diving volunteer Tropical Research and Conservation centre, sabah malaysia



Paradise - that's where we are. Tropical beaches, nesting turtles and azure blue warm water. This is the perfect holiday destination, and a great place for your volunteer or gap year trip.

Though we dive & snorkel on fantastic reefs, we know all too well that the coral reefs are not doing well. Many reefs look like underwater deserts, all stone and rock and no life anywhere. A rubble seabed is not what a coral reef should look like. To help with this problem and rebuild reefs destroyed by people, we create coral gardens. In fact, we consider ourselves proactive underwater gardeners. After growing the coral, fish move in to create a vibrant ecosystem.

It takes time and effort. Have you got what it takes? If so, please join us at the Tropical Research and Conservation Centre (TRACC). We are a non profit conservation organisation that works in Malaysian Borneo to protect fantastic creatures like the green and hawksbill turtles. We care about the coral and marine life - do you?




I was there for a week to volunteer.

this place is filled with nice and kind-hearted people devoted to taking care of the corals and making some fun out of it!

Highly recommended should you thirst for a truly natural experience (and be prepared for it.

Please do stay longer to make a real impact! (I feel my 1week stay has not helped much actually)

more of you should be doing this!

Visited August 2016

How can this program be improved?
more first aid equipment
Yes, I recommend this program
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TRACC is the best! You get to:
-Live on a tropical island.
-Swim with turtles and so many other beautiful marine creatures.
-Dive and see the most beautiful coral reefs in the world (many of which TRACC have created/gardened themselves).
-Hang out with the loveliest people.
-Get stuck in with every project.
-Eat homemade fried chicken.
Oh...and save the planet all in just the small space of a 2 week holiday!
I am 100% sure that I will be returning.

How can this program be improved?
It can't!
Yes, I recommend this program
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Trying to think about beginning this review is already proving difficult because it's hard to find the words to describe what an incredible place and experience this is. My girlfriend and I stumbled across TRACC whilst looking for somewhere to do some volunteering and I can't tell you how happy we were to have found it.

TRACC is incredibly well run. There is such a relaxed atmosphere but yet everything still gets done. Every evening, the staff set out the relaxed timetable for the following day and everyone can sign up to what they want so you can dive as much or as little as you want. We were only snorkelling so signed ourselves up to carrying out the Turtle Survey every day and what better way to spend your days than swimming with turtles every day?! After speaking to other staff and volunteers about our ambition to learn to dive, we had multiple offers of everyone wanting to take us out for a DSD (Discover Scuba Diving) and obviously we took up the offer! If you're just Snorkelling like us and want to learn to dive then TRACC is the best place to do it.

You stay in a spacious tent (although dorm rooms are currently being built as well), you have a shower as well as western toilets, delicious meals are cooked for you every lunch and dinner, you can dive as much or as little as you want, you can learn to dive, and most importantly, you get the chance to make a real difference to marine life. All you have to do is grab a mask, go for a quick swim in the house reef and you can see the incredible work that TRACC are doing and the improvement they are making to marine life.

Whether you're old or young, single or a couple, diver or a snorkeller, you should have no hesitation to go and volunteer at TRACC.

You'll meet some amazing people, you'll make a real difference and you'll have so much fun doing it! We miss it so much already and we've not even been gone for a month!

How can this program be improved?
Air conditioning in all the tents! ;)
Yes, I recommend this program
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My time at Pom Pom and with TRACC was so free, so happy, and so expansive for my knowledge and my mind. There was the freedom to dive as much or as little as I wanted, to grab a tank at 5am or 10 pm, to be involved in a number of awesome conservation projects and create my own. My knowledge expanded with every dive, even diving the same site, the same house reef everyday, I would seeing new creatures, or noticing a new coral, or a new behavior. And everyday every question or new observation or little problem was met with such enthusiasm by the Pom Pom community – everyone was talking and thinking and experiencing and loving the ocean all day everyday, making learning something new everyday come so naturally. The community and the people were also awesome – everyone helped each other out and shared their knowledge about the diving and the life and the conservation project. TRACC and Pom Pom Island has so much to offer, and if you get really involved it can give you so much!

A few recommendations… bring your own mask, fins, booties, wetsuit/rashgaurd/whatever you wear to dive in and snorkel – it’s a conservation organization and although there is spare BCD’s and Reg’s the smaller things are harder to come by.

Be prepared for simple living and ready to adapt to jungle camp life and island time – I loved my tent and all the joys that come with living freely and simply on the island, but it means insects, and slightly salty showers, lack of/faulty electricity and sand everywhere.

If you are going for your Divemaster (like I did) it is not a totally traditional dive school in that there are not a lot of other students coming through. This means a lot of the teaching assistance exercises are simulated with other Divermasters. But for me (who is making marine conservation my career) that was far outweighed by the knowledge I gained about the ocean life and ocean processes, the conservation projects and techniques, and the many experienced Divemaster's that shared so much knowledge, and simply the total freedom of diving so so much, and practicing Divemaster skills in other ways such as leading conservation dives and instructing new volunteers on how to do some of the conservation work underwater.

And most importantly – get involved and ask questions! If there is something you really want to know or do just ask someone or engineer a project and start it! There is plenty to be gained if you express the desire to accomplish something!

Yes, I recommend this program
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I have been back for a total of three weeks and the buzz and memories from being on the small island of Pom Pom has yet to fade. It was the most amazing experience of my life and one that I would love to make an annual occurrence. As the lifestyle and experiences gained out there were truly magnificent, from saying goodbye to internet, tv, stairs, cars and real life on the island to swimming with some of the most amazing creatures in the sea.. Green sea turtles and Hawksbill its truly magical.
I went to Pom Pom for four weeks and it was in no way long enough, I could have easily stayed for double the length of time and if money was no issue... indefinitely.

I went as a snorkeler but you could visit Pom Pom as a diver also, with amazing dive sites around the island and other dive sites and islands in the surrounding area with so much to see. From the ever-growing biodiversity that TRACC is working so hard to bring back after unsustainable and illegal fishing methods previously devastated the vast coral reefs and fish, sharks and mammals in the surrounding area. The organisation not only offers a brilliant experience for volunteers but also providing a future for the ocean and its inhabitants.

Although the conditions are not ideal for everyone, I believe that any keen conservationists or students looking for a future in marine biology, ecology or conservation would look past the camping style accommodation and enjoy their trip for the amazing work they would be doing and the wonders they would see in the waters. But the accommodation is always improving and the TRACC organisation would love to provide more suitable living arrangements for volunteers of all ages and traveling abilities.

This was my first ever solo travel/stay abroad and I was a little shocked at first at the toilet, shower and washing facilities but 3 days in I just didn't care. You had what you needed.... running water to shower in, a western toilet to sit on, a tent to call your own with a working fan and food available whenever you wanted it. Albeit a little samey and lacking of vegetarian options but you would never starve. With weekly trips to the mainland for shopping and drinking water, additions could be made to the regular shopping list and if there was enough space on the boat a trip to Semporna could usually be arranged.

And if you wanted to spend a night or two in a hotel or a room with a proper bed, there are cheap alternatives to your tent if a little bit of civilisation is craved in Semporna.

I would say a good mosquito repellent, an open mind and the love for the ocean is definitely required with all volunteers. If you have that you will love every second! It opened my eyes to the big wild sea and living without home comforts and I love it! Already plan to return next year and carry out my PADI open and advanced water and I can't wait!

How can this program be improved?
Updated introductory information to be sent out to all new volunteers before they arrive on the island.
Yes, I recommend this program


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