Perhentian Islands Marine Project

Dive in and get involved with vital marine conservation efforts in the Perhentian Archipelago.

From $973.00

  • Up to 8 Persons
  • All Meals Included
  • 6 - 55 Nights
  • Marine Wildlife, Sharks
  • Every Monday between April and September
  • Minimum Age 18

Project Details


Volunteers Scuba Diving in Malaysia Scuba Diving Course
If you are an unqualified diver, you will complete your PADI Open Water course in your first week. If you already have this qualification, you do not need to complete any additional courses, however, you can choose to complete your PADI Advanced Open Water or Rescue Diver course if you wish. Please be aware, the Rescue Diver course can only be completed if you have an Emergency First Response (EFR) qualification. If necessary, you can obtain your EFR qualification for a cost of $175.
Blacktip Reef Shark Shark ID
Currently, there is a lack of ecological knowledge available regarding the area’s blacktip reef shark populations, though the information that is available illustrates that their numbers are falling. Volunteers will help to collect data on sharks by photographing and identifying them, creating a better overall understanding of their movements and composition within the Perhentian ecosystem. In turn, this information will allow the project team to better understand how to preserve them.
Turtle ID Turtle ID
As with sharks, there is minimal ecological data available for the populations of green and hawksbill turtles in the area. Therefore, you will assist in photographing and identifying turtles encountered during dives to better understand their movements and behaviours. With such vital information being collected, the project team will then be able to work with the local marine parks to make appropriate conservation management decisions.
A Coral Nursery at the Perhentian Islands Marine Project Coral Nursery Maintenance
A previous focus of this project was to map and assess the health of coral reefs in the marine park. The results of this have led the team to adjust their focus slightly, and volunteers are now tasked with deploying coral nurseries (devices which help to grow corals). You will also help to maintain the existing nurseries by cleaning them and removing any algae/predators that could hinder their growth.
Beach Clean at the Perhentian Islands Marine Project Reef And Beach Cleans
You will help to clean the reefs and beaches in the area, leading campaigns against marine debris to tourists and locals. Throughout the monsoon season in particular, huge amounts of waste (such as rope, plastic bottles and rubber) can gather in certain areas, and you will help to remove this. The team aim to participate in beach cleans once a week, though this can be more or less frequent.
Personal Projects Personal Projects
Longer-term volunteers may be encouraged to work on a personal project of their own choice, ultimately contributing to further marine conservation efforts. Should you stay at the project for 4 or more weeks, you may wish to aid the education of local school children, teaching them about marine conservation or creating posters and informative brochures. This is a great opportunity to get creative with your thoughts and to apply your skills, so feel free to put ideas forward!


Please note, itineraries are subject to change, and what follows is simply a guideline.

If you do not have any diving qualifications or plan to complete any additional courses, you must join for a minimum of two weeks. If, however, you are already Open Water qualified or above and do not want to complete any courses, you are able to take part for a minimum of one week.

Day 1 - The Adventure Begins:
You will arrive at the Kuala Besut jetty by 8am on your project start date, and from here, will transfer by boat to your accommodation on the Perhentian Islands. After settling in, you will enjoy lunch before taking a tour of the village and joining a water confidence session. You will then have the evening at leisure after enjoying dinner with the rest of your group.
Day 2 - Buoyancy Dive:
After breakfast, you will prepare to take part in your first buoyancy dive! Here, you will put your diving skills to the test to ensure that you are ready to take part in the research dives. You will also be taught how to use underwater camera equipment during this time. After lunch, you will have your first lecture at the dive base, with a focus on fish and photo identification. Your evening will be spent at leisure.
Day 3 - Photo ID Dive:
Enjoy breakfast before undertaking two photo ID dives, where you will implement the skills learnt the day before. Later, you will engage in a lecture which focuses on corals and coral nurseries with the aim of teaching you the skills you will need whilst on the project.
Day 4 - Coral Nursery Dive:
Today’s research dive will centre around coral nurseries. You may be involved in assessing the health or maintaining the nurseries, or you may even be asked to help deploy more of them! After lunch, you will spend some time working on a personal project, so take this opportunity to get creative!
Day 5 - Reef And Beach Clean:
Today’s dive will focus on either the coral nurseries or on photo identification, depending on the needs of the project. Take part in a reef or beach clean in the afternoon, before heading into the local village for a traditional evening meal and cooking class alongside the locals.
Day 6 - Personal Project Day:
Saturdays are more relaxed compared to the rest of the week, and today you will focus solely on your personal project. Whether figuring out a new way to aid the education of the local school children or helping with a new recycling initiative, this is your chance to exercise your creative side. What’s more, your personal project is a great opportunity to leave a permanent, positive mark on the local community.
Day 7 - Final Day Or Day Off:
Depending on the length of your stay, today will either be your departure day or your day off. If departing, you will check out of your accommodation and bid a fond farewell to your team before boarding a boat back to Kuala Besut. If you’re staying for another week, this is a great opportunity to discover a range of beautiful beach areas or simply relax after a busy week!

Dates, Availability & Price

To secure a place on this project a deposit of $245 is required at the time of booking, with the remaining balance due any time up to 60 days prior to your start date.

