Imagine an adorable fleet of tiny turtles flopping their way towards sea, leaving the beach behind them until their miraculously return, years later, to nest at the exact site of their birth. For lovers of nature and all things cute, witnessing a sea turtle hatch is an unforgettable experience. But you've got to get the timing right and need to know the best places to watch turtles hatch.

Yet, due to unsustainably developed coastlines, industrial fishing practices (in which turtles are accidentally netted), poaching, climate change, water pollution and the consumption of turtle meat and eggs, nearly all seven species of sea turtles have become highly endangered. Only 1 in 5000 baby sea turtles will live to be adults.

Plan your trip during the destination’s hatching season, but remember there’s no guarantee you’ll actually see a hatching. It’s no different than trying to guess the moment an egg in a birds nest will hatch – nearly impossible, even for conservationists. However, volunteering with a turtle conservation project will greatly improve your chances.

Remember: Never search for sea turtles without a guide. Never take any flash photography, or shine light without a red-filter on them. Mothers are easily disturbed when nesting. Don’t be part of the problem. Give them their space.

1. Palau Tioman, Malaysia

The situation of turtles in Malaysia has been dire for quite some time, particularly on the paradisiacal-looking island of Pulau Tioman. Despite this, the dedicated volunteers at the Juara Turtle Project have done an exceptional job at improving their numbers through nest protection, working with local communities, research, education and outreach. But they’re still fighting the good fight every day, especially against beach development by resorts.

An easy drive and ferry ride from both Singapore and Johor Bahru, the Juara Turtle Project offers affordable and accessible single and group volunteer experiences for turtle hatching and conservation.

When to go for hatching season: March to October.

If you're planning to visit Malaysia, we can help! Our Tailor-Made Trips service will connect you with a local expert to plan a fully customised excursion to this beautiful country.

2. Tortuguero National Park, Costa Rica

When an area's name literally translates as “region of turtles”, you know you’re in the right place. Just 80km north of Port of Limon, on the palm-lined Caribbean coast, this is one of the most important nesting sites in the western hemisphere. Here, giant leatherback, hawksbill and loggerhead turtles all find roost. 

A variety of turtle experiences can be booked through the park, whereas the Sea Turtle Conservancy group offer volunteer adventures in the area. Keep in mind that turtles nest on both coasts of Costa Rica. Check out Osa Conservation’s volunteer program on the country’s Pacific side.

When to go for hatching season: Caribbean coast: July to October and March to May. Pacific coast: October to February and July to November.

We also offer trips to beautiful Costa Rica! Our Tailor-Made Trips service will connect you with a local expert to plan a personalised excursion.

Sea turtle crawling from the beach to the sea in Tortuguero National Park, Costa RicaSea turtle crawling from the beach to the sea after laying her eggs in Tortuguero National Park, Costa Rica © Jarno Gonzalez Zarraonandia/Shutterstock

 3. Kosgoda, Sri Lanka

Green sea turtles are the most common species on the sandy shores of Sri Lanka. Four other species of turtle nest here as well, but due to their dwindling numbers are, sadly, a rare find.

The Kosgoda Sea Turtle Conservation Project has run a rustic but vital hatchery in the area since 1988, and has been especially hard at work to protect nesting grounds since the devastation of the tsunami in 2004.

When to go for hatching season: November to May.

Get in touch for our Tailor-Made Trips to Sri Lanka.

 4. Greece and the Greek Islands

While the status of sea turtles in the Mediterranean might not seem so dire as in other regions, rampant tourist development and net-fishing still threaten populations. Think it’s time to turn that Greek beach vacay you’ve been planning into a volunteer trip?

Organisations such as Archelon work to ensure the conservation of turtles at numerous sites of coastal Greece and its islands, graciously offering a less-intensive conservation work to sunbathing ratio for a variety of volunteers (part-time, full-time, individuals, families and large groups).

When to go for hatching season: August to October.

Get in touch for our Tailor-Made Trips to Greece.

Small turtles in hands, Kosgoda, Sri LankaThere are many conservation projects in Greece safeguarding turtles' future © Oleksii G/Shutterstock

 5. Ras Al Jinz, Oman

Near the authentic fishing village of Ras Al Jinz, this area of the Arabian Sea is world-renowned for its endangered green turtle nesting grounds.

Oman’s eco-tourism project at Ras Al Hadd Turtle Reserve, does its best to help tourists witness a hatching, while ensuring that human induced threats are controlled. The centre also offers visitors guided night trips in hopes of witnessing a nesting.

When to go for hatching season: Year-round, usually peaking in July.

Get in touch for our Tailor-Made Trips to Oman.

6. Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

This popular beach resort is also a turtle-watching hot spot, with a number of conservation organisations offering turtle tours, with controlled release of hatchlings most nights during peak season.

Though Mexico's Puerto Vallarta is easily accessible for families, viewers should stay quiet around nesting turtles, as they are very timid; disturbing them will only make you part of the problem.

