I was in search of blue. But not just any blue; the kind of shape-shifting blue that reinvents itself with any deviation in depth or light. Aquamarine in direct sunlight, cerulean in the shade, transparent seafoam green in the shallows. While white-knuckling the edges of my bench on a boat crammed with approximately seven too many people, I could see it — that elusive, ever-changing deep blue sea.
We were just off the northeast coast of Malaysia, heading towards Perhentian Kecil. From Kuala Lumpur it takes an hour flight, a 40-minute taxi ride, and a 40-minute speedboat ride to get here, so it's just exotic enough to draw everyone from backpackers to families to honeymooners.
After washing up on touristy Long Beach (literally, you disembark in the water, so opt for a backpack), we almost immediately hopped back on a water taxi in search of sparser pastures. We didn't have to go far. Coral Bay, Long Beach's sleepier sister beach, lies almost directly on the opposite side of the island. The beach forms an arc that hugs the South China Sea, and from your seat in the sand the only irregularities interrupting your view of the horizon are a duo of verdant dome-shaped islands in the distance. On the north end is a proper dock for disembarking, on the south, a smattering of wooden chalets built into the rocky coastline. It was here we found Senja Bay Resort; really less of a resort and more just rustic cabins equipped with the basics (including air conditioning). But when this is outside your door, what else do you need?