Scuba Diving Course
If you are a beginner, you will need to complete a PADI Open Water Qualification in your first week in order for research training to commence. If you are already qualified for open water then you will be able to gain your PADI Advanced Open Water Qualification. If you already have your PADI Advanced Open Water Qualification you will start your project with the research diving week. Please see the itinerary for more information.
During your training week, you will take part in both practical and theory lessons. You will spend the mornings learning theory, for example, the different types of substrate and how to record them. After lunch, you will do a practical session which will first involve some buoyancy training and then a mock survey. During the week you will have 4 days of practice and theory which will end in a practical exam and also 2 additional dives to improve your buoyancy!
Research - Seagrass mapping and survey
The seagrass beds are very important feeding grounds for the sea turtles in the Perhentian Islands. However, they have never been studied which is why they need mapping thoroughly. If you join this activity during your research week(s) you will assist in identifying the boundaries of the seagrass beds with a GPS to help map them out. You will also participate in conducting a percentage cover survey using the global standard method of Seagrass Watch.
Research - Coral Reef Mapping
Like the seagrass, the coral reefs of the islands are not fully mapped and before any management decisions can be made we need to know where the reefs are and what types of corals are resident. You will learn the Transect intercept method, whereby you follow a transect line and record the start and end of a type of substrate – ie corals such as boulder, staghorn and more. The mapping will be repeated for all the reefs around the islands and twice annually to assess the impact of the monsoon on marine life.
Research - Artificial Reef Assessments
In 2013, several structures were shrunk to create new areas for fish to inhabit, and in turn, create new fishing grounds for fishermen to reduce the pressures on natural reefs where villagers currently fish. These structures need to be assessed for fish quantities and health before they are opened for fishing. You will help to conduct fish counts and video transect surveys to help our researchers to assess the FADs (Fish Aggregating Devices).
You may also be asked to help with collecting information on several other aspects of marine conservation, such as collecting data loggers for sea temperature, water quality, turbidity, wave height, salinity and more. These factors are very important and the crucial data which you collect will enable the team to better understand the abiotic factors which have an impact on the reefs and seagrass, and furthermore how to best sustain them.
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 already have an Advanced Open Water Qualified you will start the project on Day 8.
Day 1 - The Adventure Begins:
In the morning you will arrive at the Kuala Besut Jetty where you will be met by a member of the team and transferred to the local fisherman’s village in Pulau Perhentian Kecil. After lunch you will take part in a PADI scuba diving orientation and briefing before taking part in a water confidence session. You will then have some free time to settle in before enjoying dinner and a quick presentation on the conservation project.
Day 2 - 7- Padi Dive Qualification:
During these days you will take part in your PADI Open Water Diving Qualification. This is where you will learn to scuba dive and start to enjoy the marine paradise of the Perhentian Islands. The mornings will be spent learning theory with the afternoons involving practical sessions including buoyancy training and mock survey dives. This will all end in a practical exam. If you already have a PADI Open Water Diving Qualification you can undertake your PADI Advanced Open Water Qualification.
Day 8 -14 – Research Training:
After having completed your PADI Dive Qualification you will focus on 1 type of research, it may be seagrass surveys, coral reef mapping or artificial reef surveys. Before taking part in this you will spend time training how to collect data that is of the maximum possible value. This training will involve some lectures and of course some practical scuba dives as well as buoyancy training. You will take part in 8 dives during this time that are equally split between focusing on buoyancy and practical research training.
Day 15 - 20 – Research Week:
Having completed the training, this week you will get stuck into the research. The research you will conduct depends on the research schedule and can include the previously mentioned activities. No matter what type of research you do, you will focus on 1 or 2 dives in the mornings with the afternoon clear for further dives or data input and analysis. This is where you will put all of your skills to the test and be able to make a big contribution to the project.
Day 21 - Final Day:
Sadly, today will be your last day so after some fond farewells to project staff and fellow volunteers, you will take the boat back to Kuala Bessut where you will travel home or continue your independent travel plans. Alternatively, if you are volunteering in the Perhentian Islands for a longer duration, then you shall continue to contribute vital efforts for the conservation of marine life until your time is up!
Day - Saturdays and Sundays:
Every Saturday the project takes part in awareness campaigns. These could be anything from joining other dive centres with reef clean ups, doing our own beach clean ups or giving Eco Snorkel briefings to groups of snorkelers (research has shown that when briefings are given before snorkelling and diving it reduces damage caused by these activities by more than 60%!)
Sunday is a day to relax at your leisure. Volunteers often spend the day relaxing on the beach, visiting another bay on the island or reading a book in a hammock!
Dates, Availability & Price
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!
Updates & Outcomes
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 unspoiled of marine environments.The project works closely with locals to expand awareness of the damage that unsustainable diving and snorkeling practices can cause, and volunteers will help with this at the weekends.
For 2017 the structure has now changed to focus on three 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.
- posted on Aug 16, 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!
Turtles are facing many threats, all of them created by humans. Take a look at what they are here.
This month at The Great Projects we are thrilled to announce the launch of yet another incredible project, this time just off the coast of Peninsular Malaysia, in the beautiful Perhentian Islands.
Is this trip for you?
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 and is 100% Islamic, so alcohol is prohibited 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 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 both the 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 site 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 and willingness 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.
When Is The Best Time To Volunteer?
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
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.
Currency and Exchange Rates
The Malaysian currency is the Ringgit. The conversion rate is approx. 1 MYR to 0.19 GBP, 0.23 EUR and 0.31 USD
What's included in the price of the project?
- A monetary contribution to the project itself
- Boat transfers to and from the island
- All dive equipment and all diving in Malaysia whilst on the project
- Full orientation and support from the project managers
- Accommodation and meals
- A Dive Course and a minimum of 6 dives per week
- All PIC cards and PADI manuals
What's not included?
- All flights and transfers to and from the airport
- Travel insurance
- Visas if required
- PADI Medical Questionnaire. Please ensure you take a completed PADI Medical Form with you, signed by your GP.
- Trips undertaken other than in the planned itinerary (eg. On Sundays to other parts of the islands)