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Sea Turtle Conservation & Research on Paradise Islands

Hosted by Fuze Ecoteer Outdoor Adventures
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  • Help conserve Sea Turtles on a tropical island paradise
  • Enjoy afternoon snorkel surveys
  • Night patrols under the stars and moon helping mother sea turtles lay their eggs
  • Spend your day off lounging on Malaysia’s most beautiful beaches
Perhentian Islands
2 to 4 weeks
  • Hostel


You will join our research and conservation team on the beautiful Perhentian Islands. By Day you will help us to take photos of sea turtles in the sea. The photos will be used to create a database of individual turtles and where they have been seen.

This research will allow us to know how many males, females and sub-adult turtles there are living in the islands and will help us to create a localized sea turtle management plan.

What to Expect

Arrive at Safe Park Holidays' office on Monday and take a boat transfer to the Coral View. Attend afternoon briefing and orientation, become acquainted with the local area through tour of area and shops, and participate in water confidence session. Share dinner with fellow volunteers and attend marine presentation in evening.

Your project will be based the village and the turtle beach, and you will swap locations every three days. At the village, you will kayak to the location of a 2-hour swim/snorkel sea turtle survey in the mornings, perform data analysis and participate in cultural activities through the afternoons, and have your evenings free.

While at turtle beach, you will perform a snorkel sea turtle photo ID session, talk to tourists that visit the beach, and help with hatchery duties in the mornings. In the evenings, volunteers will rotate turtle watch duties.

Included/Not Included
What's Included
  • Meals
  • Mixed-dorm accommodation in traditional Malay house
  • Marine park fee
  • Return ferry from Kuala Besut to Perhentian Islands
What's Not Included
  • International/Domestic Flights
  • Travel to and from Kuala Besut
  • Travel Insurance
Housing & Meals

While in the village, you will be staying in a traditional Malay house. While at turtle beach, you have the option of sleeping under the stars amongst the sand, relaxing in a hammock, or spending the night in our simple but comfortable beach hut.


Daily meals are provided and allow participants the opportunity to experience Malay culture and cuisine.


Pricing & Availability

Program Reviews

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Program Reviews (15)

Default avatar

Experience of a Lifetime


I had the best couple of weeks at the project on the Perhentian Islands in July/August 2016. I had an amazing time, as well as learning so much about turtle conservation, as well as the environment in general which certainly lead to many lifestyle changes afterwards.
I'd never seen turtles before, and as they're my favourite animals, this was such a special experience. You get to see many turtles in their natural environment; feeding, nesting and babies heading to the sea for their first swim.
Would thoroughly recommend this to anyone who was thinking about going

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23 years old
Bangor University

The Perhentian Pride!


My home village is around the same size as the fishing village on the Perhentian Islands, yet when arriving, and learning of the place whilst I was there, I realised that this place was special, and diversity and a powerful sense of love spiralled through the community, from the locals who had been there for twenty, thirty years, to the volunteers who had been there for not much longer than a week (like myself at the time!).

It was incredible; seeing humans come together with such motivating attitudes, and kind, caring hearts. I felt like this was a home for me. It wasn't long before I promised myself that I'd return again, perhaps in high season, so energy levels would be peeking, and even more excitement would be up for grabs!

The Perhentian Islands have formed a special place in my heart, that is constantly lit by the firelight of potential, and I hope I helped, and will help again in the future when the time comes.

The Perhentian Islands are KHABAR BYIK! :D

~Joseph Shepherd

How can this program be improved?

The easiest way to improve this program is to ensure that when you go, you are ready to help regardless of situation; if things are going slowly, do not worry; there is always a project to get your hands working :)

And perhaps remember sun cream.
Seriously. ;)
It's important.

Default avatar
32 years old

Perhentian, The Underwater World


There is something magical in the Perhentian islands.
I knew right away when the boat was fast approaching the coast.
An island that seemed born of the sea, as if it had suddenly appeared, with its inhabitants, lush forest, the boats moored at the dock, Malaysian women, the melodic language.

Before leaving I'm always curious to know what I will find in my trip, so I read the Ecoteer program and the experiences of those who had already lived in the Islands. They were all excited. It was time to be excited too.

