The PerhentiansTim and I had great expectations of the Perhentian islands, after rave reviews from other travellers. The reality was every bit as good as we hoped. Eventually!!We took a boat from mainland Malaysia, and soon arrived at Pulau Kecil, the smaller of the 2 islands that make up the Perhentians. The boat dropped us off at Long Beach, and we were greeted by the sight of backpackers lounging around on the beach, and a myriad of cafes and bars. Not really our scene, so we ventured along a trail in the jungle to the other side of the island. This took us to Coral Bay which was an altogether more relaxed and peaceful affair. We stayed a few nights in a very dilapidated wooden hut, perched on a rocky outcrop at the far end of the beach. We enjoyed a balcony that looked directly over the gin coloured waters, and spent a relaxed few days snorkelling, eating delicious food and enjoying getting to know George and Sheryl, a couple we met back in Khota Bahru.After the incredible unspoilt beaches of Agonda in India and Tioman, we wanted more peace and seclusion than Coral Bay could offer, and so we set off early one morning (to avoid the searing midday heat!) into the jungle to seek more secluded bays. Tim and I were surprised to happen upon some beach huts built in a rocky cove that had been completely abandoned. They still had bunk beds with mattresses etc. Rather eerie. We later found out this relatively new resort closed due to lack of custom. Probably because the cove was minute, rocky and almost completely inaccessible.Our next surprise was to find an entirely empty cove with no buildings or sign of human life at all. Tim showed me that it was covered in hundreds of tracks left by baby turtles!! They were new hatchlings, because the tracks were fresh right down to the water's edge.We continued our trek over tree roots and past monitor lizards that would scurry off into the undergrowth on our approach, and finally found what we had been looking for.Mira Beach is an extremely picturesque cove, backed by jungle and with rocky outcrops at either end. There were just a handful of well-proportioned wooden huts, each with its own bungalow and a hammock. The owners had thoughtfully strung hammocks under the trees, and decorated the bridges and walkways with strings of shells and interesting pieces of driftwood. It felt like we had walked into a scene from The Beach.We received a warm welcome, and were delighted to find that the few others who had found this gem of a place to be friendly and chilled. The food menu was extensive, with an open sided restaurant built on a platform overlooking the beach - excellent for watching the sunsets and the dramatic storms over the sea. One evening I even found myself sitting on a rock on the beach at night, watching enormous forks of lightening reach across the sky, with a purring young cat on my lap (completely unphased by the theatre of the storm!!) . One of my more random travel experiences!! The snorkelling off Mira Beach was noticeably better than around Pulau Tioman. The water was clearer, and the coral even more impressive. We were able to snorkel directly from the beach, and had fun watching clown fish (think 'Finding Nemo'!) nestling amongst the soft anemones. The reefs supported abundant marine life, and we saw angel fish, puffer fish, rays and a whole array of other beautiful tropical fish. George and Tim even saw sharks!!I am still amazed at the diversity of the coral. Some is jagged and pointy, other corals are round and bulbous, some has a lace-like structure, and some is covered in lobes, similar to the surface of brain tissue!! That goes without even considering the gorgeous colours.