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Borneo Marine and Turtle Conservation

Pom Pom Island
from £1,200 (2 weeks)

Ref: AV097

A great chance to help conserve the endangered marine life underwater, and protect sharks, rays and turtles as well as re-planting corals on damaged reef.  Here volunteers can work on their diving skills by joining a Padi course as part of their volunteer experience and have unlimited diving opportunities on many beautiful reefs.  Volunteer also carry out valuable turtle conservation activities including beach patrols and collecting turtle eggs to take to the safe hatchery and snorkelling out to monitor and identify the turtles on the reef. Volunteers live in large tents on the the beautiful deserted beach and wake up to the stunning sunrise over the ocean each morning.  If you are passionate about endangered species, diving and conservation, this is the project for you!

Who can join: 17 years and above
Accommodation: Tents on the beach
Transfer time: approx 2.5 hours
Pick up Point: Tawau Aiport (Pom Pom island)
Meals: Three meals a day are provided
Volunteer numbers: Approx. 20

Duration & Fees

2 weeks£1,200

For those who already have a dive qualification and do not wish to take another

2 weeks£1,390

Including Padi Open Water Dive Qualification

3 weeks£1,500

For those who already have a dive qualification and do not wish to take another

3 weeks£1,690

Including Padi Open Water Dive Qualification

4 weeks£1,800

For those who already have a advanced dive qualification and do not wish to take another

4 weeks£1,990

Including Padi Open Water Dive Qualification

4 weeks£2,180

Including Padi Open Water & Advanced Dive Qualification

6 weeks£2,300

For those who already have a advanced dive qualification and do not wish to take another

6 weeks£2,490

Including Padi Open Water & Advanced Dive Qualification

6 weeks£2,490

Including Padi Open Water Dive Qualification

6 weeks£2,870

Including Padi Open Water & Advanced Dive Qualification & Emergency First Responder

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Start Dates

This project is available all year round. Volunteers should arrive on a any Monday throughout the year.


£180 deposit at time of booking – balance payment of project fee due 12 weeks before departure

What's Included

  • Accommodation and three meals per day plus snacks and drinks
  • Airport: we have a pick up and drop off service from Tawau airport,  Bus leaves about lunchtime on Mondays, (payable direct for bus rm25 one way)
  • Boat over to Pom Pom Island is included on a Monday or Thursday only.
  • Orientation and training including scientific study training
  • 24 hour support from project staff 
  • PADI Open Water Dive Course/qualifications (if you have selected to do this project option)
  • Help and support from project staff including planning of excursions
  • Dive equipment, with the exception of mask, snorkel, fins, wetsuit/skins/rash vest


What's not included

  • International flights to Tawau
  • Bus (rm25 each way) or Taxi (rm120 each way) from Tawau to Semporna 
  • Insurance to include cover for repatriation
  • Visas if required
  • Dive skins, crocs and snorkel gear - bring fins suitable for dive boots as walking on coral rubble is painful
  • Underwater camera - computer is available to download photos or burn to disc
  • Soft drinks and items of a personal nature
  • Any excursions and activities during free time


  • Patrol beaches for nesting turtles
  • Plant new corals and rebuild existing ones
  • Dive every day in crystal clear waters
  • Conduct shark, ray, and reef fish surveys
  • Learn how to dive for the first time or take the advanced diver qualification
  • Meet other conservation enthusiasts
  • Take a dive course and improve your skills
  • Wake up each morning in your beach tent to a beautiful sunrise over the water
  • Explore Sabah (either before of after your time on the project)

We offer some exciting marine conservation projects in Sabah, Borneo, suitable for all marine conservation volunteers whether they already have diving qualifications, wish to acheive them whilst on the project or simply want to help whilst snorkling.  This is a fantastic opportunity to play a part in helping to protect this beautiful part of the ocean with activities ranging from coral planting, reef restoration, fish and shark surveys, turtle protection and educating the local community about the importance of protecting their enviroment.  

For non divers who want to become qualified divers their is the option to volunteer and take the Padi Open Water and Advanced Diver courses at the same time as volunteering. Divers are also taught Science Training so that they can carry out the activiteis of the project.  

