Best Places to Swim with Sea Turtles

Would you love to swim with sea turtles? These endearing and cute creatures have and continue to win legions of fans from around the world.

Imagine diving into the clear blue ocean with your snorkel, swimming side by side with these gracious, calm sea dwellers.

Sea turtles have been around for more than 150 million years and spend approximately 95% of their lives in the water! 

Such an experience remains unique and allows you to get up close and personal with this magnificent animal.

turtle-in-the-big-sea

We are going to tell you the top 10 places where you can swim with sea turtles, from here you can easily jump to see the list of the best places with recommendations on where to swim and snorkel with sea turtles. Alternatively, just pick your favorite chapter or read this article from beginning to end. Enjoy!

Get to Know Sea Turtles 

Endangerment of Sea Turtles

Where Do Sea Turtles Live

Best Places to Swim and Dive with Sea Turtles 

Get to Know Sea Turtles 

There are seven species of sea turtles -six of which are found swimming in every ocean except for Arctic and Antarctica. The seventh species of sea turtle, the flatback, lives only in the waters around Australia.

Sea turtles grow 2 – 7 feet long in length and weigh 70 – 1500 pounds. Given that there are seven species of sea turtles, the leatherback is the largest sea turtle and can weigh up to 2,000 pounds. In addition, sea turtles are omnivores. 

It should be known that sea turtles make long migrations between feeding and breeding zones.

For instance: the leatherback turtle travels around 3,500 miles each way between feeding and breeding. Regarding gestation, sea turtles will mate at sea, and then on the beaches, they lay their eggs. After digging a hole in the sand to deposit their eggs, they cover the hole back up and return to the waters.

Around 60 days later, the eggs hatch and tiny turtles make their way to the water – often at night-time in order to avoid any potential threats to the young turtles. 

Endangerment of Sea Turtles

There are a number of factors which are leading to the endangerment of this gracious animal. It is important for us to highlight these reasons as we become more aware of the dangers and ways that we can help them. 

Entanglement in Fishing Gear 

Capture through fishing nets is one of the greatest threats to sea turtles as around 40% of all animals caught in fishing nets are discarded as waste.

Marine mammals including sea turtles as wella s seabirds and other species are caught, and then discarded, usually already dead. Sometimes, sea turtles are released from the fishing net out into the waters, but often with severe injuries. 
Sea turtles are often attracted to the bait and then get caught and trapped in the hooks, or become entangled in the fishing nets. 

Consumption of Turtle eggs and meat 

Despite there being legislation protecting sea turtles and their eggs in the majority of countries, there is an ongoing illegal trade of eggs, meat and shells of turtles. In some countries, sea turtles are considered as a delicacy, meaning that locals who poach and sell them are able to earn an income.

Therefore, it is imperative that local communities are able to find other means of earning money that do not threaten this beautiful species.  

Coastal Development: Swim with sea turtles? 


Coastal Development comprises a number of human activities which threaten the existence of this species. For instance: the development and construction of homes, hotels and roads. In addition, oil platform construction as well as seawall construction can all threaten the habitat for sea turtles and their hatchlings.

The increased level of human activity over the last years has meant increased levels of pollution, objects on the beach as well as unnatural erosion of beaches. 

white beach nice

A more specific example of how coastal development is threatening sea turtles’ chances of survival is that sea turtle hatchlings are guided to the ocean at night. But, beachfront lighting will cause hatchlings to become confused when they emerge from their eggs, leading them towards the road where they may not survive.

Global Warming 

This danger may be having the biggest threat on the sea turtles as well as other marine life. For instance: sea level rises are already causing the loss of beach and nesting habitat as well as extreme weather conditions which mean there are more severe storms which impact the nesting beaches and cause beach erosion.

Also, warming ocean temperatures influence the way that sea turtles swim from feeding to breeding zones. This means that we can find more southerly species being found in more northerly regions.

It is vital that we understand some of the dangers facing sea turtles today, so that we have the education available in order to try to contribute to more positive developments for sea turtles as well as other marine life. 