Over time I realized what are my needs and why I like to travel. If you can answer this question you will know better what are you looking for.
I left with an idea in mind: discover the culture of Malaysia, immerse myself in nature, without join into a tour operator.
I wanted to discover the experience of the Interns, the issues they are facing to protect Nature and to teach English at local schools, and I wanted to observe and share my time with the locals.
I discovered Ecoteer thanks to this desire.

I had not made particular perspectives.
I was going to discover me and my desire. My experience has fully met my expectations.

Staff Ecoteer welcomed me with the other volunteers and told us what the plan of activity of the group was. During this period, the volunteers slept together in a spartan house, built with local materials, learned a few words in Malay and eaten with Malaysian women, in their homes, with traditional food cooked by them.
We swam and discovered the rich seabed, with its fascinating biodiversity: an underwater world where exist totally different rules, a place where relationships are ancestral and unchanged from centuries.
After my first experience with this mystery, my heart and my mind were completely disrupted, undermined, impressed, modified and renewed. How can you not to take care of this impressive word? It is something so beautiful and precious! You will understand better the importance of nature after have seen it with your eyes.
They made me understand even more deeply why the Man is so lucky, surrounded by such a stunning beauty! It is our responsibility to protect it.

The group explained how the environmental situation is getting worse, especially for the turtles, who have great difficulty in reproducing. The task is an huge challenge because it concern education, a change of lifestyle, teach the importance of recycling and how to production less waste, practice a responsible consumption. Unfortunately, many of these problems were caused by Western culture.

-To smile at a person and see a smile back (Malaysian culture)
-To discover the underwater world
-Have a dinner with Malaysian women, understand their customs and taste their food
-Drink many mango lassì, a popular traditional yogurt-based drink
-Look at the sea in any times and at any hours to feel you truly Alive.

So, why are you still waiting to feel you Alive?

How can this program be improved?

-It would be nice to create some workshop for locals and vice versa.
Foreign instructor could be teach about handicraft (crocheting, painting, music, etc. ) and Malay women could teach about their culture, cooking classes or local handicraft;
-It would be interesting a permaculture project on the island;
-It would be nice to create more artistic object or painting to decorate the main Ecoteer house and the dormitory for the volunteer (or some structural intervenes) to give a better welcome :)

32 years old

Best Week of My 2016


My friend and I were the first volunteers of 2016 session for the Turtle Project. Being a first timer, seriously I didn't know what to expect. There were so much unforgettable memories; from our bumpy (almost cancelled) motorboat ride to the island, to the orientation jetty jump (first time as well and I'm terrified of water).

The most unforgettable of course, was the night we spent on the Tiga Ruang Beach! The beach hut was not setup and not equipped with electricity yet (see, we were the firsts few of the year), so, we spent the night sleeping at the beach while taking turn to patrol the beach for any turtle that came up to lay eggs.

Although we were not lucky enough to witness the egg laying process, but the night was definitely the best memory of 2016. The sky was clear and we could see the stars. The island was so quiet that we can hear the waves. The sea breeze temperature was just nice to be sleeping on the beach. Everything would be perfect if we were to be able to witness the egg laying process. But then again, that would be my exact excuse to be back on the project again!

All in all, it's still a good experience and would definitely recommend it to any friends that are up for extraordinary trips!

23 years old
Leeds, United Kingdom
Newcastle University

A very rewarding experience


I spent two weeks with the Turtle Project in June this year and really enjoyed my time on the Perhentian Islands. The programme affords volunteers unparalleled opportunities to view green turtles in their natural habitat while making a valuable contribution to their well being through the undertaking of marine surveys and turtle watches at night. A written description of my time spent with the the project wouldn't do it justice, so I've attached a video below!

The whole team were friendly and easy to get a long with and the volunteer house was a good size with various amenities such as wi-fi if required. The house is also located in the heart of the local village so it was nice to live amongst the other islanders for the time spent there. The programme had a nice touch in that once a week we actually ate dinner with the local villagers in traditional Malay outfits. I was able to learn a lot about their culture by doing this.

As a keen scuba diver, I was also impressed with the projects links with other conservation programmes on the island such as Blue Temple and various dive shops where I was able to get involved with some diving during my time off.

As for the islands themselves, the project is set in a stunning location with golden beaches, clear waters and tropical rainforests! It truly is an island paradise as described on the website.

Overall a truly unique and rewarding experience on the Perhentian Islands. I would definitely recommend the project to others.