For those who already have their Padi Open Water qualification they can volunteer whilst also acheiveing their Advanced Diver Qualification and for those who are already qualified to PADI Advanced Diver Level they are welcome to join as a volunteer and start marine conservation activiteis on arrival.    

Volunteers who wish to snorkle and swim are also very welcome and mainly help with turtle conservation and community education and development activities.

Pom Pom Island 

This exciting project - where volunteers can sleep in tents on the beach - is based on the beautiful Pom Pom Island, offshore from Semporna in Eastern Sabah, and offers a variety of marine conservation activtiies that include reef restoration and coral planting, Fish and Coral Sruveys, Shark and Ray Project as well as Turtle conservation beach clean ups.

Reef Restoration and Coral Planting
The ultimate aim of the project is to protect an area of the ocean and develop a marine protected area for turtles, sharks, fish and coral reefs. Corals are the basis for a healthy reef so the ultimate aim of the project is to grow a reef!  After training volunteers work in small groups to help repair the existing coral reef by carrying out soft and hard coral planting, a wide range of which is planted to create diversity. These corals are then monitored and measured for their growth and survival. Volunteers also work to increase the numbers of fish in the area - this will involves creating fish aggregating devices and installing and monitoring them in order to find the best solution as well as implementing the underwater planting of these devices. Volunteers will be busy each working day with fish and coral, photo and video editing, and preparing reef restoration materials.

Reef Fish and Coral Surveys
Volunteers may be involved in creating habitat maps of the area as well as documenting ecology, behaviour and biodiversity. The proejct is currently focusing its research on studying the rare mimic octopus, sea hares, larval fish settlement, juvenile turtle abundance as well as improving coral planting techniques.

Shark & Ray Project: 
The project does regular big fish surveys to document larger fish, shark and ray populations  As night surveys as well as deep and drift dives are all required to find this marine life and therefore this is something that the advanced divers tend to do. 

The water is crystal clear, and temperatures are around 27-29 degrees Celsius, and no monsoon season. Volunteers can expect to see grey reef sharks, eagle rays and manta rays and even whale sharks during the April to June whale shark season.

Beach Clean Ups 
This is an essential part of the project as by conducting these clean ups volunteers help to reduce turtle deaths and safeguard the pristine environment of the coral reefs.

Turtle conservation 
Pom Pom Island has a large numbers of resident and nesting turtles, all volunteers including those that dive get involved in monitoring of nesting turtles or population surveys.   

Most of the work on this project does not require any diving, and is perfect for snorkellers. Volunteers are needed all year round to conduct turtle snorkel surveys but the majority of the work is when the turtles are nesting from May to October. 

Volunteers are needed to patroll three islands around Pom Pom In Sabah, to make sure that all the adult turtles nest without disturbance, and that all the eggs end up in the hatchery and not in the market in Semporna.   Turtles are protected in Sabah but poaching occurs if the eggs are left on the beach.

Volunteers tend to snorkel out every day at low tide, when the turtles have to move off the seagrass beds. They also patrol the beaches looking for nesting turtles, collect data and then move the eggs to a hatchery so they will be safe from poachers. 

During the lower nesting period each month the turtle volunteers may help with the school for disadvantaged children or we arrange environmental education classes at the local schools in the district.

Diving and Dive Qualifications

Diving qualifications are taught to a very high standard and novice divers can assist with the reef restoration and survey in easy conditions with shallow water, low currents and calm seas.

Once volunteers have developed in confidence and skills they will work with the qualified divers on advanced diving skills, learning survey techniques, scientific diving and improved navigation skills as well as identification of the many weird and wonderful creatures that you find in this part of the ocean.   Volunteres are also taught peak performance buoyancy in order to work on the coral nursery.

Volunteers normally dive 2-3 times per day with 50% of the time being work based activities and 50% leisure dives doing exploration and taking photography etc.  If the weather is suitable, buddy pairs are welcome to do walk-in sunset or night dives on the reef directly from the beach. 

