Spotting these ancient reptiles on a dive can often make the dive, or take it to a new level. Divers often look for the more spectacular of aquatic species when they’re underwater, and the turtle is hardly an average Joe. Either flapping their boomerang shaped fins at the surface, or grazing on seagrass like an oceanic cow, turtles are a must-see. We bring you six top places to dive with sea turtles:
Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
Grand Cayman is home to one of the world’s largest pseudo-turtle farms – which has released over 31,000 sea turtles since 1981. The lack of predators means hawksbill turtle hatchlings survive, and almost thrive in the islands’ waters. If you can’t see them breaching the water’s surface from the shoreline, chances are they’ll be hanging around like biker gangs below the waves.
Maui, Hawaiian Islands, USA
Located off the coast of Hawaii you’ll find the deep blue volcanic atoll that is an aquatic mammal paradise. Behold “Turtle Town”, the green turtle equivalent to balmy LA, with a wealth of foreign visitors – dolphins, sharks, plus many more showstoppers – who vacate to these waters to explore the unique lava formations caused by ancient submarine-volcano eruptions.
Barbados hosts the largest of all living turtles, the endangered leatherback sea turtle, which bathes, feeds and ponders in the clear waters with hawksbill turtles. Local community members and fishermen have put forth preservation acts to increase the turtle’s population. Now scenic tours offer dive trips to swim alongside groups of the hard-shelled reptiles. You’ll find turtles that have been given the full body-spa treatment from fishermen who have dropped their nets to help scrape barnacles off of the turtles’ backs.
The Great Barrier Reef, Australia
The elephant of the reef world and known as one of the world’s most majestic wonders, the Great Barrier Reef is a breeding ground for six of the seven existing species of sea turtles. Take a trip anytime of the year and enjoy warm waters and beautiful sites. And if timed right, you may just come across a turtle laying some eggs.
Ranked highly by many in the list of “top dive destinations of the world”, the island of Sipadan is the perfect location for swimming with turtles. A turtle-nesting site, Sipadan almost guarantees the diver to spot up to 20 or 30 sea turtles on only one dive.
Akumal, Yucatán, Mexico
Meaning “place of the turtles” in Mayan, Akumal – with its small beach town located between Playa del Carmen and Tulum – certainly lives up to its name. During the months of May and October, green sea turtles lay their eggs in the sand, and once the babies have hatched, you can witness a large team of them limping towards the sea.