How can this program be improved?

My only suggestion for the project would be to introduce additional activities for volunteers to carry out. While personally I was always busy on the days I was there through a mix of surveys and diving, a number of other volunteers did seem to spend a lot of time sitting around the volunteer house on certain days. Perhaps this could be resolved by further integration in to the community.

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30 years old

Great introduction to turtle conservation


My partner and I took part in this conservation project for 2 weeks. We definitely learnt a lot from our experience regarding sea turtles and the current conservational issues facing them. The interns we worked with were great people - very friendly and informative. The accommodation was basic but comfortable, and the food was good.

As we both come from a Marine Biology and veterinary background we did however feel that a lot more could be done by the project, for instance the data they collect with the surveys could be used in more efficient ways and the surveys themselves could be based in different locations. We felt that there was a lot of potential here, and I'm sure the project will grow from strength to strength in the coming years.

How can this program be improved?

We really felt that the surveys should be completed in different areas so you can get a better idea of where turtles are visitng regularly/seagrass qualitiy in different locations.
We didn't understand how visitng the same area everyday would give you any new data.
Also we felt the data being collected could be shared with other projects - the more information between conservation projects surely the better for knowledge and understanding.

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26 years old

Perhentians are just WOW


We really enjoyed our time at the Perhentians, a corner of paradise. The project was fun and we loved the program that involved a Robinson-Crusoe-like 3 night stay at the most beautiful desert beach where we helped protecting the turtle's hatchlings before delivering them in the sea! Turtle surveys were also very cool as you could snorkel and see turtles up close as well as amazing corals and fishes. We also cleaned up a beach from all the litter and that was also very satisfying, especially when locals would pass by you and thank you! We loved Malaysian food (the program also included a dinner night out at some of the locals') and Malay people, very welcoming and lovely!

How can this program be improved?

Food supply at the beach as well as more tasks for the volunteers.

Default avatar
Selangor, Malaysia
College of the Atlantic

2 weeks worth it all. I promise to be back!


For a project that just started this year, their achievements so far are quite impressive, especially their ability to identify individual turtles without needing to refer to their database of turtle photos. I've been photo-identifying the tails of North Atlantic humpback whales for a year and I still need to go through the whole catalog of whale tail photos to find a match. Maybe it is because the turtle photo database has only less than 60 individuals while the humpback whale catalog has more than 8000 individuals. However, I believe it is because the ones who were photo-identifying the turtle photos and the ones who took the photos are the same people - they were actually there and personally interacted with the very turtles they are trying to protect. Furthermore, as the project is situated right next to two resorts, it makes it easier for them to reach out to tourist and raise awareness about the importance of sea turtle conservation. As the project has just started, it is hard to say how much of an impact they have really made. But I believe that if they continue on this path, with some power-ups along the way (more funding, better software to catalog and photo-id), I'm sure they will eventually achieve their goal. But I hope the project and the staff (along with their friendliness and enthusiasm) will still be there whether the goal has been achieved already or not because I did promise to come back :D

How can this program be improved?

-reduce mosquito population
-get more laptops to make data analysis more efficient/better delegation of work
-get a fridge
-get more local involvement
-expand the range of snorkel survey and awareness campaign areas (maybe collaborate with other projects/organizations?)

Default avatar
19 years old

everyones so friendly :)


it was an awesome experience. The accommodation was amazing, it was just by the sea with a private beach(yes a private beach). Everyone was pretty nice and friendly. The snorkeling was amazing, specially the tours. everyone should give it a try x

How can this program be improved?

maybe get a fridge and a public use mosquito repellent. everything else is perfect.

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42 years old

amazing experience


I finally got to witness sea turtle laying eggs. I learned a lot on how commercialised tourism badly affects the environment and wild life. Now seeing uneducated tourist shouting and disturbing the sea turtles eating makes me realise how important volunteerism should be promoted.

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42 years old
We are in Barcelona, Catalonia

Turtle Conservation Program in Perhentian islands (April 2015)


Ecotourism: when a trip leaves an imprint on the common good

We are passionate about travelling and discovering new places. We are passionate about trying to understand de world, from the different perspective of each culture. We enjoy, specially, the nature and its beauty, and the challenge of understanding its operating mechanisms, balanced perfectly from millions of years of evolutions. In fact, everything is nature, and the world we know is not possible without it.

