs from Balding Bay.
Radical Bay is the next bay along from Balding Bay
From Balding Bay, Radical Bay is another 30 minutes walk. It’s the next bay along. You can reach Radical Bay by boat or from the Forts car park. If you come from the Forts car park, it’s a very steep downwards road full of gigantic pot holes. Best to walk on foot.

The sand isn’t quite as yellow at Radical Bay, more a yellow/brown. There are also larger stones. Like most natural Australian beaches, there is little shade. If you’re going to make a day of Radical or Balding Bay, we recommend you bring a beach tent or umbrella. The water is cold and refreshing. As you can see in the picture, Radical Bay is quiet.

                                              

Unnamed walk – 1km – 30 mins

This walk doesn’t have a name. It starts at Picnic Bay. It is above the walk named W2 on the paper map. It’s a quick, steep walk with you guessed it, superb views over Rocky Bay.

unamed walk Magentic island things to do only1invillage
This walk doesn’t have a name. It is above W2 on the paper map. It’s a quickie and a goodie! On the left is Rocky Bay and Nelly Bay Harbour. It’s very windy too, so secure your hat! It’s hard to get a good posing shot, hence, we’re not in it!

                                              

Forts Walk- 4kms return (1.5hrs)

The Fort is in the distance
Yep, you’re going to get to the top of that fort to see some amazing views.

If you don’t stop to read the interesting placards and you never take a photo, you can do this walk in the advertised time. This is THE place to spot the koalas! We saw 9 on our walk and are happy to report, as far as reincarnation goes, we’re coming back as koalas. The cute fur balls sleep for over 20 hours a day! Now that’s a goal to aspire to! Just kidding, we would never travel far, if we slept that long.

There are many interesting placards describing daily life in this WWII outpost
There are many interesting placards describing daily life in this WWII outpost.

Start the walk at the Forts car park. The one bus stops here. It’s quite a difficult walk not in distance, but in gradient. There are lots of steps too.

Forts walk info board
Orientate yourself at the Forts Walk car park. Read the interesting information board covered in giant ants!

It is labelled as ‘moderate’ on the paper map and number W6. In our opinion, if you’re not fit, you’ll find this walk difficult. You can do this walk in 1.5 hours if you are fit and don’t stop. Otherwise, it’s more like 2 or 2.5 hours.

The walk starts on a flat path.

Forts walk flat path start
The start of the Forts Walk from the car park is along a flat path. Go off to the sides and this is where you will see the many cute koalas.
View over Arthur and Florence Bay Forts Walk
Just 10 minutes walk from the Forts car park, you will see this amazing view over Arthur and Florence Bays.

Keep going and keep your eyes peeled for the koalas. 

2 koalas Forts Walk
What’s better than seeing one koala on Magnetic Island? Seeing two koalas on the same tree! The Forts Walk, is the best place to spot these iconic Australian fur balls in the wild. It’s so crowded with koalas, koalas have to share real estate!

When you can tear yourself away from the koala spotting, continue on your history lesson about Magnetic Island’s involvement in WWII.

Discover amazing facts on Magnetic Island Forts Walk info
Learn all about how soldiers went about their daily lives on this remote part of Australia during WWII. If you don’t stop to read these information placards, you can do the Forts Walk in 1.5 hours return.

When you get to the top of the ruins of the Forts complex, this is where the fabulous views start. Persevere to the top. The stunning views at the top are worth it.

Discover the many attractions of Magnetic Island things to do
The trek to the top of the Forts ruins is totally worth it! Breathtaking views from all angles!

Of course there’s also the ruins of buildings and the giant gun emplacement to see. There are no gun remains and there is an interesting story about where all the ammunition went after WWII.

Attractions of Magnetic Island walks West Point Beach
The gun here could rotate on a 360 degree angle. It had a range of 18.3 kms. What happened to the guns remains a mystery. A soldier wrote an entry a week after Armistice Day in August 1945. He says that he and some friends went on a walk from Horsehoe Bay to the Forts and all the guns were gone!
Attractions of Magnetic Island walks Forts Walk
From inside one of the forts you can see the top of another fort in the distance. At 233 metres above sea level, the soldiers could see enemy ships coming! Yes of course we walked to the other fort.
Attractions of Magnetic Island walks Forts walk nerve centre
At the highest point of Magnetic Island. The nerve centre of the Forts complex offers outstanding views. Take time to take it all in.

Congratulations you have reached the top of the nerve centre of one of the forts! Stop to take in the fabulous views. Bring a few snacks and scramble up the rocks behind this picture to take a well deserved break. The way back to the car park will seem easier as it’s all downhill! Tick off walk number W6 on the paper map.

                                              

Nelly Bay to Arcadia- 5kms one way (1.5hrs) Grade moderate

This is walk number W4 on the paper map. It’s pretty steep in places. It starts with a steep hill climb and it keeps going.

Discover the many attractions of Magnetic Island things to do walking trails
To start the Nelly Bay to Arcadia walk, walk down Mandalay Avenue in Nelly Bay. This is walk number W4 on the paper map.

This is the most deserted walk we did. We only saw 5 other people on this walk. You start this walk by going down Mandalay Avenue, a street with houses on it. It’s on the corner of the Scallywags Cafe. When you get to the end of the road you see the sign for the walk to Arcadia. You cannot do it in the advertised time unless you run – non-stop – all the way.

Discover the many attractions of Magnetic Island things to do walking trails
There are some cool patches of ancient rain forest on the walk to Arcadia from Nelly Bay. It doesn’t get easier though. We don’t agree it’s a moderate walk for most people.
Discover the many attractions of Magnetic Island things to do walking trails
It’s steep and tough going on the Nelly Bay to Arcadia walk. We’re about an hour in at this point and we’re nowhere near completing the walk in another half hour!

After an hour and half, we reach the half way point. We stop to catch our breath and admire the view. Don’t forget to bring plenty of water. There’s no where to fill up your water bottle on this walk.

Discover the many attractions of Magnetic Island things to do walking trails
Looking over Horseshoe Bay at a very high point on the Nelly Bay to Arcadia walk. At this point we are 1.5 hours into the walk. The official time to complete this walk is 1.5 hours.
Discover the many attractions of Magnetic Island things to do walking trails
Time to take a well deserved break! Looking over Horseshoe Bay thinking about….. dinner! There’s another 1.5 hours of walking to get to Arcadia.

There’s a few hopeful signs along the way as you sweat through. Thankfully now the path to Arcadia is down hill!

Discover the many attractions of Magnetic Island things to do walking trails
Helpful signs to orientate you on the Nelly Bay to Arcadia walk. If you’re coming from Arcadia, it’s up hill. If you are coming from Nelly Bay, the descent down begins from here!

It takes a total of 3 hours for Only1invillage to complete this walk. Pfft to the 1.5 hours, who wrote that?

Tracks to Florence, Arthur and Radical Bays from the Forts car park

Arthur Bay-2km return (30mins) This is doable in 30 mins. Very steep non gravel road. Can get slippery if wet.

Florence Bay-3.6km return (1hr) This walk continue on from the walk above on the same unpaved road with massive pot holes.

Radical Bay-6km return (2hrs) This is accurate time. It starts downhill. Be prepared for the return up the steep road.

Searchlight Tower-3.7km return (1hr) You can do this walk in 1 hour.

Horseshoe Bay via Radical Bay-7.5km one way (2hrs) This is a realistic time for most people to walk one way.

                                              

Swimming, snorkelling and diving

The water is cold around Magnetic Island. It is definitely refreshing! It can be quite wavy at some of the beaches. The calmest beaches for swimming and ones with Surf Life Savers on patrol are Horseshoe Bay and Arcadia.

The clearest snorkelling spots are Arthur Bay, Florence Bay and the marked trail in front of the Base Backpackers. Geoffrey Bay is unbelievably murky and bordering on dangerous. You can barely see your own hand. At low tide, it is extremely difficult to get out past the sharp coral at Geoffrey Bay. We can’t comment on the snorkelling clarity in the Northern bays as these are only accessible by boat. If you’ve been to Maud, Norris or Joyce Bay, get in touch!

                                              

Native Australian wildlife and Flora

Magnetic Island is famous for its koalas! See the biggest group of koalas in the wild here! Boasting over 800 koalas in the wild, Magnetic Island is the place to see these cuddly fur balls. You can get really close to them and they don’t wake up! We saw 9 in one walk!

Native Australian Wildlife
Hands up if you want to come back as a koala in another life? Sleeping over 20 hours a day sound good? Maggie Island, boasts the largest wild koala population in the world!

Magnetic Island Rock Wallabies – Feed the tame wallabies! These cute little relatives of kangaroos are best fed in Geoffrey Bay. You should not actually feed them, but, if you must, they like carrots and paw paw. 

Rock wallabies at Geoffrey Bay
These wallabies rock! Rock wallabies are common in Geoffrey Bay. Look at the cute little joey! Best time to see them is around 5pm. They’re very tame. Try to resist feeding them if you can.

If you must feed them, please consult this list.

Rock wallabies at Geoffrey Bay
If you must feed the rock wallabies at Geoffrey Bay, look at this list of food they can eat.
Attractions of Magnetic Island walks
The multi-coloured rainbow lorikeet perches on native kapok branches. The bright green, blue, yellow, red and orange bird is common across Australia, including Magnetic Island.

Endangered Curlews – These rather plain birds have the most interesting call. They sound like they’re screaming and whining, it can be quite off putting. Some people call it haunting. We call it downright weird!

Attractions of Magnetic Island walks
The unremarkable looking curlew bird of Magnetic Island. Thanks to Katankart from Pixabay for this image. We only heard their eerie call. They are difficult to see and are endangered.
kapok tree has beautiful yellow flowers discover attractions of Magnetic Island
Magnetic Island is dotted with these magnificent yellow flowers. They come from a kapok tree. Kapok are native to Australia and are found mostly in Townsville and Magnetic Island. You can even eat the bright flowers. Apparently they taste like marshmallows!

                                              

Marine Life around Magnetic Island

The marine life, if you can see it, is not bad! It’s the murkiness of the water that you have to contend with. We don’t rate Magnetic Island as a top snorkel or dive destination. You are better off going to the Great Barrier Reef. However, for some free snorkelling, Florence Bay and Nelly Bay (the trail near Base Backpackers) are reasonable. The coral is a bit grey in colour and there are a few colourful fish to spot. 

Snorkelling around Magnetic Island marine life
We spot lots of lettuce coral at Florence Bay and Arthur Bay. The water can be a bit murky.

Some parts of Arthur Bay have some coloured staghorn coral. On the day we visit, there are a few bright fish around.

Different coral at Arthur Bay
Staghorn, brain and lettuce coral at Arthur Bay. A few bright blue fish make an appearance.

Relax on Pristine Australian Beaches

                                              

Horseshoe Bay

Sand quality – rough yellow brown coarse sand. Water – not clear, but warm enough.

Attractions of Magnetic Island beaches of Magnetic Island Horseshoe Bay
Horseshoe Bay has some natural shade and lifeguards on duty. There are stinger nets to keep out the jellyfish.

                                              

Balding Bay

Discover attractions of Magnetic Island. Balding Bay is definitely worth the walk. A wide sandy bay with aqua water. Water is cold.
Balding Bay is definitely worth the walk. A wide sandy bay with aqua water. Water temperature – cold.
Balding Bay
Huge granite boulders on a pristine beach at Balding Bay. Balding Bay is isolated. It is a nude beach. The sand is fine and yellow to white, depending on the angle of the sun.

                                              

Radical Bay

Radical Bay beach things to do Magnetic Island
Radical Bay Beach is a lovely curved bay shouldered with giant granite boulders.

                                             

Arcadia Beach

Attractions of Magnetic Island beaches of Magnetic Island
Arcadia Beach is popular with families. It has a grassed area before the beach with toilets and a playground. Beautiful bay with large granite boulders on either side. Don’t forget to swim between the flags.
Attractions of Magnetic Island beaches of Magnetic Island
Before you get to Arcadia Beach there is a good picnic area. Also there’s a children’s playground and some toilet and change facilities.

                                              

Picnic Bay Beach

This is the end of the line for the one bus. Or it can be the beginning of the line. All ferries used to drop passengers off here. This is the beach you can see from Hawkings Point Lookout.

Attractions of Magnetic Island beaches of Magnetic Island
Picnic Bay Beach has fine golden sand. It has a long line of trees you can take shade under. Apparently there’s some good snorkelling off to the right of this picture.

                                              

Arthur Bay Beach

Discover the magnificent attractions of Magnetic Island 3
Arthur Bay beach has some decent snorkelling opportunities. Known as fringe reef, it’s like mini reef before the Great Barrier Reef. The water is cold so a rash vest is advisable.

                                              

Florence Bay Beach

Located in between Gowrie Bay and Arthur Bay. Florence Bay is another beautiful curved beach on Magnetic Island for you to discover. This is a marine national park area. No fishing allowed. This is a good spot to go snorkelling, with some colourful reef. The water clarity is good.

Florence Bay Beach Magnetic Island pristine beaches to explore only1invillage
Florence Bay is another empty beach for you to explore. Easier to reach than Radical or Balding Bay. From the Forts car park, you can walk down hill in half an hour. Don’t attempt to go by car unless you have a ‘real’ 4×4′.

                                              

Cockle Bay Beach

A very small beach that is often wet. There is a shipwreck to swim out to but is quite difficult to locate. 

Attractions of Magnetic Island beaches of Magnetic Island
Cockle Bay Beach is small. Thousands of years ago, you could walk across the water to Townsville. At low tide you have to wade quite far out before you can swim. There is coral reef here.

                                              

Nelly Bay

Nelly Bay doesn’t have a beach since it is the ferry terminal bay. Nelly Bay is more of a harbour. But, to the right of Nelly Bay is a huge strip of beach where turtles have been spotted.

snorkelling to the right of Nelly Bay
Nelly Bay doesn’t have a beach since it’s the harbour and ferry terminal. But, to the right, there’s this huge strip of sand where there is well marked snorkelling. It’s where the backpackers called Base backpackers is located.
Nelly Bay Harbour doesn't have a beach
The harbour at Nelly Bay is picturesque for boat spotting. There’s no beach as such, since the ferry terminal is here.

                                              

When is the best time to go to Magnetic Island?

Weather for Magnetic Island

Magnetic Island has a dry tropical climate! With 320 days of sunshine per year, it seems it is always a good time to go to Maggie. As with all tropical places, Magnetic Island has a wet and a dry season. The biggest factor to consider for the best time to go to Magnetic Island is the jellyfish season.

As Australia is blessed with at least 60 deadly and toxic animals, you don’t want to be the tourist making the headlines! Stingers, or jellyfish, like to take a nibble on humans between November and April. Magnetic Island is not a great Christmas destination! The best time time to go to Magnetic Island is April to October. It is cooler but not much wetter, since it doesn’t rain much. 

There are hardly any mosquitoes on Magnetic Island! C is always the first to get bitten by a mosquito, they just love her blood! On Maggie Island though, the biting is far less severe than other tropical places, we have visited.

                                              

How to get to Magnetic Island?

The Magnetic island ferry is the only way to get to Magnetic Island!

Getting to Magnetic Island
Foot passengers get on the ferry at the Sealink Townsville Terminal. The terminal is well connected to the airport by bus or taxi. The terminal offers free wi-fi and drinking water.

Click here for the Magnetic Island ferry timetable. The prices are $34 AUD return per adult, if not booked online. If you book online, it’s only $30AUD for a return ticket. Children under 14 years old, only cost $17AUD. The same goes for concession card holders. Book your Magnetic Island ferry online here.

Magnetic Island and its many attractions walks by only1invillage
The Sealink Ferry whisks you to Magnetic Island in 20 minutes from the ferry terminal in Townsville.

If you’re driving, you need to take a different ferry.

Inside the ferry, it’s nice and spacious. There are comfortable and clean seats in an air conditioned space inside.

Magnetic Island getting there on the Sealink ferry
Inside the Sealink ferry there are comfortable seats. The interior is fully air conditioned.
comfortable-inside-seating-sealink-ferry-townsville-to-magnetic-island
The downstairs area of the ferry is air conditioned. There’s even a bar on board for the short crossing!

The Sea Link Magnetic Island Ferry even runs on Christmas Day! It’s a smooth easy 20 minute cruise on a very comfortable catamaran. You can even bring your mountain bike! There are at least 12 crossings a day from Townsville and vice versa. Book online for a $4 discount.

Magnetic Island getting there on the Sealink ferry
If you really can’t wait for a drink, there’s a bar on board the Magnetic Island ferry!
Groups can sit together and socialise in air conditioned comfort on the Magnetic Island ferry
Groups and families can sit and socialise together at the tables. You won’t miss out on the view if you get a window seat.
Magnetic Island getting there on the Sealink ferry
If you like to feel the wind in your hair, choose an outside bench seat on the ferry to Magnetic Island.

What we love about the ferry to Magnetic Island – It’s easy to find the terminal. There are frequent trips across the water. The journey only takes twenty minutes. It’s a clean, modern ferry service. You’ll have free wi-fi onboard  and at the ferry terminals, both in Townsville and Magnetic Island. A bus connects you at both terminals to all the major places of interest.

Top tip for tourists and Australians – buy the Entertainment book for Townsville. This gives you 25 per cent off the return ticket price for 4 adults. Also there are vouchers for 4 places to eat on Magnetic Island. In the Townsville section, there are over 100 discount vouchers for places like Reef HQ and the museum. Many dining establishments ranging from cafes to restaurants also honour the vouchers. You can even get an e copy of the Entertainment Book.

