Believe it or not, sea turtles have existed on our planet for over 150 million years. They spend around 95% of their lives in the sea, allowing us a unique experience of diving in their environment. Imagine popping on your goggles and snorkel, jumping into the crystal clear ocean, and swimming alongside these calm, beautiful sea creatures.
Having an up-close and personal experience with sea turtles isn’t something you can do in any location. That’s why we’ll go through the top 5 places to dive with sea turtles. If you’re ready to dive into the sea and swim with some shelled friends, keep reading.
Hawaii comprises a group of islands located in the Pacific Ocean. The volcanic archipelagos offer breathtaking surroundings and scenery, both in the water and out. One of the most popular islands is Maui, mainly due to its rich marine life, including several sea turtle species.
Maui is the perfect destination for anyone looking to swim with turtles. The most common turtles in the area are green sea turtles and hawksbill turtles. Take a trip to the South or West Coast and scuba dive with sea turtles as they swim through the warm water.
Keep an eye out along the beach; you may be lucky enough to spot a turtle catching a tan on the sand. Note that you will be fined for touching a sea turtle, as this is strictly forbidden.
When to Visit: April to October
Nesting Season: May to October
Hatching Season: June to December
Local Species: Hawksbill, green sea, leatherback, Olive ridley, loggerhead
These Ecuadorian islands are well-known for their vibrant array of endemic species. In fact, this is why the Galapagos Islands have featured so high on our list. People travel from around the world to see the Galapagos green sea turtles, a subspecies of the green sea turtle.
They’re only found in the waters surrounding these island archipelagos, making them really special. If you’re a turtle lover, this is a unique experience you won’t want to miss. So grab your snorkel and dive into the tropical waters of this luscious Pacific Island.
When to Visit: December to March
Nesting Season: December to March
Hatching Season: February to May
Local Species: Galapagos green turtle
You’ll be hard-pressed to find someone who hasn’t heard of the Maldives, a magnificent group of over 1,000 incredible coral islands located in the warm Indian Ocean. Of all the islands, Ari Atoll is one of the largest natural atolls located on the western part of the archipelago. It’s often considered the main attraction thanks to its ocean experiences.
The beaches are perfectly white, the sun is warm and inviting, and the sea life leaves nothing to be desired for nature lovers. Not only will you find an array of starfish, dolphins, and fish in the crystal clear waters, you can swim with the green sea, hawksbill, and Olive Ridley turtles.
When to Visit: January to April
Nesting Season: Rare
Hatching Season: Rare
Local Species: Hawksbill, green sea, Olive Ridley
Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is one of the world’s largest marine ecosystems. The coral reef is so expansive that it can be seen from space. Diving and snorkeling in this area will have you investigating an abundance of animals and plants and six different sea turtle species.
In this spectacular marine formation, you’ll find green sea, hawksbill, leatherback, flatback, Olive ridley, and loggerhead turtles. On the Southern and Northern ends of the reef, there are a staggering 18 green turtle nesting sites.
When to Visit: May to October
Nesting Season: October to February
Hatching Season: December to April
Local Species: Hawksbill, green sea, leatherback, flatback, Olive ridley, loggerhead
In Mayan, Akumal in Playa del Carmen is called the “Place of the Turtles.” That should hint at what you’ll find in this area. Akumal is one of the oldest coastal resort locations in the Yucatan, and the rich historical aspect perfectly matches the natural animal life – there’s something for everyone.
Akumal has sublime beaches, and you can gather for a turtle night watch each evening at 9:15 pm. A local guide will give background and information about the turtles, making for a once-in-a-lifetime experience. You can also dive or snorkel with the green sea, hawksbill, and loggerhead turtles.
When to Visit: May to August
Nesting Season: May to October
Hatching Season: July to December
Local Species: Hawksbill, green sea, loggerhead
Worldwide, there are seven sea turtle species. Six of these are found in every ocean but the Antarctic and Arctic. The seventh species, the flatback sea turtle, is only found in Australian waters.
Sea turtles weigh between 70 and 1,500 pounds and grow to be 2 to 7 feet long. The leatherback turtle is the largest species and weighs up to 2,000 pounds.
Sea turtles are omnivores, so they eat plants and animals.
If you’ve watched Finding Nemo, you’ll know that sea turtles make long migrations between their breeding and feeding zones based on the seasons. Fun fact: the leatherback turtle swims over 3,500 miles in each direction between their breeding and feeding zones.
Sea turtles mate at sea but lay their eggs in holes they dig in the sand on the beach. They cover their eggs with sea sand to protect them and keep them warm before returning to the water. Roughly 60 days later, tiny turtles hatch from the eggs and scramble to the water. This is a “fight-for-your-life” moment, as many baby turtles are killed by predators in this process.
There you have it – five of the best places to dive with sea turtles. Whether you’re planning to visit one or all of these special locations, you won’t be disappointed. Remember to live in the moment and soak up the experience. It’s such a privilege to swim with these docile creatures.