When to go for hatching season: July to September.

Get in touch for our Tailor-Made Trips to Mexico.

View of Banderas Bay and Puerto Vallarta from a wild beachMexico's Puerta Vallarta is a turtle hot-spot © Ferenz/Shutterstock

 7. Iztuzu, Turkey

Situated on a narrow strip of strip of sand separating the fresh water of Turkey's Daylan River from the Mediterranean, this landscape is worth a visit in itself  ­– though Iztuzu is commonly called “Turtle Beach” for a reason.

Almost bulldozed in the name of mass tourism during the 1980s, the Kaptan June Turtle Sea Turtle Conservation Foundation has not only won hard-fought battles against development to ensure the safety of loggerhead sea turtle nesting grounds. It’s also succeeded in making Iztuzu Beach a much loved eco-tourist attraction, great for travellers of all ages.

When to go for hatching season: May to June.

9 of the best places to watch baby turtles hatch: Iztuzu beach in Dalyan, Turkey.Iztuzu is commonly called Turtle Beach © HSBortecin/Shutterstock

8. Tofo Beach, Mozambique

Coastal Mozambique is a gorgeous and extremely important site of marine biodiversity that is, regrettably, under great threat.

For anyone looking for a deeper engagement with marine life than simply a visit to a conservation center, Underwater Africa offers volunteer experiences ranging for 4–16 weeks. From turtle walks to scuba dives, volunteering in Mozambique is a great way to spur a passion for ocean conservation in Africa and at large.

When to go for hatching season: December to March.

 9. Port Barton, Philippines

The Philippines' tranquil turquoise waters of Port Barton are a great place to kick back and see some turtles in action. Whether you’re snorkeling in “Turtle Bay” or viewing a hatchling release at the nearby Secret Paradise Marine Sanctuary, it’s an easy place to satisfy that turtle-watching fix.

When to go for hatching season: December to May.

Get in touch for our Tailor-Made Trips to the Philippines.

Top image: Newly hatched baby turtle toward the ocean © beltsazar/Shutterstock

Share

Book your trip with Rough Guides

Tailor-made travel planned by local experts

At Rough Guides, we understand that experienced travellers want to get truly off-the-beaten-track. That’s why we’ve partnered with local experts to help you plan and book tailor-made trips that are packed with personality and stimulating adventure - at all levels of comfort. If you love planning, but find arranging the logistics exhausting, you’re in the right place.

Learn Morechevron_right

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

chevron_leftPrevious feature
20 Best places to go for Christmas 2019

20 Best places to go for Christmas 2019

Next featurechevron_right
Where to stay in Milan

Where to stay in Milan

Weekly newsletter

Sign up now for travel inspiration, discounts and competitions

Sign up now and get 20% off any ebook

Privacy Preference Center

Necessary

Mandatory - can not be deselected. Necessary cookies help make a website usable by enabling basic functions like page navigation and access to secure areas of the website. The website cannot function properly without these cookies.

PHPSESSID,aelia_cs_selected_currency,cookie_notice_accepted,RS,bp-message,bp-message-type,id,UIDR,w3tc_logged_out,__cfduid
__cfduid

Statistics

Statistic cookies help website owners to understand how visitors interact with websites by collecting and reporting information anonymously.

__utma,__utmb,__utmc,__utmz,_ga,_gid,__atssc,__atuvc,__atuvs,di,dt,ssc,ssh,sshs,uid,uit,xt
__utma,__utmb,__utmc,__utmz,_ga,_gid
__atssc,__atuvc,__atuvs,di,dt,ssc,ssh,sshs,uid,uit,xtc

Marketing

Marketing cookies are used to track visitors across websites. The intention is to display ads that are relevant and engaging for the individual user and thereby more valuable for publishers and third party advertisers.

__gads,PISID, BEAT, CheckConnection TempCookie703, GALX, GAPS, GoogleAccountsLocale_session, HSID, LSID, LSOSID, NID, PREF, RMME, S, SAPISID, SID, SSID,__utmv, _twitter_sess, auth_token, auth_token_session, external_referer, guest_id, k, lang, original_referer, remember_checked, secure_session, twid, twll,c_user, datr, fr, highContrast, locale, lu, reg_ext_ref, reg_fb_gate, reg_fb_ref, s, wd, xs
__gads,PISID, BEAT, CheckConnection TempCookie703, GALX, GAPS, GoogleAccountsLocale_session, HSID, LSID, LSOSID, NID, PREF, RMME, S, SAPISID, SID, SSID
__utmv, _twitter_sess, auth_token, auth_token_session, external_referer, guest_id, k, lang, original_referer, remember_checked, secure_session, twid, twll
c_user, datr, fr, highContrast, locale, lu, reg_ext_ref, reg_fb_gate, reg_fb_ref, s, wd, xs