If you are not at least PADI Open Water Qualified, you must include a PADI dive course in your booking.

Select a duration below to see the available start dates. All dates shown are currently available for you to join this project!

Duration Price
Select PADI dive course to view available durations & prices.

Updates & Outcomes

After many successful seasons of coral reef and seagrass mapping, along with various other surveys, the research collected by the team revealed a new focus for this project to centre its efforts around in the coming years. There is a huge lack of ecological data available for the marine life on the islands, so the project really is the spearhead for conservation here. Their research has shown a decrease in the population of many species, but with particular regard to turtles and sharks, and more sharks are appearing on fish markets than before, so volunteers will be helping to collect data which will help the project better understand how to protect them.

The data collected is passed onto local governments to help form the most appropriate conservation strategies, and also local dive shops so they can help to brief tourists before diving to be mindful and aware of the Perhentians' fragile ecosystem. This really does help too - research suggests that damage to coral reefs from tourism is reduced by more than 60% after being briefed beforehand!

The project is also involved with many community initiatives in its efforts to create a more eco-friendly island, particularly focusing their efforts on reducing plastic pollution in the area. As well as reef and beach cleans to tackle this relentless issue, the project visited many local businesses to inform them of the struggles the ecosystem is facing and what they were willing to contribute. The results were successful, and below you can find a map, created by the project for tourists which shows where tourists can now find the most eco-friendly bars, restaurants and dive shops, with things like, refilling water bottles, metal straws and recycling bins.

Eco Friendly Businesses on the Perhentian Islands

It's Coastal Cleanup Day! 46,000 Pieces Of Litter Per Square Mile Of The Ocean

It's Coastal Cleanup Day! 46,000 Pieces Of Litter Per Square Mile Of The Ocean

  • posted on 16/08/2017
  • by Joshua McGill

September 16th marks Coastal Cleanup Day! Today is about exerting a global effort into cleaning up the world's coast in an attempt to reverse the detrimental effect rubbish has on our oceans. It causes ocean pollution, huge issues for the wrold's dazzling marine biodiversity, and in the long run it will effect us. Read on to expand your knwoledge and spread awareness!

Read More

Is this trip for you?

Accommodation at the Perhentian Islands Marine Project


Volunteers will stay in dorm-style accommodation at the volunteer house, with up to four volunteers sharing each dorm on a mixed-gender basis. The volunteer house also features a shared bathroom, complete with cold showers and traditional squat toilets.

For those seeking an added sense of privacy, you may be able to upgrade to a private room at an added cost. This would be in a converted chalet, located 5 minutes’ walk away in the local fishing village. Here, you will have the choice of either a double or twin-share room, with either option featuring air conditioning and an en-suite bathroom. Please enquire for more information.

Meals & Beverages

Meals & Beverages

You will be provided with three meals per day during your time on the project, except for Sundays, when you will prepare your own meals. Vegetarians and vegans can be catered for but do please let us know of any dietary requirements in advance. Drinking water is also provided, but snacks and soft or alcoholic beverages must be purchased at your own expense from one of the village shops.

Fitness & Skills

Fitness & Skills

Due to the nature of this project, you must be a strong and confident swimmer. No additional skills or experience are required, only a positive attitude and the ability and willingness to work well in a team.



There are no specific vaccination or medical requirements needed to join this project and as such, the vaccinations you require will depend on your medical history. We, therefore, recommend that you consult your GP/Doctor regarding your own vaccination needs.

Project Details

When Is The Best Time To Volunteer?

Due to the monsoon season falling between October and February, this project only runs between the months of April and September. These are the driest months of the year in this part of Malaysia, with underwater visibility ranging from 5-20 metres. This is also the best time to see turtles and blacktip reef sharks.

Getting There

You will need to meet at the Kuala Besut jetty by 8am on your project start date, as this is where you will board a boat to the Perhentian Islands. There are multiple ways to get to Kuala Besut, including a flight or bus from Kuala Lumpur but we do recommend arriving the day before your project start to ensure you reach the jetty in time.

Visa Requirements

Most nationalities do not need to obtain a visa in advance of travelling to Malaysia, as a 90-day tourist visa is issued on arrival. We do, however, recommend checking with your local embassy regarding visa requirements prior to travelling.

What's included in the price of the project?
  • Return boat transfers from Kuala Besut
  • All dive equipment and diving whilst on the project
  • Full orientation and support from the project managers
  • Accommodation and meals
  • A minimum of 6 dives per week
  • All PIC cards and PADI manuals
  • A monetary contribution to the project
What's not included?
  • Flights
  • Travel insurance
  • Visas (if required)
  • PADI medical questionnaire - please ensure you take a completed PADI medical form with you, signed by your GP/Doctor

Covid-19 Travel Requirements

Use our ‘Covid-19 Travel Requirements’ tool to see if there are any travel restrictions or requirements currently in place for entering Malaysia or for your return journey home.

The information provided relates to the current travel requirements and can change at any time.

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Contact Info
UK Office
The Great Traveller Ltd,
3 Dairy Yard
Star Street
Ware, Hertfordshire
SG12 7DX
United Kingdom

Opening hours:
   Mon-Fri 8:30am–5:30pm
   Sat 10am-4pm

T: +44(0) 208 885 4987