Borneo Sea Turtle Conservation

Volunteer to protect Sea Turtles at the Borneo Sea Turtle Conservation Programme

Do your bit to save turtles and conserve the marine environment by volunteering with this important Sea Turtle Conservation project. Volunteers are needed to help with the conservation efforts through beach patrols, surveying, tagging and releasing turtle hatchlings.

“Words cannot begin to  describe some of the memories I have.”

Stephen, UK

Project Overview

The Project: The Borneo Sea Turtle Conservation Project focuses primarily on protecting and conserving endangered green and hawskbill turtles that nest on the beaches around the project between May and September. Although officially protected by law, turtle eggs can still be sold at markets and poachers often raid known nesting sites at night.

Project Location: The Sea Turtle Conservation centre is located on a small and remote island, 45 minutes by boat from the eastern coast of Sabah, Malaysian Borneo. The nearest airport is Tawau whcih has excellent conections to Kuala Lumpur.

Main Volunteer Activities: Volunteers focus sea turtle conservation through beach patrols, surveys and tagging.

Hours: Volunteers six days a week, usually from around 9am to 5pm.

Duration: The turtle nesting season is usually from May to September so volunteer placements are available for these five months each year and last from for 2 to 12 weeks.

Accommodation: Volunteers have individual, private tents with mosquito nets, complete with comfortable airbeds, sheets and real pillows, and electric light & fan. Couples travelling together may share if they wish.

Volunteer Requirements: Volunteers at this project must be aged 18+ and be a confident swimmer.

Volunteer Placement Fee: From UK£795 / US$950

What’s Included

        √  Arranged airport pick up from Tawau airport or your hotel in Semporna.
        √  Accommodation in indivual tents on the beach.
        √  All main meals.

        √  In-country support from the project co-ordinators.
        √  All necessary project equipment and materials.
        √  All necessary project training by experienced staff.      
        √  Project donation.

What’s not included
  • Flights
  • International and domestic airport taxes
  • Cost of you taxi from the airport approximately MYR25 (£5, US$6)
  • Medical and travel insurance
  • Vaccinations and inoculations
  • Meals, drinks and gratuities
  • Extra local excursions
  • Onward transport at the end of your placement
  • Personal kit
  • Police or background check (where necessary)
  • Visa costs
How much do everyday items cost?

The official currency of Malaysia (and Malaysian Borneo) is the Ringgit. There are around 5.5 Ringgit to the pound and about 4.35 Ringgit to the US dollar. The cost of living in Malaysia is very low compared to most countries in the developed world. There is little opportunity to spend money on the island itself, but in the nearest "mainland" town of Semporna you can buy a range of goods. The costs of some typical items are:

  • Short journey by taxi - 4 to 6 Ringgit
  • Meal in a local restaurant - 3 to 8 Ringgit
  • Western food such as pizza - 24 Ringgit
  • Small bottle of water - 1.5 Ringgit
  • can of beer - 8 to 10 Ringgit
Project History

This programme was launched in 2011 alongside the Borneo Marine Conservation project with whom the project shares all facilities on the island. The project's aim is to protect the nests of endangered green and hawksbill turtles whose eggs and flesh are considered a delicacy, despite their protected status.

In mating season as many as 40 turtles an hour have been counted in the waters around the project and in the summer the island can be home to up to 120 turtles. The project also work with local authorities to raise awareness of environmental issues and to enforce regulations protecting the turtles.

How the project is helping
Green and Hawksbill turtles are resident in the area surrounding the project, and during nesting season, many come on to the beaches to lay eggs (approximately 300 nests per year). The hatchlings migrate across entire oceans to feeding grounds, and are consequently at risk from many threats, from pollution, to fishing nets, poachers and coastal development.
Nests are easy to spot and a simple target for sea gypsies to come and claim their delicacy. To reduce this, the project patrols the island nightly, and helps to incubate any eggs found. Turtles are tagged, data is collected, and the local species are helped to remain healthy. Surveys are regularly conducted by boat, and occasionally using a small remote controlled drone aircraft.
Why the project need volunteers

The project receives no state funding, but through volunteer support, private donations and grants the Borneo Sea Turtle Conservation project is able to continue its vital work in conserving these beautiful, endangered marine creatures.

Volunteer with Sea Turtles to make a huge difference by helping the project's local staff with their work including turtle surveys, nest protection and the releasing of hatchlings into the sea. The more volunteers there are at the project, the more vital work can be carried out.

Volunteer with Sea Turtles
Typical Volunteer Duties
Volunteers at this project work from about 9am until about 5pm, six days a week. Some of the duties you will be carrying out while at the project include:

• Nightly patrols around the island to check for sea turtle nests.
• Collecting eggs for incubation.
• Tagging sea turtles and collating information.
• Snorkelling at various reefs to record species present.
• Mixing concrete and producing bases for hard and soft coral planting.
• Moving prepared samples to the ocean nursery.
• Transplanting samples from nursery to reef.
• Underwater photography and documentation.

The Snorkelling and Sea Turtle conservation programme only runs from May to September  when the sea turtles are nesting on the islands beaches. Volunteer with Sea Turtles and make a difference for these amazing creatures!

