London lifestyle & travels with kids and babies
Turtles have great taste in beaches, so over the years we merrily followed them around the world. Here are our 10 favourite turtles destinations, sanctuaries and hotels which go above and beyond protecting nesting and hatching turtles, whilst lucky guests can help whilst enjoying a slice of paradise. Best places to see turtles, swim with turtles in the wild, snorkle or dive, this is our wrap after 20+ years.
1. Seychelles is a living museum of natural history and sanctuary for some of the rarest species, including turtles. My Christmas wish this year was sweet and short, we found THAT lost thing by going back to Banyan Tree Seychelles.
Anse Intendence at Banyan Tree is a homing zone for turtles to lay eggs each year and turtles season starts October – February. We were super keen to join Banyan Tree Wildlife Conservation and Rehabilitation Centre to observe again the hatching babies.
We have also seen gorgous huge sea turtles whilst diving in Mahe, Napoleon Rock more precisely, a mere 10 minutes boat ride from Kempinski Seychelles.
As well as 5 species of turtles, in Seychelles one will also encounter the spectacular Aldabra giant tortoises. Among the longest lived animals, they are slow gentle giants mostly, however don’t underestimate their speed ahould they be after some yummy leaves or fruits. Our kids loved to feed them: leaves, star fruits and papaya – yum!
And yes the word turtles can be a confusing, largely due to the Americans calling every shelled reptile a turtle. In the UK however, as a general rule, those that live on land are known as tortoises, whilst sea turtles live in the ocean.
2. Four Seasons Nevis partners up with Sea Turtle conservancy and the local Nevis Turtle Groyp to track the migration patterns of hawksbill turtles that nest on its beach. And I’m pleased to report that snorkelling by Pinney’s Beach was superb – lots of fish, a big turtle and an eagle ray!
3. Fiji. The waters of Fiji boast five of the seven living species of sea turtles and I’ve been lucky to swim with them on my Fijian babymoon!
4. Dominica –green, lush, mountainous and mostly black volcanic beaches – a little charming country bruised by historical conflict and underinvestment. Not to be confounded with Dominican Republic and quite the antithesis of the Caribbean holiday cliché. Turtles nest all over the island. Leatherbacks, Greens and Hawksbills are found in the southeast, around Rosalie Bay and LaPlaine and the northeast, near Marigot, Londonderry, Wesley and Calibishie between March and August. Greens and Hawksbills are found on the west coast beaches between May and October.
5. Ras Al Jinz Oman, a once in a lifetime experience seeing turtles laying eggs at moonlight, heading back to the sea plus babies just hatched finding their way at night or at sunrise. And what a difference between a 150kg mother turtle and the fragile tiny babies! Speed, size, confidence and vulnerability could not be more different! We also swom and snorkelled with huge green turtles in Oman whilst sailing around Bandar Al Khayran, less than an our away Muscat. So all in one, one of the top 3 best places to see turtles!
6. Maui. Lush, green, wet and filled with rainbows – sometimes we counted over 10 per day! Diver paradise as well, one stunning place to observe turtles on the beeach, swim, snorkle or dive with.
7. Maldives. Meaning Turtle island in Dhivehi, Velavaru is a retreat like no other, lush, stunning and remote, a marine sanctuary with crystal waters rich in marine life. One of the best islands in Maldives for snorkeling we came accross, including with kids! Maldives with toddler is not only feasible but fabulous and the 4 years old loved discovering the underwater universe. Again top 3 best places to see turtles and swim with!
Turtles sanctuaries & reserves
8. Lara beach, Cyprus. Special area of conservation spared of commercial development, this has great flora and biologic diversity, including turtle hatching!
9. Project Tamar, Brazil. Praia do Forte, on Brazil’s Bahian coast, has it all: white sand beaches, swaying palm trees, and baby sea turtles. We’ve been with Brazilian friends over 10 years ago and delighted to find Project TAMAR, a nonprofit organization that protects five species of sea turtles that visit more than 680 miles of Brazilian coastline. TAMAR runs 23 research stations, and the largest is in Praia do Forte, where the visitor center gives tourists a chance to meet sea turtles, learn about their life cycles and—on the nesting season from October through March— one has the chance to watch some of the hatchlings reach the ocean. But even if you visit during the off season, you’ll learn plenty about the endangered marine reptiles.
10. Bequia. This goes back to January 2013, on our babymoon with friends around the Caribbeans. On our 8 days delightful stay in Bequia, we found the Old Hegg Turtle Sanctuary, a slightly ramshackle outpost on the northeastern side of the island. Since 1995, its founder, Orton King, rescued and nurtured Hawksbill turtles of every age, keeping them in seawater pools where you can touch them. A retired fisherman, King supposedly set up the sanctuary after being shipwrecked and hauled from the sea unconscious, his skin peeling off. Bequian tales rarely disappoint and this is one delightful sanctuary.
For more wildlife adventures, check our articles on our favourite places in the world to snorkel with wild dolphins or best places to dive with sharks. Happy playful swimming all!