Dive and get involved with vital marine conservation within the incredible waters of the Perhentian Islands
Situated in the stunning island paradise of Pulau Kecil in the Perhentians, just off the north-eastern coast of peninsular Malaysia, this exclusive project centres its efforts on helping to conserve and protect the turtles that live, nest and feed around the Perhentian Islands.
The project has 3 main focus areas including; seagrass mapping to help understand which turtles and other marine life feed off of the coast of the islands, artificial reef assessments to enable sustainable fishing by locals in the hope of reducing the pressures on the natural reefs, and coral reef mapping to better understand what corals there are in the region and to see the effect the monsoon has on them.
As a volunteer you will spend time focusing on 1 of these areas if you are joining for a short period of time or all of them if you are staying for longer.
It is also important to note that a large part of the research is conducted through survey dives, and so a portion of this project is set aside for you to take a PADI Open Water or Advanced Open Water scuba diving qualification. After completing this, you will work directly with the project team and assist on the research dives.
This project offers fantastic opportunities to learn about the complex underwater environment around the Perhentian Islands, understand the issues that this environment faces and collect valuable information to help secure the safety not only of the animals found near the coral reefs and seagrass beds but the coral reefs and seagrass beds themselves.
Please note itineraries are subject to change and what follows is simply a rough guideline. We recommend that you try to arrive the day before your project start date in order to make their transfers in the morning on the first day.
If you are already Advance Open Water Qualified you will start the project on Day 8.
To secure a place on this project a deposit of £195 is required at the time of booking, with the remaining balance due any time up to 60 days prior to your start date.
Select a duration below to see the available start dates. All dates shown are currently available for you to join this project!
This project has historically worked in collaboration with the Department of Fisheries and Cambridge University to collect data on the impact of people diving on the coral reef ecosystem around the islands.
The data was used to produce a detailed picture on how to improve the conservation efforts of the island's marine life, through potentially closing down the worst-affected dive-areas in the future and devising more responsible and sustainable ways to dive in this most unspoilt of marine environments. Working with local people wand actively involving them in the marine conservation volunteers' project work and fostering interaction between locals and volunteers was and remains a big part of this project.
For 2017 the structure has now changed to focus on 3 main areas of marine conservation. Volunteers will now be working on seagrass mapping, artificial reef assesments and reef mapping with the overall aim of better understanding the underwater environment around the island and looking at ways to ensure sustainable fishing can be carried out and to ensure the protection of sea turtles who visit, feed and nest on and around the Perhentian Islands.
Please check back here for updates on this project in 2017.
For the duration of your time on the project you will be staying in the volunteer house. The rooms are usually based on four sharing and are mixed gender. Please note that the accommodation is located in a local Malay village in Perhentian Kecil’s South Eastern corner. It is 100% Islamic, so a ban of all alcohol and keeping knees and shoulders covered is essential in order to respect local customs during the project.
There are shops close by where you can purchase toiletries, snacks and drinks and also resorts where you can go for an alcoholic drink in your free time if you wish.
All meals and beverages are included in the price of the project – except on Sundays. Breakfast is served at the volunteer house and lunch and dinner are usually cooked by our team and the volunteers on a rota basis. There are always vegetarian options available, however, please advise us in advance if you are vegetarian.
While at the project sites alcohol is prohibited, however, you can go to the local resorts if you fancy any alcoholic beverages during your time on the project.
This project involves scuba diving and snorkelling so you must be able to swim confidently and strongly.
No specific skills or experience are required, only a positive attitude and the ability to work well in a team.
The vaccinations required will depend on your medical history. We recommend that you consult your GP regarding your own immunisation needs. In conjunction with this, we would recommend that you check Fit for Travel’s website.
Please also ensure you get a PADI Medical Form completed and signed by your GP to ensure you are safe to dive and take this form with you when you join the project. You will be unable to join the project if you do not have this upon arrival.
For this project the best time to volunteer is definitively March to early October. This is the dry season and visibility ranges from 5-20 metres. This is also the best time to see turtles and blacktip reef sharks.
Mid October to February is the monsoon season so the waves are bigger and the visibility is lower which makes diving a lot more difficult.
You will need to travel to Kuala Besut jetty by 10:00am, as this is the jetty that provides boat services to the Perhentian Islands. Transport for volunteers to Kuala Besut is not included in the project fee, but we are more than happy to advise on how best to get there.
From Kuala Lumpur International Airport, klia2 or Subang Airport, fly to Kota Bharu (KBR) and then take a taxi to Kuala Besut Jetty. The taxi taxes approximately an hour and should cost you around RM75. Taxis are available from the airport, or the team can book one for you. If you would like us to book one for you, please let us know.
There are three bus companies that travel from Kuala Lumpur directly to Kuala Besut bus station (a 10min walk from Kuala Besut jetty), these companies are Sani Express, Mahligai Ekspress and Perdana Express. All bus tickets cost around RM50 one way. Buses normally travel overnight, departing between 8pm and 10pm, they take about 8hrs depending on the road conditions. They all leave from Terminal Bersepadu Selatan (TBS), which is at Bandar Tasik Selatan LRT stop7 in Kuala Lumpur.
You can purchase the bus tickets on arrival at TBS or book online through the companies’ websites.
If you choose to take a bus, please provide us with the bus company’s name and approximate arrival time.
Once at the Jetty, you will transfer by boat to the island. The cost of this transfer is included in the price of the project as well as a transfer back to the mainland at the end of your stay.
For your departure, the boat departure times and suitable flight times from Kota Bharu are as follows:
Boat departure at 8am - Arrives at Kuala Besut at 9am - Allowing for arrival at the airport by 10am - Meaning your flight from Kota Bharu will need to depart after 11am
Boat departure at midday - Arrives at Kuala Besut at 1pm - Allowing for arrival at the airport by 2pm - Meaning your flight from Kota Bharu will need to depart after 3pm
Boat departure at 4pm - Arrives at Kuala Besut at 5pm - Allowing for arrival at the airport by 6pm - Meaning your flight from Kota Bharu will need to depart after 7pm
If you would like help booking your flights, please visit our flights page and fill out the form. A member of our team will get back in touch as soon as possible with a suitable quote.
There is no visa that requires purchase prior to arrival for most nationalities to enter Malaysia. A visa stamp is provided upon arrival at the airport for up to 90 days. However, please check the Malaysian Immigration website for detailed information.
The Malaysian currency is the Ringgit. The conversion rate is approx. 1 MYR to 0.19 GBP, 0.23 EUR and 0.31 USD
If you have any questions about this project or would like help finding the perfect project for you then please feel free to give us a call or send us through your enquiry and we will be happy to help.
Nikita & team.
The Bumphead Parrotfish were absolutely amazing. The PADI dives against debris was the most rewarding of the trip. I hope one day they will achieve their goals by educating the tourists and locals alike to conserve what is a beautiful marine park. With the great work of the leaders, interns and the volunteers they do, I am sure they will.
Scott Wade, 2017
My favourite memory was swimming and seeing a turtle come up for air about half a meter away from me! I could see it so clearly, it was incredible!
Eve Nelson, 2016
This experience had me reconnect with nature and start recognizing how I can make a change. I loved meeting and being able to so closely interact with the Malaysian people. They are so friendly and caring. The passion that the hosts, Neil and Sabina, had was contagious. I hope to carry that with me and start making my own change in the world. It was a very fun and relaxing itinerary. Felt like I learned a lot yet still was on vacation.
Joey Flowers, 2015