Diving, Turtle & Coral Conservation Volunteer at Perhentian Island
Learn diving at the same time volunteering to learn more and be involved in coral reef rehabilitation and turtle conservation.
Diving, Turtle & Coral Conservation Volunteer at Perhentian Island
Turtle and dive volunteer project in Malaysia on the beautiful Perhentian Islands. A marine and turtle conservation project where you learn to dive, collect sea turtle eggs and help replant coral reefs all whilst you live on a paradise tropical island.
Tanjung Tukas, a private beach where the project site is located, is a Green turtle nesting beach and has its own coral reef just a few meters away from the beach.
This marine conservation volunteer project is located on the Perhentian Island, Malaysia and focuses on turtle and coral conservation. The volunteer programme includes diving sessions where by volunteers will be able discover the beautiful and fascinating underwater world as well as improve your understanding about the marine life you see. Your life will never be the same again.
For volunteers staying 1 week you will be involved in the turtle conservation duties and partake in a 2hour Try Scuba Dive.
For volunteers staying 2 weeks, volunteers will have the chance to take a full PADI Dive Course as well as playing your part in the turtle conservation.
For volunteers staying 3 weeks or more, volunteers will take the Eco Diver qualification so they will be able to conduct official Reef Check surveys to assess coral health. You will also be involved in the daily cleaning of the coral fragments kept on the coral nursery trays submerged just off the beach.
All volunteers will be patrolling the beach at night for turtle watch as well as managing the turtle hatchery and educating the resort guests about turtle conservation, guiding snorkel tours and leading jungle treks. Volunteers will also have the opportunity to go snorkeling and have authentic Malay dinner at the nearby Malay village once every week.
This marine conservation volunteering programme allows volunteers to truly explore the marine life of the beautiful Perhentian Island whilst helping to conserve them. The location is perfect with its quiet and pristine beach, a peaceful place to be for a fun and relaxing marine conservation volunteering project in Malaysia!
Turtle nesting season:
Low : March
Low –med: Apr
Med – high: May
High: June & July
Low: Sept & Oct
Turtle hatchling season:
None: March – May
Med: July & Aug
High : September
Why not make your experience complete by combining this programme with a stay at the Ecoteer House Project in the Perhentian Islands Village.
1 week MYR1360 per person – Includes PADI Discover Scuba Dive or 2 fun dives for already certified divers; snorkle tour, help with nesting turtles & maintenance of hatchery, one Malay dinner & BBQ
2 week MYR3460 per person – Includes PADI Open Water course & two fun dives; Snorkle tour(Advanced Open Water course available for volunteers with Open Water qualification), snorkle tour, help with nesting turtles & maintenance of hatchery, coral regrowing project, two Malay dinner & BBQ
3 Weeks MYR5060 – Includes PADI Open Water and 7 fun dives; Eco Diver course (Advanced Open Water course available for volunteers with Open Water qualification), snorkle tour, help with nesting turtles & maintenance of hatchery, coral regrowing project, three Malay dinner & BBQ
4 Weeks MYR6710- Includes PADI Open Water and 7 fun dives; Eco Diver course (Advanced Open Water course available for volunteers with Open Water qualification), snorkle tour, help with nesting turtles & maintenance of hatchery, coral regrowing project, four Malay dinner & BBQ
MYR – Malaysian Ringgit
Compulsory for all volunteers
Ecoteer Responsible Travel lifetime membership: GBP 55 (approximately MYR270)
Includes : All diving courses and equipment, food, twin-share fan accommodation and return boat transfers from Kuala Besut.
Not included: Transportation to Kuala Besut jetty
Ecoteer Responsible Travel membership
Please allow a minimum of 3 weeks for us to process your application and payment.
Download the application form here
To make a booking, please complete the application form and email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We will then email you back confirming your reservation and how to make the deposit payment. If the deposit is not received within 2 weeks from the date your reservation is placed, your reservation will be cancelled automatically. 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. Once a deposit has been paid we will email you our Know Before You Go guide, which will give you useful information to help you prepare to volunteer.
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
The main focus of this project is turtle conservation. Turtles nest throughout the night at Tanjung Tukas from March to August. The volunteers are split into two groups with one group patrolling the beach from 8pm til 3am and the second group from 3am til 8am. If a turtle is found nesting you will guard her from any poachers and inform tourists how to view the turtle without disturbing her. In the morning the government officials will come from the Department of Fisheries to collect the eggs that were laid the previous night. A proportion of the eggs will be relocated into the Bubbles hatchery. Volunteers will be expected to clean the hatchery on a daily basis. If you come from June onwards you may get the chance to help release turtle hatchlings.