Advanced Qualified divers are very welcome to assist with more challenging diving including surveys at night, drift dives, big fish and shark surveys and photographing the macrolife. 

Free Time

Sundays and Mondays are leisure days, with leisure dives available and free time to explore the area.

Extra Information

Pom Pom Island is just off the coast of Sabah which is one of the two states of Borneo in Malaysia. Borneo is often referred to as the ‘land below the wind’. Pom Pom Island is a small coral reef island, set in the Celebes Sea, roughly 30 kilometres from the town of Semporna, and is a macro diver’s paradise. The island is only 2.3 kilometres in circumference and has a 4 km long reef, no village and minimal human impact.

During free diving time on the island, volunteers can seek out some of the rare and uncommon species from mushroom corals to over 220 species of fish, as well as green and hawksbill turtles and blue ringed octopus, mimic octopus to name a few.

Volunteers can also explore Sabah either before or after their time on the project - and trek up Kota Kinabalu Mountain, Borneo’s highest peak at 4095 metres for unbeatable views of the island. The mountain is also Malaysia’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site. Trekkers will go through alpine dense jungle, sunlit moonscapes and scrabble over rocks.  Anyone who is not up for climbing to the top can head to the base camp and explore the trails around there.

Another excursion is to visit the  endangered orang-utans in Sepilok. The rehabilitation centre is one of only four in the world and occupies an area in the Kabili-Sepilok Forest Reserve. The centre began life in 1964 and covers 40 sqm and is home to orphaned and injured orang-utans who will be rehabilitated back to their natural homes. Head down during feeding times where these huge animals are likely to be seen,

Other activities include visiting the laid back town of Kudat, Maliau Basin Conservation Area, KK’s main night market for a hustle and bustle experience and local food, the Japanese World War II Poring Hot Springs for a weekend retreat or explore the Gomantong Caves.

Getting There

Volunteers should book a flght to Tawau (Malaysia) airport (TWU) on a Monday morning.  Volunteers will be collected from Tawau Aiport at approximately 2pm, for the one hour road transfer to Semporna, where they will take the 4pm boat to Pom Pom island (which takes 30-40 minutes). 

There are a wide range of flight options via Kota Kinabalu International airport (BKI) or via Kuala Lumpur (KUL) or Johor Baru (JHB).  Options are also available through Hong Kong, Brunei or Singapore and get a local flight. Air Asia, Malaysian airlines, Firefly, Malindo or Silk air are low-cost regional airlines

Amanzi Travel holds an ATOL Licence and can make any flight arrangements required. Please ask Amanzi Travel for further information.

Support and Orientation

Support and advice is available from Amanzi Travel office staff and project/trip leaders. Upon booking, you will receive a comprehensive pre-departure pack that provides all the details you will need to prepare for your trip.  This document includes information on accommodation, staff, visas, optional activities, packing checklist and medical advice and if you have any questions that are not answered in the pack we are always on hand to help and advise. We will do all we can to ensure that you are well prepared and looking forward to your trip. You will also receive an in country orientation on arrival.

A 24 hours a day, 7 days a week emergency contact number is provided for everyone who travels with us.

Amanzi Travel holds an ATOL licence (9401) and is able to arrange your flights on request giving you financial protection for your flight and trip costs. We also offer advice on personal travel insurance for your trip.

Pom Pom Island , Borneo Marine and Turtle ConservationPom Pom Island , Borneo Marine and Turtle ConservationPom Pom Island , Borneo Marine and Turtle ConservationPom Pom Island , Borneo Marine and Turtle ConservationPom Pom Island , Borneo Marine and Turtle ConservationPom Pom Island , Borneo Marine and Turtle ConservationVolunteers will be staying in their own spacious tent on the beach with a full sized single bed, fan, lights and electricity (double socket). Couples can share a tent if they would like to and have the second tent for their luggage.  Bedding, pillows and towels are provided and changed regularly. All tents are under large canvas awnings to keep them cool and dry. There are shared toilets and showers.

