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The 11 best places to snorkel with sea turtles

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Sea turtles are some of the most remarkable animals you can encounter in our oceans. They have existed for over 100 million years, can live for over a century, and some swim more than 10,000 miles between nesting and foraging grounds each year. There are seven different species of sea turtle, and you can find them at locations around the world. Here is our roundup of the best places to snorkel with these charming animals.

1) Australia

Photo by Manny Moreno on Unsplash

Whether you choose to explore Australia’s eastern or western coast, there are numerous places to go snorkeling with sea turtles. The Great Barrier Reef has world-class snorkeling and hosts six of the seven species of sea turtle. A visit to this special area also offers the chance to explore the oldest rainforest in the world, the Daintree Rainforest. Western Australia also has great snorkeling and numerous sea turtles, especially at Shark Bay, Ningaloo Reef and the Muiron Islands.

2) Malaysia

Mabul, Sipadan and Kapalai offer some of the best and most diverse snorkeling opportunities in the world, especially for sea turtle fans. Sipadan’s bright blue waters are teeming with big fish and huge green sea turtles, whilst Mabul is the place to go for spotting sea turtles cruising along coral reefs. Make sure you visit in August if you want to see nesting sea turtles at Sipadan.

3) The Maldives

Maldives scuba diving is high on many divers’ wish lists, but you don’t need to be a diver to make the most of this stunning destination. There are excellent snorkeling opportunities and numerous sea turtles throughout the atolls, including leatherback, loggerhead, hawksbill, green and olive ridley sea turtles. To surround yourself with green sea turtles, visit Lhaviyani Atoll and especially the seagrass meadows of Kuredu Island. This idyllic atoll hosts almost half of the Maldives’ green sea turtles.

 4) Wakatobi, Indonesia

Wakatobi is renowned for having some of the world’s most biodiverse reefs and has easy snorkeling conditions. Sitting in the Coral Triangle, this special destination has everything from prized critters through to schooling reef fish and plenty of sea turtles. Snorkel over the colorful outer reefs to find adult Hawksbill turtles munching on huge sponges or simply walk off the beach to look for juvenile and adult green sea turtles at the seagrass meadows.

5) Akumal, Mexico

Mexico is another top destination for snorkeling with sea turtles, especially at Akumal in the Yucatan Peninsula. Akumal means ‘the place of the turtle’, so it’s no surprise to find out this is a great place to swim with sea turtles. With numerous green sea turtles and loggerheads there, which are used to the presence of humans, it’s an experience not to miss.

6) Hawaii

Photo by Roberto Nickson on Unsplash

If you’re visiting Hawaii, you have a good chance of encountering sea turtles whichever island you choose, but Oahu is one of the best. You can either join snorkeling tours to meet the turtles or explore without a guide. Laniakea Beach (also known as Turtle Beach) is one of the most popular places to swim with turtles but there are plenty of quieter turtle hotspots around the island.

7) Egypt

Photo by Francesco Ungaro on Unsplash

People go scuba diving in Egypt every year and with good reason. It is one of the most accessible and affordable places to experience vibrant reefs, warm water snorkeling and year-round sunshine. It truly has something for everyone, including snorkelers. You can spot sea turtles on any of Egypt’s reefs but visit Abu Dabbab Beach at Marsa Alam for almost guaranteed green sea turtle encounters. You will also be able to swim with dugongs whilst you’re there.

8) Greece

Zakynthos (also known as Zante) is the top place in Europe to swim with sea turtles. In the summer months, thousands of loggerhead turtles head inshore to lay their eggs on the beaches. You can snorkel with them at Zakynthos and at nearby Cameo Island, or go island hopping and watch them come ashore at Kefalonia’s beaches.

 9) The Galapagos Islands

Photo by Dustin Haney on Unsplash

Wild and remote, the Galapagos Islands are an iconic haven for wildlife above and below the waterline, and sea turtles are no exception. There are numerous snorkeling spots where you’ll find sea turtles and Galapagos green sea turtles nest on some of the islands’ beaches.  Wherever you snorkel, the waters are teeming with life. There is nowhere else in the world where you can swim with sea turtles, marine iguanas, sea lions, penguins, schools of fish and more. Don’t miss it.

 10) French Polynesia

French Polynesia, with its lush volcanic islands, luxurious resorts and soft white sands, is the perfect destination to get away from it all. As if that’s not enough, French Polynesia is also stunning underwater, with calm lagoons ideal for snorkeling, healthy coral reefs and abundant marine life. You can go snorkeling with sea turtles at Tahiti and Moorea, where the shallow waters make it ideal for new snorkelers.

11) Barbados

Barbados is an idyllic Caribbean destination, with azure waters and numerous sea turtles, including green, hawksbill and leatherback turtles. There are a handful of snorkeling tour operators and plenty of infrastructure, meaning you can get out and swim with the turtles easily. If you don’t want to join a tour, grab your snorkeling gear and go in search of sea turtles off the west coast beaches. Make sure you follow local snorkeling safety guidelines and enjoy.


