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Curious about swimming with turtles in Barbados? Let me help! I lived in Barbados for two months as a digital nomad, and I love sea turtles, so I spent many weekends in the ocean looking for these wonderful creatures! In this guide, I’m sharing the best places to swim with sea turtles in Barbados.
Barbados is a beautiful Caribbean island surrounded by miles of coral reefs that the sea turtles live in, making it an ideal destination to swim with turtles.
It’s incredible to watch the sea turtles glide through the turquoise water! If you’ve been wanting to swim with sea turtles, Barbados is the perfect place to do it.
Guided sea turtle tours in Barbados
When embarking on an adventure to swim with sea turtles in Barbados, it’s important to remember that these are wild animals in their natural habitats.
This is where guided tours come into play and why they are the best way to have this incredible experience.
Tours provide all necessary equipment and transportation, meaning you won’t need to worry about where to rent gear or how to get to the best spots.
Tour guides have an immense amount of local knowledge, not only about the turtles but also about the marine ecosystem.
Guides know where to swim, how close to get, and how to interact with the turtles in a safe way for everyone involved.
Plus, they can take photos of you with the turtles, so you have memories to take home!
Here are the most highly-rated snorkeling tours in Barbados that include swimming with sea turtles.
⭐️ Rating: 5/5 | ⏳ Time: 5 hours | ✔️ Book it here
Catamaran cruises were one of my favorite things to do on the weekend with friends. There’s no better way to enjoy island life than sipping rum punch from a boat! It should definitely be on your list of things to do in Barbados.
While some sailing excursions in Barbados can be crowded experiences, this highly-rated tour is capped to a small number of passengers to ensure everyone has a comfortable space to swim with the turtles. There is nothing worse than being kicked in the face while on a snorkeling trip!
After jumping into Carlise Bay to swim with the turtles, enjoy the open bar, snacks, and Bajan buffet lunch as you cruise the stunning coastline.
This tour takes you on a cruise along the west coast of Barbados in the comfort of a 60-foot (18-meter) catamaran. This is the perfect tour if you want to experience snorkeling at a few different sites.
You’ll make two or three snorkeling stops where you can dive in and swim with sea turtles, including a visit at a shipwreck.
Along with the views, unlimited drinks, a light breakfast, and lunch are included. With over 1,000 5-star reviews, this experience will surely be a great time.
If you’re a scuba diver, another great way to see turtles is to dive in Barbados at one of the many beautiful coral reef sites.
Where can you go swimming with turtles in Barbados?
The best places to swim with sea turtles in Barbados are on the south and west coast, offering the calmest snorkeling conditions.
Carlisle Bay Marine Park
Carlisle Bay is one of the most popular places for snorkeling in Barbados, with multiple shipwrecks that have created a thriving habitat for marine life. It’s the best place to go snorkeling with turtles in Barbados.
In addition to sea turtles, you can also see tropical fish, sea horses, rays, and eels while snorkeling here.
Several beaches in Barbados surround Carlisle Bay, such as Pebbles and Brownes.
Another great way to visit is to head to Boatyard beach club. If you buy a day pass, you get a boat ride out to Carlise Bay, where they will take you snorkeling to see the Barbados turtles and shipwrecks.
You also get to use the beach chairs/umbrellas for the day and get money back in credit to spend on drinks and food at the bar.
If you join this catamaran tour in Barbados (which is so much fun), you’ll get to stop at Carlisle Bay to snorkel with the sea turtles.
I’ve seen turtles every time I’ve gone snorkeling at Carlisle Bay. However, I’ve also noticed many tour companies feed them here, which I disagree with because this is not ethical animal tourism.
Feeding the turtles supplemental food to their natural diet puts them at risk for various health conditions, boat strikes, and injuries as they learn humans are a source of food.
Turtles can find food themselves, so please don’t feed them. It’s much more fun to watch sea turtles feed in their natural habitat anyway!
Freights Bay is one of the best places to surf in Barbados, but I also see turtles whenever I go here.
That said, I don’t recommend it as a place to go snorkeling as the water is packed with beginner surfers, and it’s not that easy to get into from the shore. But if you are surfing, the sea turtles are a pleasant backdrop while waiting to catch a wave.
Worthing Beach is a long stretch of golden white sand with water that is great for snorkeling.
The water is calm and not deep, so it’s an excellent spot for kids, families, and inexperienced swimmers to swim with turtles.
Just bring your own snorkel and mask, as there aren’t any places to rent here.
If you’re on the west coast of Barbados, a great place to check out is Paynes Bay. It’s got one of the calmest seas and a gorgeous backdrop.
The beach is also well-serviced, with shops, restaurants, and gorgeous rental properties.
Types of Barbados sea turtles
Barbados is home to three different species of sea turtles. There’s the hawksbill turtle, the green turtle, and the leatherback turtle, the largest of them all.
The hawksbill and leatherback sea turtles are critically endangered, while green turtles are endangered.
Best time to see turtles in Barbados
In Barbados, you can see sea turtles nearly all year round due to the island’s consistently warm climate.
However, if you’re specifically interested in seeing turtle nesting or hatching, certain times of the year are better than others.
Sea turtles, particularly the Hawksbill and the Leatherback, nest on the beaches of Barbados from May to October each year, while the leatherback turtles nest between February and July.
If you want to swim with turtles, that’s a year-round activity in Barbados. Various tour operators offer turtle-spotting trips where you can snorkel or dive with these amazing creatures.