Volunteer Accommodation
The conservation centre is located on a small and remote island, 45 minutes by boat from the eastern coast of Sabah, Malaysian Borneo.

After collection from the airport in Tawau, you will be taken to the jetty at Semporna, the closest coastal town to the island, where a scenic boat ride will get you to the camp on Pom Pom, which surrounded by deserted white sand beaches, crystal clear water and a panorama of tropical, jungle-clad islands. 

The Sea Turtle Conservation centre is on the beach and volunteers sleep in individual, private tents with mosquito nets, complete with comfortable airbeds, sheets and real pillows, and electric light & fan. Couples who wish to share can be assigned two tents - one with a double mattress and one to store your clothing and other belongings.  The tents are protected from rain by large plastic sheets that also create a large porch area around each tent. 
The volunteer camp has a shower and toilet area along with a dining and communal area. Electricity is available from a generator and all the tents have fans and lighting. Phone and 3g internet is available on the island although this cannot be guaranteed.

Volunteers cook with others on a rota and the project provides food for three meals per day. Vegetarians can be catered for.

NB: There are currently travel warnings in place for Pom Pom island due to some isolated local incidents.
We ask volunteers check the FCO website or their own country's government travel advice before travelling.

Free Time
The island where the project is based offers endless scuba diving and snorkelling. If you really want to kick back and relax after a day’s diving, it is the perfect place to unwind during free time, either on a deserted stretch of beach or in the centre grounds. The centre also hosts regular barbecues on the beach, and there are two dive resorts on the island, where you can go for drinks in the evening. Those expecting a wild night life will be disappointed.
Overnight trips to Semporna on the mainland can be arranged, where volunteers can visit the few bars and restaurants that cater to diving community, dive instructors and backpackers, but again the scene is very low key. In Semporna you can organize dive or snorkel trips to other famous dive sites in the area such as Sipadan and Mabul.

There are some tasty and inexpensive seafood restaurants as well as great Indian food available in the Tamil restaurants. There is also a very well stocked supermarket here for buying up provisions to take back to the island. Internet cafes are found here too.

Weeks £GBP $USD
£795  $950 
£1,025  $1,225 
£1,250  $1,495 
£1,475  $1,770 
6 £1,705  $2,050 
£1,975  $2,380 
8 £2,250  $2,715 
£2,525  $3,055 
10  £2,800  $3,395 
11  £3,075  $3,735 
12 £3,350  $4,080

Volunteer rated at
4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Borneo Sea Turtle Conservation Photo Gallery

« 1 of 16 »

  • Mark Catling Avatar

    Could not fault the hard work these people put in to support people less fortunate than myself. Great experience in Peru, couldn't fault the hard work these... read more

    Mark Catling 6/30/2017
    Ryan Hoffman Avatar

    Great place

    Ryan Hoffman 11/22/2019
    Crystal Avatar

    Accommodation was perfectly chosen and I made friends for life during my month working there. Learnt so much in an authentic and safe environment. Accomdation... read more

    Crystal 2/13/2018
  • Kayla Lynne Kiteley Avatar

    This trip was very well organized by Globalteer. I had the amazing opportunity to volunteer with Globalteer at... read more

    Kayla Lynne Kiteley 1/25/2018
    Crystal Moniz Avatar

    Accommodation was perfectly chosen and I made friends for life during my month working there. Perfect mix of authenticity and safety. Stayed with the best... read more

    Crystal Moniz 2/13/2018
    Jess Robinson Avatar

    If you’re considering getting involved, just do it! I guarantee you won’t regret it. I had an AMAZING experience volunteering on two different projects... read more

    Jess Robinson 1/12/2018
  • Colin Elkington Avatar

    All the staff and volunteers I worked with were very friendly and supportive. My time spent volunteering in Siem Reap, Cambodia, with Globalteer... read more

    Colin Elkington 1/13/2018
    Nathan Crook Avatar

    Globalteer employ members of staff who themselves have a passion for travelling. Having chosen to spend three-weeks volunteering on a Cambodia Community... read more

    Nathan Crook 1/25/2018
    AJ Rodney Avatar

    The staff really made me feel welcome. I had a great experience with Globalteer in Peru. The... read more

    AJ Rodney 11/05/2017
  • Katrina Baxter Avatar

    Anyone wanting to volunteer I would 100 percent recommend Globalteer!!!! I had the pleasure of volunteering with Globalteer at Picaflor... read more

    Katrina Baxter 7/04/2017
    Genny Richard Avatar

    Five Star Review from Genny Richard

    Genny Richard 7/03/2017
    Tiarne Biviano Avatar

    It was organised so well and I felt so comfortable throughout the whole process. Late last year I was able to spend a month... read more

    Tiarne Biviano 2/02/2019
  • Holly Bygrave Avatar

    The whole experience was fantastic from start to finish. All the Globalteer staff made me feel really welcome. I spent a couple of weeks volunteering at the Helping... read more

    Holly Bygrave 7/26/2018
    Hope Wilson Avatar

    I met a fab group of people and they made the trip even better! I had the best time volunteering, especially with a background... read more