                                              

Getting around Magnetic Island

Magnetic Island car hire 

You can hire a sedan, four by four or a special ‘topless’ car. Going topless is optional!

getting around Maggie
Getting around Maggie (Magnetic) Island like the locals do! Going topless is an option for males only!
cute pink hire cars are called mokes on the island
Ladies, just because the car says topless, keep your clothes on! You’ll get a ticket for public indecency otherwise!

Many of the roads are un-passable off the bus route, so you may not need to hire a car. If you do want to get to the bays, we recommend a 4 by 4 as some of the pot holes are quite deep!

Getting around the island
The unsealed roads have SERIOUS pot holes. The roads to the bays are also very narrow. Pray another vehicle isn’t coming towards you!
Getting around the island
You need a ‘real’ 4 x 4 vehicle, with high clearance, to handle the deep pot holes of the unsealed roads on Maggie Island. Don’t think your Range Rover can handle the terrain. You have been warned!

The bus – Route 250 by Sunbus 

There’s only 1 bus that goes to all the major bays on Magnetic Island. The bus is crowded at times and there’s no space for luggage. Actually, one bus had a luggage crate, but otherwise, the bus driver will tell you to put your cases on the back steps of the bus. It only has regular seats. All seats face forwards in pairs. Click here for the one and only bus timetable.

 

Getting around the island
Sunbus Route 250. There’s only one number and one route for ‘the bus’ so you can always get on it!
Getting around the island
Sometimes the hourly bus gets so crowded! We couldn’t resist this shot. The driver told us to sit on the floor, or he would lose his job! We were not going to wait another hour for the next bus! Bringing back memories of our travels in some Asian countries.

You’ll never get lost on the bus, because it only goes 2 ways – to and from Picnic Bay to Horseshoe Bay. The only thing that may confuse people is at Arcadia Beach there is only one bus stop for both directions. At Arcadia Beach you will see on the bus timetable that the bus is labelled HB or PBJ. HB stands for Horseshoe Bay as the destination and PBJ for Picnic Bay (Jetty). The bus does a U turn to pick u up if it is coming from Horseshoe Bay! 

there's only bus route on Magnetic Island the 250
There’s only one bus route number on Magnetic Island. It’s the 250 and it only goes 2 ways. The only confusing bus stop is pictured here at Arcadia. Usually bus stops are on opposite sides of the road. At Arcadia, there’s only one bus stop. Read the timetable carefully and always check the destination on the front of the bus when you get on.

You still stick you arm out at the bus stop to get the driver to stop. You can buy your single, one day or weekly ticket when you get on the bus. The bus runs every hour only, so make sure you get to the bus stop in advance. You don’t want to miss it.

Taxis and Uber

We spotted only 2 taxis! A shuttle bus type taxi that can seat 10 people and a Toyota Corolla.

Uber is operating apparently, but we could never get a car! There is a business opportunity in the making!

                                              

Where to stay on Magnetic Island

Magnetic Island accommodation

There is a wide range of accommodation on Magnetic Island. Serviced apartments, houses and hotel rooms. There are some bed and breakfast places, a few backpackers and airbnb to choose from. A lot of hotel rooms are privately owned in the Mercure Complex in Nelly Bay. You will find many of these rooms advertised on Airbnb. 

Magnetic Island is not a cheap destination. You don’t get bargain prices except at hostels like the Bungalow Bay Koala Village, in Horseshoe Bay. This is a YHA hostel. Prices for a dorm bed start at around 30 AUD. They also have private A frame bungalows, some with their own bathroom. The best thing about staying here is that you will see koalas every day! Non guests can pay to have ‘breakfast with the koalas’.

Clusters of places to stay are Horseshoe Bay, Nelly Bay, Picnic Bay and Arcadia. There are a few Airbnb options in West Point, a ‘remote’ part on the western side of Magnetic Island. 

If you are travelling in a big group and need a whole house, at short notice, local estate agents will have a list of available properties. It’s still a good idea to book in advance though!!

                                              

The food on Magnetic Island

Unfortunately it’s quantity over quality on Magnetic Island. Portions are generous, but taste is not like you would find in the big city restaurants. There is one exception, the pub in Horseshoe Bay, which serves up a really decent braised beef cheeks and mash. 

Noodies Mexican – Horseshoe Bay

Noodies on the Beach Mexican Horseshoe Bay
Give the paella a miss at Noodies Mexican restaurant. The taste was bland and they haven’t used the correct rice!
huge tortillas at Noodies Horsehoe Bay
The huge tortillas are nothing special. The food is bland and overpriced. Sorry Noodies we are not impressed.

Sandis on the Beach at Horseshoe Bay. Yes, we ate mostly at Horseshoe Bay, The seafood platter was OK, not great value at 80AUD. A restaurant serving Modern Australian fare. That means seafood dishes, pasta and steak.

seafood platter at Sandis Horseshoe Bay
The seafood platter at Sandis includes half a dozen oysters.

Barefoot Art Food Wine at Horseshoe Bay was recommended by locals. The starters are impressive. The mains, unfortunately lacked taste. Great garden and balcony though, for scenic dining. Friendly service too.

Discover the magnificent attractions of Magnetic Island 4
The scallops at Barefoot Art Food Wine are delicious. This place is attached to an art gallery in Horseshoe Bay.

Scallywags – Nelly Bay

Another recommendation that we do not recommend. Great friendly service but, sorry, the food was awful. The beefburgers were like frozen cheap patties that you might feed your dog. Maybe the breakfast is good, but, we went for dinner. It really is a case of quantity over quality. The burger is huge, but, the taste, yuk. They do have BYO (bring your own) and a bicycle you can use to go and get the booze from the supermarket, down the road.

Picnic Bay Hotel

This pub, hotel and bar is an all in one Australian classic. Recently refurbished with great views over Picnic Bay. They serve classic pub fare at good prices and an unbelievable special which we couldn’t bypass.

Naturally, being a pub, it’s open every day of the week! They also have a very large aquarium where you can find Nemo and Dory together! After a long day’s walking, it is a great pit stop and the bus stop is just outside too.

where to eat Picnic Bay hotel pub restaurant
Get an Aussie classic, chicken parmigiana with chips or garden salad AND a glass of white wine just $16 !

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Redang Only1invillage secret paradise island revealed

Diving in Malaysia’s breathtaking coral reefs

Only1invillage dedicates this whole page to the breathtaking and colourful marine life you will see when diving in Malaysia. The Malaysian coral reef is teeming with life. You will see an amazing variety of colourful hard and soft corals. Swimming around them are plenty of turtles, sharks, sting rays, parrot fish and an abundance of other marine life.

Quick Index

breathtaking corals diving in Malaysia
Breathtaking hard and soft corals await in Malaysia. The wavy coral is part of a species called octocoral.
You can compare the Malaysian coral reefs to the Great Barrier Reef. Trust us, we go to both to dive and snorkel.
You can compare the Malaysian coral reefs to the Great Barrier Reef. Trust us, we go to both to dive and snorkel.
brightly coloured Malaysian coral reef diving in Malaysia
Malaysian coral reef is bright and colourful. Not known as a diving destination….until now!

Malaysia is an unknown diving and snorkelling paradise. If you love clown fish, you will find it particularly rewarding. We’re talking many different types of clown fish, not just the orange and white one called Nemo! If you love these fish check out our related post  here.

clown fish everywhere Malaysia
If you love Finding Nemo, you’ll love Malaysia. These orange and white cuties, are everywhere! How many can you count here?
orange fin clown fish diving in Malaysia
The orange fin clown fish is not the famous fish in Finding Nemo. Clown fish are everywhere in Malaysian waters.
Diving in Malaysia amazing coral reef and spectacular marine life
Not all clown fish are like in the movie Finding Nemo. This is a stripey clown fish.

                                              

Diving in Malaysia

Parts of Malaysia that Only1invillage visits, rivals the Great Barrier Reef of Australia.

Giant clams are squashed in against giant brain corals. A common sight when diving in Malaysia.
Giant clams are squashed in against giant brain corals. A common sight when diving in Malaysia.

Giant clams, clown fish, turtles, black tip reef sharks, giant wrasse and angel fish are common sightings in Malaysian waters.

Diving in Malaysia amazing coral reef and spectacular marine life
Titan trigger fish often swim on their side. They grow up to 75 cms. You’ll always see two or three when you snorkel or dive.

Not only that, but Malaysia has white sand beaches to rival those of the Maldives! Don’t believe us? Click here to see some beach pics of our Malaysian travels to islands of paradise. Our top 2 diving and snorkelling destinations don’t even need a boat to get out to the reef from the shore.

Diving in Malaysia amazing coral reef and spectacular marine life
The marine life is just off amazing beaches like this in Malaysia.

We are not kidding. The following pictures of the marine life have all been taken within a 100 metres from the shore.

titan triggerfish
This titan triggerfish is in knee deep water off the island of Redang, Malaysia. Look at the clarity of that water. It’s warm too!
Diving in Malaysia amazing coral reef and spectacular marine life
This Malaysian bad boy puffer fish (it’s probably female!) is swimming just 100 metres from white sand in the Perhentian Islands.
Diving in Malaysia amazing coral reef and spectacular marine life
5 feet (1.5 metres) black tip reef sharks can be spotted under 100 metres from the shore on Redang Island, one of our favourite diving and snorkelling destinations in Malaysia.

We reveal why you must make Malaysia your next underwater adventure. We will tell you where the easiest spots for beginners are. How to get there and the best time to go.

                                              

How expensive is diving in Malaysia?

Snorkelling and diving in Malaysia are a quarter of the price compared to Australia and most other western countries.

1 dive with full tank and all equipment is around 140 to 150 Malaysian Ringitt.  (Around 55 AUD, 28GBP, 35USD and 32EUR)

2 dives with full tank and all equipment is 260 to 270 Malaysian Ringitt.

A recent trip to the Great Barrier Reef for 2 dives cost us 350 AUD! (185GBP, 240USD and  215EUR). You can go diving in Malaysia  4 times for the price of 1 dive in Australia.

If you decide to do your PADI certification, some places offer free accommodation. It is still about a third of the price of getting certified in the West.

                                              

Is diving in Malaysia safe?

Diving in Malaysia is very safe. Tanks, wet suits, flippers and masks are well maintained.

diving gear in Malaysia
Going diving in Malaysia is very safe. Equipment is well maintained. Qualified divers are on hand for all diving levels.
diving costs in Malaysia
Diving is fun! Your oxygen tank is filled with beer! Just joking!

The boats you travel on vary from 8 people boats to dozens (for snorkelling).

diving boats
Boats that take you diving and snorkelling in Malaysia. Some boats are quite small, carrying up to 8 people. Most resorts have their own boats or hire local boats in the busy, dry season.
jellyfish
Jelly fish are not common in Malaysian waters. This jelly fish is just too pretty not to include!

                                              

What marine life will I see when diving in Malaysia?

Turtles are very common in Malaysian waters, especially on the Eastern coast. You often don’t need to dive to see turtles off Redang and the Perhentian Islands. The turtle below hangs out just 50 metres off the beach in Redang. He, or she, often takes a lunch break between midday and 2 pm!

If this is a female turtle, she will return to this beach and lay her eggs. Turtles are known as the navigators of the sea. They are cute and need space. Please don’t stress them by chasing after them, or, swim too closely. Admire them from a distance and use your zoom, please!

turtles are common in Malaysian waters
The green sea turtle is not really green! More brown than green, don’t you think? There are plenty of turtles to see when you go snorkelling or diving in Malaysia.
Diving in Malaysia amazing coral reef and spectacular marine life
The giant clams and sea urchins are just spectacular. This photo is a snorkelling picture, taken in shallow waters. You don’t have to be able to dive to see amazing marine life and corals in Malaysia.
black and blue clown fish
We’re clown fish too! Black and blue clown fish swim out to defend their anemone off Rawa Island, Malaysia.
lizardfish
Look at me, look at me, I’m a lizard fish. I will wait on rocks to catch my prey. See you in Malaysia!
bumphead parr
You will have to be lucky to spot these giant fish in such a big group. Bumphead parrot fish are shy. They are responsible for making the powder soft white sand. They do this by bumping against coral, eating and then spitting it out!
stingray fish
The blue and yellow stingray resembles a metal detector. It likes both shallow and deep water. It camouflages well and can be difficult to see.
two barred rabbit fish and damsel fish
The stripey fish are damsel fish. The yellow fish on the right are two barred rabbit fish. The damsel fish is one of the most common ‘plain’ fish you will see in Malaysia. This also shows how clear the waters of the NW coast of Malaysia are.
pennant bannerfish
Pennant bannerfish are notoriously difficult to get a good side shot.
squirrelfish large eyes
We love ticking off fish when we go diving. These large eyed squirrel fish love to hang out in big schools. They are usually nocturnal, so we are lucky to spot them during the day.
The colourful blue barred parrot fish
The colourful blue barred parrot fish must be the inspiration for the famous children’s book The Rainbow Fish, by Marcus Pfister.
honeycomb grouper
The honeycomb grouper likes to roam on the sea bed. This shot is from the Perhentian Islands.
Mars Fusiliers
Check off another fish when snorkelling or diving in Malaysia. Mars Fusiliers have a distinctive yellow stripe. They are swimming happily with a rabbitfish and a blue parrotfish.
golden rabbit fish
Get up close and personal to golden rabbit fish when diving or snorkelling in Malaysia. They’re not shy! They swim right up to your face.
diving in malaysia
There are lots of needle fish that swim just below the surface of the water.
red banded wrasse diving in malaysia
Look to the bottom left for the red banded wrasse. The titan triggerfish wants to take centre stage!
unknown fish diving in malaysia
We don’t know what this fish is called. Any ideas? Get in touch, we would love to know! (Perhentian Islands)

We like this guide that helps us identify the many fish we see. For photo identification, we found this site useful. It’s also one of our favourite Malaysian island destinations, Redang.

jackfish
Another fish we’re not sure of. Maybe jackfish? We can’t decide using our two guides above.
giant barracuda
Often seen swimming alone the giant barracuda. Tick that one off the list.
sea cucumber
It’s not a giant white poo! Sea cucumbers are usually brown or black, in Malaysian waters. This is rare to see a white one.

                                              

How does diving in Malaysia compare to nearby Thailand and Indonesia?

The reefs, corals and marine life are far superior to those of Thailand and Indonesia. Also, on a recent trip to the Great Barrier Reef we found that the health of the corals and the marine life are very similar. 

Malaysian coral reef
The Malayasian coral reefs compare well with the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. This is a diving shot off Redang, Malaysia.
coral in Malaysia better than Thailand and Indonesia
The coral in Malaysia is in our opinion healthier and more diverse than in Thailand and Indonesia.
giant brain coral
It’s easy to spot giant brain coral off Lang Tengah, Malaysia.
giant clam brain coral
Is this not breathtaking? The colours of the reefs in Malaysia will astound you.

                        

Best time to go diving in Malaysia

The dry season will offer the clearest visibility. After it rains, visibility is always reduced for divers and snorkellers. The dry season on the NE side of Malaysia is April to July. The dry season on the NW side of Malaysia is November to March. This is very similar to popular Phuket and Krabi in Thailand. 

blue queen angel fish
The best time to spot the blue queen angel fish is from June to August, the dry season on the west coast of Malaysia. Their electric blue ring and stripes are unmissable.

                              

Best diving spots in Malaysia

Sipidan – Difficult to get to though and has had some safety concerns recently. 

Borneo – Half of Borneo is shared with Indonesia. You can also visit orangutans after you have had enough of beautiful marine life.

Perhentian, Lang Tengah and Rawa Islands – Easy to get to and day trips possible from Perhentians to Lang Tengah and Rawa Island.

Redang – Our personal favourite island to go diving from. 

Tioman – An East coast contender. Best time to go diving is March to May.

Langkawi IS NOT a good diving spot. There is no diving around Langkawi itself. You have to go to a marine park called Pulau Payar. The west coast of Malaysia is not as good as the East coast for diving.

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There’s more than one type of clown fish. Discover the amazing variety in our clown fish special!

Clown fish species and their anemone a special report!

There are over 50 different types of clown fish. They can be tiny and grow to quite a large size! They’re not all orange and white like in the film, Finding Nemo. Some are black, some are yellow and some are even red! On our various travels, we have been lucky enough to snorkel and dive in some clownfish hot spots.

Quick Index

Clown fish heaven awaits in Malaysian waters. Look at the colour of the corals too!
 Malaysian reefs are teeming with various species of clown fish. This is the famous orange and white one, but, there are plenty of others!

                        

Where to find clown fish

Unfortunately to see them, you’re going to have to travel. We see the most clownfish in Malaysian waters. The clear, calm, warm waters, make it a pleasure to float over these cute and colourful underwater dwellers.Hot spots closest to Europe are the Red Sea in Egypt. Some travellers we met recently said Turkey was good. J dived in Mexico off the Yucatan Peninsula. In Australia, the Great Barrier Reef is of course the place to go. Asian hot spots are Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia. For the Americas, it’s Carribean waters and Mexico. The Indian Ocean also provides opportunities near the Seychelles, Madagascar and Maldives.

Clown Fish special Edition only1invillage
We can’t get enough of these colourful hard corals which contain the anemone and their clownfish! So many different corals to spot!

Clown fish have a symbiotic relationship with anemone, the floaty looking algae that clings to corals and rocks on the ocean and sea floor.

Diving in Malaysia amazing coral reef and spectacular marine life
Orange fin anemone fish coming out to say hello. If you love finding Nemo, you’re going to adore diving in Malaysia and the Great Barrier Reef. Not all anemone is green. There is a huge variety of anemone colours, just like clown fish colours. This clownfish has one vertical stripe. Scientific name – frenatus.
Diving in Malaysia amazing coral reef and spectacular marine life
Bet you have never seen neon pink anemone? We have! For the first time ever, we spot this black, white and orange clown fish family fiercely defending their bright pink home. Amazing.

