Terengganu Turtle Conservation Programme - Pulau Perhentian, Terengganu Malaysia
Help us conserve Sea Turtles on the tropical island paradise, the Perhentian Islands. You too can play your part to help preserve the number one beach location in Malaysia, as named by CNN in 2013. These beaches are well worth a visit and deserve to be maintained for future generations to enjoy. Through our Turtle and Island project you will join hands with researchers and the local government to help conserve sea turtles in the Perhentian Islands. Your time will be split into two, the village and the turtle beach. When you are in the village you will help our researchers to collect scientific data by literally snorkelling and snapping photos of turtles. The photos will be used to identify individual turtle’s and their movements around the islands which will help decision makers to develop a sea turtle management plan for the islands. You will also get a chance to experience the Malaysian hospitality and enjoy village life. When you are based at the Turtle Beach you will enjoy the rustic beach life, chilling in hammocks in the morning, afternoon snorkel surveys and night patrols under the stars and moon helping mother sea turtles lay their eggs and sending off hatchlings on their lifetime voyage. And of course, you will have time off to enjoy these beautiful, paradise islands.
If you are looking to do a meaningful conservation project in a paradise beach location then this project is for you.
Things to Bring
Checklist Attire ~ Light cotton long sleeve and short sleeve tshirts, shorts, hat, sunglasses
Essentials to get you through ~ mosquito repellent, sunblock lotion, heat rub for muscles ache, water bottle Nice to haves ~ camera and batteries, video cameras
Introduction to Programme
In 2011 we started the Ecoteer Teaching and Community Project and in 2014, in collaboration with Blue Temple Conservation, we started the Marine Research Project. Now in 2015, this is the final piece to the jigsaw – an island-wide Sea Turtle Conservation Project.
This new turtle project is all about helping to protect and conserve the turtles that nest, breed and forage around Perhentian Islands. You will not only protect them whilst on the nesting beaches but help gain more knowledge about them whilst they are in the waters around the islands. This project forms one aspect of what we want to achieve in the islands, a complete Community and Conservation (Turtles and Corals) Project. I am proud of what our team have achieved so fa r, however the establishment of this project is actually just the start of things.
Now we have set our foundations, it is time to make a long lasting difference in the Perhentian Islands.
Daniel Quilter, 2014
NOTE: This is a rough outline of the activities that will be conducted whilst on the project; some activities will be swapped as shifts change on a rota basis.
Morning: Volunteers arrive at Safe Park Holidays office, Kuala Besut jetty. Boat transfer to the Coral View (Pulau Perhentian Besar).
Afternoon: Briefing and orientation: project overview and code of conduct, a tour around the local area and shops and water confidence session (learn the dos and don’ts of snorkeling plus how to wear the life jacket & snorkel gear).
Evening: Dinner, marine presentation & rest.
Your project is based at two locations – the village and the Turtle Beach. You will follow a 3 day rota where you swap location.
Morning: Sea turtle photo ID snorkel survey – You would normally kayak over to the desired location for the survey and swim searching for turtles for at least 2 hours.
Afternoon : rest and data analysis, cultural activities such as Learning how to make local snacks.
Evening : Free
Afternoon : Snorkel Photo ID Session at the turtle beach and talk to the tourists that visit the beach. You may also help with hatchery duties.
Evening : Turtle watch on rota
Departure day, check out time is 12 PM, however you can take a boat back to the mainland at 8 AM, 12 PM or 4 PM.
If you would prefer less free time in your program, we are happy to share many of our mini projects with you. So if you want to be involved in these activities which are not included in your program, feel free to speak to us and we can allocate you a mini project for you to complete in your free time whilst at the project. Examples will be making and developing our handicraft products using waste found on the beach such as sea glass, help to improve our awareness campaign or conduct tourist questionnaire and talks at resorts around the islands.
Terengganu Turtle Conservation Programme Fee
International Volunteers 2018
Min Duration of 2 weeks
2 weeks MYR 3,105 Approx GBP621
3 weeks MYR 3,910 Approx GBP782
4 weeks MYR 4,313 Approx GBP863
* MYR – Ringgit Malaysia
** Price includes 6% GST Government Tax
Malaysian Volunteers 2018
1 week MYR 800
2 weeks MYR 1,755
3 weeks MYR 2,210
4 weeks MYR 2,600
Marine park fee
Return Ferry from Kuala Besut to Perhentian Islands
Minimum 3 overnight turtle watches per week.