Where Do Sea Turtles Live

There are seven species of sea turtles. Each of these species is distributed and found in specific waters around the world. 

SpeciesHabitat Distribution
Green Sea TurtleBay’s West Coasts of North and South America (Baja to Peru)
Loggerhead Sea Turtle Tropical and subtropical temperatures Worldwide
Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle Shallow areas with sandy or muddy bottomsGulf of Mexico and can reach the NorthWestern Atlantic Ocean
Olive Ridley Sea Turtle Mostly coastalTropical areas of the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific 
Hawksbill Sea Turtle Throughout central Atlantic and Indo-Pacific regionsThroughout central Atlantic and Indo-Pacific regions
Flatback Sea TurtleCompletely coastal Found in the waters of Australia 
Leatherback Sea Turtle Highly oceanic From North Atlantic to the South Atlantic. Also found off the coast of New Zealand 

Diet of Sea Turtles

Sea turtles in general are omnivores, however, their specific diet depends on which sub species they are. For instance: Leatherback turtles feed on jellyfish while Loggerheads feed mainly on lobsters and fish. Green turtles are vegetarian so eat sea grasses. Olive Ridley sea turtles mostly eat jellyfish, snails and shrimp – though they may feed on seaweed as well. 

Best Places to Swim and Dive with Sea Turtles 

Being able to swim side by side these beautiful, gracious sea dwellers is a fascinating and unique experience. Their grace as they glide through the waters is something that makes them very special. We will provide you with all the information you need. 

How did We Choose Which the Best Places to Swim with Sea Turtles are?

We looked at the most beautiful areas of the world where you can find an abundance of sea turtles to go on your adventure with. It was hard to choose which places to show you first, but the following list will give you an idea as to where you could go.
Enjoy scrolling through the list! If you visit one of these places, make sure to send us a picture from your Sea Turtle encounter to [email protected]

1. The Great Barrier Reef, Australia 

In one of the largest marine ecological systems in the world, you can find the Great Barrier Reef. Known to be the largest coral reef in the world, it is visible from space. There are an abundance of plants and animals that you could find swimming around in this area.

Specifically though, you can find six species of sea turtles within this marine formation. Also, important to know, is that there are 18 nesting sites of green turtles at the Northern and Southern ends of the reef, meaning that you can find turtles to swim with here. 

Best travel time: May – October 

Sea Turtle species: Green Sea Turtle, Loggerhead, Hawksbill, Flatback, Olive Ridley, Leatherback

Best Operators near the Great Barrier Reef for swimming with Sea Turtles 

Multiple tour operators are offering sea turtle encounters. Here are the most reliable ones (Rated on Google Maps and TripAdvisor):

  1. ABC Scuba Diving 
  2. Blue Dive Port Douglas
  3. Mike Ball Dive Expeditions 
  4. Scuba IQ 

2. Galapagos Islands, Ecuador 

People come from all over the world to these islands because they are known for their large number of endemic species. One of the main reasons why the Galapagos Islands feature so high on our list is because the Galapagos green sea turtle is a subspecies of green turtle that can only be found in the waters of the archipelagos of these islands.

Therefore, this provides a unique experience for any turtle lover. These turtles can be found swimming through the tropical waters of the Pacific Island. 

Best travel time: December – March 

Sea Turtle species: Galapagos Green Turtle 

Best Operators near the Galapagos Islands for swimming with Sea Turtles 

Multiple tour operators are offering sea turtle encounters. Here are the most reliable ones (Rated on Google Maps and TripAdvisor):

  1. Guiding Galapagos Expeditions 
  2. Scuba Iguana 
  3. Perfect Destiny 
  4. Eagleray Tours
  5. Galapagos Underwater 

3. Maui Island, Hawaii 

In the middle of the Pacific Ocean, Hawaii is a volcanic archipelago with stunning scenery and volcanic surroundings. It is an area of rich marine formation, in particular, it is home to 6 of the species of sea turtles.

This combined with the warm waters of the ocean make it an ideal destination to swim with sea turtles. The most commonly seen sea turtle here is the green sea turtle as well as the hawksbill.