Lots of the anemone can be spotted, with their clownfish in these hard corals. Shaped like round ‘fish bowls’ they are a spectacular sight of bright purple, red, blue or green.

Clown Fish special Edition only1invillage
Often clownfish can be seen swimming out of these colourful hard round corals.
Clown Fish special Edition only1invillage
This amazing green and blue ‘fish bowl’ coral is a home for the anemone and the clown fish. We see this one off Redang Island, Malaysia.

                        

Clownfish Classification

Adult clownfish are classified depending on their colour patterns.

Group one – No vertical stripe.

Group two – one vertical stripe on the head.

Group three – two vertical stripes (one on the head, the other on the body).

Group four – three vertical stripes (one on the head, one on the body trunk, and the last one on the peduncle).

Group five – fishes having stripes polymorphism

Click here to learn more about clown fish classification and their scientific names.

Clown Fish special Edition only1invillage
This is a clown fish too! This clown fish doesn’t have vertical stripes. It is called sandaracinos. Look at the beautiful purple anemone and the stag horn coral around the ‘fish bowl’.

                        

Amazing clown fish facts

  • The scientific name is Amphiprioninae – that’s quite a mouthful. We’ll stick with clown fish!
  • The anemone that clownfish live in have poisonous tentacles but, they don’t affect the clownfish. The poisonous tentacles are to ward off other predators and protect the clown fish. Clownfish are not just cute, they’re smart too! They lure other fish towards the anemone with their beautiful, bright colours. The anemone then eats the other fish with its poisonous tentacles. Great teamwork!
  • If a clown fish is born male, he has the potential to become a female as an adult! The biggest male in a large group will become female. 
  • Male clownfish cannot change back to female after the change has happened.
  • Male clown fish look after the fertilised eggs.
  • All clown fish are hermaphrodites. That means they are all born male and have the ability to develop into females, as an adult.
  • Girl power – all clownfish groups are led by a dominant female.
  • Clown fish live in groups in outer reefs and sheltered lagoons.  
  • Like all animal species, there is a hierachy of dominant male and female clown fish. The older the clown fish pair, the more dominant they are! 
  • Size matters! The bigger you are, the more dominant you are in your social group.
  • Male clownfish can get aggressive at spawning time. They will bite the female!
  • Female clownfish can lay thousands of eggs at a time. Yes, more clownfish in the seas and oceans!
  • Eggs that are not fertilised or are damaged, get eaten by the male!
Clown Fish special Edition only1invillage
Clown fish are classified according to their stripes. Some clownfish have one stripe, some have two stripes. THis blue and black clownfish is called polmnus and is in group 5.
Clown Fish special Edition only1invillage
Although this fish doesn’t look pink, it is the pink skunk clown fish. We see this fish off the warm clear waters of the Perhentian Islands, Malaysia. Look at the bright blue anemone that the pink skunk clownfish has a symbiotic relationship with.
Clown Fish special Edition only1invillage
This black and blue clownfish has three stripes and belongs in group 4. These black and blue clownfish tend to be larger than the orange and white famous Finding Nemo clownfish. This one is a bit shy and was very aggressive, so we couldn’t get a side shot!

Clownfish like warm waters, but they can thrive in cooler waters too. By cool, we mean for the humans. On a lot of the Great Barrier Reef, you will need to wear a wet suit. The water is quite cool, about 20 to 21 degrees celcius.

diving on the Great Barrier Reef
You’ll need a wet suit when you’re Finding Nemo on the Great Barrier Reef.

On a recent trip to the Great Barrier Reef, we saw the orange and sky blue clownfish. You don’t need to dive to see this fish on the Great Barrier Reef. Most people on the day trip were snorkellers. Sometimes you get lucky snorkelling, as the snorkellers saw, a rare sighting of a single bumphead parrot fish. The divers on this trip to the Lodstone Reef, two hours from Townsville, did not. As with everything in Australia, it is huge!

Clown Fish special Edition only1invillage
We love this bright orange and blue clown fish. These are commonly found on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia.

What are you waiting for? Strap on that snorkel mask or wiggle your way into your wet suit and let’s make find some more Nemos!

If you have any photos you would like to share, we would love to see them. Get in touch via our contact us page and we will upload your pic onto this blog!

Clown Fish special Edition only1invillage
Hello there! Get in touch with your clown fish photos and we’ll feature you on our blog!

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Qantas A380 Business Class

Qantas A380 business class desperately needs an upgrade

 

Read the highs and lows of the Qantas A380 business class cabin on its journey from Melbourne to Singapore. It’s a non stop flight of just over 7 hours.

Australia’s national carrier gets the Only1invillage review. Flying high  and flat with the white kangaroo because Qantas has an impeccable safety record. Like the character in Rain Man says, “Qantas has never crashed”.

We get to turn left when we board a plane! One of us is already a little light headed after 2 hours in the Qantas international business lounge Melbourne. Is it going to be a g’day or not? Continue reading as we give you all the details of this business class flight.

Quick Index of Qantas A380 Business Class 

          

Find out why the Qantas A380 business class desperately needs an upgrade.

The flight from Melbourne to Singapore is scheduled to leave at mid day. An announcement is made that the plane is going to be delayed. When you’re sitting in economy class, expletives start to form. Your eyes meet your fellow passengers and you roll your eyes upwards.

Qantas A380 business class cabin flight review Melbourne to Singapore Only1invillage
On the flight leaving Melbourne, there isn’t any pre flight champagne. We settle for the wine and pretzels.

But, if you’re in business class, you don’t care, because the champagne just keeps on coming! Well actually, there’s no pre flight champagne on the Qantas A380. We settle for wine and pretzels instead. We have sympathy for our fellow economy class passengers. After all, we fly economy too!

          

The Qantas A380 business class cabin

Qantas A380 business class cabin flight review Melbourne to Singapore Only1invillage
The Qantas A380 business class cabin is a 2-2-2 configuration.

First up, it’s really big. The business class section on the upper deck is split into two parts. The front end is smaller and feels more cosy. There are 18 seats here. We get seats 13 A and 13B. One is a window seat and one is an aisle seat.

Qantas A380 business class cabin flight review Melbourne to Singapore Only1invillage
Seats 13A and 13B are a window and aisle seat. The window passenger has no direct aisle access.

The configuration is 2-2-2. If you’re not travelling in a couple or with friends, it can get a bit awkward for the window seat passenger. The window seat passenger has no direct aisle access. Your fellow passenger will have to step over you when you decide to go fully flat!

Qantas A380 business class cabin flight review Melbourne to Singapore Only1invillage
Even with the privacy screen on maximum, it’s not that private! On board the Qantas A380 business class cabin.

The service galley separates the mini cabin from a further 24 business class seats. Behind that there are 8 rows of premium economy seats. Finally at the very back of the plane are 2 rows of economy seats.

The front end contains the ‘bar’. We’ll get onto that a bit later!

        

The seat and its surrounds on the Qantas A380 business class cabin

The seats themselves are comfortable enough, but, showing their age. The positives are the 180 degree flat bed position and the comfort mattress. Notice that business class seats are not much wider than economy class seats. It’s all about the legroom.

Qantas A380 business class cabin flight review Melbourne to Singapore Only1invillage
Qantas A380 business class seats. Not as wide as you might think. But, you’re in it for the legroom! The mattress makes the seat extra comfortable, especially in lie down mode.

There is a huge amount of legroom.

Qantas A380 business class cabin flight review Melbourne to Singapore Only1invillage
Flying business class is all about the amount of legroom space. The seat width isn’t that much wider than an economy class seat.
Qantas A380 business class cabin flight review Melbourne to Singapore Only1invillage
On board the Qantas A380 business class cabin, there’s plenty of leg room.

The window seat passenger gets an extra piece of stowage space in a side compartment.

Qantas A380 business class cabin flight review Melbourne to Singapore Only1invillage
The window seat passenger enjoys handy stowage space. This is in addition to the overhead storage on the Qantas A380.

        

In flight entertainment

 There is plenty to entertain yourself with. The Qantas in flight entertainment system has all the usual options. The latest films and classic films in various languages. You can watch the flight cameras or listen to music. The TV screen is a bit grainy and small for business class.

Qantas A380 business class cabin flight review Melbourne to Singapore Only1invillage
There are plenty of entertainment options on board the Qantas A380 business class cabin.

The noise cancelling headphones are a nice touch. They are superior to the ones you get in economy class. You almost want to take them with you!

Qantas A380 business class cabin flight review Melbourne to Singapore Only1invillage
The noise cancelling headphones really do make a difference.

But what’s going on with this controller? Is it a telephone?

Qantas A380 business class cabin flight review Melbourne to Singapore Only1invillage
Hello Qantas! Your TV controller needs an upgrade! Is this controller a telephone too?

        

The electronics around the seat

The TV controller can hide in a compartment to the left of your seat. The seat can go into many positions. You can have just your feet up, a slight recline or, the fully flat bed. The buttons to change the seat positions are self explanatory. What we love most, is the in seat massage function of the seats. Getting a massage at 39,000 feet, that’s luxury.

Qantas A380 business class cabin flight review Melbourne to Singapore Only1invillage
Adjust your seat to 4 different positions at the touch of a button. The Qantas A380 has a lovely massage function built in to the business class seat.

The most disappointing and surprising aspect of the seat electronics is the lack of charging outlets. There are no USB or sockets to charge your devices! What is going on Qantas? That’s a big reason why this fleet of planes needs upgrading. Many airlines in economy have USB charging options under the TV. We are baffled by the lack of electricity available in business class.

        

The amenity kits on the Qantas A380 business class

We have to say, they’re a bit under whelming. No pyjamas, that’s only for first class passengers. The quality of the toiletries bag isn’t great. It looks a bit cheap and will make a great ‘re-gift’ present for a 5 year old. The Aspar products do smell very good, though.

Qantas A380 business class cabin flight review Melbourne to Singapore Only1invillage
The his and hers amenity kits are certainly eye catching. They don’t contain much, however, which is a little disappointing.
Qantas A380 business class cabin flight review Melbourne to Singapore Only1invillage
Apart from the eye mask, ear plugs, socks and toothpaste, this is what you get. Mini Aspar toiletries products – hand cream, a face moisturiser and a lip balm.

      

The food and beverages

Now if you really want to know what you’re eating, you can pre- select your food online. You go to ‘manage your booking’ on the Qantas website and look for ‘Menu Select’. Personally, we like the surprise, there’s always something you’ll want to eat, when flying business class.

Qantas A380 business class cabin flight review Melbourne to Singapore Only1invillage
We are happy to report that the lunch service looks and tastes good on the Qantas A380 business class flight from Melbourne to Singapore.

When you fly business class you expect the food to be restaurant quality. The food should look and taste different to economy class. From the ‘real’ cutlery and crockery, you expect a big difference. The food is definitely better than economy class! One small gripe is the wine and premium alcohol quality.There’s also no cocktail service, unlike on  Emirates business class.

Qantas A380 business class cabin flight review Melbourne to Singapore Only1invillage
The Asian inspired appetisers of pork and shiitake mushroom dumplings look and taste good. There is a choice of fresh bread. J opts for sourdough bread.

The menu selection always reflects the place you’re flying from and the destination. So, on the flight from Australia there is a choice of Asian inspired and Modern Australian food. We opt for one of each and share!

The menu selection always reflects the place you're flying from and the destination. So, on the flight from Australia there is a choice of Asian inspired and Modern Australian food. We opt for one of each and share!
The prawn salad is delicious and fresh. The modern Australian menu also includes a third option, of pumpkin soup, but, we can’t fit it in! The chilli and lime salsa on top of the prawns is sublime.

The lunch service begins an hour into the flight. The headphones are on and the latest film is rolling. It’s main course time. There are four options to choose from! There’s a vegetarian polenta with braised greens, mushroom ragout and a salsa verde. The other choice is a Moroccan style beef tagine with chickpeas, roasted sweet potato and coriander yoghurt. As you can see, it’s a difficult choice!

The menu selection always reflects the place you're flying from and the destination. So, on the flight from Australia there is a choice of Asian inspired and Modern Australian food. We opt for one of each and share!
J opts for the seared Humpty Doo (A small town in Northern Australia) barramundi. It comes with a tamarind sauce, gai lan and Jasmine rice. It’s very good and doesn’t have the mud taste that barramundi can sometimes have.
The menu selection always reflects the place you're flying from and the destination. So, on the flight from Australia there is a choice of Asian inspired and Modern Australian food. We opt for one of each and share!
C opts for the roast chicken breast on a potato gratin. It is served on minted peas, with honey roasted carrots and a tarragon eschalot butter. Now, try saying that again, without reading it!

Ok, Ok, so we eat a lot. Yes, we had a little breakfast in the lounge before the flight, but, you can always make room for dessert! In the interests of a thorough review, it would be unfair not to order something sweet!

Qantas A380 business class cabin flight review Melbourne to Singapore Only1invillage
The final act is here. Sweet and savoury delights on board the Qantas A380. The cheeseboard is served with quince paste and a cranberry jelly. The chocolate mousse is topped with sour cherries and toasted almonds. The almonds are missing on our pudding.

Now, just when you think you can’t eat any more. Three hours into the flight, there’s the mid flight snacks. These are also available at the ‘bar’ section at the very front of business class. They are pieces of whole fruit, chocolate bars and bags of crisps/chips. They don’t need a photograph.

Prior to landing, so about 6 hours into the flight comes the last food offerings. There’s a choice of two things, so naturally, we order one of each!

Qantas A380 business class cabin flight review Melbourne to Singapore Only1invillage
The prior to landing meals are much better than in economy class. The Cornish pastie and the egg noodles are both very tasty. They get the thumbs up from Only1invillage!

      

The service of the Qantas staff

The staff are friendly, but not over friendly. They don’t seem to have as much time to chat to you about your destination. For example, landing cards are handed out regardless of whether Singapore is your final destination. A more personal touch would have been to ask passengers if they are connecting or not. Outside of meal times, the Qantas staff keep to themselves. 

        

The Qantas A380 business class toilets

This is what you have all been waiting for! Here it is, the toilet photo!

Qantas A380 business class cabin flight review Melbourne to Singapore Only1invillage
It’s an economy class toilet. The Qantas A380 business class cabin desperately needs a toilet upgrade! There are no toothbrushes or face towels on offer in the toilet.

        

The Qantas A380 business class bar

This is the part of the Qantas A380 that needs the urgent upgrade the most. When you see the pictures of the bar, you will understand why. Unlike its competitors Emirates, Etihad, Qatar, Virgin Australia, Virgin Atlantic and Korean Air, you probably won’t be leaving your business class seat for this bar.

It’s not really a bar and the shape of it, isn’t really enticing. Despite that, you will always get some people using the room behind the curtains!

Qantas A380 business class cabin flight review Melbourne to Singapore Only1invillage
This is the Qantas A380 bar! Judge for yourself.
Qantas A380 business class cabin flight review Melbourne to Singapore Only1invillage
You collect your own drinks from a separate section of the ‘bar’ and then walk to the seating area of the ‘bar’. We do like the safety belts, in the bright red seats. Safety first Qantas!

        

Summary of why the Qantas A380 business class cabin desperately needs an upgrade

Firstly there are NO USB charging points! What happens to people who actually use business class to do some work? Your laptop isn’t going to last the 7 hour flight on battery mode.

Secondly, that bar isn’t enticing. There should be better quality wines, champagne on boarding and cocktail options to match competitors. If you compare the area to its competitors, you can see why it doesn’t come close to Emirates or Qatar’s on board bar. See pictures of the Emirates A380 bar here.

Thirdly, the seats are starting to sag and could be a little wider. Seating configuration of 2-2-2 vs competitors such as Emirates 1-2-1 means a lot less space. Also it means window passengers need to climb over the person next to them. The privacy screens are too short. The television screens are too small and low quality. The toilets have no amenities.

Good news the overhaul of the A380 started in September 2019. Qantas promises to make the bar area more inviting. 

Qantas A380 business class cabin flight review Melbourne to Singapore Only1invillage
This is what Qantas envisions the new bar area to be. Definitely an upgrade from the existing bar on the A380. The refurbishment begins in September 2019.

Qantas has also announced that all seats will have aisle access in business class. They are making their business seats more like Qatar’s ‘business suites’ which are like mini first class areas.

The upgrades are scheduled to finish at the end of 2020. Roll on 2020, we say!

To read about the improvements, Qantas is planning for the A380 fleet, click here.

 

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Qantas business class lounge Melbourne International review only1invillage

Qantas International Business Lounge Melbourne 

Here is our review of this shiny and modern lounge. It is spacious and comfortable with fast Wi-fi. A calm oasis to relax in, before your long haul flight. We visit at breakfast time. The menu changes at mid day. Only1invillage tells you what you get and what you don’t, in the coffee Capital of Australia!

Australia’s national carrier Qantas has recently spent a lot of money refurbishing its domestic lounges. Are the lounges of the same standard for international passengers in Melbourne, Australia? When Down Under, find out if you’re getting a dud or a gem, when you fly through or from Melbourne International.

Quick Index Qantas International Business Lounge Melbourne

            

 the Qantas International Business Lounge Location

Qantas business class lounge Melbourne International review only1invillage
The Qantas business class lounge for international passengers is after security in Terminal 2. Look up for the signs!                               

After passport control in Terminal 2 you go through the duty free shops. Keep following the signs. The lounge is located down an escalator and is opposite the Singapore Airlines and American Express Lounge.

