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Environmental Education and Community Engagement on Malaysia's Perhentian Islands
  • Open April – September
  • Teaching | Beach Cleans | Roots & Shoots
  • Flexible Length Programs
  • Prices Start from £420

If you want a previous volunteer’s perspective on this project – feel free to contact Meike, who will answer any questions you might have!


“Volunteering at the Eco-Education project is one I will never forget. From the breathtaking snorkel trips around the island, to truly experiencing Malay culture with a Malay dinner and Kuih making session. Even being Malaysian myself, this was a unique experience. I really enjoyed learning how to prepare classes for the village kids. Having to brainstorm ideas for teaching is no easy task but the outcome is rewarding. Seeing the village kids happy after my classes really made be satisfied and all the efforts I put in worth it. As an overall experience, the Eco-Education Project is one that I would recommend to anyone.

Teh De Juan, Malaysia


“The Ecoteer staff were really friendly, supportive and believed in what they were doing. They tried to give as much background information on the social situation of the locals as possible, and helped us to get in touch with them afterwards so that we could understand their values and culture better. This is something that a normal tourist would not get. Other than that we were accommodated in an authentic Malay wooden house, which I really enjoyed! I can recommend this program to everybody who is looking for a volunteering opportunity with cultural elements and a picturesque setting.”



“Having spent a week on the Ecoteer programme in the Perhentians, my only regret is not staying longer. You’re fully immersed into the local village life and the local community could not be more welcoming. It was a pleasure to be part of and see the learning and conservation work being carried out by the Ecoteer team. Not only was it a fun experience for all involved, every effort is made to ensure anything implemented is sustainable and hence create a better and more prosperous future for the village and its people.”


“Having spent a week on the programme, my only regret is not staying longer. You’re fully immersed into the local village life and the local community could not be more welcoming. It was a pleasure to be part of and see the learning and conservation work being carried out by the Ecoteer team. Not only was it a fun experience for all involved, every effort was made to ensure anything implemented is sustainable and hence create a better and more prosperous future for the village and its people.”


Teaching Green Education in Paradise

It is often the people in the local communities who are affected by any environmental issues or practices that we are trying to address. Therefore, working with local communities for sustainable living and community-led conservation is foremost and vital to make steps in the right direction. This happens through community-led tourism, interaction, and environmental education. Volunteers will experience this while gaining a personal perspective of community life in a traditional Malay village surrounded by turquoise seas, white sands and vibrant marine life.

A Wide Range of Activities

A typical day of teaching green education in paradise starts with a house or mural painting, eco-snorkel briefings for tourists or conducting a beach clean. Also, it could involve planning lessons for 3 weekly school clubs. We are very proud that our school clubs are part of the Roots and Shoots programme started by Dr Jane Goodall.

Help for all Ages

In 2012, we established the Perhentian Island Ladies Association (PILA) to engage local women in community-led tourism and for financial support. The PILA restaurant currently offers full-time employment to 6 previous housewives who can cook amazing Malay food and share a major part of their culture with anyone willing to listen.

Volunteering for the Family

If you are a family wanting to do something meaningful on your holiday, this project is perfect for you. The local school children love it when there are new children to play with!  Also for those who are only briefly on the island, we can arrange volunteering stays for a week or even shorter!

All Arrivals are on a Monday, departures are on a Sunday.

Start date commences every week from Monday, 6 April until Monday, 21 September. You’ll be able to select the exact date at the time of booking on our booking form.

2020 Pricing for Volunteers 

Volunteering DurationInternational VolunteerMalaysian Volunteer
1 weekRM2,098
(£420 or $525)
2 weeksRM3,158
(£632 or $790
3 weeksRM4,218
(£844 or $1,055)
4 weeksRM5,278
(£1,056 or $1,265)

*All prices are based on Malaysian Ringgit (MYR). All international prices are subject to change dependent on the current exchange rate.

The prices shown are inclusive of GBP100 worth of carbon offsetting for 13 hours of return flights and other on project carbon production.

This project is actually now CARBON POSITIVE. This means that by participating in this project, less carbon dioxide will be in the atmosphere!


  • Accommodation
  • Food and cooking facilities
  • Weekly Malay dinner
  • All project volunteer activities
  • Return ferry from Kuala Besut to Perhentian


  • Flight fares
  • Travel insurance
  • Visa costs
  • Food/activities not included in the project
  • Travel to and from Kuala Besut

For an extra RM130 per night, volunteers can opt for an ensuite private room with air-con. The room sleeps up to 2 people with 1 double bed.This room is not always available so kindly confirm availability with Ecoteer in advance by contacting us directly.

Teaching sessions

The local children are full of energy and enthusiasm and are always excited to meet new volunteers! Help us prepare interactive, educational activities for the local children, and deliver these teaching sessions with our staff.

We conduct English classes each week for the local children on the island. We also provide drop-in sessions for children to come and learn with us. Therefore, there are plenty of ways to use your own skills and creativity to have fun whilst educating these kids. No teaching experience is required – just enthusiasm and a sense of humor!

ECO Club

We also offer the local children to improve their research skills by participating in Coral Watch, a citizen science program. Here, you will get opportunity to go on a eco-snorkel tour with the local children to assess the health of corals around the island.

Also, you will be involved in kayak patrol around the island waters to conduct sea-cleanups. You will also learn about our precious plastic project, and get plenty of opportunities to help our staff with the precious plastic machine and building upcycled products.

