For many snorkelers and sea turtle lovers, observing sea turtles and snorkeling with them in their natural-habitat environment is one of the pleasurable experiences of snorkeling.
Of all the seven species of sea turtles, the green turtle and the hawksbill sea turtle are copious and regularly seen, unlike others which are very rare to find because they are endangered, hence their underpopulation.
However, here are a few locations one can go snorkeling to interact better with these adorable, ocean creatures.
The 7 Best Places for Snorkeling withSeaTurtles
Below are the 7 best places in the world to swim and snorkel with the sea turtles:
1. Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
Galapagos green sea turtles have the most abundant sea turtle population in the world, weighing up to 700 pounds. The adult female sea turtles are abundantly available between December and March every year because they come around several times to lay their eggs.
Best time to visit: December to March
2. Hawaii islands, US.
Also known as “Turtle Beach,” this spot highlights snorkeling with the sea turtles as a must for every visit.
At Hawaii, the Green and hawksbill sea turtles can easily be spotted especially at Laniakea Beach on Oahu’s North Shore. You will see a few of them lying on the sand, basking in the sun, or coming up to the shore to breathe.
If you wish to go swimming with them, winter won’t be the best time because the waves on the shore are too big for these sea creatures to navigate.
Best time to visit: October to April
3. One&Only Reethi Rah, Maldives
The Maldives islands area is an ideal place for diving or snorkeling beginners due to all year round warm waters.
The One & Only Reethi Rah is in Maldives’ North Male Atoll is home to Green, Hawksbill, and Olive Ridley turtles. They are almost everywhere around the islands. So while snorkeling, it’s highly likely that you will find them in some shallow waters, peacefully feeding on seagrass.
Best time: January to April
4. The Great Barrier Reef, Australia
The Great Barrier Reef is one of the most endowed see areas in the world, so you’ll be surrounded by over 1,500 species of fish, several different species of whales, dolphins and 6 species of sea turtles. During nesting season, between November and April, almost 8,000 female sea turtles are visiting the beach to lay their eggs.
Best time to visit: May to October
5. Akumal, Mexico
Akumal is a Mayan word for “place of the turtle” and is the best place in Mexico to observe green and loggerhead sea turtles. Of the world’s 7 species, there are 6 that nest along the thousands of miles of coastline.
Some of them will linger for hours in the bay, giving you an excellent chance to get up close to see them. So no matter what your snorkeling level is, just put on your snorkeling mask and with a few strokes of your snorkeling fins, you will soon fall in love with these adorable sea creatures.
Best time to visit: January to July
6. Tamarindo Beach, Puerto Rico
This beach ranks as one of the most popular tourist destinations. In the crystal-clear waters of this area, turtle-watching is the twinkler! There are 3 types of sea turtles nest here: The Leatherback, Hawksbill and Green sea turtles.
Best time to visit: February to November
7. Sipadan, Malaysia
Sipadan is a tiny island in Malaysia with more than 3,000 different species of fish and hundreds of corals. It is one of the many places on our list that guarantees excellent turtle sighting. While swimming with the green and hawksbill sea turtles, you will notice that they aren’t afraid of people.
Best time to visit: April to November
Seven Species of Sea Turtles
Now that we have highlighted spots for best snorkeling experience with the sea turtles, it is a good thing you go through the list of 7 species of sea turtles we prepared. So, wherever you come across any one of them underwater, you can quickly tell the name.
1. Green Sea Turtle (Cheloniamydas)
Green sea turtles are named for the greenish color of the fat and cartilage, not their shells. They are found mainly in tropical and subtropical waters in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans.
2. Loggerhead Sea Turtle (Caretta Caretta)
Loggerhead turtles are named for their relatively large heads, which support powerful jaw muscles, allowing them to crush hard-shelled food like whelks and sea urchins. They are common throughout the temperate subtropical and tropical regions of the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian Oceans, as well as the Mediterranean Sea.
3. Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle (Lepidochelys kempii)
Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles are considered the smallest and also the most endangered sea turtles in the world. They have a triangular-shaped head and a slightly hooked beak. They can be found primarily in the Pacific and Indian Oceans, also in some warm waters of Atlantic Ocean.
4. Olive Ridley Sea Turtle (Lepidochelysolivacea)
Olive Ridley sea turtles get their names from the color of its olive green shell. Their shells are heart-shaped, and you can see most of them in the tropical regions of the Pacific, and Indian Oceans, very few of them nest in the western Atlantic along the west coast of Africa.
5. Hawksbill Sea Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricate)
Hawksbill sea turtles also have powerful toothless jaws and narrow, pointed beaks. They have deep brown upper shells that are heart-shaped, and the bottom shells are usually in yellow. They prefer coastlines of the tropical waters of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans, where seagrass and sponges are abundant.
6. Flatback Sea Turtle (Natatordepressus)
Flatback sea turtles have flat shells and are also known as Australian flatback. Their only natural habitat is the sandy beaches and shallow waters of Australia.
7. Leatherback Sea Turtle (Dermochelyscoriacea)
They are the only sea turtle that lacks a hard shell. Their leather-like carapaces are dark grey or black with white or pale spots, covered by oily flesh and a layer of thin, tough, rubbery skin. They are the largest sea turtle species, and you can view them in the Atlantic, eastern Pacific, and western Pacific Oceans.
Sea Turtles in Danger
All sea turtles are endangered worldwide, and the population is declining every year due to marine pollution, human captures as well as the low survival rate of hatchlings (owing to lack of parental care).
Fortunately, many organizations/volunteers in the world have established associations to protect sea turtles through monitoring nesting turtles and their eggs, helping the baby turtles to make it to the sea, etc.
So while diving or snorkeling, do not litter, collect trash from the beach. Do your best for the environment and help the turtles world.