Just remember that these are wild animals, and sightings can never be 100% guaranteed, no matter the time of year.
Even though November through January is out of the turtle nesting seasons, these are the months I lived in Barbados, and I saw many. I even participated in a sea turtle release which was a magical experience!
The Barbados Sea Turtle Project
Unfortunately, Barbados has a long history of sea turtle hunting for their meat, eggs, and shells, which has significantly reduced the population to what it used to be. Now there is a ban on turtle hunting in Barbados, and the population is slowly recovering thanks to the Barbados Sea Turtle Project.
Based at the University of the West Indies, the Barbados Sea Turtle Project has been involved in conserving marine turtle species in Barbados for the last 25 years.
They do several things to help protect the sea turtles in Barbados, such as relocating nests too close to the tide line, rescuing hatchlings disoriented by hotel lights, and rehabilitating turtles accidentally hooked in fishing nets.
They also patrol the beaches during the high-density nesting season to record data to see if the project’s conversations efforts are helping.
The Barbados sea turtle project has a 24-hour Sea Turtle Hotline (230-0142) year-round that the public can call in information about turtles nesting, hatching of eggs, or lost or injured turtles.
If you are interested in volunteering with wildlife, you can also apply to volunteer with the Barbados Sea Turtle Project! Volunteering is a great way to give back and travel the world on a budget.
Turtle hatching season in Barbados
Another remarkable wildlife experience you can have in Barbados is to witness the baby sea turtles hatching and swimming out to sea for the first time.
You may be lucky enough to come across hatching sea turtles while walking along the beaches of Barbados – they are a favorite nesting ground for both the hawksbill and leatherback turtles!
Hawksbill turtles nest on the beaches of Barbados from May to October each year, while leatherback turtles nest between February and July. Hatchlings usually emerge between 6 pm and 6 am.
Only 1 in 1000 hatchlings survive to maturity, so you can’t help but root for them as they are released onto the sand and begin their journey into the ocean. It’s incredible to witness!
The Barbados Sea Turtle Project invites the public to rescue hatchling releases. You can get alerts of releases from the Barbados Sea Turtle Project Facebook page.
Sadly, the baby sea turtles sometimes get confused by the restaurants’ lights along the shore and head there instead of the ocean (they are meant to follow the moon).
If you see lost baby sea turtles, contact the sea turtle hotline to let them know. The number is 230-0142.
Tips for safely swimming with turtles in Barbados
- Always approach a sea turtle by its side; this gives them a clear view of you and an avenue to get away if they want to. Never swim directly above a sea turtle as they come up to breathe; you may get in the way.
- Be quiet when swimming up to a sea turtle. Otherwise, the loud noise may scare it away.
- Respect their space – keep a distance of 1.5 m and do not disrupt their natural behavior. Simply observe them – they are incredible to watch.
- Do not touch the turtles. Aside from this stressing out the turtles, it’s illegal to touch a sea turtle in many places under the Endangered Species Act.
- Do not feed the turtles – they can find food on their own and may accidentally bite you if you try and feed them.
- Do not chase after the turtles – this will stress them out.
- Stay relaxed – the more relaxed you are, the more they will be and likely to swim near you.
FAQ: Sea turtles in Barbados
Can you swim with sea turtles in Barbados?
Yes! Barbados is one of the best places in the Caribbean to swim with sea turtles. There are many guided tours available that offer this remarkable experience.
What time of year do sea turtles hatch in Barbados?
Sea turtles hatch in Barbados usually from May through November, depending on when the eggs were laid during the nesting season.
Is it safe to swim with turtles in Barbados?
Swimming with sea turtles is very safe. Sea turtles are not aggressive unless they are in danger. However, becoming too close increases the risk of getting a painful bite, so you should always keep a safe distance of 1.5m and not feed them!
When can you see sea turtles in Barbados?
Sea turtles can be spotted in Barbados all year round, but the nesting season, typically from May to October, offers unique viewing opportunities.
Where can I find sea turtles in Barbados?
You can find sea turtles at several spots in Barbados, including Carlisle Bay Marine Park, Paynes Bay, Freights Bay, and the West Coast.
What beach has the most sea turtles?
Carlisle Bay is well-known for having a significant number of sea turtles due to its protected marine park status.
Where is the best place to see sea turtles in the Caribbean?
Barbados is one of the best places to see sea turtles in the Caribbean, thanks to its warm climate, clear waters, and dedicated conservation efforts.
Is it safe to swim with turtles in Barbados?
Yes, it is safe to swim with turtles in Barbados, especially when guided by a professional tour operator who ensures the safety of both participants and the turtles.
What time do turtles lay eggs in Barbados?
Sea turtles typically lay eggs in Barbados during the night, and the nesting season runs from May to October.
How big are sea turtles in Barbados?
The size of sea turtles in Barbados varies by species, but Hawksbill turtles, commonly seen in Barbados, typically measure around 3 feet in length and weigh between 100-200 pounds when fully grown.
Final thoughts: Swimming with turtles in Barbados
Swimming with turtles in Barbados is a magical experience that you can enjoy almost any time of the year. Guided tours not only offer a safe and respectful way to interact with the turtles but also provide a wealth of knowledge about the local marine ecosystem.
Remember, whenever we venture into the natural world, it’s essential to do so respectfully, following all guidelines and regulations to protect these incredible creatures and their habitats.
I hope this guide has inspired you to add swimming with sea turtles in Barbados to your bucket list!
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