Kathryn Curzon, a shark conservationist and dive travel writer for Scuba Schools International (SSI), wrote this article.

Scuba Schools International (SSI) is the largest professional business-based training agency in the world. For over 50 years now, SSI has provided the ultimate training experience for millions of certified divers, not only in Recreational Scuba, but in every training category; Freediving, Extended Range, Rebreather Diving, Mermaid, Swim and Lifeguard.

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There’s nothing quite like a Snorkeling holiday in the Maldives!

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A Guest Blog by Ruth Franklin of Secret Paradise Maldives

1200 islands of 26 different atolls make up the island paradise of the Maldives. Once prehistoric underwater volcanoes, the coral reefs and ecosystems that surround these picture perfect islands offer some of the world’s very best snorkeling locations. There’s no better destination than the pristine tropical waters of the Maldives for first time snorkelers or veteran underwater lovers. With an average of 200+ sunny days per year, the Maldives really is second to none when it comes to choosing an idyllic snorkeling escape.

What is Snorkeling in the Maldives Like?

You’ve probably seen the picture perfect images of the Maldives floating around the internet, popping up on your Instagram feed or plastered across what it seems like, pages of every other travel magazine. Thoughts of ‘there’s no way that ocean water can be real’ or something along the lines of ‘that’s definitely photo shopped’ may have crossed your mind more than once. Take our word for it from us here at Secret Paradise, as we can assure you that yes – the water is really the colour depicted by the magazines. In fact, the island waters here reflect a spectrum of blue tones that seem to change façade with every spec of light. This island paradise is just waiting for you to dive beneath the surface to discover its abundance of incredible reef life and the spectacular coloured corals.

If you’re privileged enough to delved into the underwater world of the Maldives, you can expect nothing but excellent clarity and visibility, combined with blissful year round ocean temperatures of 26 – 29 degrees Celsius. You may also be thinking that a snorkeling holiday in the Maldives is probably out of your budget … Again, let us reassure you that there has never been a more affordable time to travel to the Maldives. A snorkeling vacation is very reasonable and can begin from as little as USD$50 per night … let us show you how.

What Are the Options for Maldives Snorkeling Holidays?

Here at Secret Paradise, we offer quality and value for money snorkeling day trips and bespoke Multi-day Island hopping itineraries. On our tours, expect to explore the uncharted local islands of the Maldives, an alternative to an expensive resort style vacation.

Staying on a local island in a guesthouse allows for exploration of some of the Maldives’ very best snorkeling sites and marine life, whilst experiencing the local tradition and culture of the Maldives. Think palm trees, white sandy beaches, sun bathing and of course snorkeling, all combined with wandering locally inhabited islands, tasting Maldivian foods and seeing local traditions first hand. Enjoy being transferred from your local island via a traditional wooden dhoani boat, to stunning nearby snorkeling sites – the very same sites that resort guests snorkel at, all for a fraction of the cost! Our affordable snorkeling holidays and day trips will leave you with long lasting Maldives memories.

Is The Maldives Best For First Time or Experienced Snorkelers?

The answer to this question is both. The Maldives is spread across a thousand small islands scattered throughout the Indian Ocean, meaning it offers vast ocean environments, perfect for both beginner and experienced snorkelers and everyone in between.

The islands here in the Maldives consist of both shallow and deep-water lagoons. Beginners can simply choose to snorkel the reefs adjacent to the shoreline, in the safety of still water. Intermediate snorkelers can explore reefs a little further off shore whilst advanced snorkelers who are more daring have opportunities to try the local ‘drift-snorkeling’ method, using the aide of the ocean currents to explore the underwater terrain. As the ocean currents here in the Maldives are extremely tidal, our local guides will accompany you to ensure that you experience a safe yet ‘bucket-list’ type of underwater snorkeling experience.

What Is The Best Time of Year For Snorkeling In The Maldives?

The snorkeling season of the Maldives runs yearlong. As the Maldives is located near the equator, it is susceptible to two monsoon seasons, better known as the wet and dry seasons. From May to November (the wet season), the abundance of reef life is more varied and the visibility levels are better on the western side of each island. December to April is generally known as the ‘dry’ period, where the eastern side of each atoll is best for snorkeling.

Buy or Rent Snorkeling Equipment?

When it comes to packing for your Maldives snorkeling vacation, deciding upon whether to buy or rent your snorkeling gear is certainly a great question and one that needs to be given substantial consideration, as everyone’s snorkeling needs are different.

Firstly, decide how often you think you may snorkel on your Maldives trip. Do you think that number is worthy of purchasing your very own snorkeling gear? Let us help you make a wise travel decision.

