Alunan Resort ~ An affordable prime resort in Perhentian Island, Malaysia
It was Raya Holiday in Malaysia and we decided to spend our Raya holiday in Perhentian Island for this year. After going through all the selections, we decided to go for Alunan Resort.
Before we go any further, let's look into Perhentian Island in general. Prehentian island is well known for its snorkelling and diving spots. Its clear water allows you to enjoy the underwater world right in front of the resort in most cases. There are 2 small islands - Perhentian Besar (Big island) and Perhentian Kecil (Small island) that form the Perhentian Islands. Perhentian Besar is the more family-oriented island while Perhentian Kecil is known as the party island where most of the party actions take place at Long Beach. Both islands have plenty of accommodation available ranges from resorts with air-conditioning to simple lodges with fan. There are no internationally renowned hotels though.
Coming back to the accommodation we picked, Alunan Resort is located on the far south of Perhentian Kecil, a rather secluded area away from the main attractions, which is a perfect hideaway for travellers who prefer privacy. Alunan is a lone resort located on a quiet, intimate stretch of Petani Beach, which sits on a rocky slope gently sweeping down to merge with the sparkling azure ocean at its doorstep. It is set against a stunning backdrop of lush, verdant tropical rainforest.
We thought we would be going to places in Perhentian but we ended up spending the whole of our holiday within the resort other than the snorkelling trip which we booked with Alunan. With the facilities and exclusivity that Alunan has to offer, we did not feel like there is a need to venture out of the compound. However, a daily shuttle is available for guests who wish to visit other places in Perhentian Island.
Upon our arrival, we were warmly greeted by the hotel staff and were told there is a complimentary 'open Raya' buffet lunch at their Bayu Restaurant. We had a delicious meal before checking in to our room no. 14. We were upgraded to a triple sharing room and were lucky to get a room with a nice view (Tips: try to request for a higher room for better view).
There are a total of 18 double-storey Serenity Suites at Alunan Resort. Our room is chicly designed which brings a contemporary feel and we were excited to find out its top floor opens up to a private rooftop sun deck where hammock and sun loungers are there to welcome a world of relaxation. Although a higher room would be better in terms of room view, kindly take note due to the design of the resort and the location of the suites on the hilltop, there are many stairs to consider (the higher room, the more stairs) and may be strenuous for the elderly and young children, and it is not wheelchair accessible.
The room design is modern and contemporary however the maintenance and cleanliness could be further improved. We found the bathroom to be a little exhausted and some stains on the floor, but overall it was decent.
What to do @ Alunan Resort
This is where all our dining took place. Their food were generally tasty and make sure you order the lassi! It was so good we had it nearly every day haha! However the service could be improved as we had quite a fair bit of waiting for the food (well, maybe it was Raya holiday and they were short of staff). Bayu Restaurant has BBQ dinner every evening as well and it was priced based on the weight of the meat or seafood we chose accordingly. Meals (other than breakfast) do not come with the accommodation package but their meal vouchers can be pre-purchased online during the hotel booking. Please take note there is no room service available. And be sure to catch some baby sharks feeding on ikan bilis in the dark after dinner! They can be seen from the floating pontoon with torch light (someone will be there to assist you).
Reception / Library
Books, playing cards and board games are available in the lobby. We were free to grab the playing cards and board games with us.
One of my favorite activities! Kayaks are placed in front of the resort for guest use. Do take note you need a strong arm to push the kayak to the water, heehee. The limits of area to kayak here is quite big. We did not wander off too far but I did see some kayakers went out of sight, haha. I guess it depends on how adventurous you are.
Snorkelling is one of the most popular activities in Perhentian Island. Alunan makes it better with their house reef at the resort. We were able to see a variety of colourful corals and fishes, and we definitely enjoyed the moment.
We also purchase a snorkeling trip with Alunan where they brought us out to 3 snorkeling spots with a boat. We went to baby shark point, coral fish point and turtle point. To be honest, we did not really enjoy ourselves as the wave was strong and the under water was not very visible too. We preferred the in house snorkeling much better.
There is a path heading towards a village on the other side. The journey took us nearly 30 minutes accompanied by fellow mosquitoes. After my 'blood donation', the end destination did not impress, meh. It was just a residential Malay village, nothing much. So unless you want to sweat it out, I would not recommend this activity.
Swimming in the sea is generally safe but be sure to wear the swim shoes that are provided as there are plenty rough corals and pebbles in the sea and may hurt your bare feet.
If you are lucky, you will be able to catch milky way in front of the resort when there is no clouds and sky is pitch dark. We were lucky to view it on one night though there was still some light pollution around.
That pretty much concluded our holiday with Alunan Resort in Perhentian. Although it may seem like there were not much to do but when you are on a beach holiday, all you want to do is take your sweet time and RELAX! So stay calm and enjoy the days!
How to get there
When you book your accommodation, make sure to opt for the return boat transfer which is priced at MYR70 per adult and MYR35 per child. There are multiple departures from Kuala Besut Jetty to Alunan from 8am to 4pm daily, and 3 departures at 8am, 12pm and 4pm daily from Alunan to Kuala Besut. If the timing does not match your flight time, you can opt for a private charter which is what we did and we paid MYR75 for 2 pax, sharing with 2 other passengers. You will need to grab a taxi from the airport to get to Kuala Besut for the boat transfer.
Frankly, based on our experience, transportation to get here is not the smoothest during Raya holiday period. Taxis were very limited and there was a long wait for taxi at the airport. I tried calling the resort but they were unable to help as well as many staff are Malays and are on leave. So we waited for nearly an hour before hopping on to a taxi to bring us to Kuala Besut Jetty. The journey took slightly more than an hour. As we have printed our boat transfer slip sent from Alunan earlier, we followed the stated instruction and went straight to the jetty entrance to meet Encik Zahar who then arranged everything for us. After a fair bit of waiting, we finally hopped on the boat and did another round of waiting game before finally departing to several resorts before reaching Alunan Resort. So if you are planning to travel to Perhentian during Raya holiday, be prepared to face the hectic transport issues.
We were dropped at Alunan's jetty before transferred to a smaller boat to the pontoon nearer to the resort. Be extra careful when getting on and getting off the boat as the pontoon is slippery. I slipped when I got off the boat but luckily it was nothing too serious - just some bruises - I took it as a welcome gift from the resort, haha!
To sum up, we enjoyed ourselves at Alunan for our 3 nights stay despite the troublesome transportation during our arrival. If you are looking for a holiday with some privacy in a secluded location in Perhentian, look no further than Alunan Resort. I would say it is an affordable exclusive resort.