Qantas business class lounge Melbourne International review only1invillage
Keep following the signs to get to the Qantas business class lounge at Melbourne International Airport.
Qantas business class lounge Melbourne International review only1invillage
The Qantas business lounge for international passengers is on Level 1, airside, opposite the AMEX and Singapore Airlines lounges.

                

Qantas International business class dress code

Quite a lot of people can use this lounge. Before you get dressed though, please read our guide of what to wear and what not to wear! How embarrassing if you get refused entry because you’re not properly dressed!

Qantas business class lounge Melbourne International review only1invillage
Would you let this man in? Make sure you’re properly dressed for the business class lounge. Qantas are quite fussy. You don’t have to wear a shirt and sunglasses. They are optional.

                

Who can Get In

Emirates code share customers who are flying business class can use this lounge, but will probably opt for the Emirates lounge. Also business class passengers of the following airlines. Get ready for the long list! Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Qatar Airways, Sri Lankan Airways, LATAM (Chilean), China Airlines, China Southern, China Eastern, Garuda Indonesia, Fiji Airways, Jetstar, Vietnam Airlines and Sichuan Airlines.

Qantas business class lounge Melbourne International review only1invillage
Who let him in?!! A lot of people can get into the Qantas lounge.

You can also gain entry if you have racked up enough points with your airline. Usually if you’re in the top two tiers and have jewel status of at least a sapphire, you can use the Qantas international business lounge in Melbourne. For Qantas you have to hold gold status. For Emirates, gold and platinum status gets you in. If you’re a Oneworld alliance flyer and have sapphire or emerald status, come on in!

Lastly, if you’re a Qantas Club member or you have a single entry pass, then come on in and relax.

              

Seating

Qantas business class lounge Melbourne International review only1invillage
Various seating options in the Qantas international business lounge at Melbourne. The one negative is the natural light, There isn’t much of it!

The good news is that the lounge is very big. It can hold up to 350 people apparently. Still you don’t want it to be full and at capacity! You come to a lounge to get away from the terminal crowd.

Qantas business class lounge Melbourne International review only1invillage
Size matters! The Qantas lounge at Melbourne International is spacious.

The best thing for families with small children, is the play area. It would be better however, if it was enclosed, so you can’t hear the screeching of the little darlings. Take a leaf out of Emirates’ children’s area in Dubai. For a review of the Emirates business class lounges in Dubai, click here.

Qantas business class lounge Melbourne International review only1invillage
A dedicated area for little travellers to play in (Melbourne international Qantas business lounge)

There’s a business area with a sleek long desk and photocopier machine/printer at one end, just after the reception desk. Set up here if you need to get some work done.

Qantas business class lounge Melbourne International review only1invillage
Get your business done here! A large office area is available in the Qantas Melbourne international business lounge. Naturally there are plenty of charging points.
Qantas business class lounge Melbourne International review only1invillage
One of the office benches with USB charging points for your devices. If you forget your laptop, you can use this machine!

The seats range from armchairs in small groups to bar stools. They come in a variety of colours, textures and comfort levels. As usual, the tables are way too small to fit much onto them. However, most people aren’t travelling in large groups and you can always put two tables together, if the need arises.

Qantas business class lounge Melbourne International review only1invillage
Sit and have a meal, like you’re at home in your kitchen!
Qantas business class lounge Melbourne International review only1invillage
Take a seat in a padded armchair in the business class lounge at Melbourne international airport.
Qantas business class lounge Melbourne International review only1invillage
Have a chat or watch some sport on these modern round chairs.
Qantas business class lounge Melbourne International review only1invillage
Like the leather look instead? Place your hide on these arm less leather sofas.
Qantas business class lounge Melbourne International review only1invillage
If you like the breakfast bar look, pull up a stool. They are surprisingly comfortable!
Qantas business class lounge Melbourne International review only1invillage
Hidden behind one of the breakfast counters. These weird cylinder stools look funky. But, are they comfortable? Probably not as no one is sitting on them.

                

Bathrooms and Showers

Close your eyes it’s time for the shower shots!

You ask for a towel and an amenity kit at reception. It isn’t help your self service and there is no attendant like at the Qantas Sydney international lounge.

Qantas business class lounge Melbourne International review only1invillage
Your towel and toiletries kit includes a bath mat.
Qantas business class lounge Melbourne International review only1invillage
Your towel kit contains a bath mat. You are given a toothbrush and a shaving kit.

The shower area is located in the middle of the lounge. 

Qantas business class lounge Melbourne International review only1invillage
The shower cubicles are located in the middle area of the business class lounge at Melbourne international.

There are also separate toilet areas.

Qantas business class lounge Melbourne International review only1invillage
Separate from the showers are toilet areas.

The showers have a toilet inside them too, so they’re more like a mini bathroom.

Qantas business class lounge Melbourne International review only1invillage
Each shower cubicle is really a mini bathroom. Every shower room also has a toilet and sink inside.

The toiletries have been exclusively designed for Qantas by Aspar. The 500ml body lotion retails at $50AUD per bottle. When you get on the A380 Qantas plane, inside your amenity kit, you will find an exclusive offer for Aspar products. You enter a code on the Aspar website and you get $50AUD discount. Conditions apply.

Qantas business class lounge Melbourne International review only1invillage
Aspar cleansing and moisturising products. They smell good and are mostly organic. Feel nourished, protected and loved! That’s their strap line, not ours.
Qantas business class lounge Melbourne International review only1invillage
ALmost forgot to show the shower. A powerful shower with adjustable head, in the spacious cubicle.

                

Food and Beverages

Feeling hungry? Like all business class lounges, the food changes according to the time of the day. We visit at breakfast time. There’s a very good, not quite excellent, variety of hot and cold choices, including Qantas signature ‘made to order’ dish of the day.

The drinks selection never changes, don’t worry. You can still mix yourself a cocktail at 8am!

Being in Melbourne you are guaranteed great coffee. Barista made is best. There are 2 self service machines, but who in their right mind uses them, when you’re in the coffee capital of Australia?

              

The breakfast

Qantas business class lounge Melbourne International review only1invillage
You won’t go hungry before your flight. The hot breakfast menu at the Qantas international business lounge Melbourne.

 

The cold options are a Western style selection. On offer for breakfast is fruit salad, yoghurts, cereals and muesli.

Qantas business class lounge Melbourne International review only1invillage
The healthy cold choices for breakfast. Fruit salad (not from a can), yoghurt, cereals and muesli.
Qantas business class lounge Melbourne International review only1invillage
Bright and appealing colours at the breakfast bar in the Qantas international business class lounge. There’s even chia pudding! What do you mean you don’t know what that is?! It’s on the right hand side of the photo.

Now onto the hot food. It’s what we call a full English.

Qantas business class lounge Melbourne International review only1invillage
Here’s a full English breakfast served with fresh barista made coffee.

For those of you who don’t know what that is, it’s pretty tasty, but, not so healthy. Fried or grilled sausages, bacon, eggs, mushroom and hash browns are standard. For the health component grilled tomatoes are usually offered too. It’s not all bad!

Qantas business class lounge Melbourne International review only1invillage
Components of a full English breakfast. Note that for our American friends, hash browns come in one piece, Down Under and in the UK.

If that’s too unhealthy for you, you can always try the special dish of the day. It is cooked to order, so it’s guaranteed to be fresh. The business lounge plate of the day is next to the barista coffee bar. You place your order and hang around for about 5 minutes. They call your name, when your food is ready.

Qantas business class lounge Melbourne International review only1invillage
Place your order for the business lounge dish of the day at the barista bar.
Qantas business class lounge Melbourne International review only1invillage
While you’re at the barista bar, might as well get a fresh pressed vegetable juice too, to go with that healthy breakfast option.
Qantas business class lounge Melbourne International review only1invillage
The brown rice, kale, almond, feta and poached egg looks so good. The fetta cheese was missing, which was a bit disappointing.

                

The beverages

Any international business class lounge worthy of its class has to have a good selection of alcohol. Whilst Qantas doesn’t offer premium alcohol, like Emirates does, the variety is good.

Qantas business class lounge Melbourne International review only1invillage
One of the red wine stations in the Qantas international business class lounge Melbourne.

 The selection of alcohol is vast. You can mix your own cocktails for breakfast at two stations in the business class lounge. No one is going to judge you!

Qantas business class lounge Melbourne International review only1invillage
The range of spirits and beer available in the Qantas Melbourne lounge. Make your own cocktail!

The quality of the wines isn’t as good as in the Emirates lounges, but much better than the Qantas Club in the domestic terminal.

Qantas business class lounge Melbourne International review only1invillage
White wine in the Qantas international business class lounge Melbourne. Bottles range from $15 to $25 AUD in price. Not quite up to Emirates standards, which is why most people prefer to use the Emirates lounge, if possible, on a code share flight.

The soft drinks selection is pretty good too. Teas are available in single sachets. Freshly pressed vegetable juice is available too. What the Qantas lounge does have over the Emirates lounge, is the barista coffee.The fresh barista coffee is excellent.  Well, this is the coffee capital of Australia, after all! The latte art is pretty impressive too.

What the Qantas lounge has over the Emirates lounge in business class is the barista coffee.
Barista made latte and capuccino is excellent in the Qantas lounge. The Italian Faema coffee machine retails at $17000USD . We do our homework at Only1invillage!

The only drinks missing are the bubble teas and smoothies. We don’t know any lounges that offer these! If you do, let us know.

                

Final Thoughts

Here’s a round up of what you get and what you don’t in the Qantas international business class lounge.

You get plenty of space. A dedicated children’s play area. Comfortable spaces to sit or work. A big variety of beverages. A good selection of hot and cold food. Showers to freshen up in. Fabulous barista coffee. 

What you don’t get is natural light. Also, the cleaning up of dirty plates isn’t as good as it could be. Apart from that, there’s not too much to complain about. We enjoyed our time in the Qantas international business class lounge Melbourne. It beats having to cook breakfast for yourself!

Qantas business class lounge Melbourne International review only1invillage
Want to read more about other lounges? See below for more fantastic reviews by Only1invillage.

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Redang Only1invillage secret paradise island revealed

Redang Island is Only1invillage’s secret paradise island

So what’s your favourite place that you have visited? A common question that is hard to answer. For us when it comes to beach destinations around the world this is it! Redang Island Malaysia is a tropical paradise! Beautiful sand, crystal clear warm water, spectacular scenery, amazing marine life and largely unknown. Keep reading and you will soon start wishing you are there!

Quick Index Redang Island

                                        

Why Go to Redang Island?

Redang Island secret paradise only1invillage
Oh No! Our secret is out! Redang Island is our Malaysian Maldives destination.
Redang Only1invillage secret paradise island revealed
Redang has spectacular, colourful reefs which rival the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. Diving is also a quarter of the price.

We are not joking! You don’t even have to dive to see giant bumphead parrot fish, angel fish, giant clams and the clown fish are everywhere!!! Black tip reef sharks, turtles, puffer fish, red breasted wrasse and titan triggerfish are common sightings.

Redang Island secret paradise revealed only1invillage
This is “our” resident turtle. Please don’t go too close, admire them from afar. Never try and touch one, it really stresses them out and please don’t chase them! He usually takes a lunch break between mid day and 2pm!
Redang Island secret paradise
These amazing giant and colourful clams are plentiful on Redang. As you glide over them, they snap shut to protect themselves.

If your idea of paradise involves palm trees, frangipanis, sitting with your toes in soft, white sand, crystal clear warm water, amazing fish life and serious relaxation, you know what to do……..keep reading!

Redang Island secret paradise
Frangipanis, coconut palms and blue skies. Is this your idea of paradise? It’s definitely ours!
Redang Only1invillage secret paradise island revealed
Amazing water clarity in Redang! It’s warm too.
Redang Only1invillage secret paradise island revealed
Life is much better where it is wetter, under the sea! Snorkelling in the Malaysian Maldives of Redang! Just breathtaking.

We know, we know, you want to go to the Maldives, but, trust us, the Maldives is a huge rip off. Do you enjoy paying $US5 for a 330ml can of Coke? Do you like getting your feet cut on sharp coral? Do you enjoy going for a 1 hour snorkel and seeing one grey coloured fish?

Redang Island secret paradise only1invillage
You don’t need to spend $400USD a day to find Nemo in Redang! Malaysian reefs are teeming with various species of clown fish.

Is your idea of paradise worth $US400 a night for a 3 star resort? Unless you go to exclusive resorts which charge in excess of $US800 per night, the sand quality is not better in the Maldives. To us, Redang is the Malaysian Maldives!

Compare these photos. Can you tell which one is Malaysia and which one is the Maldives?

Redang Only1invillage secret paradise island revealed
Malaysia or the Maldives?
Redang Only1invillage secret paradise island revealed
Maldives or Malaysia?

You can see where we’re heading can’t you? Malaysia has everything the Maldives has but on a budget! Train your brain to say Redang Island is my next dream destination. Forget about the Maldives. Malaysia or the Maldives? See, they are even beginning to sound similar!

                                        

Where is Redang Island?

Redang Island is part of Malaysia. The island itself is located in the South China Sea. Redang Island is NE of the capital Kuala Lumpur. It used to be a plane ride away, but the runway closed in 2016. It is a bit of a transportation collective to get to Redang Island, which makes it less popular than Langkawi. Yes, Langkawi is beautiful too, but far more crowded. We like the fact that it’s difficult to get to Redang. A plane, a taxi and then a boat ride from KL, makes Redang Island quieter. Redang is close to our other dream destination in Malaysia, thePerhentian Islands.

                                        

When is the best time to go to Redang Island?

Redang Island weather is tropical. Redang Island has three seasons. Bloody wet and hot, bloody hot and dry and monsoon season. Best time to go is non monsoon season. June, July and August offer the calmest seas and best water clarity. Many places close on Redang Island from November to February. Always check in advance. The crossing over can be very rough in the monsoon season. Some boats may not operate at all. So the best time to go depends of what type of weather you like!

Redang Only1invillage secret paradise island revealed
July weather is hot and dry on Redang. It’s the perfect time to escape the southern hemisphere Winter. Not a bad view, if we do say so ourselves!

April is a good time to go to Redang too, but tidal waves bring in some rubbish from wherever all that plastic comes from. When we come in April, we spend a lot of time cleaning the beach.

Redang Island secret paradise
April weather is right at the beginning of the season for holidays. It’s really quiet and you’ll definitely be the Only 1 in the village!

It is however, nothing like the nightmare of rubbish you see on Indonesian beaches. September still has plenty of sunshine. Even in October, when you might get downpours of H2o, it doesn’t last long! Basically Redang is an escape for the southern hemisphere experiencing Winter.

Redang Island secret paradise
Want endless blue skies, white sand and warm water? Escape the southern hemisphere Winter. June, July and August is peak season on Redang. This is the best time to come and get that beach life!

If you’re bored of crowded European beaches in June, July and August, come on over to the Malaysian Maldives, of Redang! The sun shines all day long, the water is warm and clear and the sand is soft.

                                        

How to get to Redang Island

Redang Only1invillage secret paradise island revealed
Air Asia the low cost carrier flies from Kuala Lumpur to Kuala Terrenganu 6 times a day. Malaysia Airlines, Malindo and Firefly also have direct flights.

Option 1  – Getting to Redang Island

The nearest airport is Kuala Terrenganu. Kuala Terranganu is a 50 minute flight, from the capital of KL. KLIA2 and Air Asia offers the most number of flights to KT daily. From KT airport (Malaysians love acronyms) a 50 minute taxi ride takes you to Shandabhar Jetty. From there, a public ferry takes 90 mins to cross the South China Sea to our no longer secret paradise island.

Redang Only1invillage secret paradise island revealed
The public ferry takes 90 minutes to get to Redang from Marang. It is air conditioned. The boat leaves Syahbandar jetty at 9:00, 10:30 and 15:00.
Redang Island secret paradise
This transfer boat pulls up alongside the public ferry to disembark. The hull of the public ferry will ruin the coral, so this flatter bottomed boat takes over. This boat is upposed to only take 64 passengers. However, it can sometimes be overloaded with 200 people. Health and safety Malaysian style! The process of unloading the passengers and their luggage can take 45 minutes.

Option 2 – Getting to Redang Island

You can also go to Merang Jetty and wait for a boat to fill up to get to Redang Island. Don’t confuse Merang with Marang, which is totally different. The letter e makes all the difference. There is no jetty at Marang. You must go to Merang. Click here for the boat times from Merang Jetty to Redang. Note, we only use this for the return from Redang. We cannot vouch for the accuracy of the times going to Redang from Merang Jetty. Also, we have never booked online, we always pay cash.

Redang Only1invillage secret paradise island revealed
Merang Jetty boats are smaller and faster. Journey time to Redang is 50 minutes. Boats generally leave at 8:00, 9:30, 10:30, 13:00 and 15:00.

However, the boats can be more crowded and you may have to wait for one to fill up.

Redang Only1invillage secret paradise island revealed
Alamein Boat Services go from Merang Jetty to Redang Island. It’s a bit more crowded and slightly less comfortable than the ferry. But, it’s a lot faster to our secret paradise!

Buy your tickets here to go to Redang if you turn up at Merang Jetty. Your accommodation can also buy your ticket in advance along with your taxi transfer from Kuala Terrenganu. Don’t forget, you will also have to pay a small jetty access charge and the marine park fee. Have to preserve paradise! It won’t put a dent in your budget. It’s 30MYR for non Malaysians, 15MYR for children and senior citizens. That’s the same fee for the Perhentian Islands marine park fee. If, like us, you go to Redang, from the Perhentian Islands, you don’t have to pay twice!

