Access to the Perhentian Islands is by ferry from Kuala Besut, which is usually reached from either Kota Bharu, Jerteh or Kuala Terengganu. See the Kuala Besut article for more information.
Ferries have previously run from a jetty at Tok Bali, and for a short while direct from Kota Bharu, but both have now been discontinued. There are no ferries to neighbouring islands, but reasonably priced direct transfers to Redang are possible if a day-trip or dive boat has free seats - enquire with travel and dive shops.
From the main ferry terminal at Kuala Besut there are effectively three options:
Speed boats - usually small fibreglass boats with two or three outboards which take 30-45 minutes, charge RM70/person for return open ticket and RM40/person for one way,you can get the ticket from Kuala Besut Boat Services, daily departure from 7.30am- 5.30pm (reservation +60179806638, +609-7479663)or you can contact Mr.Lee telephone no +60179806638 he will deliver your boat tickets to you at the airport or any hotels or guesthouses you are staying IN Kota Bharu town, (The boat leaving the kuala besut jetty to Perhentian island 4-5 times a day, 1st departure at 7.30AM when gates of pier are opened). Some are enclosed, some have a fabric roof, some are completely open. If the sea is choppy expect a bone-jarring, bumpy ride and in the case of the latter two types expect to get very wet. If you are early, sitting at the back of the boat (near the engines) is less bumpy, but wet and noisier. There is no safe space for electronics, you might want to wrap anything that will not survive being wet in plastic (e.g. in bags inside your backpack) beforehand. If you don't want back problems do not sit in the front part of the boat ? large swells combined with the driver going as fast as possible will throw you up in the air and smash you down hard as the boat hits the next wave (but it's dry there).
Slow boats - usually wooden fishing boats with some seats on the deck which take 2-3 times as long as the speedboats, ONLY available if you book in advance at around RM300/boat/way. Maximum 12 pax per boat.the slow boat has ceased operating due to the poor demands.
All ferries take their passengers directly to their destination, wherever it may be on the islands. Passengers may be charged an extra RM2 to get a small boat from the ferry to the beach at Long Beach (scam, but you can do nothing except jumping into sea with baggage and swim to coast). If you want avoid this 2RM scam ask for dropping at Coral Bay from where it's easy 10 minutes walk on nice paved tiled path to Long Beach from where it's also more convenient to southern end (Mohsin, Rock Garden...) of Long Beach if you have suitcases, there is no paved path at Long beach. Elsewhere, jetties are springing up and enable people to get off the ferry without the need for an additional small boat ride to shore and without getting their feet wet.
All travellers to the islands must pay a marine park conservation charge of RM5. The marine park conversation charge 'ticket' claims to be valid for a few days, but in practice it is never asked for and is valid for the length of their stay.