Marine conservation research and dive volunteering - Ecoteer Responsible TravelEcoteer Responsible Travel

Marine conservation research and dive volunteering

Start marine conservation volunteering on Malaysia’s beautiful islands Start marine conservation volunteering and help us conduct tropical coral reef and seagrass research on the tropical island paradise, the Perhentian Islands. You too can play your part to help preserve the number one island location in Malaysia, as named by CNN in 2013. Through our Dive

Start marine conservation volunteering on Malaysia’s beautiful islands

Start marine conservation volunteering and help us conduct tropical coral reef and seagrass research on the tropical island paradise, the Perhentian Islands. You too can play your part to help preserve the number one island location in Malaysia, as named by CNN in 2013.

Through our Dive Research project you will join hands with researchers to help collect data which will be used to help decision makers like the Marine Park’s Department decide how to protect the coral reefs and seagrass beds in the islands. You will be be based in the village allowing you to understand more about the local culture. This opportunity is perfect for anyone interested in a marine conservation or research career, or just a general interest in marine conservation volunteering.

If you have never dived before dont worry, you can conduct your PADI open water with us and one of our local dive centre partners. We prefer to use the established dive centre’s to run our courses to help share the wealth and build stronger bonds with the wider community.

The aim of the project is to first map and then assess the health of the seagrass beds, coral reefs and other habitats around the islands. What research you help us with depends on what we will be doing at the time when you start. Week 1 will always be research training week with weeks 2 & 3 being surveys. You may also help us with promoting recycling and composting to resorts and dive centres at the weekends, collaboration is a big aspect of the project and something that we want to push on daily basis.

If you want to dive with a purpose and help protect the most beautiful islands in Malaysia whilst mingling with the local people then this is the project for you.

If you don’t have the opportunity to volunteer but had always wanted to do something for a good cause, why not fundraise for these projects! Visit our

Fundraising page for more info or write to us here

What Daniel Says

 “The Perhentian Dive Project is thanks to the hard work of Neil and Sabina who helped establish a dive project in the islands under Blue Temple Conservation. They are now 3 and moved on in life. We continue their work with the aim of helping to provide the decision makers with more information about the health of the marine park. We work directly with the Marine Parks Department and Reef Check Malaysia in a joint project which seeks to involve the local people through Eco Snorkel guide training, bouyline maintenance and more in the future. ”



Jessica Cheadle, Pre- Professional Zoology Graduate, Ohio Wesleyan University.

“The amount of independence that is given to the volunteers created a tremendous learning environment and gave a valuable sense of responsibility and worth. Being here I’ve been able to learn practical skills, such as data collection and entry in correspondence to coral mapping, as well as have been able to expand my knowledge of the importance of conservation as a whole.”

Tom Busher, Biology Student, University of Leeds.

“Volunteering on this project has been a really enjoyable and unforgettable experience. I’ve learnt so much about marine life, in particular coral, and the real emphasis on conservation and preserving the marine ecosystem has made me even more determined to spread awareness of the importance of our oceans. The project also gave me the opportunity to prepare and deliver classes to the local children about sharks, their importance and the need to protect them and our oceans, which was so much fun!”

  • Volunteer Package Cost

    International Volunteers

    With NO Dive Course
    2 weeks MYR 3,500 Approx GBP750 – 16 dives
    3 weeks MYR 4,500 Approx GBP900 – 24 dives
    4 weeks MYR 5,500 Approx GBP1,100 – 32 dives
    Longer stays are possible

    With Dive Course
    3 weeks MYR 5,600 Approx GBP1,100 – 24 dives
    4 weeks MYR 7,000 Approx GBP1,300 – 32 dives
    Longer stays are possible

    With NO Dive Course
    3 weeks MYR 5,000 Approx GBP1,000 – 24 dives
    4 weeks MYR 6,500 Approx GBP1,300 – 32 dives
    6 weeks MYR 9,500 Approx GBP1,900 – 40 dives
    8 weeks MYR12,500 Approx GBP2,500 – 48 dives
    Longer stays are possible

    With Dive Course
    4 weeks MYR 8,000 Approx GBP1,600 – 32 dives
    6 weeks MYR 11,000 Approx GBP2,200 – 40 dives
    8 weeks MYR14,000 Approx GBP2,800 – 48 dives
    Longer stays are possible

    * MYR – Ringgit Malaysia
    ** Price includes 6% GST Government Tax

    Cost includes:
    3 meals per day
    Marine park fee
    Return Ferry from Kuala Besut to Perhentian Islands
    Minimum 8 dives per week.
    Snorkel Tour
    Mixed sex Dormitory accommodation

    Excludes: Travel to/from Kuala Besut; Insurance

    5 Easy Steps to Book Your Island Adventure:
    1) Contact us here with your initial inquiry – tell us about yourself and the project you would like to join.
    2) You will receive an e-mail with more information and the application form to complete.
    3) On receipt of your application we will confirm your reservation and inform you how to make your deposit payment. Your reservation will be held for 2 weeks, after which it will be cancelled automatically if no deposit is received.
    4) Please allow a minimum of 3 weeks for us to process your application and payment.
    5) Full payment is required no later than 1 month before departure. You may pay online by credit card or a direct transfer to our account.

    It’s that Simple! Once your deposit has been paid you will receive our Know Before You Go guide, which is packed full of useful information about your project and general tips to prepare you for volunteering.

    Cancellation Policy

    a. Cancellation of reservation must be made in writing to avoid any misunderstanding. If the company receives notice to cancel 30 days or more before the date of departure, a minimum administrative fee of RM100.00 or 10% of the tour deposit (whichever is lower) per person will be levied.

    b. If notice of the cancellation is received 29 days or less before the date of departure the following charges will apply:

    c. 15 – 29 working days before the date of departure = 50% of deposit
    8 – 14 working days before the date of departure = 20% of FULL COST
    3 – 7 working days before the date of departure = 40% of FULL COST
    2 working days or less before the date of departure = 100% of FULL COST

  • NOTE: This is a rough outline of the activities that will be conducted whilst on the project; some activities maybe swapped due to weather conditions or one off projects.