Open water Scuba Diver
Learn how to scuba dive and get to see the marine life up close! For beginners, volunteers could try the try dives or the PADI Open Water certificate for volunteers staying two weeks or less. For volunteers who are keen to further their diving qualifications and staying 3 weeks or more, a range of diving course are available for volunteers to choose from Rescue Diving, Deep Diving, Wreck diving and many more!
The house reef at Tanjung Tukas is suffering from tourist damage and global warming. Coral fragments are collected and repositioned on plastic tubes where they can recuperate and grow faster. Volunteers who can dive are needed to clean the coral fragments on a daily basis to reduce smothering from sediment which would otherwise cause a loss of light to the coral. Once the coral fragments are healthy and growing they are then translocated and cemented onto the natural coral reef.
Eco Diver course & Reef Check Surveys
The Eco Diver Course was designed by Reef Check. Reef Check is a global standard for coral reef surveys and anybody participating in an official Reef Check survey must have passed the course. The course will introduce you to the basic methodology, fish, coral substrate and invertebrate identification.
Fan twin shared room with attached bathroom & cold showers
Internet access available at the cafeteria
Free flow of water, coffee & tea together with bread and jam at the cafeteria
Electric kettle available in the rooms
This programme does not have a strict schedule to follow but the days generally starts with scuba diving sessions in the morning and afternoons for people doing courses. At night, volunteers will be patrolling the beach in shifts from 8pm til 3am and 3am til 8am to lookout for turtles and to keep poachers away. During the day if volunteers are not diving they will be assisting the conservation project leader in tasks such as managing the hatchery, beach cleaning, leading water confidence sessions for the resort guests, guiding on snorkel tours, assisting on jungle treks, preparing educational materials for tourists and powerpoint presentations, data recording etc. These tasks conducted during the day heavily depends on what is needed to be done at that moment and thus will vary according to the progress of the projects.
Every Monday starting from the first week of March until first week of October
1. What are the requirements to join this volunteering project?
Volunteers will need to be able to speak English to be able to communicate with the facilitator. Minimum age requirement is 16 year old. Volunteers below age 18 will have to fill in the parental consent form. Volunteers who are not comfortable in water should inform the facilitator so that the facilitator is able to give more attention during water activities such as snorkeling and diving.
2. How many hours do volunteer work per day?
The mornings will be the snorkeling/ diving sessions, in the evenings volunteers may conduct beach clean and in the night volunteers will be patrolling the beach.
3. How do I go to the project site?
From your country of origin (except Malaysia), take a plane to Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA). From KLIA, take a flight to Kota Bharu and take a taxi to Kuala Besut jetty.
Or take a bus from Hentian Putra Kuala Lumpur to Kuala Besut bus station.
At Kuala Besut jetty, you will need to approach the Bubbles souvenir shop to arrange your boat transport to the resort.
4. Do they have internet access & telephone signal at the project site?
Limited internet access and telephone signal at the resort.
5. Do I need to apply for visa to join?
Tourist 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, Kirgystan, Kuwait, Kyrgyz Republic, Lebanon, Lienchestien, 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.
6.What vaccinations do I need for this volunteering project?
Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, typhoid, measles, mumps, rubella (MMR), tetanus-diphtheria & malaria.
7. Is this program suitable for families with children?
This programme is only suitable for volunteers above 16 years old. Volunteers below 18 have to fill in the parental consent form.
8.I have completed my PADI Open Water Course and Advance Course. What else can I do there?
You can replace them with the following courses: Rescue diver, Underwater photography, Nitrox, Deep diving or Wreck Diving. Cost will be the same.
9.I’m not keen to join the diving activities. Is it possible to participate in the turtle and coral conservation program only?
Yes it is possible.
10.What can I do during my free time?
Volunteers can explore other parts of the island by taking a boat ride, have a short jungle trek through the bamboo forest or visit the local Malay village on the island.
11.When is the best time to visit the island?
During month of May, June, July and August when the turtle goes to the beach to nest. From July to September it will be the turtle hatchling season. During other months, turtles can also be spotted at several snorkeling spots around the island.