There is also dorm room accommodaiton with shared bathrooms (approximately 4 - 6 same sex volunteers per room)

for a small additional fee volunteers can book a twin or double rooms with an en-suite bathroom. 

There is genearlly good phone signal and regular phone and internet connection, although no free wifi.

Three meals per day will be provided for volunteers - breakfast, lunch and dinner - as well as snacks and drinks throughout the day - and vegetarians can be catered for.  Please advise Amanzi Travel of any special dietary requirements when you book. 

Click here to view the full interactive mapMalaysia


Malaysia is a bubbling, bustling melting-pot of races and religions where Malays, Indians, Chinese and many other ethnic groups live together in peace and harmony. The multiculturalism has made Malaysia a gastronomical paradise and home to hundreds of colourful festivals. As a people, Malaysians are very relaxed, warm and friendly.

Geographically, Malaysia is almost as diverse as its culture. 11 states and 2 federal territories (Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya) form Peninsular Malaysia which is separated by the South China Sea from East Malaysia which includes the 2 states (Sabah and Sarawak on the island of Borneo) and a third federal territory, the island of Labuan.

One of Malaysia's key attractions is its extreme contrasts which further add to this theme of ‘diversity’. Towering skyscrapers look down upon wooden houses built on stilts while five-star hotels sit just metres away from ancient reefs.

Rugged mountains reach dramatically for the sky while their rainforest-clad slopes sweep down to floodplains teeming with forest life. Cool highland hideaways roll down to warm, sandy beaches and rich, humid mangroves.

Malaysia is one of the region's key tourist destinations, offering excellent beaches and brilliant scenery.

People & Language

Malays comprise 57% of the population, while the Chinese, Indian and Bumiputeras and other races make up the rest of the country's population.

While Malay is the national language the many ethnic groups also converse in their various languages and dialects, but English is also widely spoken.

Islam is the official religion of the country, but other religions such as Buddhism and Christianity are widely and freely practised. 


The country experiences tropical weather year-round. Temperatures range from 21ºC (70ºF) to 32ºC (90ºF).

Higher elevations are much colder with temperatures between 15°C (59°F) to 25°C (77°F).

Annual rainfall varies from 2,000mm to 2,500mm. However, the wettest parts of Malaysia could well be the hill slopes of Sarawak’s inland areas, which receive a mean annual rainfall exceeding 5,000mm.


Area 329,758 square km
Population 29.95 million
Capital city Kuala Lumpur
Time Eight hours ahead of GMT and 16 hours ahead of U.S Standard Time.
Currency The monetary unit of the country is Ringgit Malaysia and is written as RM or MYR.
Telephone - +60 to dial

Borneo, Malaysia

Borneo is the third largest island in the world and the largest in Asia, and is characterised by ancient dense tropical jungles, endangered wildlife, world class diving and spectacular mountains. Bordered by the South China Sea to the northwest, the Sulu Sea to the northeast, the Celebes Sea to the east and the Java Sea to the south, the island was once attached to mainland Asia by Jakarta and Sumatra and is now split into the two Malaysian states - of Sabah and Sarawak in the north. The hub of rain forests, wildlife and diverse culture makes it an adventure paradise. Borneo is home to one of the oldest rainforests in the world, parts of which are 140 million years old, and also to 18,000 species of plants and trees and hundreds of species of mammals, birds and fish. The rainforest as one of the few remaining natural habitats of the endangered orang-utang and is also home to one of the world’s four rehabilitation centres in the Kabili-Sepilok Forest Reserve in Sepilok. The rainforest is also a refuge for endemic forest species including the Borneo clouded leopard, the Hose’s civet, the dayak fruit bat, the Asian elephant and the Sumatran rhinoceros. Kota Kinabalu Mountain is the highest peak in Borneo, standing at 4,096 metres and is a ubiquitous symbol of Borneo, with its presence on the flag as well as being its first UNESCO World Heritage Site. The major river systems in Borneo are the Kapuas at 1,143 km, the Mahakam, the Barito and the Rajang and some of the world’s longest underground rivers in impressive cave systems can also be found in Borneo, offering a wealth of exploration.