    Hope Wilson 1/16/2018
    Eli Joshua Echt-Wilson Avatar

    Great program, great volunteer opportunities, would recommend to anyone. I volunteered for a month with Globalteer in Peru and... read more

    Eli Joshua Echt-Wilson 3/15/2019
  • Elise Mousset Avatar

    100% recommend to volunteer with them Globalteer is a great charity that will help you every... read more

    Elise Mousset 10/03/2019
    burcu eren Avatar

    Wish others would also be as lucky as I am to have such an amazing experience! I can’t stop talking & thinking about this amazing experience... read more

    burcu eren 1/10/2019
    Anna Von Foerster Avatar

    The Globalteer staff was extremely friendly, helpful, and made me feel right at home. One of the best experiences I've ever had! The Globalteer... read more

    Anna Von Foerster 6/30/2017
  • Amy Barry Avatar

    Five Star Review from Amy Barry

    Amy Barry 12/14/2017
    Jeff Bartlett Avatar

    They are great in every way. I have worked with them twice and I am counting down the days until I return next. Working with Globalteer and Picaflor house is amazing. They're great... read more

    Jeff Bartlett 6/30/2017
    Lauren Franklin Avatar

    I had an amazing time and look forward to volunteering with Globalteer again in the future! I volunteered with the Peru Community Project out of Cuzco... read more

    Lauren Franklin 6/30/2017
  • Hercules Moriarty Avatar

    The staff working there are dedicated but also good fun. What an amazing experience! We spent a week with this... read more

    Hercules Moriarty 9/22/2018
    Lorrel Walker Avatar

    Five Star Review from Lorrel Walker

    Lorrel Walker 7/01/2017
    Anna Hilbert Avatar

    Would highly recommend them to anyone considering volunteering abroad. A wonderful organisation that's truly dedicated to helping the communities... read more

    Anna Hilbert 9/30/2019
  • Eva Deix Avatar

    I felt very much taken care of and I met amazing people who worked on other Globalteer projects. Coming from a country with very few organisations that offer... read more

    Eva Deix 1/14/2018
    Hannah Verity Stone Avatar

    Everything was well organised from day one and any special requirements were met with ease. Volunteering with Globalteer at Picaflor House was an incredible experience... read more

    Hannah Verity Stone 6/30/2017
    Diego Alonso Avatar

    Had a great time and was happy to support such a worthwhile project. Having done lots of research on volunteer projects, I decided... read more

    Diego Alonso 11/13/2017
  • Peter DiFrancesca Avatar

    Globalteer were there every step of the way to help facilitate everything. Such a rewarding experience. Candice and Globalteer were there every... read more

    Peter DiFrancesca 7/10/2017
    Casey Scholl Avatar

    Would absolutely do it all over again! Amazing! They matched me with the perfect project and went... read more

    Casey Scholl 1/12/2018

    If you go there, you would definitely love it. I stayed in Picaflor House for like one month and... read more

    PICKLE SMART 8/31/2019
  • Nick James Avatar

    Great organisation making a real difference. Great organisation making a real difference in Peru.

    Nick James 12/20/2017
    A.N. Barry Avatar

    I would most definitely recommend Globalteer to anyone who is interested in volunteering. My experience with Globalteer was amazing and I've volunteered with... read more

    A.N. Barry 1/14/2018
    Robert Bisson Avatar

    Each morning I woke up excited and full of energy to meet the other amazing volunteers and start our work! This experience was one of the most rewarding things I... read more

    Robert Bisson 1/12/2018
  • Elisabete Lourenco Avatar

    Five Star Review from Elisabete Lourenco

    Elisabete Lourenco 11/22/2017
    Laura Hoskins Avatar

    Five Star Review from Laura Hoskins

    Laura Hoskins 6/30/2017
    Katharine Hughes Avatar

    I think it speaks volumes for the quality and impact of the experience, that I returned for a second trip! I first volunteered at Picaflor House Children's Community Project in... read more

    Katharine Hughes 2/28/2018
  • Sally Bateman Avatar

    All the Globalteer staff I have worked with have become friends and I value their support and encouragement. I have volunteered with the Globalteer Cambodia Community Project in... read more

    Sally Bateman 1/17/2018
    Geraldine Parkin Avatar

    The trip has changed my outlook on life and I believe that this is only the start of my volunteering career! Mid-life crisis? Mid-life adventure? It could have been either.....or even... read more

    Geraldine Parkin 2/06/2018
    Ann Quinlivan Avatar

    It was a life-changing experience for me, one that I will never forget. I absolutely loved my time volunteering in Cambodia with Globalteer!... read more

    Ann Quinlivan 5/31/2018
  • Candice Maree Avatar

    Five Star Review from Candice Maree

    Candice Maree 6/30/2017
    Jessica Robinson Avatar

    Well organised, really helpful and welcoming staff. I had an amazing experience volunteering with Globalteer earlier this... read more

    Jessica Robinson 1/12/2018
    Fiona Mehmet Avatar

    It was a huge eye opener and I would do it again in a heartbeat! I volunteered with Globalteer in Cambodia last year and I... read more

    Fiona Mehmet 1/16/2018