Redang Only1invillage secret paradise island revealed
Buy your ticket at the Merang Jetty ticket counter. You also have to pay the Marine Park entrance fee.

Option 3 – Getting to Redang Island

If you love a bumpy, hold onto your bones boat ride for 50 minutes, you can also get to Redang Island from the Perhentian Islands! On arrival at the Perhentian Islands, we always go to Ayumni House, which is behind Tuna Bay resort and ask the lady there to arrange a boat transfer. The cost is MYR100 per person.

Redang Only1invillage secret paradise island revealed
While you’re on the Perhentians, buy a ticket from the lady who runs Ayumni House homestay. The cost is 100MYR per person and it saves you going back to the mainland.
Redang Only1invillage secret paradise island revealed
Hold on to whatever you can! This fast boat will whisk you between Perhentian and Redang in 50 minutes! Warning – It’s a rough crossing! There are 4 rows of padded seats. Boat transfer Malaysian style.

At least 6 people have to go to make it worthwhile for the ‘taxi’. That’s why you need to enquire at least 3 days in advance. In our experience, it’s easier to island hop from Perhentian Besar to Redang Island and not the other way around.

If you’re staying at the Taraas Beach Resort or Laguna Redang Island Resort, they will arrange all transfers for you. This includes a meet and greet at the airport in Kuala Terrenganu. Enquire with your accommodation. 

                                        

What’s there to do on Redang Island?

The things to do on Redang Island are all outdoors. This is not a tropical paradise where you want to stay in your hotel room. Some accommodation comes without TVs in the room, which we think is a great idea. How will you catch the moon rise? Yes, there is such a thing. Even massages, morning and evening yoga are an outside activity. 

Redang Only1invillage secret paradise island revealed
The snorkelling and diving is world class in Redang. Look at those colours. We spend at least 3 hours every day under the sea!

It’s all about the ‘s’ words. Sun, sea, sand and snorkelling! There’s also some hiking, massage, reading and yoga. A few places will rent out kayaks and stand up paddle boards. Believe us, it’s exhausting from dawn until dusk fitting everything in.

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We’ve got eyes on you, Mr Stingray. These colourful fish are very common in the shallow corals off the beaches in Redang.

The snorkelling and diving is some of the best in Asia. The diving is also very cheap and the equipment you get is of a good standard. Diving instructors are knowledgable. If you’re thinking of getting your PADI license, why not do it in paradise? It really gives Thailand, where J got certified a run for its money. 

Redang Only1invillage secret paradise island revealed
Malaysian humour! You have to come and dive in Redang. Why not get your PADI certification?
Redang Only1invillage secret paradise island revealed
Of course we are going to show you the other half!

Redang is an underwater paradise. Every day, we are busy spotting resident turtles, clown fish, angel fish and rare sightings of bump head parrot fish.

Redang Island secret paradise
OMG OMG a school of bump head parrot fish. These huge fish are responsible for all that white sand. Google them.
Redang Only1invillage secret paradise island revealed
Blue Ring Angel fish are not rare in Malaysian waters.

Not to mention giant wrasse, titan triggerfish, black spotted cod, moray eels and sting rays!

Redang Only1invillage secret paradise island revealed
Well hello there, Mr Black Spotted Cod. Spotted you!

 

Almost forgot about the schools of black tip reef sharks which smile at you as they glide past!

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Want to swim with the sharks? Common just 2 metres from the soft, white sand of Redang Island. Some are up to 5 feet in length! Don’t panic, they’re quite friendly. Well, so far they have been!

There is also pristine jungle, like on the Perhentian Islands.

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Feeling adventurous? You can hike on Redang. Bring plenty of mozzie repellent though! It’s a jungle out there!
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Don’t be alarmed when you see monitor lizards on your jungle walk!
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You get this white sandy beach all to yourself, after the jungle trek which starts at the back of Coral Redang Island Resort and finishes at this beach next to the 5 star Taaras Resort.
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You will be like this too after your jungle trek. Trying to dry out on the granite rocks. Maybe next time, don’t wear a long sleeved top!

Redang Island is, for us, the perfect mix of not too isolated and not too busy.

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Cheers to having so much sand to yourself! It’s about midday and there’s hardly anyone on Long Beach.

Nightlife consists of live bands at the various resorts. Thankfully where we stay doesn’t have a band at all. Also, Sari Pacifica doesn’t do live music, which means it is possible to sleep at 10pm.

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It’s pretty quiet at night on Redang. You’re going to have to make your own entertainment!

During the day, you often have the powder white sand to yourself and 10 other western tourists. Asian tourists avoid the sun from 10 until 4. Your peace will be interrupted 3 times a day when the snorkelling boats come in and out.

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Seriously empty white powder soft sand beach. Usually between 11 and 4pm, you will have the beach mostly to yourself. Asian tourists like to keep their skin fair, so are not out until dusk! You’ll only see mad dogs and English men, out in the mid day sun! Come to think of it, there’s no dogs on Redang, unlike Thailand. Another reason why Redang is our Malaysian Maldives paradise!

Apart from that you can only hear waves, gently lapping against the shore. Oh and course people’s conversations about the amazing fish!

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Helping out with the fresh coconut delivery! If you’re missing the gym, get a work out with nature.

                                        

What’s the food like on a tropical island?

One of the things to do on Redang Island is to eat and eat and then eat some more. The Malaysian food is better than the western food. Eating out doesn’t break the bank in Malaysia and Redang Island is no exception. 

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You can have your cake and eat it on Redang Island!

You’ll need great coffee to go with that cake. Forgot to add the latte pictures! Here you go. You can get great coffee on Redang Island. OK, not Milan or Melbourne standard, but what else are you going to drink with your cake?

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Coffee time! Would you like a stunning view with that?
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If you can catch him, you can eat him! We’re only joking, there’s no exotic food on Redang. It’s great Malaysian and reasonable Western food.
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Food on Redang always come with a great view. Here we are having some stir fried vegetables with seafood and plain rice.
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Malaysian roti and vegetable curry. Gimme gimmee. The stretchy roti is a Malaysian speciality on Redang. One is never enough!
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Western food is widely available on Redang. However, it’s not the best for authenticity, but look at the view. Our advice, stick to Asian food on Redang.

                          

Where we stay on Redang Island

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The open air reception greets you at Coral Redang Island Resort.

Our secret island paradise is out, so we might as well share where we stay. Our favourite place to stay on Redang Island is Coral Redang Island Resort. This is a 3 star resort.

Redang Island secret paradise
Coral Redang Island Resort is always our number one choice. A relaxed vibe which is popular with Europeans. A comfortable open air lobby, a great place to work on that all important travel blog!

Good value and modern with a prime position on the beach. What we like about Redang Island is that even though the hotels are built on the beach, they are well camouflaged. They are also about 20 metres back from the water. 

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Coral Redang Island Resort is set back from the beach. Here is the decking area that you can bring your own drinks to, for a small charge.

The service is good and the restaurant is the best option for western food. We have tried every restaurant on the island. The organisation of transfers to and from the island is very good. Visa is accepted for paying the final bill. You cannot book via booking.com or expedia. You have to book direct with the resort.

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Coral Redang Island Resort will come and pick you up in one of these tractors from the public ferry jetty. They are excellent at arranging the ferry transfer and drivers from the airport at Kuala Terrenganu. They will also handle your transfer back, when you leave paradise.

There are two types of room available. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. Deluxe rooms are more expensive, better decor and you only have one neighbour. Deluxe rooms are two storey stand alone buildings at the front  and centreof the property. The first 6 from the reception area have beach and water views.

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Deluxe rooms are fresh and decorated with neutral colours. Our top tip ask for an upstairs room, so you don’t hear your neighbours’ footsteps.
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The bathroom in the deluxe rooms at Coral Redang are spacious and modern. You also get a fridge and a huge safe.
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If you want a beach view at Coral Redang Island Resort, you need a top floor room at the front of the property.
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Always keep the windows closed. There are some very cheeky monkeys around.

Standard rooms are set further back from the beach. They are cheaper but are newer. They have a more plain decoration. The standard rooms don’t have a fridge. The showers are more powerful, however than deluxe rooms. You have more neighbours, especially if you are in the middle floor. Beds are newer and slightly more comfortable than in the deluxe rooms. We like both rooms and have stayed in both. Both rooms have a massive safe. The safes are big enough to store laptops, something quite rare. There are also family rooms. There is a block facing the pool which is ideal for 2 kids and 2 adults in a sort of adjoining room.

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Breakfast at Coral Redang in the open air restaurant.

Breakfast is included at Coral Redang Island Resort.

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Western options include cereals. The milk is UHT.

There is fruit, yoghurt, cereal, croissants and toast. There is also an egg station. Don’t expect poached, egg white omelettes or soft boiled eggs. The egg station is strictly for fried eggs and omelettes.

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The egg station at Coral Redang Island resort. Get your fried eggs and omelettes made fresh to order.

There’s always hash browns (English and Australian style), baked beans and some kind of starch like noodles or rice. On Sundays it’s roti bread breakfast day! Our absolute favourite flaky bread with a yummy curry sauce.

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Hot Asian options vary daily on a rotational basis at Coral Redang Island Resort.
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Food is kept warm in these silver serving trays. Hot breakfast options at Coral Redang Island Resort.
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Croissants and DIY toast options available for breakfast at Coral Redang Island Resort.
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Juice and water options. Juice is concentrate. Coral Redang is the only restaurant that offers free drinking water for lunch and dinner. Also as a paying guest, you can get filtered cold and boiling water on demand from a fountain on site.

Coral Redang Island Resort also have a very professional dive centre. Snorkelling and diving trips go out every day and the staff speak English, Mandarin and Cantonese in addition to Bahasa Malay. The equipment is modern and clean. If you have your own diving equipment, there is a small discount. So bring your oxygen tank, just joking! Waterproof cameras, masks and snorkels are available to rent. Life jackets, masks and snorkels are part of the snorkel trip package.  Kayaks and stand up paddle boards complete your water sports adventures. Thankfully there are no banana boat rides or giant doughnuts on Redang Island. 

Sari Pacifica click here to book

Redang Island secret paradise
Sari Pacifica has a prime position on the beach of Long Beach. It’s a 4 star resort. No loud music or karaoke here.

The beach view frangipani villas are the only choice here. You have well padded veranda lounges and a king sized bed. The food isn’t the best here. There’s no live music at night which makes this and Coral Redang on the quiet end of the beach. 

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The beach front villas at Sari Pacifica. Imagine waking up here!
Redang Island secret paradise
Back view of the frangipani villas at Sari Pacifica. Hmm wonder why they’re named frangipani villas???
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Secure your place on the day bed. Outside the beach front villas at Sari Pacifica on Long Beach.
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If you can’t afford a beach front villa, the lagoon view rooms at Sari Pacifica.

Laguna Redang Island Resort Click here to Book

Laguna Redang Island Resort is a big development. Even though it is large it blends quite well into the scenery. This is rated as a four star resort and caters mainly for tourists on a package, which includes daily snorkelling. During peak season, the breakfast buffet can be chaotic! 

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The view from inside Laguna Redang Island Resort. It has its own dive centre and kampung style nightly restaurant for non guests.

If you want a pool for the kids and a jacuzzi for yourself you have to stay at Laguna Redang. Make sure you venture out between 11 and 4pm and you’ll be like J (see picture below!)

Redang Island secret paradise
Be the only 1 in the pool between 11 and 4 at the Laguna Redang Island Resort. Although very popular with mainland Chinese tourists on a package, they don’t come out until the sun goes down.

Popular with Chinese tourists on a package. However, most Chinese people stay in the shade between 10am and 3pm, so you’ll have the facilities pretty much to yourself during daylight hours. Beware as the temperature drops (by 2 degrees from 32 to 30) the vampires begin to come out and the peace will be shattered!

Redang Island secret paradise
Laguna Redang is a huge resort. It occupies the far corner of the beach next to Long Beach.
Redang Island secret paradise
Laguna Redang has their own private pier and boats. If you stay with them, they will handle your transfer from the mainland at Kuala Terrenganu. They also have a mini ‘train’ to get you from the pier to reception.

Redang Beach Resort Click here to book

Located just next door to the big complex that is Laguna Redang is Redang Beach Resort. Yes, the names all get a bit confusing! This is also quite a big resort. The sand in front is powder white and has a volley ball net set up for the 5pm games. Note: no one plays before then, it’s too hot! 

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Redang Beach Resort has wide beach in front of its property. It doesn’t have any lounging chairs. Bring your own towel and take shade under the coconut trees.

This is a 3 to 4 star hotel, depending on your tastes. The rooms seem comfortable enough and you get the usual tea making facilities. 

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Redang Beach Resort can be noisy because it has TVs.

The Taaras Beach resort Click here to book

Redang Island secret paradise
The Taaras Resort has a spectacular beach and the turtle spotting trips all stop here.

Expensive and posh for Malaysia. Read Tripadvisor reviews however, for the service. Commanding a whole white sandy bay all to themselves. The Taaras is a bit remote. Stunning location, definitely a mirror image of some Maldivian islands. Once there, you don’t have many choices for food or activities. It’s a place to stay if you want luxury and you don’t want to leave the one beach.

Redang Island secret paradise
Turtles just off the shore of the Taaras Beach Resort are huge. You can get really close to them, but, please, don’t touch them!

Turtle spotting happens just in front of this luxury resort. So you don’t have to pay for a boat trip, because this is where you end up. The turtles here are amazing! But, it is sad to see that the tour operators let people get too close. They also feed the turtles squid to encourage them to hang around. We don’t like this practice and prefer to see our resident turtles on Long Beach. 

Redang Island secret paradise
Big adult turtles hang out near the Taaras Resort on Redang Island. Please respect their space!

There is a beach right next door which has the same soft white sand. We trek across the island and it takes about 50 minutes of pure sweat through the jungle. Don’t bring anything valuable as there can sometimes be people ready to snatch your belongings. (see the jungle trekking pictures)

The beaches on Redang Island

Long Beach

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The view of Long Beach. The beautiful curved and sheltered beach is 800 metres long. This is where we stay at Coral Redang. Sari Pacifica is next door.

Coral Beach

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We call this beach Coral Beach. But, we don’t really know its name! It is around the corner from Long Beach and about 400 metres long. Redang Beach Resort and Laguna Redang are on this side.

Used to be a resort Beach

This is where we want to buy and develop a resort! After that we want to set up house on this island, our beautiful Malaysian Maldives. There used to be a resort here and it is a bit eerie exploring here. But, go through Laguna Redang Resort, past their private jetty area and into the back area to get to Delima Resort and you will arrive here! We are always the only people here. We don’t know what this beach is called. There are no facilities here obviously.

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We don’t what this beach is called! But there’s never anyone on it! Okay, if you look really carefully, you might see another person.

Well if we haven’t convinced you that Redang Island is the Maldives on a budget, you’ll have to go yourself and prove us wrong. We love it so much, we have been six times! Pop on over to the Perhentian Islands, our other fave Malaysian Maldives islands, while you’re in the area!

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Sunsets and sun rise on Redang Island are just stunning. Bye for now!
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We hope you enjoy reading all about our no longer secret Maldives like destination! Any comments, feedback or improvements welcome. See you soon Redang! Love from Jason and Christina.

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Perhentian Island Beach

Only1invillage shares our dream destination the Perhentian Islands

Here, we reveal how the Perhentian Islands is just like the Maldives and why it should be your number 1 dream destination! We are regular visitors and this is our 5th trip to these amazing hidden gems. You’ll be kicking yourself in the nether regions, thinking “How come I’ve never heard of this place?!” Forget Thailand and Bali for beaches and sunshine, hello Malaysia! Malaysia is the new Maldives. Keep reading and start planning your first visit to the Perhentian Islands! You know you want to 🙂

Quick Index Perhentian Islands

                                

Ask yourself these questions about a beach holiday destination.

Do you love to walking and lying on powder white soft sand?

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You can be the only 1 in the village on Perhentian Besar, Malaysia. Looks just like the Maldives to us!

Do you love watching spectacular sunsets and sun rises?

Are turtles, clown fish and reef tip sharks your favourite ocean animals?

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Is finding Nemo high on your list of dream destination activities? You’ll be bored stiff of seeing them after a day of snorkeling around Perhentian Besar!
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Reef tip sharks are common on Perhentian Besar. Even in knee depth water they come really close to you. Don’t freak out, they’re harmless. Well…..so far so good!

Do you love days of clear blue skies and no rain?

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Endless blue Summer skies! Sign me up! Here we come Perhentians!

Do you love swimming in crystal clear, warm water?

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Swimming and snorkelling in crystal clear, warm water. Don’t you just love it?

Do you love gorging yourself on fresh seafood and local delights?

Do you enjoy island hopping?

Is snorkelling in pristine coral reefs high on your agenda?

pristine coral reef Perhentian
Perhentian waters contain some big areas of pristine coral reef.

Are friendly locals an important part of your holiday?

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A friendly reminder. Stick to the rules and you’ll be fine!

Do you like to gain some cultural knowledge of the place you’re visiting as a tourist?

Do you love getting a bargain on holiday?

 

Have you answered yes to all the above questions? Well, who wouldn’t? Maybe some of us don’t care too much about the last question, but, overall you say yes to the questions. That’s why the Perhentian Islands is your next dream destination.

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Welcome to Perhentian Besar (big Perhentian) Malaysia.

                                

Where are the Perhentian Islands?

The Perhentian Islands are in Malaysia, south east Asia. They are on the Eastern side of the Malaysian peninsula. The Perhentian islands are south of the Thai border. Penang is on the western side, directly opposite the Perhentian islands, when looking at a map. From Kuala Lumpur in the south, the Perhentians are located in the North East.

