Perhentian Islands Marine Project

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

From $932.00

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

Project Details


Scuba Diving Course
Scuba Diving Course
If you are a beginner, you will need to complete a PADI Open Water Qualification in your first week. If you are already qualified, you will be able to gain your PADI Advanced Open Water Qualification or complete a Rescue Diver Course if you have both. One of the above-stated courses is included in the price of the project, but please note the Rescue Diver course can only be completed if you have an Emergency First Response qualification. If necessary, this can be completed for an additional cost of $157.
Shark ID
Shark ID
Currently, there is a serious lack of ecological knowledge available for the population of blacktip reef sharks in the area, however, the information that we do have shows a reduction in their numbers. Volunteers will help to collect data on the sharks by photographing and identifying them to better understand their movements and composition within the Perhentian ecosystem, which in turns helps us understand how best to preserve them.
Turtle ID
Turtle ID
As with the sharks, there is also little ecological data available for the populations of green and hawksbill turtles within the area. Volunteers will also help to photograph turtles encountered during their dives to better understand their movements and behaviour. The team can then use this data in conjunction with the marine parks to make more informed conservation management decisions.
Coral Nursery Maintenance
Coral Nursery Maintenance
One of the previous research focuses of this project was to map and assess the health of the coral reefs in the marine park. This research has now led the team to change their focus slightly and deploy coral nurseries, which are devices that help to grow corals. Volunteers help to maintain these nurseries by helping to clean them, and remove any algae or predators which threaten coral growth.
Reef And Beach Cleans
Reef And Beach Cleans
You will help to clean the reefs and beaches of the Perhentian Islands, leading campaigns against marine debris to tourists and locals. Throughout the monsoon season in particular, copious amounts of waste gathers in certain areas such as rope, plastic bottles and rubber, so volunteers will help to remove this. The project aims to participate in beach cleans once a week.
Personal Projects
Personal Projects
For long-term volunteers, the staff may encourage you to work on a personal project of your own choice which ultimately contributes to further marine conservation. These can be anything from community-based projects, where you spend time educating local school children about an aspect of marine conservation, to making posters and informative brochures. The project encourages you to play to your skills and really get involved with the cause!


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 the transfers in the morning on the first day.

If you do not have a SCUBA diving qualification, or you wish to advance to the next level of your current certification, you will need to complete this during the first week of the project and therefore your minimum stay is 2 weeks. If you already have a SCUBA diving qualification, it is not necessary for you to complete another if you do not wish to. In such cases, your minimum stay is 1 week. The below itinerary is an example of a one-week stay after the SCUBA course has been completed. 

Day 1 - The Adventure Begins:
You must arrive in time to take a boat to the project base on your project start date. The boat departs at 10am. We recommend arriving the day before, booking a hotel and taking a taxi to the jetty in the morning. You will settle into your accommodation and have a spot of lunch before completing a tour of the village and diving straight in with a water confidence session. Enjoy dinner and an evening at leisure.
Day 2 - Buoyancy Dive:
After breakfast, you will prep and take part in your first buoyancy dive! Here you have the chance to ensure you are ready to take part in the research dives by putting all of your skills to the test acquired either after before or during your time on the project (depending on whether you are completing a SCUBA course). You will also be taught how to use the underwater camera equipment during this time. After lunch, you will have your first lecture at the dive base, which will be on fish, and photo identification. After this, enjoy some free time before a tasty evening meal.
Day 3 - Photo ID Dive :
You will wake for breakfast in the morning, followed by your research dive for the day. The morning's dive will be focused on photo ID, where you can now implement all of the skills you picked up yesterday - make sure you keep your eyes peeled and camera at the ready! The afternoon’s lecture will be based around the corals and coral nurseries, after which you will have the opportunity to take some time to relax before your evening meal.
Day 4 - Coral Nursery Dive :
Begin day 4 with the most important meal of the day and again, using what you learned yesterday, you will head out on your research dive which will be centred around the coral nurseries. You could be assessing them, helping to maintain them or deploying more into the water! After lunch, you will spend some time working on your personal project, so this is your chance to get creative! Enjoy some rest and a tasty meal in the evening.
Day 5 - Reef And Beach Clean:
After some breakfast, today’s dive will either be focused on the coral nurseries or photo ID, depending on the needs of the project - either way, you'll be heading beneath the waves to collect more vital data! Your afternoon will then consist of a beach or reef clean, before enjoying a change of scenery in the evening by joining the locals for a traditional Malay dinner and cooking class!
Day 6 - Personal Project Day :
As this is a Saturday, it will be slightly more laid back today compared to the rest of the week. This day will be entirely focused on your personal projects. Whether it be centred around school education, awareness, recycling initiatives or more, this is your chance to get stuck in and prove what you can do! This activity makes all the difference to your experience as it is an opportunity to leave your individual fingerprint on the efforts of the project.
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 the accommodation and bid a fond farewell to staff and your newfound friends, and commence your journey home. If you are staying, then you can take today to explore the beauty of the local bays and beaches before kicking off a brand new week by helping to welcome new volunteers and completing more research!

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 already at least PADI Open Water qualified, you MUST include a dive course in your booking (minimum duration of 2 weeks.)

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

Duration Price
Please choose a trip using the select menus to the left.

Updates & Outcomes

After two successful seasons of coral reef and seagrass mapping, along with various other surveys, the research collected during this project throughout 2017 and 2018 has revealed a new focus for this project to centre its efforts around in 2019. 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?



Volunteers will be staying in dorm-style accommodation at the Volunteer House. This accommodation can sleep up to 10 people. There can be up to 4 people per room and on a mixed gender share basis. This project also runs other volunteer initiatives, and all volunteers will share the volunteer house, so expect to make lots of new friends! The house contains a shared bathroom with fans and bed linen provided. There is an accommodation upgrade available for this project where volunteers can stay in their own private room located in a converted house in the fishing village for an extra fee. The converted chalet contains air-con and an en-suite bathroom. This is just a 5-minute walk away from the dive base, where most of your learning activities will take place in the afternoons, and where you prepare for your daily dives in the mornings.

Meals and Beverages

Meals and Beverages

3 meals a day are provided for you during your time on the project, except for Sundays. Breakfast may consist of cereal and bread. Lunch may contain fried rice, and chicken along with other tasty options, and is normally picked up from a local stall after diving (costs covered by the project) - so you get an authentic touch of culture with traditional local cuisine! Dinner can range from pasta and rice with various accompanying dishes, and volunteers will usually eat with project staff in the evenings. Meals will be prepared for you, but volunteers are always welcome to lend a helping hand! Vegans and vegetarians can be catered for. Drinking water is provided, and tea is available at the dive house, but snacks and soft or alcoholic beverages must be purchased at your own expense from one of the village shops.

Fitness & Skills

Fitness & Skills

This project involves scuba diving and snorkelling so you must be able to swim confidently and strongly. No additional 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.

Project Details

When Is The Best Time To Volunteer?

This project only runs between April and September. 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.

Getting There

You will need to travel to the Kuala Besut jetty by 08:00am on your project start date, as this is the jetty that provides boat services to the Perhentian Islands. Transport to Kuala Besut is not included in the project fee, but we are more than happy to advise on how best to get there.

Plane: 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 takes 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.

Bus: 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.

Visa Requirements

For most nationalities you will not need to obtain a visa in advance as a free 90 day tourist visa is given upon arrival into Malaysia. 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.

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Contact Info
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United Kingdom

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