For this reason, we support the idea that the maintenance of all our ecosystems, most of them endangered, are the key for the common good of the humanity and for its continuity in near future.

For all these reasons, the trips that enriched us the most are the trips that we are in contact with the nature, awesome landscape in harmony with flora, fauna and native culture. Always with this idea we have undertaken a long round the world trip during the year 2015, which will bring us to discover the most beautiful and interesting places of the Australian, Asiatic and American continents.

Our trip will be based on ecotourism principles. We want to discover destinations, activities and local programs always environment-friendly, worried about the conservation of the common cultural heritage and fostering local economy.

For this reason, we contacted ECOTEER, and the Turtle Conservation Program in the Perhentian islands. We joined the team as volunteers for two weeks in a just started program in early 2015. The assessment of the experience has been excellent in all the aspects; we will point to the main three

1. Interest and scientific approach of the conservation program.

We consider that the technical management of the program, led by experimented biologists in the field of marine conservation and marine turtles, has focused a project based in an unequivocal identification strategy of each individual turtle. Implementing a non-invasive methodology, based in a photo identification technique to better understand the resident, transient and nesting population of hard shelled marine turtles.

A part from the identification, they work together with the fishery department looking for turtle nests, avoiding poachers and keeping the eggs in the hatchery. They are also developing an awareness campaign in order to inform tourist and local people, how to juggle in a sustainable way the environmental preservation of the islands and tourism.

In parallel to this project, and to add efforts, they work with another team of ECOOTER, who lead the Community Project. Placed in the village and whose aim is to teach and support the islanders to caring for their habitat.

2. Humane treatment

We want to remark the friendly staff who lead both projects. Our warm welcome, the integration to the project and the day work, make us feel as being among friends, they also gave us the opportunity of sharing experiences with local people as in the Malay dinner, a real immersion in a Malay family.

3. The beauty of the Perhentian islands

The last but not the least important, the landscape of Perhentian islands, with vast potential. We did ones of our best snorkelling in there, a part from enjoy the jungle and swim in beautiful coves.
For all these reasons, we strongly recommend, to live this volunteer experience with ECOTEER.

How can this program be improved?

We proposed to have more information (books, videos ...) in the house to read and teach yourself during free time.

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32 years old
North Yorkshire
University of Leeds

Fantastic and informative experience


It is fantastic to see the wealth of knowledge and effort that has gone into making this project what it is today. Seh Ling is a fantastic project manager with total dedication to conserving turtles; The facial recognition software which she hopes to implement will not only increase our knowledge of the local green turtle populations in the Perhentians, but will also aid further research elsewhere. All in all this is a brilliant project which everyone I know would love to be part of. It is one of the few projects with meaningful research behind it that will hopefully aid the understanding of these fabulous creatures.

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24 years old
Wormley, UK
University of Birmingham

Such a worthwhile experience!


I was fortunate enough to be involved with this project just as it was getting started, and I can say there is little to fault! The islands are truly stunning, the people are really nice and supportive (plus know a lot more than I did on arriving!), and the local food is delicious. On other programs it's easy to feel just like another tourist, but here you can easily taste the traditional island life and meet the local woman (who make amazing donuts: 3 for 18p!!), as well do all the usual stuff like diving/snorkelling. But doing it with the research program has been a lot more informative and hence I think you get so much more out of the experience, as well as the opportunity to give something back and to make a difference. Overall, wonderful experience and I look forward to going back in the future to see how it has progressed!

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24 years old
KL, Malaysia

Know more about sea turtle


Previous intern with Ecoteer, their project there is awesome especially their project leader, Seh Ling is the key person behind. Patrol every night with professional guidance, learn a lot from hands-on!

How can this program be improved?

Overall is good!

Default avatar
24 years old
Canoa, Ecuador
University of Newcastle

An amazing, worthwhile experience


Earlier this year, I had an incredible experience on this program. The overnight turtle watch was definitely something I will never forget. If you love nature or, more specifically, turtles, this is the program for you.


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Fuze Ecoteer Outdoor Adventures is a travel company with a bite!

Our team are all experienced and passionate, with two of our project staff currently studying for their PhD and a third planning to. Our business model utilizes revenue generated from voluntourism to establish self-sustaining

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