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The Perhentian Islands are off the coast of NE Malaysia, in the South China Sea. An hour’s flight from Kuala Lumpur, a taxi and then a boat will land you in what we call paradise!

                                

How many Perhentian Islands are There?

They are two islands which on a clear day, you can see across the South China Sea. In Bahasa Malay, they are known as ‘pulau Perhentian’. Pulau means islands. Furthermore, Pulau Perhentian Kecil means ‘small Perhentian island’ and Pulau Perhentian Besar, means, ‘big Perhentian Island. It’s important to not that there is an island off the coast of Melaka, called Pulau Besar, so don’t confuse the two! 

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Small island is ‘kecil’ in Bahasa Malay and big island is ‘besar’. Travel between the two by taxi boat. No cars on either island. Note ‘Quite Beach’ should be ‘Quiet Beach’ although it is quite a beach!

                                

How do I get to the Perhentian Islands?

To get to the Perhentian Islands you have to get a boat from Kuala Besut. Before you get to Kuala Besut, you have to get to Kota Bharu. International visitors will fly into Kuala Lumpur. From Kuala Lumpur, an internal flight is necessary. Air Asia, Firefly, Malindo Air and Malaysia Airways fly to Kota Bahru, one hour away. Air Asia offers the best number of flights per day. From KL, you can choose from 10 flights per day on Air Asia. The cost is usually about $US20, $GBP15, $AUD30, EUR18 one way before luggage and taxes. Air Asia is a budget airline. But for an hour’s flight who cares?

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Air Asia is one of four carriers that fly to Kota Bharu, the nearest airport to the Perhentian Islands. Malaysia Airlines, Malindo AIr and Firefly also fly from Kuala Lumpur to Kota Bharu.
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It’s a 50 minute flight from Kuala Lumpur to Kota Bharu, the nearest airport to the Perhentian Islands.

From Kota Bharu, you get a taxi to the jetty point of a little town called Kuala Besut. You can either get your resort to arrange a taxi, use your GRAB app (UBER for SE Asia) or get a pre -paid ticket at the taxi counter at Kota Bharu airport.

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Get a fixed price taxi – no need to haggle, at Kota Bharu airport to Kuala Besut jetty.

There is a public ferry, but we never take it. Time is of the essence when you need to get to paradise!

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Get your boat to paradise from Kuala Besut, a small village on mainland Malaysia.
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Kuala Besut Jetty is a 50 minute drive from Kota Bharu airport. It is the jumping off point for the Perhentian Islands, Malaysia.

We always hitch a ride with the Tuna Express, run by the Tuna Bay resort. They also arrange a driver from Kota Bharu airport and drop you off at their office on the mainland. The operation is seamless.

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Hitch a ride with the Tuna Express. Departures from Kuala Besut, three times a day. You have to stay with them to catch their boat! It’s not a ferry service.

They guide you to the departure point where you pay MYR30 per adult for the marine park fee and then onto their own boat. The boat ride is 45 minutes to Perhentian Besar. 

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On board with the Tuna Express and the daily supplies. This is boat transfer, Malaysian style! This is not a ferry service. It’s a private boat transfer.

                

What’s the best time to go to the Perhentian Islands?

The tropical islands of Perhentian Besar and Perhentian Kecil experience the dry season from April to August. Peak season is June and July. To escape southern hemisphere Winter, the Perhentian Islands are perfect for that dream destination getaway. Long days of sunshine make for perfect snorkelling and diving in June and July. On the cusp of dry season, March and September are months still worth going, as the rain is generally at night.

                

What’s there to do on the perhentian islands?

Like the old saying goes, there’s 4 things to do on a tropical island. It’s sun, sea, sand and serious sandcastle building! Actually the snorkelling and scuba diving is pretty amazing. Crystal clear waters an abundance of sea life from turtles, reef sharks, sting rays, clown fish, parrot fish and plenty more make it an adventure every time you go in to the water! Jungle hiking and kayaking are also popular activities. Most resorts do not have a television which suits us just fine.

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Making sand sculptures hasn’t been banned on the Perhentian Islands, unlike on Boracay, Phillipines. Look at that powder soft, white sand!

                

Jungle trekking on Big Island

The path is well signed for this short, but very sweaty little hike. Take mosquito repellent!

You actually start the walk from the beach after Cocohut Chalets. See picture below.

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Get to this beach! It’s just after the CocoHut Chalets.
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Start the jungle walk on this dodgy looking staircase! Adventure, here we come!
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Start the adventure here! This is after the concrete staircase.
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Keep following the signs, you can’t go wrong!
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There are a lot of trees and mosquitoes on the trek.
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Keep following this enormous pipe for orientation on the jungle hike.
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The pipe is your friend! You’re half way there when you step over this pipe, on the trek.
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You can see water through the clearing! You have made it through the jungle!

Oh there’s snorkelling too and high quality snorkelling at that.

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Huge triggerfish are a common snorkeling sighting.

To recap the Perhentian Islands activities are sunbathing, swimming, snorkelling, diving, sand castle building (unlike on Boracay, this has not been banned!) jungle trekking, walking, reading and island hopping.

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Bring a good book to read as most rooms don’t have a TV in paradise!
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Stop taking pictures of me swimming and sunbathing on this tropical island!

Throw in eating and sleeping and then press repeat. Yup, it’s a serious beach vacation on the Perhentian Islands.

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We forgot to mention meditating and practising yoga! Things to do on the Perhentian Islands.
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When you go jungle trekking on the Perhentian Islands, look out for these colourful lizards on the trees.

                

How do I pay for items and services on the perhentian islands?

There are no cash machines on the islands! We repeat, you cannot get cash out! You need to bring a combination of Malaysian Ringitt and credit cards. Bigger establishments will accept credit cards. The water taxi boats accept cash only. The small shops on both islands accept cash only. If you like collecting foreign currency banknotes, some Malaysian notes are plastic. This means that even if you drop your money in the crystal clear waters of the Perhentian Islands, you can still use it! 

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Carry some cash for your island getaway. Boat taxis and shops on the two Perhentian islands only accept Malaysian Ringitt.

                

Is there WI-FI?

The most important question! It’s an island in the middle of the South China Sea. Yes, WI-FI is available. Of course it can be unreliable in times of bad weather. If you need an uninterrupted connection it is better to buy your own SIM card at the airport. There are three outlets at KLIA2 and a few stands at KLIA. Tune Talk seems to be reliable and DIGI also sell good plans.

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Do not fear WI-FI is here! For reliable connectivity on the Perhentian Islands, buy a traveller SIM at a Malaysian airport when you land.

Prices are very cheap. MYR40 buys you 15 days and 25GB. Beware that if you don’t activate a top up message half way through your plan, your plan will stop in 12 days. You can buy Tune Talk before you go and pick it up at your arrival airport in Malaysia. For DIGI you have to go to the shop.

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Buy your Malaysian SIM at Kota Bharu airport. Don’t panic if you haven’t bought data in Kuala Lumpur. You can buy a SIM from the shop on the left of the picture, after you collect your luggage at Kota Bharu. PHEW!

                

Is the food halal?

Malaysia is a Muslim country. There’s no pork available on the Perhentian Islands. There are several places on Perhentian Besar that serve halal food. These will be the Malaysian run places. If the restaurant or cafe is Chinese Malaysian owned, the food will not be halal. This is a generalisation. It is best to check before you order just to be on the safe side.

Food from Nia Cafe on the beach, next to Tuna Bay resort on Perhentian Besar serves halal food at great prices. 4 dishes and 2 soft drinks (no alcohol) only 60MYR.
Food from Nia Cafe on the beach, next to Tuna Bay resort on Perhentian Besar serves halal food at great prices. 4 dishes and 2 soft drinks (no alcohol) only 60MYR.

                

What are the food options like on the Perhentian Islands?

Western and Asian food is widely available on both islands. Vegetarians always need to check if the food contains small bits of meat. Also oyster sauce and fish sauce are widely used. So, if you’re a strict vegetarian you must make sure you say so. Salad leaves are rare but cooked vegetables are plentiful. Malaysian style curries are fabulous. The roti bread on the Perhentian Islands is something else! Flaky and buttery, one is never enough!

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Western style food is widely available on both islands. Snapper with a beach view- we give this the double thumbs up!

Check out the size of those prawns. The fork is there for illustration purposes. Cocohut Chalet on Perhentian Besar provides the best value for huge prawns on their nightly barbecue. Size does matter in this case!

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OMG! Look at the size of those prawns! Prawns rear their heads for the nightly dinner menu on both islands.

For the best in Western cuisine we like Bubu’s on the small island. From Tuna Bay on Big Island it’s only MYR15 per person in a boat taxi.

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Head over to Bubu’s on Perhentian Kecil for fantastic Western food, with a beach view, naturally!

                

Can you get alcohol on the Perhentian Islands?

You can get beer, wine and spirits on both of the Perhentian Islands. There are a few places that do not serve alcohol, such as Abdul Chalets on Perhentian Besar. Beer is available to purchase from the small shops on both islands. The most popular beers are Tiger and Heineken.

                

How do I get around?

There are two options – your legs and boats. There are no cars or mopeds on both islands. Water taxis clearly display their prices for both islands and various snorkelling trips. There is no haggling as prices are very reasonable.

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Boats and your legs are the only forms of transport. No cars on the Perhentian Islands – yay! Taxi boat prices are fixed and very reasonable.

                

The Beaches of Perhentian Besar

Tuna Bay Beach

Tuna bay beach best all rounder for swimming sand and snorkelling
Tuna Bay beach is just in front of the resort named Tuna Bay. This is the best for swimming, snorkelling and lazing around. The area is roped off to protect the coral. No waves and the coral is visible from your sun bed!

This is the best all round beach for sand, coral and fish life.

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Tuna Bay Beach is roped off to protect the coral. The sand is fine and white with some large pieces of coral. Head to the left, towards Abdul Chalets for more powder soft sand.

Here we see puffer fish, parrot fish, needle fish, titan triggerfish and wrasse. There is also something very special here. One bright neon pink anemone is in the crystal clear shallow waters. If you’re very lucky the resident turtle will make an appearance. If you’re really lucky, bumphead parrot fish will make an appearance. On our 6th visit here we see one! This is the beach that has the best coral. It’s just in front of the resort called Tuna Bay. There are some naughty small fish that like to take a nibble if you stand still in the shallow water.

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Conservation efforts include sinking piping to encourage coral growth. The puffer fish seems to like it!

The reef begins literally 1 metre from the sand. Please don’t wear fins when snorkelling. There is a sign that says fins are not allowed, but, this is unfortunately, largely ignored. There is some bleaching happening, but, overall, for snorkelling it’s pretty good!

Perhentian Islands dream destination onl
Bet you’ve never seen neon pink anemone before! On our 6th visit to the Perhentian Islands, this is the first time we have seen this amazing sight. Swim out about 2 metres on the Tuna Bay beach.

On our latest trip, we discovered a neon pink anemone! This is something we haven’t seen before on our previous 5 trips. There’s always something different to see. There is also some conservation work going on underwater. The marine park has sunk some frames, to encourage coral growth. Some of them are quite successful. The sand here has small bits of coral in it, right in front of the restaurant, but head further along and it’s powder soft. 

Abdul Chalets Beach

Abdul's Chalet beach
Powder soft white sand in paradise. The Malaysian Maldives! Abdul Chalets beach is good for swimming but not as much fish life, due to lack of coral.

Powder soft sand. It’s a continuation from Tuna Bay and on the other side of the pier. A couple of large granite rocks provide some snorkelling opportunities, but, not as good as outside the front of Tuna Bay. Better for swimming. This beach has no umbrellas and is generally used by the guests staying at Abdul Chalets. The water is of course crystal clear. It’s better for swimming at this beach.

The Barat Beach

When you jungle trek accross the pathway shown in the map above, you reach this part of Perhentian Besar. This isn’t really the name of the beach.

Perhentian Islands dream destination onl
Barat Beach with a view of the mosque on small island. The main village is on Kecil. There is a doctor, school and some small shops, on the other side.

When you get water taxis around you will notice the destinations are the accommodation names.

The Barat accommodation has a busy restaurant and a nightly BBQ of seafood delights.

Here you will also find Mama’s Place, Water Colour, The Reef and Coral View resorts. From here you get a view of the mosque on Kecil.

Perhentian Islands dream destination onl
Barat beach has fine sand with some small stones. A water taxi will drop you off at your accommodation on this jetty.

The beach here is made of small stones and fine sand. More a beach for sunbathing and getting your feet wet. No coral here.

Coral Garden View Perhentian Besar
No coral and fish life at the Beach where The Barat, Mama’s, Watercolours and Coral Garden View have accommodation. The sand here is grainy with small stones. The water is warm and clear.

 

Perhentian Island Resort Beach

Perhentian Island Resort beach out in front
No prizes for the name of this beach! A wide curved bay with lovely white sand.

Perhentian Island Resort pretty much has a sheltered bay and granite rocks at one end. This beach is a 50 minute walk through the jungle or a MYR10 ride in a water taxi from Tuna Bay. This stretch of white sand has the colourful pier on one side and ends with huge granite boulders on the other side. It is a lovely curved bay.

Curved bay and fine powdery white sand Perhentian Island Resort beach
The view of Perhentian Island Resort beach is a welcome sight after the sweaty jungle trek! Shouldered by huge granite rocks on either side, this beach is great for children.

Before you get here, there is a massage place on top of the hill offering spectacular views of this beach.

Fancy a hill top massage? Perhentian Island Resort beach
Fancy a hill top massage with magnificient view of Perhentian Island Resort beach?

Reef tip sharks love to swim near the pier in knee deep water!

colourful pier marks the drop odd point for Perhian Island Resort customers
Watch out for the sharks under the multi-coloured pier. It’s ok, they’re only reef tip sharks!

Powder soft sand with some coral the closer you get to the water. Chairs and umbrellas are reserved for guests only. There is however, some natural shade under the coconut trees. This beach has easy entry into the water along the sand. At low tide you might have to go 20 metres before you can’t swim. You can swim out to these floating square buoys for a break in between swimming.

take a break Perhentian Islands
Take a break from all that swimming and snorkelling. These buoys are about 30 metres out from the shore at Perhentian Island Resort beach. Getting up onto them is slippery work!

Perfectly calm without waves, it is great for children.

Perhentian Island Resort beach Perhentian Besar
Sand quality is powder soft and white in colour at Perhentian Island Resort beach. Take shade under the coconut trees in paradise.

This is clown fish heaven. The little cuties are everywhere! You will also see different species of clown fish, not just the orange and white ones. This is the best beach for clown fish spotting. There are hundreds of the little orange and white cuties fiercely defending their territory. The anemone here is also pale white, pale green and the more common green colour. 

Clown fish heaven Perhentian Besar only1invillage
Come and see Nemo and his family! This beach is the one where clown fish are everywhere. Perhentian Island Resort beach, Perhentian Besar.

KK  Beach and Teluk KK snorkelling point

This is a very, very quiet beach.

KK Teluk Perhentian Besar
KK Teluk snorkelling point has two beaches. This beach is just around the corner from the big sunken rocks of KK Teluk. You can walk here from Tuna Bay and Abdul Chalets.

Water taxis can drop you off or you can walk from Tuna Bay or Abdul Chalets. Warning, there is some broken jungle path along the way and a kind of bridge made from plastic pipes! There is one lady selling snacks here.

Teluk KK Perhentian Besar
Teluk KK beach is narrow and sandy. You can swim out to the deep sunken rocks and coral gardens of Teluk KK. The boat near the rock is where the snorkelling and diving trips drop you in the water.

The sand is powder soft, but the beach is narrow. It’s good to swim out to Teluk KK which is where snorkelling trips drop you off for half an hour. Due to its remoteness we saw some western girls go topless on this beach. Please don’t do this in a Muslim country. It is quite disrespectful. 

Turtle Beach

Guess what you can see on Turtle Beach? Erm…..yes you’re turtle-y correct. It’s a flippin marvellous sight to behold! The sand is lovely and soft here too. Granite boulders enclose this small crescent shaped beautiful beach. To be the only 1 in the village, you have to get there early before the boat loads of tour groups. Please, please don’t touch the turtles, it stresses them out. Of course the aquamarine clear water makes this beach a dream destination. What more do you need? White sand, tick, clear water, tick, turtles just offshore, tick and for an hour or so by yourself! Dream destination status secured in our humble opinion!

Quiet Beach

Although it’s often called Quite Beach, it’s really is supposed to be QUIET. Not many people come here as its name suggests. Reachable by water taxi.

                

The beaches of Perhentian Kecil

Long Beach

Long Beach is the main attraction.

Long Beach Perhentian Kecil small Island only1invillage
Long Beach on Perhentian Kecil is the busiest stretch of white, soft sand. No coral or fish life here. It is serious sunbathing territory!

Many restaurants and cafes have put their chairs onto the sand, making the beach look a bit like Thailand. We guess due to rising popularity, the vendors don’t want to miss out. The sand is powder white and soft here. There isn’t any coral or fish to see here. 

Long Beach Perhentian Kecil BUBU VILLAS END only1invillage
The sand on Long Beach, Perhentian Kecil is powder soft and glow white! It is best at either end of the bay. This end is at Bubu Villas.

Coral Bay

Coral bay is on the other side of Long Beach on Kecil. You can get there by a well maintained path starting from the glamping tents or  just before Bu Bu Villas. Look out for the signs! It is a bit of an uphill walk, but you can do it in about 25 minutes. The beach here is curved. It’s  mostly yellow sand with a few patches of large grainy sand. It’s not the prettiest view with many boats tied up in the water. The water is clear once you get out past the boats.

