Key holiday pointers (islands)

As points on a map, islands exert an irresistible pull. I am as captivated by Shetland as by the Seychelles – in fact in some ways Shetland seems the more remote (and hence attractive).

Malaysia has 4 main island options: Langkawi, Pangkor, Tioman, Perhentian. Lonely Planet says: ‘The Perhentians are tropical paradise. Full stop’ – so that’s what we went for.

The Perhentians are a pair: Besar (‘large’) and Kecil (‘small’). We reached them after 1 hour in a taxi from Kota Bharu, and 40 minutes in a roller-coaster speedboat. We were there at the end of the season, with the rains due to start in November. The islands are quiet anyway, and even quieter in October. It was a good time to go: as well as the sunshine evident below, we also saw moody and interesting seas and skies. People on the islands recommended March/April at the begining of the season as the best combination of solitude and weather.

I am as astonished at these pictures as perhaps you will be.

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