Daily Photo ID sessions with our researchers
Mixed sex Dormitory accommodation with western toilet.
Travel to/from Kuala Besut; Insurance
For more information, call Dan Quilter at
5 Easy Steps to Book Your Island Adventure:
1) Contact us here with your initial inquiry – tell us about yourself and the project you would like to join.
2) You will receive an e-mail with more information and the application form to complete.
3) On receipt of your application we will confirm your reservation and inform you how to make your deposit payment. Your reservation will be held for 2 weeks, after which it will be cancelled automatically if no deposit is received.
4) Please allow a minimum of 3 weeks for us to process your application and payment.
5) 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.
It’s that Simple! Once your deposit has been paid you will receive our Know Before You Go guide, which is packed full of useful information about your project and general tips to prepare you for volunteering.
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
You will be staying in a traditional Malay house in the middle of the one and only village on the smaller of the Perhentian Islands – Perhentian Kecil. Your stay in this adorable little village everyone will welcome you with open arms. Here you will have the unique opportunity to experience Malay culture, try the most delicious Malay food, hang out with the ladies and play with the kids (if you want).
When you go to the turtle beach, things get a bit more rustic. What more to wish for than sleeping under the stars with the sound of the ocean in the background. If you don’t want to sleep on the beach itself, you can dream away in a hammock or get comfortable in our beach hut. The beach hut is very simple but sand free and has air mattresses.
1. What are the requirements to join this program?
Volunteers must be over 18 or over 16 with a parental consent form. You will need to have a positive attitude and willing to participate in all volunteer activities. It is also important to respect the local culture and traditions whilst living in the Malay village.
2. How do I get to Perhentian Island from Kuala Lumpur?
Take a plane to Kota Bharu airport, then a 1 hour taxi ride to Kuala Besut Jetty. From the jetty, take a 30 minute boat ride to the island.
OR take a bus from Hentian Putra, Kuala Lumpur to Kuala Besut Bus station.
3. What vaccinations do I need before going to the island?
Hepatitis A; Hepatitis B; typhoid; measles, mumps, rubella (MMR); tetanus-diphtheria
4. Any details on visas?
Tourists 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, Kyrgyzstan , Kuwait, Kyrgyz Republic, Lebanon, Liechtenstein, 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.
5. What is the minimum age to join?
16 years old with parental consent form submitted together with your application form, or 18 without a parental consent form.
6. Is this program suitable for families with young children?
Families with young children (6 and above) can participate.
7. How long is the typical volunteer working day?
The volunteering activities run from morning until evening with a lunch break in between. For volunteers staying longer than one week, Sundays are usually free days.
If you are a non-Malaysian volunteer you will be starting your program where you will learn about sea turtles, coral reefs and the forest of the Perhentian islands. This week will also involve nightly patrols of the sea turtle nesting beach at Bubbles and talking to the guests about sea turtle conservation. The purpose of this week is to first teach you about the environment and then help you to share your new knowledge to the guests so you can make the most out of your following weeks.
In the Village (weeks 2+)
The volunteers loved spending the night in the village in 2010 and the villagers started to see how they benefit from turtles financially. Therefore in 2011 after the intro week as a volunteer you will be based in the village providing direct financial benefits to the local villagers. It is so important the villagers see financial benefits from the a healthy sea turtle population and its this which will stimulate a love for turtles amongst the villagers.
Protecting Pinang Seribu
The beach at Pinang Seribu is only 50m long but with over 150 turtle nests per year it is the number 1 beach for sea turtle nestings in the Perhentian Islands. On a rota system each night volunteers (only volunteers based in the village) will guard this beach and collect data about the nesting turtles. The volunteers are assisting the Department of Fisheries by collecting this data and the sheer presence of volunteers deters the poachers. Volunteers will be accompanied by Help Our Penyu staff and a villager. You will be sleeping in tents among the rocks fringing the beach. PLEASE BE WARNED ONLY HELP OUR PENYU STAFF AND THE VILLAGER ARE ALLOWED TO APPROACH ANY POACHERS.