Perhentian Islands Ladies Association (PILA)

In 2012, Ecoteer initiated the PILA to engage local women in community-led tourism offering them a chance to increase their income. You can support these ladies by giving talks around the local resorts and encouraging more tourists to attend the weekly ‘Kuih’ making sessions to sample their delicious home-made snacks and cakes. These delicious classes are open to tourists and volunteers. This is a fun and informative cultural exchange, and it provides the members of PILA with a much-needed income boost.


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, and coffee or tea. For volunteers interested in experiencing 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 cooked at the house. Feel free to use our weekly shopping supplies to create a tasty meal for yourself. Or, if we go for project activities, a yummy packed lunch is prepared by a local restaurant.

Volunteers take turns to prepare dinner once a week and all pitch in to clear up afterwards. Staying in the volunteer 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! Also, our volunteers come from around the world, so this is a great opportunity to sample cuisine from different countries and eat all together. For a true taste of Malaysian cooking, we also host a weekly Malay dinner; open to volunteers, tourists, and locals alike.


Volunteers spend majority of their time in the project house, while they live in our volunteer house located in the local village, Kampung Pasir Hantu on the southeast side of Perhentian Kecil. Want to see where you’ll be staying? Check out our volunteer accommodation video on YouTube.

Since the Perhentian Eco-Education Project was established, we have successfully…

  • Led over 1,000 hours of school clubs
  • Cleared 371 bags of rubbish from our beaches (over 1,500kg!)
  • Painted signs around the village to remind tourists to be respectful of the local culture.
  • Organised educational trips to Kuala Lumpur for students and teachers of the local school.
  • Held multiple science camps to encourage local children to be innovative, think creatively and make new discoveries.
  • Initiated the Perhentian Island Ladies Association to help 6 previously unemployed women provide for themselves and benefit from the tourism industry.
  • Started the Roots & Shoots kids program to teach sustainability and critical thinking.

Together with our other projects, Ecoteer has…

Generated RM 150k for villagers and local businesses
Raised RM 189k for local transportation

Looking to the Future

The Eco-Education Project is constantly looking for new ways to benefit the local community through interaction and environmental education. Currently, our team are working hard to get the local school registered as a WWF Eco School.

Although tourism is a great way to increase income for the island, it also has its downsides. With this in mind, we work with other Ecoteer projects on the island to raise conservation awareness, give eco-snorkel briefings and conduct regular beach cleans. We aim to continue our collaboration with Ecoteer projects; but more importantly, we hope to strengthen our relationship with the local stakeholders to ensure the protection of the corals and marine life around the islands.

What are the requirements to join this program?

Volunteers can be 15 years or younger if with parents, 16/17 with a parental consent form and 18 or over without. You will need to have a positive attitude, participate in all volunteer activities and respect the local village culture and traditions. It is also required to help out with any house chores.

Do I need any teaching experience?

No teaching experience is necessary. Our friendly staff will train you up with everything you need to know about communicating with children, and will even teach you some Malay phrases to help. Practise makes perfect and the more you interact with the children and the local community the easier it will be!

How do I get to Perhentian Island from Kuala Lumpur?

You can take a plane to Kota Bharu airport (KBR), and then take a taxi to Kuala Besut Jetty. The taxi ride is approximately an hour. Taxis are available from the airport but please let us know if you need us to arrange one for you by emailing us your flight number and arrival time. OR if you want to take a bus, you can purchase bus tickets from Terminal Bersepadu Selatan (TBS), Kuala Lumpur to Kuala Besut Bus Station. Alternatively, you can book online using Easybook. Buses normally travel overnight and it takes about 8 to 10 hours depending on the road conditions. Walk 5 to 10 minute from the Kuala Besut bus station to Save Park Holidays. Please provide us with your arrival time prior as one of the Save Park Holidays staff will be waiting for your arrival at the office. From the jetty, you will take a 30-minute boat ride to the island. Boats leave from the Jetty at 8 am, 12 am, and 4 pm.

Is it possible to have our own room?

Volunteers can opt for a double room with air-con for an extra charge of RM150 per night. This room is not always available so kindly confirm availability with Ecoteer in advance by contacting us directly.

Is this program suitable for families with young children?

Absolutely! Children do not need to take part in any construction or heavy work but can still experience the life and culture of living in a Malay village. We find that the local children really gain from meeting children from other cultures and backgrounds!

Is there internet access?

There is limited internet access on the island but volunteers are able to use the communal internet dongle at the Ecoteer House. The WiFi is usually quite weak, so it is recommended to purchase an affordable local sim if needed.

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.

I want to do more to help the islands! What else can I get involved in?

There is plenty you can do! We have mini-projects that we can allocate you to complete in your free time. Whether it’s making and developing our handicraft products using waste found on the beach, helping improve our awareness campaigns, or conducting tourist questionnaires and talks at resorts around the islands, there is plenty for you to get stuck into!

What if I want to volunteer at more than one project?

Good news, you now can! We offer two amazing combination volunteer trips, which involve spending 2 or 3 weeks in total, volunteering both in the amazing Teman Negara rainforest of Merapoh and on the paradise Perhentian Islands. A perfect compromise if you want a broader taste of what Malaysia has to offer. If the Perhentian Eco-Education Project takes your fancy in particular, check out our popular Jungle & Island combo trip.

I have some specific questions about the project.

We are happy to answer any questions you may have by email.

For Qs related to insurance, visas, vaccinations or payment check out the General FAQs page and for more specific payment Qs have a look at the Terms & Conditions page.
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