Borneo Malyais Climate and Weather

Summer (March - October) 38 °C 23 °C
Winter (November - February) 28 °C 22 °C

Rainfall: From 301 mm in November to 74 mm in March Rainforest areas have a typically tropical climate and are hot and humid most of the year. Borneo benefits from sunshine all year round with temperatures that range from 25-33 degrees Celsius during the day, and rarely drop below 20 degrees Celsius at night. The exception is in the mountains where the temperature can drop to around 15 degrees Celsius. Most rain falls between November and January during the north-east monsoon, and takes the form usually of short bursts.

Borneo Marine and Turtle Conservation

Dolphins, bumpheads, leaf scorpions, stonefish, frogfish, octopodes and more turtles than you can point a stick at !!! love it !!

Jonny (Borneo Marine and Turtle Conservation)

Borneo Marine and Turtle Conservation

I wasn't sure what to expect when I booked my months stay at Pom Pom island, but doing so was one of the smartest decisions I've ever made. This trip was incredible. In the four weeks I was there, I learned a ton about marine life and constructing reefs, became a certified Advanced Diver, and made over 45 dives. The conservation work is fascinating -- Steve has some brilliant ideas and it's incredible to see them materialize. And regardless of whether you want to dive or not, there's something for everyone to do. I feel as though I actually did something to make a difference, and I have a completely new outlook on marine life and conservation work in general.

The food was top notch-- definitely no complaints there (I even learned to cook!). The tents were comfortable and considerably spacious. And most importantly, it's such a wonderful, fun, welcoming environment at Pom Pom; within a few hours, I already felt like part of the family. My only regret is not staying longer. It was without a doubt one of the best experiences of my life. If you have the chance, get involved with this project - it is a gem.

Katie, USA (Borneo Marine and Turtle Conservation)

Borneo Marine and Turtle Conservation

Came as a snorkeller and then stayed. The three weeks I spent on Pom Pom were a high point of my travels, a great team of fellow volunteers, wonderful diving experience, and at the end some hope for the areas coral reef and inhabitants . I look forward to coming back in the future and hope to contribute further, especially interested in how the the seaweed farm goes,that sounds like a great project to be involved in. Hopefully our efforts will reinstate the area around Pom Pom to what these reefs should be like. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to be part of this project. 

Kuno (Borneo Marine and Turtle Conservation)

Borneo Marine and Turtle Conservation

I have spent 7 of the most amazing weeks of my life at the Tip of Borneo's Coconut Cove Camp. The diving on the west coast of the Kudat Peninsula is absolutely staggering, with heaps and heaps of colourful corals and a huge diversity of fish and other marine life as well.

Bec (Borneo Marine and Turtle Conservation)

Borneo Marine and Turtle Conservation

Pom Pom island Camp and the Coconut Cove Camp say it is dedictd to conservation and that is so much of an under statement. The staff at the coconut cove camp near Kudat where i stayed were sooo knowledgeable and keen. I learnt a ton. I learnt to dive and that is such a great thing to do. I planted corals, surveyed for cuttlefish, sharks and turtles and I can even identify quite a lot of marine life now, The food was great to. Plenty for vegetarians.

Need to stay for as long as possible - I was there for 2 weeks and wished that i had booked for 6 or 8 weeks.

Caitlyn, UK (Borneo Marine and Turtle Conservation)

Borneo Marine and Turtle Conservation

My time on Pom Pom Island could not have been any more perfect. Arriving at the island I couldn't believe my eyes; the island was spotless and clean and simply stunning. 

I worked as a turtle volunteer for two weeks and that amount of time was no way long enough as I fell in love with island life. Surveying the turtles was amazing, getting to see and be so close to such incredible animals. I felt like the work I did was useful and was documented to then be continued by more turtlers that join the project and I really felt a part of the team. 

I made some very good friends and everyone was so welcoming and friendly from the moment I arrived. I am jealous of everyone who is staying there for a longer time than I did as they really are living the dream!

Olivia, UK (Borneo Marine and Turtle Conservation)

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