Where to begin? Well, I thought that getting involved in a conservation programme would be the perfect way to end my travels. Originally I was only meant to volunteer for two weeks at Bubbles, however, this didn’t really work out and I ended up staying for an extra six weeks making my stay a grand total of two months, which in my opinion was still definitely not enough time. To try and summarise what I did during my stint at Bubbles would be impossible, I learnt an incredible amount not only about marine life, turtles and diving, but also about myself and all the amazing people who I shared my time with. In spite of this, I shall try and put into words the past two months as best I can.
When the boat first pulled into the bay it looked completely deserted, with the resort hidden behind the trees all that was visible was a beautiful secluded beach, a few hammocks and the pure, crystal sea. Making this my office for the past two months was no problem whatsoever. During my first week I settled in completely, everyone was so welcoming and we were introduced to the project by getting stuck in right away. Before coming to Bubbles I was not aware of all the problems faced by sea turtles in Malaysia and one thing that I think the programme excels in is raising awareness. Guests of the resort are always informed about the turtles which nest on Bubbles beach, either through turtle talks, white board notices or posters in their room. All of which I was lucky enough myself to be involved in.
As I arrived quite early in the season it wasn’t until my third week that I saw a nesting turtle. Having the opportunity to watch a turtle nest was probably the most extraordinary experience during my whole stay. The whole process is incredible but my favourite part is definitely when she uses her back fins to dig the chamber, I never realised a turtles fins were able to move in that way. The fact that I could get so close to these amazing creatures and see how they lay made staying up until 3am completely and utterly worth it. Even if sometimes the nests were almost impossible to find that you ended up getting covered in so much sand and effectively became a part of the beach yourself. One turtle in particular stands out for me, when she was leaving her nest she managed to fall down a hill of sand, being confused and not realising that she had fallen so far, she continued to try and cover up her nest next to the tide line, even though it was a good ten metres away. As a consequence we called her Bridget Jones.
Diving was another experience that I was introduced to during my time at Bubbles and I am now completely hooked. In the beginning I had no clue of the difference between a bamboo shark and a sting ray (slightly exaggerated) but by the time I left I could spot and sign a number of different species of fish, I shall never however live down the time that I thought that an Indian Walker was a crab. I completed both my open water and advance courses during my stay and this meant that I was able to help out with another aspect of the project, the coral nursery. A few times a week Gareth, one of the conservation facilitators, and me would dive down to the nursery and attach broken corals to the frames and give them a good clean at the same time. At the end of each dive we would practice a ‘skill’, this included ballroom dancing, running without fins (this ended in a fit of giggles), making a swim through with our legs and doing summersaults. It is moments like these that I definitely miss the most.
After my first month I was given the position of Head Volunteer. This effectively put me under the bracket of staff but I continued to have all of the responsibilities that I had previously as a volunteer, apart from the fact that I was able to take my own snorkel tours. The snorkelling round the islands is incredible, I snorkelled with different species of turtle, black-tip reef sharks, barracuda and many other beautiful fish hidden beneath the coral. As a volunteer you also get to go on one of these snorkel tours and I can safely say it is one of the best places I have snorkelled in the world. Not only is there a copious amount of marine life, but the wildlife above the water is everywhere to be found. Both flying lemur’s and dusky langur monkey’s will interrupt you whilst you are trying to eat by swinging through the trees next to the restaurant. Monitor Lizards, Whip Snakes and Geckos are constantly hiding around the resort and you are able to get so close to these fascinating creatures. The island is a hot spot for wildlife and I was lucky enough able to be right amongst it.
The days at Bubbles were filled with beach cleaning, hatchery maintenance, jungle trekking, palm weaving and covering up turtle tracks. You were never bored, there is always something to be fixed, built, drawn etc and I learnt so many new skills during my time volunteering, including how to use a power-saw (slightly worrying for my Mother). However, you are always given some downtime, either to go for a swim and a snorkel or simply to read a book in a hammock and watch the sunset on the beach.
The evenings are filled with swapping stories about what goes on during the day, having a game of cards or a few drinks, bbq’s, malay dinners and patrolling the beach for turtles. You would think that a seven hour nightshift would drag, but the patrols flew by, especially when you were with someone else. If there wasn’t a turtle to distract you, you would end up talking until the sun would come up. Some of my best memories of my time spent volunteering are of the nightshifts; we would make up star constellations, take photos using lazer pens, we saw a moon that looked exactly like a jaffa cake and played in the brightest bioluminescence I have ever seen. You really get to know people properly when it is just the two of you sat on a beach at night and I loved how sociable the project was.