Let’s face it, there’s nothing quite like owning your own snorkeling equipment – being assured that your own mask, fins and snorkel fit your face and body perfectly, not to mention they haven’t been worn by the many tourists before you. It’s a great little luxury if you believe you will be snorkeling frequently throughout your Maldives stay. It will also save you the hassle of searching for the snorkeling equipment that is right for you.

However, remember transporting and carrying your own snorkeling gear can often be bulky and heavy, and the last thing you want is for your equipment to be damaged in transit. Renting your snorkeling equipment is essentially easier, as your gear you won’t need to be transported from place to place. Fins especially take up a substantial amount of room in your luggage.

Another alternative is to purchase your own face mask and snorkel before your trip and hire your fins whilst on holidays. A mask and snorkel combination is small and lightweight – it takes up minimal space in your luggage. This way you will be assured that your mask will fit you comfortably, it won’t leak and it is sanitary, plus you won’t have to awkwardly lug fins around in your luggage.

Our Secret Paradise Packing Tip:

Cushion your mask between clothes to ensure the lens won’t be damaged in transit. As fins are durable, pack them on the outer edge of your luggage to prevent your other belongings from being damaged.


Discover more of The Maldives with www.secretparadise.mv

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Turtles of the Riviera Maya & Cozumel

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A blog by Pro Dive International

Plenty of empty shells of recently hatched turtle eggs were spotted by our divers at Sabalos. They had been washed off shore onto the reef after the baby turtles had dug out of their nest at night and swam off into the sea.

The turtle nesting season on the Riviera Maya and in Cozumel happens between May and October, which means that you may be lucky to see some nests or even hatchlings during your stay with us.

Six out of the seven sea turtle species worldwide visit Mexico every year. We are lucky enough to get to see Green Turtles and Loggerhead Turtles regularly during our dives, as they are in search of food and a good clean.

The reefs and ecosystems here provide a great number of tasty snacks for a turtle, for example seagrass, sponges, crustaceans and many more. And while the turtles pass through the reef, they receive a top-notch cleaning service from many of the local fishes who feed on their parasites and algae growth.

6 Turtle Fun Facts

  1. Green turtles are so named because of their green colored fat caused by their rich diet of seagrass.
  2. Green Turtles are the largest hard-shell turtles in the world. The largest known green turtle weighed 395 kg/ 871 lbs, with a shell that measured more than 152 cm/ 5 ft.
  3. Loggerhead Turtles are so named for their massive broad muscular heads.
  4. Adult males are normally easy to distinguish from females because of their long tails visible extending past their shell.
  5. Female turtles normally return to the exact same location where they were born to lay their eggs.
  6. The sex of a baby turtle is determined by the temperature at which the egg is kept.

Turtles are regular visitors to many of our dive sites, but they are most commonly found at Tortuga – this dive site is even named turtle in Spanish! It’s located just off shore from our dive center at the Occidental Xcaret and easily accessible by boat from any of our Playa Del Carmen locations.

Moreover, for those of you who are not divers, we are lucky enough to have some extensive seagrass beds where green turtles love to hang out and eat, which is an easy snorkel off shore during one of our tours with a guide who is licensed to enter those protected areas.

Turtle Locations

Besides observing them underwater, you may be lucky to find some turtle nests in front of your resort on the Riviera Maya or in Cozumel. Hotel employees usually rope them off to ensure their protection.

Turtle conservation projects are a great alternative to learn more about their behaviors, importance for the marine environment, how you can help protect them, and to observe nests or turtles first hand:

Turtle Protection

Every sea turtle species on earth nests on Mexico’s beaches (save one that is only found in Australia). Consequently, Mexico is known as the sea turtle capital of the world and its turtle protection laws are so important on a global scale.

Current Mexican law classifies all sea turtle species as endangered.

Regulations

  • Turtles can’t be killed for their meat, skin, shell or eggs.
  • Native vegetation can’t be removed in nesting habitats, to stop erosion.
  • New regulations call for moving, changing or eliminating any light sources that illuminate a nesting beach, as baby turtles can become disoriented from finding their way to the ocean.
  • Vehicles can have a maximum weight of 300 kg on nesting beaches and only be used for patrolling and management of the nesting site.
  • Recently outlawed were turtle release events, as many places kept the hatchlings in confinement for several days until a sufficient number of participants had signed up for this activity. Upon release, they were too weak to handle the surf and avoid predators.

All of these and many more regulations help protect beaches, nests, female sea turtles, their eggs and hatchlings to make it a safer place for them.

How to start your Turtle Adventure

Let’s discover some turtles together during our dives! If you are not a diver, why not sign up for a PADI course; or join our Mexican Snorkeling Adventure at 15% OFF starting from Playa del Carmen or Tulum, if booked online until 16/09 & redeemed until Dec 22, with reference to this blog!

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