Turtles Need Trees and English Club
We had such great success with our fortnightly Turtles Need Trees Club in the pilot year 2010 that we will continue this program but also introduce a fortnightly English club as well. The clubs are a great way to engage the local school children on the island and help them to not only develop a love for the marine and island environment but also improve their English.
Tourists are one of the biggest problems for sea turtles in the Perhentian Islands. By educating the tourists about sea turtle and marine conservation you will help to reduce the following conflicts – harassing turtles (in the sea and whilst nesting), encouraging improper conduct (paying to release turtle hatchlings) and standing on corals. The info booth is portable and will be located at different beaches around the island.
Where does my money go?
The cost of your trip covers four main areas;
The administration and marketing are essential to the running of any project and ensures that you can find the project, you are well prepared for the trip, that you can have questions answered and the whole things works well.
Getting you safely to the project, ensuring you get fed, giving you a room at the project site and staffing the project is the other chunk of spending. This makes your experience enjoyable and ensures you work most effectively when you are at the center.
The remainder funds the community work. Your money helps to purchase materials, resources, medicines, food, pay for staff and any releases. The project exists because of you.
How do I go about booking my flights?
Please try to book your flights as far as possible in advance of your departure as flights become more expensive with time. We will provide you with some additional information in the 'Know Before You Go' pack that we send when we have received your deposit. If you have any difficulties feel free to contact our support team.
Do I need a mosquito net?
Volunteers sometimes leave behind their mosquito nets but we cannot guarantee availability so if in any doubt please bring your own.
Can I leave my old clothes behind?
If you are going to throw them away, please leave them with a project facilitator as old clothes are often appreciated by the local community
This code has been designed by Ecoteer after consultation with project coordinators and volunteers and has been adapted for the Terengganu Turtle Expedition. The code of conduct ensures all volunteers are aware of their obligations and responsibilities to the project, villagers and other volunteers. By accepting the intent of the code and through complying with its provisions, Ecoteer volunteers acknowledge their privileged status as representatives of Ecoteer within local communities. Failure to comply with the code may lead to the withdrawal of a person from a project.
Before you volunteer
Before you come on this expedition you must research about traveling in Malaysia and Malay culture. If you have any questions we are more than willing to talk with you;
You must buy yourself suitable travel insurance;
If you cannot join the expedition for whatever reason please contact us as soon as possible;
Whilst on the expedition
Listen to, and follow, the instructions of your expedition leaders;
On many of the days you will be waking up early – 5.30am. It is vital to the program that you are punctual.
You will be walking in the tropics. The temperature can exceed 40c so ensure you drink plenty of water and wear sun block;
VERY IMPORTANT - On days that you walk you will have a break during the hottest time of the day – 11am til 2pm. You are encouraged to bathe in the sea to help your body cool down BUT you are not allowed to sunbathe on the beach. Dehydration and heat stroke is a serious risk and all precautions must be taken to prohibit them;
VERY IMPORTANT - You will be walking and staying at traditional Malaysian villagers which are very devout Islamic communities. All participants must wear t-shirts and not small vests or bikinis or topless for the guys whilst walking or whilst staying in the village;
Whilst resting near or staying in villages you must wear t-shirts when in the sea or on the beach.
Whilst visiting the homes of the local villagers and at the school the males must wear trousers (not shorts) and the females long skirts or trousers. The most important thing is to ensure your knees are covered.
Display respect and courtesy for expedition staff, other volunteers, the villagers and tourists (whilst on Perhentian);
VERY IMPORTANT – Expedition goers must understand some cultural differences may disturb them, but their feelings should be kept under control. If they have a significant problem they should discuss this with the expedition staff who may help to explain more about the issue and act upon it suitably;
Overnight visitors are not allowed in your rooms;
Expedition staff and tourists are not allowed to have intimate relationships;
Respect the accommodation you are using and pay for any damage you may cause to the property;
Be aware that there will be no refunds for food/accommodation if you decide to go on trips or leave early;
Tardiness is not acceptable. Your full commitment to the project and initiative will help the project maintain a good reputation within the village communities. Your attitude towards cultural sensitivities will also play a major role in building this relationship.