Coral Bay Perhentian Kecil small island oonly1invillage
Coral Bay Perhentian Kecil. You can trek across from Long Beach or get a water taxi.

Romantic Beach

If romance is on your mind, head to the aptly named Romantic Beach! You’ll be left alone! Ask your water taxi driver to come back for you!

There are more beaches which we will share next time! This should be enough to get you planning a trip to the Perhentian Islands. Remember the best time to go is between April and September. A perfect getaway from the Southern hemisphere Winter!

Walking from Long Beach to Coral Bay on Perhentian Kecil

If water taxis are too easy for you and you want to get your cardio exercise for the day, we suggest you do this little hike!

It will take about 25 minutes, going at a reasonable pace.

On Long Beach look for the Aina Garden Chalets or Long Beach tents.

Perhentian Kecil Long Beach to Coral Bay walk
Start the walk to Coral Bay from Long Beach from here.
Perhentian Kecil Long Beach to Coral Bay walk
You can also start the walk from here to Coral Bay on the small island.
Perhentian Kecil Long Beach to Coral Bay walk
The path is well signed to Coral Bay on Perhentian Kecil. 
Perhentian Kecil Long Beach to Coral Bay walk
The path is quite well maintained for a jungle path!
Perhentian Kecil Long Beach to Coral Bay walk
Go through the Ombak Resort and you have found Coral Bay on Perhentian Kecil.

    

Accommodation Options on the Perhentians

We always stay on Perhentian Besar. It is slightly more upmarket than Perhentian Kecil, which is mainly for backpackers.

We are loyal customers to Tuna Bay Resort because they offer a really convenient transfer service from the airport to the jetty and then the island. They use their own private boat which runs three times a day. Most of their rooms could do with a make over, but they have the best restaurant on Perhentian Besar. After years of lying on the hard wooden sunbeds, they have finally added padding to their sun loungers! Tuna Bay are not on any of the hotel websites, you have to book with them directly.

accommodation options on Perhentian Besar
We like to stay at the Tuna Bay Resort because of their transfer service to Perhentian Besar.
Accoommodation option on Besar are generally of 3 to 4 star quality only1invillage
Accommodation options on Perhentian Besar are generally in the  2 to 4 star range. This is a chalet facing the beach with Perhentian Island Resort. They will arrange your transfer via boat from the mainland.

Warning, there are not any 5 star establishments like in Thailand or Bali. It is altogether a more rustic kind of paradise.

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Coral View Garden Resort has a wide range of options.
Accoommodation option on Besar are generally of 3 to 4 star quality only1invillage
The beach front apartments at Coral View Garden resort have a plunge pool and a very expensive price tag. Perhentian Besar.

There are exceptions on Kecil such as BuBu Resort and a newly built hotel, MIMPI on Long Beach. The reason we stay on Besar, is also for the snorkelling. It is non existent on Kecil, it’s more for the sun part of your holiday.

Kecil caters more for budget travellers. There are tents and shacks with fans only. If you want air conditioning, you will have to pay a bit more.

Perhentian Kecil accommodation only1invillage
Kecil accommodation is more geared towards backpackers. Simple huts without air conditioning.

There is also free accommodation! If you do a diving course with some diving centres, they’ll throw in the accommodation for free. We have not inspected a room being offered, so we can’t comment on this offer.

free-accommodation-if-you-sign-up-for-a-diving-course-Perhentian-Kecil
Stay for free! If you book a diving course, many dive centres offer complimentary accommodation.

Well done for reading (or scrolling through!) our very long article on your next holiday destination in Asia. What are you waiting for? Paradise waits for no one. Get packing, Perhentian paradise is waiting for you! You too will be dreaming about this destination. Like us, you’ll be returning visitors. We even have another little Malaysian Maldives up our sleeves. Redand Island our favourite tropical paradise

Your next dream destination Perhentian Islands Malaysia only1invillage
Still day dreaming of lying on white sand and being the Only1invillage? Use our Booking.com link on our website for great Perhentian Island prices on accommodation. Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram for more travel inspiration and information!

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Is Bali Business Class Lounge the worst in the world?

Using the Bali business class  lounge in Denpasar may not be the treat you are expecting. One of the many perks when flying business class is the pre flight experience. Using a business class lounge to freshen up after you get thrown out of your hotel is usually a pleasure. Nibbling on local delicacies is another business class perk. But, in the Bali business class lounge, you may change your mind, after reading our review!

The lounge is also called the Premier Lounge. The problem with this business class lounge starts at the entrance.

Quick Index

 

                                            

Who can use the Bali business class lounge?

Airlines that use the Bali business class lounge
The Bali business class lounge is available for a lot of airlines and their business class passengers!

Lots of airlines and we mean, lots of airlines share this business class lounge. Qatar, Emirates, Qantas, Jet Star, Thai, Singapore, Malaysia, Cathay Pacific, China Eastern, China Southern, Philippine Airlines, Air New Zealand and the list goes on! The Bali business class lounge can also be accessed if you have certain priority passes. 

That’s a scary amount of airlines sharing one business class lounge! 

                                            

Where is the Bali business class lounge located?

After immigration at Ngurah Rai International Airport, Bali, it’s quite crowded and very humid. The air conditioning can’t quite keep up. You have to weigh up the pros of sitting in the crowded ground floor terminal or the Bali business class lounge. It’s not a huge airport, so finding the lounge isn’t difficult. From the ground floor at Ngurah Rai International Airport you can see the Premier Lounge and it isn’t huge. 

Bali business class lounge Ngurah Rai AIrport Denpasar Indonesia
The Bali business class lounge is also called the Premier Lounge. It is on the first floor on the right of the photo.
Bali business class lounge Ngurah Rai Airport Denpasar Indonesia
The main terminal is very crowded at Ngurah Rai International Airport. It’s also very hot and humid.

Let’s step inside and see what the Bali business class lounge is really like. Is it really the worst business class lounge in the world?

                                            

The seating options at the Bali business class lounge

This is the view when you step inside the business class lounge at Ngurah Rai International Airport after immigration.

Bali business class lounge Ngurah Rai Airport Denpasar Indonesia
Step inside the Bali business class lounge. Also known as the Premier Lounge at Ngurah Rai International Airport, Denpasar, Indonesia.

To give it some credit, the Bali business class lounge is at least cooler than on the ground floor with the masses.

When you go to a business class lounge, you expect two things, comfortable spaces and great food and drink. In the Bali business class lounge you get the comfortable seats, but, only when not busy. With over 15 airlines sharing the Bali business class lounge, you’ll be lucky to get a seat. Most business class lounges are not busy. There is always somewhere to sit comfortably. However, this space quickly fills up and you’ll find yourself very close to strangers.

Bali business class lounge Ngurah Rai Airport Denpasar Indonesia
There is a quiet room just off the main area of the Bali business class lounge. The armchairs have seen better days.

                                          

The shower and toilet facilities in the Bali business class lounge

You also expect toilet and shower facilities above and beyond what is on offer in the main terminal. There are toilet and shower facilities, but they are very small and of dubious cleanliness.

Bali business class lounge Ngurah Rai Airport Denpasar Indonesia
The shower in the Bali business class lounge doesn’t look very inviting. There is no attendant cleaning the area between guests.
Bali business class lounge Ngurah Rai Airport Denpasar Indonesia
The range of amenities on offer in the shower room can definitely be improved and replaced when used up!
Bali business class lounge Ngurah Rai Airport Denpasar Indonesia
The toilet in the Bali business class lounge doesn’t look any different to the ones in the terminal below.

                                          

The food on offer at the Bali business class lounge

Now onto the most disappointing aspect. We thought British Airways was bad and the Qantas Club Lounge in Melbourne. The Bali business class lounge can definitely win the title of worst food on offer for business class passengers. Judge for yourself.

Bali business class lounge Ngurah Rai Airport Denpasar Indonesia
A cold chicken salad dish sits sadly by itself on a banana leaf.
Bali business class lounge Ngurah Rai Airport Denpasar Indonesia
The hot food options are too scary to show at the Bali business class lounge. Trust us, it will put you off fried rice and string beans for life.
Bali business class lounge Ngurah Rai Airport Denpasar Indonesia
How about some cold finger food? The white bread with the crusts cut off, remind us of school sandwiches. They don’t taste great, unfortunately. In Asia, sugar is added to white bread.
Bali business class lounge Ngurah Rai Airport Denpasar Indonesia
How about some salad at the Bali business class lounge?
Bali business class lounge Ngurah Rai Airport Denpasar Indonesia
We try the desserts at the Bali business class lounge. Surely you can’t go wrong with sugar and chocolate? WRONG! They are close to inedible.

There is one saving grace though in terms of food on offer….

Bali business class lounge Ngurah Rai Airport Denpasar Indonesia
There is fresh fruit, the one saving grace of the food options in the Bali business class lounge. The fruit above the bananas is called a snake fruit. Quite a unique taste. It is crunchy and tastes like a bitter pineapple.

                                          

The beverages selection at the Bali business class lounge

Now onto the beverages. As Indonesia is a Muslim country there is no alcohol available. Even though the island of Bali is mainly Hindu, the lounge does not offer alcoholic beverages, which is not a problem for us. You can select soft drinks from a free standing fridge.

Bali business class lounge Ngurah Rai Airport Denpasar Indonesia
Cans of non alcoholic beverages and bottles of mineral water are available at the Bali business class lounge, Ngurah Rai International Airport, in Denpasar.

There are also some ‘fruit’ juices. When we say fruit juice, it is concentrated fruit juice, not freshly squeezed.

Bali business class lounge Ngurah Rai Airport Denpasar Indonesia
The fruit juice at the Bali business class lounge is of the concentrated variety.

                                          

The hot drinks selection at the Bali business class lounge

There’s no hand made latte art going on here! 

Bali business class lounge Ngurah Rai Airport Denpasar Indonesia
Erm, we are not sure what to do with this machine. Hang on, we know it’s the milk frothing machine.
Bali business class lounge Ngurah Rai Airport Denpasar Indonesia
Your tea and coffee selection. The boiling water is just on the right in the silver urn.

                      

Final Thoughts

It’s a place to escape the humidity and heat of the main terminal. You might as well go since you have a business class ticket. You can get complimentary water and canned drinks. If you’re desperately sticky, you can have a shower. If you want great food, you’re better off staying downstairs. You might get a soft seat, you might not. That wraps up the review of the Bali business class lounge by Only1invillage. Do you agree? Have you been to a worse one?

Post a comment below, we would love to hear from you!

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Japan two week itinerary only1invillage

Your essential 2 week Japan Itinerary starts here!

How to spend an awesome 2 weeks in Japan. Our two week Japan itinerary suggestions. The Japan Rail Pass is a must for your 14 days. See the incredible sights, sounds and smells of this amazing country. Below is our itinerary put together from two separate 2 week trips to Japan. You don’t have to do it all. Pick and choose from what sounds most exciting. You might want to slow the pace down a bit too as our itinerary is pretty jam packed!

Quick Index 2 Weeks in Japan!

                                                 

Quick Japan Round Up

The land of the rising sun. Ahh, the Karate Kid, raw fish and big drums. Sushi, sake and noodles. High tech gadgets and robots instead of humans in hotels. Toilets that talk to you, wash and dry you. Plus public toilets are spotless, plentiful and free! Public transport that runs on time and never ending politeness. Bowing, bowing, more bowing, bow some more. Girly giggling and wild make up. Boy bands, anime, manga, Pokemon and big name fashion brands.

incredible two week Japan itinerary bowing Japan manners
Start practising your bowing technique. Even the mannequins bow in Japan! Japan is an ultra polite society and on your two week trip to Japan, you’re going to do a lot of bowing!

Temples, castles and fast cars. Japan is a country full of stereotypes and contrasts. Ancient traditions and cultural practices are jostling with the modern Japan.

Incredible 2 week trip to Japan
Japan is a country where tradition and modern influences exist side by side.

Mountains, forests, busy coastal mega cities, hot springs galore and fascinating gardens to explore. Japan provides everything for tourists and at a surprisingly reasonably cost.

                                                  

Frequently Asked Questions

Where is Japan?

                                              

Don’t laugh! Some people don’t know where Japan is. Japan is an archipelago in East Asia. The biggest islands of Honshu, Hokkaido and Kyushu get all the attention. Japan stretches almost to Taiwan, with the islands of Okinawa, Miyakojima and Ishigaki in the south of the East China Sea. Neighbouring countries are: South Korea, China,Russia in the extreme North and Taiwan in the extreme South.

incredible two week Japan itinerary
Japan is a collection of many islands in East Asia.

                                                  

When is the best time to go to Japan? 

In our opinion the best time to visit Japan is Spring or Autumn. April, May and June have plenty of daylight and it’s not too hot. It’s mild, some showers, but most days will be bright and sunny. The famous sakura (cherry blossom) season is also in Spring in the major cities of Tokyo and Osaka. For exact weeks you have to check each year, because of the effects of climate change.

incredible two week Japan itinerary when to go cherry blossom season
The cherry blossom (sakura) is best captured in April. The Japanese go nuts for taking photos of these pink flowers. Hinami (cherry blossom viewing) in most Japanese cities is in Spring, but check to make sure, due to climate change effects.

Avoid Summer as it is roasting in Japan!  However, if you love the high temperatures and humidity, you’ll love Japan in July and August! September and October are good months to travel on your two week trip to Japan. The days are still warm and the nights cool, not cold. There is still plenty of sunshine and the Autumn colours are just spectacular.

incredible two week Japan itinerary when to go Autumn magnificent colours
September is Autumn in Japan. It’s a great time of year to plan your two week trip to Japan. The formal gardens are simply breathtaking.

                                                  

How Big and expensive Are Hotel Rooms in Japan?

Japan isn’t as expensive as people think. On your unforgettable two week Japan itinerary, you will spend less than you think. There is a vast range of accommodation available. The hotel rooms are not all like capsules! We like the Tokyu Rei chain of hotels for the price and size of the rooms. Some rooms are over 20 square metres. Our top tip is to always book twin rooms, rather than double, as you can be guaranteed a larger room with two beds. You can always push them together if you like.

Incredible 2 week trip to Japan hotel room size 25 square metres
Our messy room in the Tokyu Rei Hotel, Hiroshima. This room is 25 square metres. Not all hotel rooms are tiny in Japan.
incredible 2 week trip to Japan itinerary hotel rooms can be small
Some Japanese hotel rooms are notoriously small and compact. Here we are standing against the door! The traditional tatami mat and futon design is surprisingly very comfortable. The closer you are to a JR station the smaller the room, unless, you’re in a 5 star hotel. Spotlessly clean though. You can just see the shower on the left.

Youth hostels are becoming more popular in Japan. Good value three star hotels are very clean and can be as cheap as USD60, AUD90 or GBP50 in the right season and if you’re prepared to be a little further away from the railway station.

                                                  

How expensive is Food in Japan?

premium Japanese fruit presentation box supermarket food incredible 2 week trip to Japan
This is an expensive fruit box for special occasions. Don’t worry, fruit isn’t really this expensive in Japan. (Price of those 8 pieces of fruit is $120 USD, $170AUD and GBP95!) Not for everyday consumption. It’s apparently the best of the best!

Food is also very reasonable. Filling and tasty noodle dishes can be found in McDonalds like ‘restaurants’ for USD6, AUD10 or GBP6.

incredible 2 week trip to Japan itinerary cheap set meals fast food style restaurants
Eating out in Japan isn’t as expensive as people think. We get these types of meals at ‘fast food’ restaurants. Cheap, healthy and tasty.

Western food, especially Italian dishes are copied very well and are also not expensive. They are available ready made on a microwaveable plate at convenience stores. In Italian restaurants pasta dishes start at $US7 for a basic spaghetti dish with tomato sauce, basil and parmigiano reggiano.

incredible 2 week trip to Japan itinerary Western style food is widely available in Japan
Western food in Japan is very high quality. This duck salad and roast beef with good quality wine is only $US15, $AUD21 or $12 for lunch. Japan isn’t as expensive as people think.

Sushi and sashimi as you would expect is everywhere! NIgiri (the rice on the bottom and a slice of raw fish on top) is about an Australian dollar, 70 pence or 70 US cents per piece. Every corner shop, mini supermarket and major supermarket has top quality raw fish. You will see sashimi (raw fish with no rice) types you have never seen before. The variety of raw fish is amazing in Japan. Our top tip is to go at about 6.30p.m. to supermarkets in department store basements. The day’s fresh catch is discounted by 30 to 50 per cent. 

incredible two week Japan itinerary sashimi and sushi from supermarkets great presentation and variety
Keep costs down when eating sashimi and sushi on your incredible two week Japan itinerary by buying from supermarkets.

                                                  

Is Japan safe to visit?

In terms of crime for tourists, Japan is one of the safest countries in the world. If you drop a tissue, people will come running after you, to give your tissue back to you!

The organised crime of the Yakuza gangs will not be visible to the tourist.

The biggest danger is a major natural disaster. Japan is of course earthquake and tsunami prone. 

                                                  

What’s Japanese food like? Where to eat? What to eat?

Traditional Japanese food is always beautifully presented. Every dish is a little work of art.

incredible 2 week trip to Japan itinerary all food is like a piece of art noodles soup vegetables and fish
Japanese food is always beautifully presented. A typical lunch is a mixture of hot and cold dishes. There is always miso soup, a noodle dish and pickled vegetables. Vegetarians are well catered for in Japan. Tofu and soya bean products are widely available.