    Morning: Volunteers arrive at Safe Park Holidays office, Kuala Besut jetty. Boat transfer to the Coral View (Pulau Perhentian Besar).
    Afternoon: Briefing and orientation: project overview and code of conduct, a tour around the local area and shops and water confidence session (learn the dos and don’ts of snorkeling plus how to wear the life jacket & snorkel gear).
    Evening: Dinner, marine presentation & rest.

    Tuesday to Friday
    Week 0 – Dive Course
    Week 1 – Research training Week
    Each day you will receive lectures and practical learning sessions. What survey techniques you learn depend on the type of research to be conducted during Weeks 2 & 3. Training could be seagrass watch and mapping or point intercept surveys for general mapping research. No matter what we will always focus on improving your buoyancy as this is key to being a responsible diver and protecting the reefs.

    Week 2 & 3 – Survey weeks
    You will normally conduct 2 survey dives per day but this may change depending on what needs to be done. If the work is finished early then we will have more time for fun dives.

    Collaboration and awareness day, the weekends are the peak time for tourists so you will organise some form of project to help spread awareness to the tourists. This may involve beach clean ups, Eco snorkel briefs, or awareness campaigns and petitions.

    Free day, this is your day to just do nothing or you could do more diving! its up to you.

    If its your last week then Sunday is your departure day 🙁 Say a sad farewell to your fellow volunteers. Boats back to the mainland are at 8 AM, 12 PM or 4 PM.

  • Seagrass mapping and survey.
    The seagrass beds are very important as feeding grounds for the sea turtles in the Perhentian Islands. Our sea turtle photo ID research from 2015 til now has shown that none of the nesting turtles eat the seagrass in the islands but the numerous turtles feeding around the islands are migrating turtles or ones whom nest in other locations, for example one nests in Vietnam. The seagrass beds in the islands have been rarely studied thus we don’t know where they are, hence the need to map them thoroughly. You will help to identify the boundaries of the seagrass beds and swim around with a GPS to help us map them out. You will also help us to conduct a % cover survey using the global standard method of Seagrass Watch. For expert divers you will also get to help our researchers to understand the relationship between the seagrass and the epiphytes living on some of the seagrass.

    Coral Reef Mapping
    The coral reefs of the islands are not fully mapped in the Perhentian Islands and before any management decisions can be properly made, decision makers need to know where the reefs are and what type of corals. 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, table, dead and soft or rock, sand etc. The 100m transects will be laid perpendicular to the shore and repeated every 50m around the islands and repeated twice annually to assess the difference before and after the monsoon.

  • You will be staying in a traditional Malay house in the middle of the one and only village on the smaller of the Perhentian Islands – Perhentian Kecil. Your stay in this adorable little village where everyone welcomes you with open arms is a huge plus point for the project. Here you will have the unique opportunity to experience Malay culture, try the most delicious Malay food, hang out with the ladies and play with the kids (if you want).

  • 2017

    March 20th – Unqualified
    27th – Qualified

    April 10th – Unqualified
    17th – Qualified

    May 1st & 22nd – Unqualified
    8th & 29th – Qualified

    June 12th – Unqualified
    19th – Qualified

    July 3rd & 24th – Unqualified
    10th & 31st – Qualified

    Aug 14th – Unqualified
    21st – Qualified

    September 4th & 25th – Unqualified
    11th – Qualified

    October 2nd – Qualified



    March 19th – With dive course
    26th – No dive course

    April 9th or 30th – With dive course
    16th – No dive course

    May 21st – With dive course
    7th & 28th – No dive course

    June 11th – With dive course
    18th – No dive course

    July 2nd & 23rd – With dive course
    9th & 30th  – No dive course

    Aug 13th – With dive course
    20th  – No dive course

    September 3rd & 24th – With dive course
    10th – No dive course

    October 1st – No dive course


    Arrivals are Monday, Departures are on Sundays.

  • 1. What are the requirements to join this program?
    Volunteers must be over 18 or over 16 with a parental consent form. You will need to have a positive attitude and willing to participate in all volunteer activities. It is also important to respect the local culture and traditions whilst living in the Malay village.

    2. How do I get to Perhentian Island from Kuala Lumpur?
    Take a plane to Kota Bharu airport, then a 1 hour taxi ride to Kuala Besut Jetty. From the jetty, take a 30 minute boat ride to the island.
    OR take a bus from Hentian Putra, Kuala Lumpur to Kuala Besut Bus station.

    3. What vaccinations do I need before going to the island?
    Hepatitis A; Hepatitis B; typhoid; measles, mumps, rubella (MMR); tetanus-diphtheria

    4. Any details on visas?
    Tourists from the following countries will receive a 90 day free tourist visa upon arrival:
    Albania, Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Brazil, Canada, Croatia, Cuba, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan , Kuwait, Kyrgyz Republic, Lebanon, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Morocco, Netherland, Norway, Oman, Peru, Poland, Qatar, Romania, St Marino, Saudi Arabia, Slovakia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Yemen.

    5. What is the minimum age to join?
    16 years old with parental consent form submitted together with your application form, or 18 without a parental consent form.

    6. Is this program suitable for families with young children?
    Families with young children (6 and above) can participate.

    7. How long is the typical volunteer working day?
    The volunteering activities run from morning until evening with a lunch break in between. For volunteers staying longer than one week, Sundays are usually free days.

  • To make an enquiry or to book, kindly email us using our Contact Us form.


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