Perhentian Island Turtle Project

2 to 4 weeks
18 - 100 years
86 travelers are looking at this program

About This Program

Volunteer for sea turtles on Malaysia’s Perhentian islands. Help us protect Green sea turtle nesting sites, as well as tracking their movements with snorkel surveys whilst soaking up the beautiful scenery and culture the Perhentians have to offer.

This project is split between the Fisherman’s Village and the nesting beach we protect, and volunteers experience both parts. You will spend their time helping build the turtle image database; by taking images of turtles during snorkel surveys. We can then identify individual turtles and map their movements around the islands. This data is vital to the development of an effective management plan for sea turtle conservation. Volunteers will also participate in night patrols, to help detect mother turtles lay their eggs and wade off poachers. Also, enjoy learning about the Malay culture while living in the village and having Malay Dinner every week at the house of a local. Relaxing and learning in paradise, this is a project for you!


  • Help our Turtle team to conserve Sea Turtles on a tropical island paradise
  • Enjoy afternoon snorkel surveys while taking photo ID of sea turtles
  • Night patrols under the stars and moon to protect mother turtles who come to lay their eggs
  • Spend your day off lounging on Malaysia’s most beautiful beaches
  • Contribute to our sea turtles database which is vital for the management of a plan for sea turtles conservation

Night Patrols

You will help to collect non-invasive photos of nesting sea turtles at beaches around the Perhentian Islands. The photos that you collect will help our researchers establish nesting patterns of sea turtles on the Islands. Unfortunately poachers still occasionally collect eggs from the beaches on Perhentian. The government staff travel around the islands but they are sometimes too late. Your role is to guard the beach and when a turtle comes to nest, inform the government official who will then collect the eggs and safely protect them in their official hatchery. We have found that just the presence of people often deterred poachers from landing on the beach. Your presence will ensure more that 2 turtle nesting beaches are protected in the Perhentian Islands.

Snorkel Photo ID Sessions

The scutes (scales) on the flippers and the side of a green turtle’s face are unique to each individual. In collaboration with the Department of Fisheries and Cambridge University, UK, we collect photos and other important data of the sea turtles on nesting beaches and at sea whilst snorkelling. We then use software developed by Cambridge University to identify each photo against a database of previously categorised individuals. If new turtles are discovered then you get to name your new turtle. The information that this research gathers is vital for conservation measures as we will be able to identify population numbers of male and female turtles, locate hotspots where conservation efforts need to be focused and also determine turtle movement patterns. The data will then be used by decision makers to design the Marine Park Zonation Plan.

What's Included
More info on what's included:

food, dorm accommodation with shared bathroom, cooking facilities, all volunteer activities, return ferry from Kuala Besut to Perhentian, weekly Malay dinner.

What's Not Included
Domestic Airfare
Airport Transfers
SIM cards
Travel Insurance
More info on what's not included:

travel to and from Kuala Besut, insurance, visa costs, flight fares, food/activities not included in the project.


17km off the east coast of Malaysia lie the Perhentian Islands; made up of Perhentian Kecil and Perhentian Besar both boast beautiful white beaches and crystal clear waters. Once used as a stopping point for traders travelling between Malaysia and Bangkok (Perhentian means ‘stopping point’ in Malay) it now hosts tourists who come to relax, snorkel, and dive off the coral reefs surrounding the islands.

Volunteers live in our very own volunteer house in local village Kampung Pasir Hantu on the southeast side of Perhentian Kecil. We work with local people and businesses as much as we can throughout the project and living in the village is a fantastic way for volunteers to experience local traditions, cuisine, and culture.


Food is an important part of Malaysian culture, as you will soon find out!

Breakfast tends to be simple; for instance bread with peanut butter or jam, banana cake, and coffee, or tea. For those feeling like they want to experience a more traditional Malay breakfast, you are more than welcome to venture into the village, and see what takes your fancy. Paratha bread with curry and coconut rice is highly recommended!

Lunch is usually had at the house. Feel free to use our weekly shopping supplies to create a tasty meal for yourself. Or if we are not home, a yummy packed lunch is prepared by a local restaurant. Generally rice or noodles served with chicken, beef, fish, squid, or a vegetarian option.

Volunteers take turns to prepare dinner once a week and all pitch in to clear up afterwards. Our volunteers come from around the world, so this is a great opportunities to sample cuisine from different countries and eat all together. In addition to the self prepared dinners, once a week volunteers dine with local families in their home, experiencing true, authentic Malay dishes and customs.