Here is a video about diving with a green sea turtle near Maui, Hawaii.

The green sea turtles can be seen while snorkeling or diving in the West or South Coast of Maui. If you are really lucky, you may even see the sea turtle bathing on the beach. But remember, that, in Hawaii, it is illegal to touch a turtle, so you are able to view and admire these creatures but you may be fined if you violate the law. 

Best travel time: April – October 

Sea Turtle species: Green sea turtle

Best Operators near Maui Island, Hawaii for snorkeling with Sea Turtles 

Multiple tour operators are offering sea turtle encounters. Here are the most reliable ones (Rated on Google Maps and TripAdvisor):

  1. Maui Snorkel Tours
  2. Molokini Snorkelling Tours 
  3. PacWhale Eco-Adventures
  4. Maui Snorkel Charters 
  5. Quicksilver Maui 

4. Sipadan, Malaysia 

Situated as a small island in Malaysia in the Celebes Sea, Sipadan is a top destination for divers coming from all over the world. There are more than 3,000 different species of fish and many different types of corals which are unique to the area.

This rich ecological area mixed with the warm tropical temperatures of the water makes it another great place for sea turtle enthusiasts! There are other species of animal including sharks, mantra rays as well as barracuda. 

Best travel time: April – November 

Sea Turtle species: Green sea turtle, Hawksbill turtle 

 Best Operators near Maui Sipadan, Malaysia for diving with Sea Turtles 

Multiple tour operators are offering sea turtle encounters. Here are the most reliable ones (Rated on Google Maps and TripAdvisor):

  1. Scuba Junkie 
  2. Pulau Mabul 
  3. Sipadan Water Village 
  4. Borneo Divers Mabul Resort 
  5. Pom Pom Island Resort 

5. Ari Atoll, Maldives

The Maldives is a beautiful location composed of more than 1,000 coral islands in the Indian Ocean. Ari Atoll specifically is one of the natural atolls of the Maldives. It is one of the biggest atolls and located in the west of the archipelago.

Not only are the white sandy beaches so beautiful for anyone to visit, but also, the incredible marine formation here makes it another stunning destination for animal lovers. If you do decide to make the journey here, you will find sea turtles, as well as different species of fishes, dolphins and starfish in the clear blue waters. 

Best travel time: January – April 

Sea Turtle species: Green sea turtle, Olive Ridley sea turtle, Hawksbill sea turtle 

Best Operators near Ari Atoll, Maldives for diving with Sea Turtles 

Multiple tour operators are offering sea turtle encounters. Here are the most reliable ones (Rated on Google Maps and TripAdvisor):

  1. Lets go Excursions Maldives 
  2. Miyaru Folhudhoo Divers Maldives
  3. Rasdhoo Scuba Divers 
  4. Dive Worldwide
  5. Dive Blue Maldives 

6. Akumal, Playa del Carmen, México 

To the locals in Mayan, Akumal is known as the Place of the Turtles. This in itself should be reason enough to consider this beautiful location as a perfect destination for looking for and swimming with these graceful creatures.

This combined with the rich historical aspect of Akumal (it is one of the Yucatan’s oldest coastal resort areas) as well as the sublime beaches makes it a great place to consider. Not only is it possible to swim with sea turtles, but also there is a turtle night watch where at 21:15pm, the guide will be able to guide you through their knowledge and expertise in the field of sea turtles. This is part of a conservation project which you can read more about here.  

Best travel time: May – August 

Sea Turtle species: Green sea turtle, Loggerhead sea turtle, Hawksbill sea turtle 

Best Operators near Playa del Carmen, Mexico for snorkeling with Sea Turtles 

Multiple tour operators are offering sea turtle encounters. Here are the most reliable ones (Rated on Google Maps and TripAdvisor):

  1. Dressel Divers 
  2. Go Natural Explorers 
  3. All Tour Native 
  4. Cancun Adventure 
  5. Total Snorkel Cancun 

7. Cook Island Marine Reserve, Australia 

This reserve is a marine protected area located in the South Pacific Ocean, around 600m from the Fingal Head mainland of New South Wales. Consisting of waters around the island within a radius of 500metres, it is possible to spot turtles all year around as the place is actually a sanctuary for marine life.

