Perhentian Island Turtle Project

2 to 4 weeks
18 - 100 years
89 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
Have a question?
Send Liyana a Message


9.3 Rating
based on 20 reviews
  • Impact 8.8
  • Support 9.5
  • Fun 9.1
  • Value 9.1
  • Safety 9.3
Showing 1 - 8 of 20
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Best Work Placement!

I was a volunteer coordinator for the project from June - November 2017 and it was an incredible experience. I learned so much about turtle conservation and met so many great people during my time there. The work that is done has a real impact on the turtles within the area, we carried out worthwhile research and did our part to protect the local environment. The perhentian islands are a beautiful place to work and the local people are extremely kind, I had an amazing time and would recommend to anyone!

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
Diving at temple of the sea and seeing many sharks!
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Perhentian Turtle Project

Dedication. The tea at the Perhentian turtle Project are dedicated to their cause, and do it all the while with a positive attitude. Everyone on that team loved what they were doing and to be able to experience something so special... Recording nesting or feeding turtles... Releasing hatchlings back into the ocean... Was something no one could soon forget. I hope this project flourishes and progresses far into the future. Projects like these will save our marine turtles and keep them among us in years to come.

Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Incredible hands on wildlife project

I was lucky enough to live as an intern at the Perhentian Island Turtle Project and assist with their programme for a few months in 2019. I loved kayaking over to the turtle feeding sight, it is quite a paddle but it certainly keeps you fit. Learning to free dive to take photos of the turtles feeding was great too because you can see up close just how magical these creatures are. However, nothing beats spending nights with the nesting turtles to collect their eggs and releasing hatchlings. The beach is closed off to tourists at night so it feels incredibly special to be there. The sunsets are incredible and in the day you get to relax and catch up on sleep on one of the most pristine and beautiful beaches in the islands. Plus the team and manager Mel were amazing and welcoming, and very knowledgeable about turtles and marine life; I learnt an incredible amount from them. Finally, I found living in the local village a really unique experience. The locals are so welcoming and you really get to live amongst another culture. Yes it might be hot having to cover up more than usual, but I loved being a part of the community and discovering about their beliefs, culture and of course their cuisine. A life-changing experience!

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Embrace the culture, step out of your comfort zone
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Unforgettable Experience!

This program was truely magical! I went with one of my best friends two years ago and we still frequently reflect on our time spent at the Perhentian Islands.
Firstly, the people we met were like no other. All the interns were passionate, fun-loving, enthusiastic and so caring. Everyone working on this project had a common goal of helping the world and it was such a refreshing approach to life. Secondly, it really feels like you are contributing back to this planet when you release the little hatchlings into the ocean. Moments I will never forget. Thirdly, it was simultaneously such a relaxing trip with lots of downtime. However, I would definitely recommend travelling with a buddy so you can spend this time exploring the island together
The absolute trip of a lifetime!!

What would you improve about this program?
Provide some more entertainment for time spent at Tiga Ruang - books/board games/crafts
Default avatar
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.
Default avatar
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

Default avatar
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.
Default avatar
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 :)


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