Oh and just a side note, the seafood curry that the kitchen staff make is just delicious, I have taken the recipe home in hope that when I make it, it will be at least fifty percent as good as theirs. One of the main things I have taken from my two months volunteering is the people I have met. They are some of the most incredible characters with the most insane stories to tell and I will continue to keep in touch with them for a long time to come. I got to know people working in all aspects of the resort and I really felt like I had been welcomed into the Bubbles family. This program has shown me that you can make a difference in one place, no matter how small, and how rewarding it is to see the work that you do having such a positive impact. I would recommend this conservation programme to anyone, it has so many different aspects to it that there is something for everyone to enjoy, no matter how long they wish to stay for. It has completely opened my eyes and becoming involved with conservation projects all over the world is currently where I would like my life to lead, as a result I am looking into returning to Bubbles to continue to help the turtles.
Sharna, March 2013
It has been a wonderful experience for me because in Singapore, we don’t have beautiful beaches that are home to such exotic and interesting marine wildlife. Also, being in Perhentian has taught me so much about the turtles, has let me actually experience something out of my comfort zone; doing turtle watches, watching the hatching process, learning about corals and the marine ecosystem at Perhentian. These are things that we do not learn in school, so it was very refreshing for me. I made many new friends when I participated in the Perhentian project and has given me one experience that I will not forget. (:
Victoria, Singaporean, June 2012
The trip seems so far away now but we had a very special experience. Finlay still talks alot about his trip and it was a fantastic opportunity for him and he would love to go back! I thought the overall project was very well organised and offered lots of learning opportunities.
Anne & Finlay April 2012
Stayed here with a friend for 4 nights 5 days June 2012, as volunteers for the Ecoteer Turtle Conservation Project. As soon as we got off the boat and onto the small, private and stunning beach we felt welcomed and at home. The resort is basic but has everything you need, including great hammocks along the tree line of the beach, free wifi and access to beach toys, lilo’s and snorkel equipment. I thought we were spoilt for snorkeling in Australia but at Bubbles you only need to go 20 metres from the beach to find clown fish, anemones, great coral, sharks, sea turtles and abundance of fish to be mesmerized by! The staff at Bubbles are great. They’re friendly and make you feel like you’ve arrived at your new home for your stay. It’s great to see a resort who are focused on conservation and make an effort to involve their guests in the project. The food at Bubbles is fantastic. Great range, fresh and tasty! Gareth is a great representative of the ecoteer project. He knows his stuff and supports newbies to help him with the project. We were so lucky to see a sea turtle nest on the beach and learn about the hatchery and other areas of the project. We’ll be back, that’s for sure!!
Rachel, June 2012
Rhino & Elephant Conservation Volunteer in Zimbabwe
Volunteer in this Rhino & Elephant volunteering conservation to help conserve their population in the wild
Street Children Education Volunteer Programme in Zimbabwe
Volunteer in this community project to educate & mentor street children in Zimbabwe to empower them for a brighter future through workshops & education
Gorilla & Chimpanzee Conservation Volunteer in Cameroon
Volunteer in the Gorilla & Chimpanzee Conservation in Cameroon to help conserve these great apes in the wild
Community Outreach Volunteer in South Africa
A community outreach volunteer programme in South Africa which empowers the community through education, health awareness & business empowerment.
Sun Bear Volunteer Conservation in Borneo
Volunteers with sunbears in a sunbear conservation & rehabilitation centre in Borneo
Volunteer with Tigers & Turtles in Malaysia
Volunteer in a tiger conservation programme at Taman Negara & a turtle conservation at Perhentian Island
Jungles & Islands FUZE Style
A combination of wildlife conservation camera trap setting project at Mount Korbu & a community development project at Perhentian Island
Jungles & Islands – Kampong Style
A combination of a tiger & wildlife conservation project near Taman Negara & a community development project at Perhentians
Volunteer Tiger Conservation Taman Negara
Learn how to track tigers & wildlife & spot animal traps in the rainforest and meet the Batek tribe community.
Elephant Research & Conservation Volunteer in Sri Lanka
A Sri Lankan elephant research project that focuses on collecting data on elephant population and creating human-elephant conflict mitigation plans