Extra Photo Gallery: Room | Pool
Fronting the beach of Teluk Dalam on the southern portion of Pulau Perhentian Besar, the resort is accessible by speed boats from the jetty at Kuala Besut or Tok Bali (the latter being in the state of Kelantan close to the border of Terengganu). Kuala Besut, despite being under the constituency of Terengganu, is more accessible from Kota Bharu airport (KBR) in Kelantan. Both AirAsia and Malaysia Airlines fly to Kota Bharu from Kuala Lumpur. Driving to Kuala Besut from Kuala Lumpur can take close to 7 hours. Distance from Kuala Terengganu airport (TGG), also served by both Malaysia Airlines and AirAsia, is about 120 km or 3-hour drive.
The speed boat journey takes anywhere between 30-45 minutes and cost about RM70 per person for return trip. Some boat operators in Kuala Besut may head directly to Teluk Dalam, but others will make pit stops at different locations prior to arriving here.
Not much information could be gathered about the boat service from Tok Bali. In fact, the sales agent for this resort recommended me to depart from their "Transit Centre" in Tok Bali, but I ended up losing my way and decided to return back to the more-familiar jetty at Kuala Besut (distance between these two border towns is just 5 kilometres or so).
The resort is probably one of the newest leisure establishment on this popular island though I am not absolutely sure when it was officially opened for the public. It takes on a mixture of contemporary and traditional design which can be witnessed throughout the resort. Visitors arriving from the resort's dedicated boat jetty will be quite impressed with the landscaping of carved stones, soft-murmuring fountains, fresh lotus ponds and the overall open-air concept.
Awana Perhentian Eco Resort offers a variety of room types, namely Seaview Beach Chalets (with split-level units on either ground- or first-floor to choose from), Superior Pool View units, Family Deluxe and Superior units, Executive Suites as well as Standard rooms. The resort also offers a number of dormitory rooms (with fans, shared bathrooms, 2-3 bunk beds per room) that are suitable for backpackers. The Standard and higher grade rooms come with the expected amenities such as colour TV, kettle, air-conditioner, attached bathroom with hot shower, etc. Even higher grade rooms are equipped with large timber wardrobe, sofa set and coffee table.
I actually stayed in a Seaview chalet that came at quite a premium. Not entirely my choice because it was a peak season due to the National Holiday break. In general, the room condition is slightly above average. I certainly welcome the private balcony, tropical timber floor inside the room, decent queen size bed, large wardrobe, sofa set, colour TV, and plenty of small cabinet drawers for that extra storage space. I actually never quite liked the original decorative kain batik hung above the bed (for some reason, it looked tacky) but I can't blame the resort for trying.
Uniquely, the resort boasts a massive swimming pool equipped with man-made waterfalls. Something that is more pervasive in city hotels and resorts than in an island blessed with amazing beaches. Nonetheless, the fronting beach of Teluk Dalam is far from being the best place for swimming (unlike its more fortunate sister beaches of Teluk Pauh, Pasir Panjang or Pulau Rawa), hence the super-sized pool is there for a reason.
There is only one restaurant here located near the reception counter and the swimming pool. Most of the patrons come under the all-inclusive holiday package which means the crowd jostling for the buffet spreads can be somewhat overpowering. On certain nights, you can also see fresh seafood and meat pre-arranged by the poolside for the evening BBQ dinner.
The resort hosts a popular dive centre operated by the good scuba outfit of East Marine (which I had dived with in Pulau Payar near Langkawi). This diving company operates at 3 different locations in Malaysia - namely Pulau Perhentian itself, Pulau Lang Tengah and Pulau Payar). It is not uncommon to see 3-4 dive boats departing from the resort every morning.
Another unique feature of this resort that I think worth mentioning is the mangrove forest located amidst the resort. Wooden planks are constructed for visitors to walk and see this unique swamp vegetation. The mangrove forest is rather small and unnaturally being fed by waste water coming from the resort. Quite unappealing but still unique nonetheless.
Great resort ambience overall but nothing extraordinary. The swimming pool should come in handy for the children.