(ANIMAL TOURISM/WILDLIFE) Every year on May 23, World Turtle Day shines a light on the plight of sea turtles as they arrive to beaches all over the world to nest from mid-May to late-August.
As more beachfront properties open around the world and nesting sea turtles are forced to share land with vacationing humans, a variety of hotels and cruises are doing their part to protect turtles and their nesting grounds while helping guests participate in conservation efforts.
Lights, urban development, and even hunting have a significant impact on the survival of nesting turtles, but luckily many resorts are learning to be good neighbors and are even improving the odds for these threatened species.
This World Turtle Day, check out these seven unique travel experiences that go above and beyond to protect nesting and hatchling sea turtles. — Global Animal
1. Galapagos Green with Envy | Galapagos
Travelers can make their friends green with envy this World Turtle Day when they come face-to-face with the elusive Galapagos green turtle, only found in the archipelago’s tropical Pacific waters. Sail aboard Ecoventura’s fleet of sustainable mega-yachts including the luxurious, new MV ORIGIN, appropriately named after Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species. With two unique, seven-night itineraries, turtle lovers will explore the olive-sand beaches at Charles island and Zodiac their way to Baroness Point with two certified naturalist guides. Cruisers will come within inches of the iconic giant Galapagos tortoises and join the sea turtles for an afternoon snorkel, which is offered several times during the duration of the expedition.
2. Pioneer Your Turtle Adventure | Barbados
Fun fact: Barbados has more turtles than any other Caribbean island! For guests craving an up-close encounter with the native hawksbill and leatherbacks, there’s no better place than Turtle Beach Resort. Situated on the lively south coast of Barbados, families (and turtles) flock to this beachfront paradise for a locally inspired vacay. Guests can play in the cool waters with the adults, and during the summer months, they’re likely to spot hundreds of turtle hatchlings on the property’s 1,500 foot stretch of pearly white sands. The resort’s expert team of “Turtle Pioneers” as they’re affectionately called, not only teach guests about island conservation, but help lead the baby turtles to the sea after they’re born with the help of the Barbados Sea Turtle Project.
3. Help the Cause in Cancun | Cancun, Mexico
Perfectly situated on a stretch of bright Mexican Caribbean beach, sister properties, Marriott Cancun Resort & JW Marriott Cancun Resort & Spa feature a sea turtle protection program that saves an average of 3,000 endangered baby turtles each year. From June through September, marine biologists guide the staff in preparing and caring for nesting areas on the beach. Guests at the resorts are invited to participate in the nightly release of the baby turtles, and can do so by calling concierge to find out if turtles will be released on a given night.
4. Protecting the Turtles in Puerto Vallarta | Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Located between Banderas Bay and the Sierra Madre Mountains, Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort & Spa makes it easy for travelers to access to once-in-a-lifetime animal encounters. From June to December, guests can participate in the resort’s turtle protection program and have the opportunity to release newly hatched turtles into the ocean. Since the program started, more than 4,000 nests have been incubated at the hotel’s nursery, and over 1,200 incubated naturally at the beach. This program is a family favorite as children staying at the resort have the chance to even name their tiny sea turtles, and gather at sunset to wish them luck and set them free to return to the ocean. In addition to having the opportunity to release newly hatched turtles, nature-lovers can join the resident biologist for a nighttime stroll along the beach to monitor the nesting turtles. Guests can meet at the turtle nursery at 10:30 pm, where the biologist will provide information about the conservation project and instructions for patrolling the beach.
5. Rescue and Restore the Ridley Turtles | Clearwater Beach, Florida
There is no better place to spend World Turtle Day than Sandpearl Resort, the first Silver LEED-certified resort in Florida dedicated to preserving the beauty and ecosystems of the Gulf Coast. In addition to enjoying beautiful white sand shores of Clearwater Beach, kids can participate in fun-filled activities from nature walks to scavenger hunts to yoga with the friendly Camp Ridley Mascot, “Ridley the Turtle” named after the Kemp Ridley turtle, which is found primarily in the Gulf of Mexico. Just minutes away from the hotel, Sandpearl Resort partners with Clearwater Marine Aquarium, where injured marine life including turtles are rescued and nursed back to health by aquarium staff and volunteers. Guests can visit all of the resident sea turtles (including five different species, two of which are endangered) from Stubby, who is missing her front flippers because of severe injuries, to Harold who has helped staff to better understand visual complications on stranded sea turtles. Guests who fall in love with newfound turtle friends can even adopt a turtle through Clearwater Marine Aquarium.
6. Stay & Save the Sea Turtles | Jupiter Beach, Florida
Perched on pristine stretch of Atlantic coastline dotted with natural dunes, Jupiter Beach Resort & Spa is an idyllic escape for travelers looking to give back while enjoying the easy, breezy beach life. Guests of Jupiter’s only oceanfront resort can book the “Stay & Save the Sea Turtles” package and get a portion of proceeds from their visit donated to the local Loggerhead Marinelife Center, adopting a sea turtle in their name. The area is a haven for this endangered species, and travelers can even spot sea turtle hatchings at night on the resort’s beach during nesting season, which runs from May through October. Guests can check out sea turtles in their natural habitat while exploring the local area with off-site activities that include kayaking, paddle-boarding, boating and more.
7. Learn About Loggerheads | Sarasota, Florida
Perched on the beaches of Longboat Key – a barrier island off the Gulf coast with more than 35 miles of nesting beaches for loggerhead turtles – The Resort at Longboat Key Club is a great place for nature-loving families. Just minutes from the property is the Sarasota Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium, which has rehabilitated and released more than 100 sea turtles. With the property’s current “Summer Sun & Summer Fun” package, families can visit the Mote Marine Aquarium free of charge and snag three nights accommodations and daily breakfast.