Staying in the turtle house means everyone has to join in with the cleaning and cooking schedule to keep the accommodation nice and tidy… and filled with yummy food!

Since the Perhentian Turtle Project has been running we have…

• Briefed 4,276 people on eco-snorkelling practices

• Spent 882 hours surveying sea turtles

• Sighted 1,533 turtles in total

• Recorded 131 individual turtle sightings (13% male | 53% female | 34% as yet unsexed)

• Identified & protected 142 nests

• Saved over 40,000 turtle hatchlings in 2017 alone

• Cleared 371 bags of rubbish from our beaches (over 1500kg!)



Two Weeks
$1032 USD
Three Weeks
$1267 USD
Four Weeks
$1407 USD


Perhentian Islands
Malaysian Ringgit
90 F / 61 F
90 F / 66 F
86 F / 66 F
86 F / 63 F
Sultan Mahmud Airport
( TGG )

The Perhentian Islands are a group of islands off of the coast of Malaysia that are surrounded by coral reefs. The 2 islands have different vibes with the Big island catering more towards families and cheaper travels. The island activities typically center around the water and coral reef conservation and research.

Hosted by Fuze Ecoteer Outdoor Adventures

Fuze Ecoteer Outdoor Adventures is a travel company with a bite. Let us connect you to nature! Our team members are all experienced & passionate people who love adventure and sharing their knowledge. Our business model utilizes revenue generated from voluntourism to establish self-sustaining conservation & community projects. The projects...

Liyana - Fuze
Volunteer Liaison Officer
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based on 16 reviews
  • Impact 8.6
  • Support 9.4
  • Fun 8.9
  • Value 9.1
  • Safety 9.4
Showing 1 - 15 of 16
Pei Yan
Yes, I recommend this program

great experience with even greater people

I was lucky enough to spend 2 weeks at this beautiful island. As a Malaysian, it was extremely rewarding for me to be able to do something meaningful in my country, which also happens to be a tropical paradise! The organisation is relatively small, which is perfect because you get the chance to bond with the amazing interns volunteering there. The whole group is made of people from different countries, which I loved; however, it was also a little disappointing to see so few Malaysians being interested in conservation projects like this. If you're Malaysian and you're reading this, good on you because you're halfway there! (now go click the sign up button will ya?)
Enough talking about the people, the turtle experience is truly one of a kind. I saw turtles for the first time at my very first snorkel survey. It was such a wonderful experience watching it swim around and feeding off sea grass, we then took pictures of the turtle, for photo identification later in the day. Throughout the past 2 weeks, I saw so many turtles, from our snorkel surveys and snorkel tours. It's amazing watching these wonderful creatures swimming about in the waters.
I think the best experience for me though, was when I encountered my very first nesting turtle. I was so amazed by mama turtle, looking for different spots for the perfect nest, laying hundreds of eggs, one by one, and slowly making her way back towards the sea. I was truly mesmerised by this whole process, of mama turtle, of mother nature. Imagine having a 170kg of weight at your back and you've only got flippers to drag you across the sand??!! I don't know about you, but I'm sure I can't! Hats off to you turtles!

What would you improve about this program?
- better hut at nesting beach Tiga Ruang, had a storm the first night i was there and the roof was leaking water and windows can't be closed properly. (on other nights when there are no rains the hammocks are a great place to sleep though!)
- more activities in the afternoon (after lunch?) could perhaps create more activities in public awareness / integrating with the local villagers.
Yes, I recommend this program

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

Yes, I recommend this program

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

What would you improve about this program?
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.
Yes, I recommend this program

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?

What would you improve about this program?
-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 :)

Yes, I recommend this program

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!

Yes, I recommend this program

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.

What would you improve about this program?
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.

Yes, I recommend this program

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.

What would you improve about this program?
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.
Yes, I recommend this program

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!

What would you improve about this program?
Food supply at the beach as well as more tasks for the volunteers.
Yes, I recommend this program

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

What would you improve about this program?
-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?)
Yes, I recommend this program

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

What would you improve about this program?
maybe get a fridge and a public use mosquito repellent. everything else is perfect.
Yes, I recommend this program

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.

Yes, I recommend this program

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.

What would you improve about this program?
We proposed to have more information (books, videos ...) in the house to read and teach yourself during free time.
Yes, I recommend this program

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.

Yes, I recommend this program

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!

Yes, I recommend this program

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!

What would you improve about this program?
Overall is good!


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