Volunteers who do not turn up for work or refuse to participate in the daily work routine will be issued a warning, after which, they may be removed from the project without compensation.
The first week breakfast will be basic with porridge and toast being the staple as they provide good energy. For the lunches on days 2, 3 and 7 the HOPE staff will be cooking a simple meal consisting of rice, fish and vegetables. The other lunches and dinners in the first week will be taken either at local restaurants or with the ladies of PEWANIS who will cook you their local cuisine. The local cuisine tends to be spicy so PLEASE inform us if you do not like spicy food.
During the walking days we will provide you with water. We allocate two litres of water per 10km and the leader will take additional water.
We will continue to supply you with free water throughout the whole expedition.
During your second week you will stay at the Bubbles Dive Resort where you will be provided with three meals a day at the open-air restaurant. Each day for breakfast you can choose between cereals, egg on toast or the most favourite chocolate pancake. Lunch consists of either sandwiches, noodles or pasta. In the evening the meals get more traditional with rice being served with a chicken dish, a vegetable dish and an egg for all to share. You have access to free flow water, tea and coffee.
Laundry services are available at both Kg Mangkok and Bubbles Dive Resort. The cost of laundry is not included in the expedition
Malaysia is a country with lots and lots of rain with an annual rainfall of way over 2500mm in many areas. Humidity levels are extremely high at over 90%. If the sun is out, your clothes will dry in no time, but on a cloudy day, wet clothes, shoes, towels take very much longer to dry.
Bring clothes that are light and dry easily. Heavy downpours in Malaysia are really buckets emptying themselves over you, so be prepared to get soaked to the skin when you least expect it! Light material long sleeves and long pants are advisable for tree planting activity due to the weeds, undergrowths and insects that may be encountered.
Bring several changes of clothes that you don’t mind getting really mucky and dirty in as habitat restoration work involves clearing of undergrowth and weeds, mulching and tree planting. Other work at the school / in the community may involve painting, building or maintenance work.
Taking into consideration community sensitivities, clothes that cover the shoulders & cleavage and longer than the knees are a must when working in the village. The same is necessary when visiting local homes and schools.
This packing list is only a suggestion and by no means a complete or exhaustive list.
~ Photocopies of important papers such as passport, airline tickets and insurance documents
~ Money in Malaysian Ringgit (MYR)
~ Day bag / rucksack with waterproof cover or bring plastic bags
~ Waterproof bags to protect important items
~ T shirts, t shirts and more t shirts (thin ones are the best);
~ A few pairs of light weight trousers;
~ Swim wear;
~ Rash vest to wear in the sea;
~ Sun block – biodegradable is best – (Non-biodegradable sun block is one of the biggest killers of coral on the Great Barrier Reef – the best is called ‘Aloe up’ just Google it);
~ Small pillow for camping;
~ Red bulb torch (head torches are very useful);
~ Sandals or flip-flops;
~ Clothes that you do not mind getting dirty whilst replanting mangrove trees;
~ Good walking shoes or trainers (flip flops and sandals are not allowed in the jungle);
~ Water bottle;
~ A hat to keep off the sun;
~ Camcorder/Digital camera if possible to film turtles;
~ Underwater camera;
~ Books and mp3 players - to keep you occupied during time off;
~ Mosquito net;
~ Medicines – Anti-histamines, basic first aid kit, sunscreen, after sun, Diarrhoea medication and antibiotics and anti-inflammatory for ear, nose and throat problems. Peroxide and anti-bacterial Dettol can both be useful for cleaning out cuts as wounds quickly become infected;
~ MAXIS (which is also called hotlink) Malaysian Sim card – this network has the best coverage at the project site; we suggest you get RM30 of credit for 4 weeks;
~ Stationery like pencils, paper and story books to give to the children (OPTIONAL);
Most items are available in Malaysia at comparative prices. You can get almost anything from the hundreds of little shops and large shopping malls dotted all around Kuala Lumpur and Kuala Terengganu. Credit cards are widely accepted and ATMs are abundant in Kuala Lumpur and Kuala Terengganu
Cash is the preferred mode of transaction in small shops and some do not accept credit cards. Shops in the village carry extremely limited items and will only accept cash.