Like all countries different regions have different specialities. Noodle of various types (there are 8 types: ramen, uson, soba, yakisoba, somen, hiyamugi, shiritaki and harusame) rice and dumplings (goyoza) predominate of course. Fish is highly prized and the famous marbled beef from Kobe.

incredible two week Japan itinerary famous wagyu beef
If you’re not vegetarian you have to try the wagyu beef. WIdely available in supermarkets for much less than a restaurant in Kobe. The high fat content or marbling is what makes this beef so special.

Fresh vegetables are really expensive in restaurants. You’re better off buying fruit and vegetables from a supermarket. Pickled vegetables are served with everything and at every meal.

Japan has the most Michelin starred restaurants, (after France) in the world. So you can drop a whole day’s budget on one meal if you choose!

                                                  

Is it true ATMs are hard to find and Credit Cards aren’t widely accepted?

Yes and no. There are plenty of ATMs in the big cities. Top tip – many ATMs are hiding inside 7-Eleven convenience stores.

Credit cards are widely accepted in the big cities. Mastercard and Visa are more popular than American Express. 

2 week incredible trip to Japan itinerary credit cards
Credit cards are widely accepted in the big cities. Visa and Mastercard are preferred over Amex.
Incredible 2 week trip to Japan market vendors cash only
Smaller establishments won’t accept credit cards in Japan. You need to carry some cash in Japan, even in the big cities. Yen in Japan, do as the Japanese do!

                                                  

What unique souvenirs can I buy from Japan?

Rice paddles and every sort of Hello Kitty merchandise you can think of!

incredible two week Japan itinerary hello kitty comes in every size shape and form you can even eat her
Hello Kitty! She is the cat that everyone loves ! You can find all the Hello Kitty merchandise you will ever need!

Green tea Kit Kats are definitely on the top of our list. In fact, green tea everything, green tea Pocky, ice cream, biscuits, waffles, cakes, chocolate, macarons, green tea latte powder and  green tea leaves. We eat so many green tea products when we go to Japan, our poo turns green!

Incredible 2 week trip to Japan green tea ice cream
C is so happy when she gets her hands on green tea products! If you love green tea, you’re going to find it in Japan. Take green tea products home as unique souvenirs.

No trip to Japan is complete without the toilet experience. You might want to take one home. Well the seat that is! Once you go, you’ll know what we mean! It will definitely be a memory of your 2 week trip to Japan!

incredible two week trip to Japan itinerary unique souvenirs from Japan take home a toilet seat
Bet you thought Panasonic only made TVs! If you’re in love with the unique Japanese toilet experience, you might want to take one home. It’s definitely a unique souvenir and one you’ll remember every day!

                                                  

Getting around on your two week Trip to Japan

The best way to get around Japan on your two week itinerary is by  Bullet train.

Buy the two week Japan Rail Pass

This is the best way to keep travel costs down. The Japanese fast trains (shinkansen) or bullet trains are well known throughout the world and rightly so. Shinkansen actually means ‘trunk line’ but that doesn’t sound as sexy as bullet train does it? Their ability to run on time and the safety record of these high speed trains is amazing. You will be left in wonder how precisely these bullet trains leave and arrive to the second.

incredible two week Japan itinerary bullet trains shinkansen fast efficient clean
The Japanese bullet trains are fast, on time and mega comfortable. You too will fall in love with the shinkansen on your two week trip to Japan.

Also your shinkansen tickets will tell you exactly where to stand on the platform and the bullet train pulls up at exactly that spot. You will be a bullet train geek by the end of your two week trip to Japan! Even if you can’t tell your Hikari from your your Aomori, you’ll still love the Japanese bullet trains for their speed, comfort, cleanliness and efficiency.

Two week Japan rail pass cost 

The National  JR pass is available to buy in 7 days, 14 days or 21 days only. Green class is first class and  ordinary class is, not, as the name suggests, that ordinary! In our opinion, splashing out the extra is worth it for first class travel. 

incredible two week Japan itinerary bullet trains shinkansen green class is pure luxury
Treat yourself to Green Class (first class) seats on your 2 week trip to Japan. The seats are always in a 2 -2 configuration. In ordinary class there’s a row of 2 and a row of 3. In Green Class on the bullet rains, the seats are wider, there’s more legroom and on some routes you get a free blanket.

The National JR Pass is such a bargain that the bullet train trip from Tokyo airport to a downtown destination, is a quarter of the 7 day pass alone. You do the maths!  You will make half your money back on the two week Japan rail pass cost just by doing a return journey on the bullet train from Tokyo to Kyoto. But, of course, you’re in Japan for a 2 week trip, you’re not just going to Kyoto!

incredible two week Japan itinerary bullet trains shinkansen ordinary class seats are very comfortable
The seats in ordinary class on the Japanese bullet trains are very comfortable. They also turn around, so if you’re travelling in a big group, you can face each other.

Just in case you’re not going to Japan for a 2 week trip, you can buy the Japan Rail Pass for 7 days or 21 days, too. Below is a link with the cost of Japan Rail Passes, for 7, 14 and 21 days, in 3 major currencies.

buy-the-japan-rail-pass-online

Japan rail pass which one should I buy?

First up don’t get confused with the number of Japan Rail Passes on offer. For your two week Japan itinerary you will need the National JR Pass. This will give you access to all the bullet trains except the Nozomi. The Nozomi is the fastest bullet train, but, that doesn’t mean the other bullet trains are slow.

Japan rail pass where to buy

You can’t buy the Japan Rail Pass in Japan! You must buy it in your country of residence. As a tourist you are very privileged to be able to buy a two week Japan rail pass. Japanese citizens are not allowed to buy one! These bullet trains are something else!

Japan rail pass how to buy

Make sure you are a non resident of Japan. Type in the words ‘Japan Rail Pass’ into your browser’s search engine. Lots of travel agencies and online vendors will compete for your business. 

Japan Rail Pass rules of use

The Japan Rail Pass can only be used for the person whose name appears on the pass. You must carry it at all times with the tickets of the various destinations you are travelling to.

Japan rail pass map Where can I Travel?

Don’t get confused by the names of the trains. The Japanese give names to their trains and service lines. Come on, admit, it’s sort of cute! The name of the train also tells you if it’s fast or mega fast. Yes, all the shinkansen (bullet trains) are fast, but in Japan, there’s quick and super quick!

incredible two week Japan itinerary
Each shinkansen (bullet train) line has a name. Here are the major cities the national Japan Rail Pass will cover.

The Nozomi and Mizuho trains are not covered by the National Japan Rail Pass. If you want to take these ‘super fast’ services you have to pay an additional fee. 

The Japan Rail Pass also entitles you to free JR buses and the JR Miyajima Ferry when travelling to the beautiful must see island of Miyajima, near Hiroshima. Click here for the JR train map.

                                                  

Unforgettable Two Week Japan Itinerary

Warning: This is an action packed, not for the faint hearted 2 week Japan itinerary. It involves a lot of walking and a lot of train rides. You’ll be travelling at speeds of 320km/h (200mph) on the bullet trains, so actually, you won’t be spending that much time on trains. It means changing hotels every 2 to 3 days. Of course you can always skip a few of the places we suggest in our incredible 2 week Japan itinerary.

On a two week trip to Japan we suggest this itinerary. Tokyo – Kyoto – Nara – Arashiyama – Osaka – Kobe – Himeji – Hiroshima –  Miyajima – Beppu – Takayama – Matsumoto – Tokyo.

This route means you don’t back track on yourself. Well, you do in the sense that you have to get back to Tokyo but you don’t stop at the same places!

As soon as you land at Narita International, Haneda, Osaka Kansai  Airport, head straight for the Japan Rail Pass office to exchange your ‘exchange order voucher’ you received in your home country. The actual Japan Rail Pass will look like this.

incredible two week Japan itinerary exchanging your voucher for the Japan Rail Pass
This is one side of the actual Japan Rail Pass. On the other side there is a handy map and the travel terms and conditions. Hello bullet trains!

A piece of card, which can be folded into three, to make the same size as your passport. While you’re at the office, you might as well get your tickets to Kyoto. You can reserve your seats at the same time.

                                                  

Tokyo on your Two Week Japan Itnerary (3 nights)

The mega busy, modern capital of Japan is everything you have heard about. Tokyo is crowded, fast paced and full of energy. Shopping and entertainment is everywhere. It looks like any other major world city, full of skyscrapers and busy roads. Commuters and tourists from all over the world descend on Tokyo. 

Deciding which district to stay in is very difficult. All we can say is, make sure it is near a train station. Shibuya, Roppongi, Shinjuku and Ueno are popular choices. Look at the map below. For a PDF version of Tokyo train lines and districts,click here.

incredible two week Japan itinerary Tokyo train map including JR stations and subway
Stay near a train station when choosing a base in Tokyo. It will be easy to get around with a combination of JR lines and the excellent Tokyo subway system.
incredible two week Japan itinerary famous Shibuya crossing Tokyo
The famous Shibuya crossing in Tokyo. A popular district to base yourself for first time visitors to Tokyo.

In Tokyo, you’ll want to visit Harajuku street, the Royal Palace and the Meiji Jingu Shrine. Tokyo is also the place to do a day trip to Hakone and view Mount Fuji from a distance. You have to visit the famous Tokyo fish markets if you’re a sashimi (raw fish) lover. 

2 week trip to Japan Tokyo fish markets yummy sashimi on rice
If you like it fresh and raw, the Tokyo fish markets (Tsukiji Outer Market area) are a must visit place. A whole area of tantalising ocean delights await.
incredible 2 week trip to Japan itinerary tokyo fish markets fresh seafood
No 2 week trip to Japan is complete without visiting Tokyo’s famous Tsukiji fish market. If you crave raw fish, raw crustaceans and anything uncooked, head on down.
incredible two week Japan itinerary Meiji Jingu shrine Tokyo
Say or rather write a little prayer or peace offering on these wooden boards at the huge Meiji Jingu shrine in Tokyo’s Shibuya district.

To see Mount Fuji, you will need to do a day trip to Hakone and Lake Ashi. This is a one hour train journey from Tokyo. Your Japan Rail Pass is valid to Odawara. From there you have to pay a separate fee to get onto a ‘romance car’ to Hakone. 

Incredible 2 week trip to Japan Mount Fuji Pixabay
The iconic Mount Fuji, Japan. Best to see the mountain from a distance. Lake Kawaguchiko and Lake Hakone offer good viewing spots. Pray for a clear day.

                                                  

Kyoto (3 nights as part of your two week Japan Itinerary)

Inari

Kyoto is the place to see the iconic, much Instagrammed 1000s of tori or gates of the Fushimi Inari shrine.

incredible two week Japan itinerary Fushimi Inari tori bright red near Kyoto
Iconic bright red tori gates of the Fushimi inari shrine near Kyoto. Get there early and you might get a shot with no one else in your way!

There is also a hill walk/ hike at this shrine. The shrines are actually in the little town of Inari, which is on the JR Nara line. This means with your two week Japan Rail Pass, it’s totally free! Kyoto to Inari is only 5 minutes away! See the green and white dashed lines below.

Discover the magnificent attractions of Magnetic Island 51
From Kyoto you need to get on the JR Nara line for the Fushimi Inari shrines. It’s only two stops away from Kyoto.

It’s impossible to miss the entrance to the Fushimi Inari shrines.

incredible two week Japan itinerary bottom of Fushimi Inari near Kyoto
You can’t miss the entrance to the famous Fushimi Inari shrine. You just follow every one else from the train station until you see this.

Just follow the crowds who will be on your train. The walk to the top will take around 2-3 hours depending on your fitness level. You can turn around at any point, it’s not a one way circuit. As you climb between the thousands of bright red ‘tori’ you might even get sections to yourself for that precious photo!

incredible two week Japan itinerary fushimi inari shrine go early
If you’re very lucky, you might get sections of the Fushimi Inari shrine walk to yourself.

There are a few restaurants and shops to buy refreshments along the way to the top of Fushimi Inari. Make sure you deviate a bit from the main paths and find these gorgeous areas with mini gates and animal statues.

two week trip to Japan smaller shrines on the hike up the hill at Inari near Kyoto
Find the little shrines when you get off the main two tori tunnels. Fushimi Inari is unmissable on your 2 week trip to Japan.

 

Gion District of Kyoto

This is one area you don’t want to miss out on seeing. Amazing shrines and temples at the top of streets lined with magnificent food shops and restaurants. Wandering up and down the narrow and traditional streets of the Gion district is unmissable.

2 week trip to Japan Gion district Kyoto traditional style houses
Kyoto’s Gion district is lined with narrow and more traditional looking houses and shops. Wander up and down the ancient capital streets of Japan. There’s plenty of restaurants and souvenir shops to keep you going as you ascend towards the pagoda and temples on the top of the hill.

This is the traditional district of the geisha. Always ask permission before you take a photograph of geisha. 

2 week trip to Japan Gion district Kyoto geisha
Geisha in the Gion district of Kyoto. These are not tourists dressing up as geisha. Yes you can pay to have the white make up, hairstyle and kimono of geisha for a few hours. Never insult geisha by taking their photos without permission.

Kiyomizu -dera Temple Kyoto

This amazing UNESCO World Heritage Site is set on the hills above Kyoto. A vast complex with lots of steps and opportunities for stunning photography.

2 week incredible trip to Japan itinerary Kiyomizu dera temple Kyoto
You won’t be able to resist the bright red pagoda of the Kiyomizudera Temple complex in the Higashiyama sightseeing district of Kyoto. It’s a bit commercialised, but still, very worthwhile in our opinion.

The main hall ‘stage’ built out of wood fascinates all who visit. The view of Kyoto down below is truly unique. The overhanging ‘stage’ of the main hall of the Kiyomizu Temple is built onto the steep cliff of Mount Otowa. It is built in a Japanese style of grids, without any nails being used! The wood is almost 400 years old and still supports the hundreds of visitors each day.

2 week incredible trip to Japan itinerary Kiyomizu dera temple Kyoto
The amazing Kiyomizu dera temple complex is built on the cliffs of Mount Otowa, Kyoto. A UNESCO World Heritage Site that offers stunning views of the city from its main hall ‘stage’.

You might need a little map to orientate yourself at Kiyomizu dera Temple. It’s like a little village. Kiyomizudera means ‘pure water temple’. There are lots of places to see this pure water running out from the Otowa waterfall. There are said to be benefits from drinking this pure water. Visitors can drink from special long handled ladle like cups to bring longevity, luck in love and success at school!  Every little bit helps!

2 week incredible trip to Japan itinerary Kiyomizu dera temple Kyoto
Kiyomizudera Temple, Kyoto. Drinking from the ‘pure water’ of the Otowa waterfall has three separate benefits. Get lucky in love, live longer and do well at school. You’re only supposed to drink from two, so choose carefully! There are special long handled ‘cups’ which don’t touch your lips for this purpose at designated spots.

You will also want to make a day trip while in Kyoto to the nearby town of Nara. You can feed tame deer with special deer biscuits.

Nara

It’s temple time again! You have to visit Todai-ji temple when you’re in Kyoto. Well, actually, temples will be like churches in Europe, on your 2 week trip to Japan! Todai-ji temple is one of the world’s biggest wooden structures. It’s ancient too. Todai-ji temple is over a thousand years old. 

incredible two week Japan itinerary Todai Ji Temple Nara near Kyoto
Todai-ji Temple in Nara Park. One of the biggest wooden structures in the world. Try and go in sakura (cherry blossom) season for those unforgettable memories on your Japanese vacation.

The main attraction is the huge, and we mean huge, bronze budhha statue. 400 tonnes of huge. 

incredible two week Japan itinerary giant bronze buddha in Todai-ji Temple Nara, near Kyoto
Feel small in front of the giant 400 tonne bronze buddha at Todaiji Temple in Nara Park. A must see attraction on your unforgettable 2 week Japan itinerary.

Todai-ji Temple is inside the Nara Park, where you can see deer roaming around. They’re quite friendly and very cute. See below!

incredible two week Japan itinerary friendly deer in Nara Park near Kyoto
Come and feed me in Nara Koen Park. Oh and see the amazing Todai-ji temple too.

Arashiyama

From Kyoto this is another easy day trip, you don’t want to miss out on! 6 stops from Kyoto on the Sagano line. Yes, it’s free if you have the Japan Rail pass! It’s not a bullet train, but a local train. The top three attractions in the Arashiyama area are the bamboo grove, the Kinaku-ji golden temple, Tenryuji temple and Sogenchi gardens. There are of course other delights which will be on your Kyoto tourist map, that your hotel will give you.

incredible two week Japan itinerary Kinaku-ji golden temple near Kyoto
The golden temple (Kinaki-ju) is literally covered in gold leaf. It’s a glittering marvel. One of the highlights on a day trip from Kyoto on your 2 week Japan trip. Located 20 minutes from Kyoto. Best to go by the 205 bus from Kyoto bus station.

The bamboo grove has gone insta crazy and now it’s really hard to get a shot of this place without anyone else in it! Ok, maybe if you go at the crack of dawn, we’re just not early morning people! It’s not really a forest. It’s a pathway with lots of tall bamboo on either side. It can look very green or quite grey. 

incredible two week Japan itinerary Arashiyama Bamboo Grove near Kyoto
The bamboo grove in Arashiyama. These amazing tall plants are a top attraction on a day trip from Kyoto.

Another must see site is the Tenryuji temple. You can enter it via the bamboo grove. This amazing temple has one of the best gardens in Japan. The famous pond is also full of colourful carp fish and on a sunny Spring day, the reflection of the hills in the pond is just amazing. You will see devout Japanese meticulously picking up leaves and pulling out grass in these immaculate gardens. This is one of the finest examples of shakkei which means borrowed scenery. The hills in the background blend in seamlessly with the Sogenchi gardens.