It is important to remember that you should avoid touching or disturbing the sea turtles, but it is possible to interact with them from a 15 feet distance. Furthermore, in yet another beautiful spot on this planet, you will be able to spot other varieties of species including shrimps, parrotfish and molluscs. 

Best travel time: May – October  

Sea Turtle species: Green sea turtle, Loggerhead sea turtle, Hawksbill sea turtle 

Best Operators near the Cook Island Marine Reserve for swimming with Sea Turtles 

Multiple tour operators are offering sea turtle encounters. Here are the most reliable ones (Rated on Google Maps and TripAdvisor):

  1. Watersports Guru 
  2. Gold Coast Dive Adventures 
  3. Kirra Dive 
  4. Cooly Dive 
  5. Experience Oz 

8. Marsa Alam, Egypt 

The clear visibility in the Egyptian Red Sea with its colorful corals and the many species of fish is actually almost enough to make any underwater enthusiast happy.

But it gets even better, as the area is home to many species of sea turtles and you can encounter them. In particular, the Abu Dabbab Bay is known as a beautiful sandy beach where you are able to swim with different sea turtles. A particularly amazing aspect of visiting Marsa Alam, is that you can snorkel not too far from the beach and are able to view some sea turtles. Of course, you can go and snorkel or dive further away from the shore as well! 

Best travel time: June – September 

Sea Turtle species: Green sea turtle, Hawksbill sea turtle 

Best Operators near Marsa Alam for snorkeling with Sea Turtles 

Multiple tour operators are offering sea turtle encounters. Here are the most reliable ones (Rated on Google Maps and TripAdvisor):

  1. Coraya Divers 
  2. Marsa Alam Tours 
  3. Diving Marsa Alam 
  4. Emperor Divers 
  5. Liveaboard 

9. Gili Islands, Indonesia 

The Gili Islands are an archipelago of three small islands in South East Asia. Due to the abundance of marine life and attractive coral formations, divers and snorkeling enthusiasts from all over the world flock to the Gili Islands to spot life.

There are crystal clear waters meaning that turtle watching is a real attraction here. You are able to spot the turtles and they are easily approached and observed because it is quite a popular location! 

Best travel time: April – November 

Sea Turtle species: Green sea turtle, Hawksbill sea turtle 

Best Operators near Gili Islands for diving with Sea Turtles 

Multiple tour operators are offering sea turtle encounters. Here are the most reliable ones (Rated on Google Maps and TripAdvisor):

  1. Blue Marlin Dive 
  2. Conservation Diver 
  3. DPM Diving Gili Air
  4. Gili Air Divers 
  5. Gili Island Divers 

10. Tobago Cays, Caribbean 

The Tobago Cays are an archipelago located in the Southern part of Saint Vincent comprising five small islands are a myriad of coral reefs. The area is one of natural beauty where there exists many varieties of coral reef as well as extensive marine flora and fauna.

Regarding swimming with sea turtles, the area is well known for the green sea turtles that gather right under the water surface making it a fun way of seeing the animal glide through the water. 

Best travel time: January – June 

Sea Turtle species: Green sea turtle, Hawksbill sea turtle 

Best Operators near Tobago Cays, Carbbean for swimming with Sea Turtles 

Multiple tour operators are offering sea turtle encounters. Here are the most reliable ones (Rated on Google Maps and TripAdvisor):

  1. Indigo Dive 
  2. Bequia Dive Adventures
  3. Serenity Dive 
  4. Dive Bequia 
  5. Jean-Michel Cousteau Diving Caribbean 

Summary 

So, here you have it! Ten beautiful and spectacular locations on this planet where you have the possibility to swim with sea turtles and be able to further understand how they live.

Wherever you decide to go, remember to enjoy the moment and cherish the experience of a lifetime! 

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