Glimpsing a green, hawksbill, leatherback, loggerhead, Kemp's Ridley, Olive Ridley or flatback on a dive can bring a smile to the face of the most stoical of divers. And while sea turtles can be found in all oceans (except the Arctic) throughout the year, here is our pick of the top spots to see turtles across the world, from witnessing a turtle nesting to hundreds of hatchlings paddling to the ocean to volunteering with an all-important conservation project and generally have a turtle-y (sorry) awesome wildlife holiday.
Providenciales, Turks & Caicos
The Turks and Caicos Islands Turtle Project has successfully flipper-tagged over 300 green and hawksbill turtles since its inception in 2011, and guests of the super-luxurious Amanyara hotel on Providenciales can now get involved in the conservation efforts, joining the resident naturalist on a turtle tagging safari to the shallow waters of the Caicos Banks to learn how to catch, flipper tag and release these resident reptiles back into the wild. To keep up with these magnificent animals back at home, book in advance to join the naturalist on a satellite-tagging trip and track the turtles adventures across the ocean online.
Four of the world's seven species of sea turtle nest on the golden beaches of Oman, including at the Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort, which plays host to green and hawksbill turtles from January to August each year. A dedicated Turtle Ranger ensures that sun loungers play second fiddle to nests, and guests are able to join the ranger after dark to observe nesting turtles. If you sleep through the spectacle, channel your inner naturalist tracking turtle patterns across the beach, hawksbill turtles have alternate flipper markings (the only species to do so) while green turtles move their front flippers at the same time therefore has even flipper markings.
Mnemba Island, Tanzania
Mnemba Island is one of just two protected nesting sites for green turtles in Zanzibar and the main nesting season falls from April to August, with hatchlings emerging in greatest numbers in September and October. Tanzanian NGO SeaSense collaborates with the Mnemba Island team to carefully monitor hatchling numbers, which, numbering 60,000 and counting since the partnership began is a real conservation success story.
Whether snorkelling or diving in the Seychelles, sea turtles have been protected since 2001 so sightings come aplenty. And for a turtle adventure like no other, head to Alphonse Island, where a staggering five species of turtle can be found, including green and hawksbill turtles who use the Outer Islands of the Seychelles as their nesting grounds. Away from the water you can also spot turtles' land cousins, Aldabra giant tortoises, which can weigh over 60 stone and live to over 250 years old.
While Northern Sulawesi's main claim to fame lies in the eastern Lembeh Strait (aka one of the best muck diving spots in the world), the western shores of this island holds equally enthralling diving in Bunaken National Marine Park. Boasting fantastic coral diving across some 50 sites, the marine park also hosts a healthy population of sea turtles and it's not unusual to spot up to twenty in one dive, including green, hawksbills, loggerheads and leatherbacks.
Apo Island, Philippines
Located off the shores of Dauin in the Philippines, Apo Island has been a marine sanctuary since 1985, and this quickly becomes obvious when you enter the water as sites are carpeted in pristine coral formations alive with the movement of its marine inhabitants (of which there are plenty). The island is a feeding ground for female sea turtles and thanks to the area's protected status, this continues to be the case.
Want to dive with turtles on your next scuba diving getaway? Get in touch with our team today to plan a turtle-y awesome trip.