Sea Turtle Season is Almost Here
Are you ready to shell-abrate the wonders of nature? Sea turtle season typically starts around June and lasts until December and every year thousands of sea turtles migrate to Mexico’s coastal destinations including: Puerto Vallarta, Riviera Nayarit, Cabo San Lucas, Cancun, and the Islands of Loreto. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at sea turtle season in these popular beach destinations and share tips on how you can best observe these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat and even participate in a baby sea turtle release. Whether you’re a nature lover or simply seeking a unique vacation experience, sea turtle season is an opportunity you won’t want to miss. So, let’s dive in and discover the best ways to witness these ancient mariners in action and get ready to have a turtley amazing time!
Sea turtles are ancient reptiles that have been around for over 225 million years, surviving through a time when many other species became extinct. Unfortunately, almost all of the seven recognized species of sea turtles are now classified as endangered due to poaching, habitat destruction, and climate change.
Each year, thousands of sea turtles journey to Mexico’s coastal destinations to mate and lay their eggs. During the nesting season, female sea turtles come ashore to lay their eggs, which is a totally awesome spectacle in itself. Once the sea turtles have laid their eggs in the sand, they cover them before returning to the ocean. After a period of about 45 to 60 days, the eggs will hatch and the baby turtles will emerge from the sand and make their way to the ocean. It is estimated that only one in a thousand baby turtles released into the ocean will survive until adulthood due to predators and other threats in the ocean such as fishing boats. Female turtles who successfully survive will typically return to the same beach where they were born to lay their own eggs around 10 years later when they reach reproductive maturity. This is a natural instinct that ensures the continuation of their species.
To help these wondrous creatures, the federal government of Mexico has taken several steps towards conservation, research, and protection. Fishing sea turtles became prohibited in 1990, and all sea turtle species were classified as endangered in 1994. Since then, various sea turtle protection camps have been created by the government and non-governmental organizations.
Participating in a sea turtle release experience is an incredible opportunity to witness the magic of nature and contribute to the conservation efforts of these endangered species. Despite their endangered status, Mexico is privileged to host six of the seven sea turtle species who come to reproduce on its beaches.
As visitors to these stunning coastal destinations, it’s essential to understand the importance of sea turtle conservation and how we can best observe and respect these creatures during their nesting and hatching season. In the following sections, we’ll delve deeper into where you can see them and what to expect during sea turtle season.
Puerto Vallarta and Rivera Nayarit
Seven species of sea turtles exist worldwide, and four of them visit Jalisco and Nayarit. Every year, olive ridley, leatherback, hawksbill, and black sea turtles come to lay their eggs on the beaches from June to December.
Olive ridley turtles are the most common and typically lay between 80 to 120 eggs. They are also the most common species of sea turtle found worldwide and along the Pacific coast of Mexico.
The resorts located in Jalisco and Nayarit, where sea turtle nests are found, actively participate in sea turtle conservation efforts by collaborating with environmental experts and occasionally hosting special events during the hatching season. If a sea turtle nest is found on the beach near Villa del Palmar Puerto Vallarta, the resort’s staff ensures its safety until the baby sea turtles hatch. Afterward, they organize sea turtle releases that guests can participate in. It’s worth noting that this activity isn’t guaranteed, so guests at the resort during sea turtle season are advised to check with guest services or the activities team upon arrival.
While Villa del Palmar Flamingos doesn’t organize sea turtle releases, guests staying at the resort who wish to participate in this activity can visit the Sea Turtle Camp.
The Boca de Tomates Turtle Camp ¨Campamento Tortuguero Boca de Tomates¨ is located in Puerto Vallarta and is part of Red Tortuguera A.C., a non-profit organization that works with the municipality to protect sea turtles in the area. The Boca de Tomates Turtle Camp has volunteers who collect sea turtle eggs and keep them in a secure place for incubation. Visitors can participate in releasing the baby turtles into the ocean and learn about the work done at the camp, such as finding nests, collecting eggs, and conducting night patrols.
During sea turtle season, the camp organizes regular sea turtle releases for visitors who will have the opportunity to hold the hatchlings, name them, and finally release them, wishing them good luck for their difficult journey ahead. To participate, you can message them on Facebook, email email@example.com, call, or send a Whatsapp message to Jose Antonio on +52 322 263 0249 (he speaks English and Spanish). They release the sea turtles at night to minimize the risk of daytime predators such as birds and give the hatchlings a better chance of survival. They usually ask you to arrive at 8:00 pm and the release happens at 8:30 pm, depending on the time of year you go.
If you’re planning a trip to Jalisco or Nayarit during sea turtle season, you have the opportunity to contribute to the conservation of sea turtles in the area while enjoying a wonderful vacation in paradise. Don’t miss out on this amazing opportunity to witness these incredible creatures up close and help protect them for future generations.
The Sea Turtle Camp is approximately a 23-minute drive (7.4 miles) from Villa del Palmar Puerto Vallarta and a 25-minute drive (9 miles) from Villa del Palmar Flamingos.
It is also possible to swim with sea turtles in Puerto Vallarta. There are a couple of places in the area where you can do so, including:
Los Arcos National Marine Park: This protected area is home to a variety of marine life, including sea turtles. You can take a guided snorkeling or scuba diving tour to see them up close.
Marietas Islands: These islands are located just off the coast of Puerto Vallarta and are a popular destination for snorkeling and diving. Sea turtles can often be spotted in the waters around the islands.
Check with your Member Services or Pre-Arrival agent prior to your trip about available tour options to swim with sea turtles.
The coast of Quintana Roo is preferred nesting ground for four out of the seven sea turtle species, namely the green, loggerhead, hawksbill, and leatherback turtles, which can lay anywhere from 60 to 150 eggs.
Flora, Fauna y Cultura de México, A.C. is a non-governmental organization that works towards protecting nesting sea turtles in the area through their Sea Turtle Conservation Program. They operate turtle camps in Playa del Carmen, Cozumel, and Tulum, where they ensure the safety of female turtles, nests, and hatchlings and have so far released more than 15 million baby turtles into the sea. Not only does their work influence turtle preservation, but it also contributes to the ecological balance of oceans and beaches, as well as the sustainable prosperity of coastal communities.
Xcaret Park is working collaboratively with the Sea Turtle Conservation Program in Riviera Maya, organized by the Flora, Fauna and Culture Foundation of Mexico, A. C. Visitors to Xcaret Park can observe and learn about different species of sea turtles ranging from small to medium-sized as well as witness colossal ones swimming in the lagoon, which can weigh up to a ton! It’s a great opportunity to witness the beauty of these ancient creatures from up close.
Villa del Palmar Cancun takes measures to protect any sea turtle nests found on the property until the baby turtles hatch. They also organize sea turtle releases for guests to participate in once the baby turtles are born. However, this activity is not guaranteed, and guests are recommended to check with guest services or the activities team upon arrival during sea turtle nesting season. Releases are more likely to happen between September and October.
Members and guests staying at Villa del Palmar Cancun also have the chance to swim with sea turtles in their natural habitat. Akumal, which is situated approximately 62 miles south of Cancun in the Riviera Maya, is one of the most popular places to swim with sea turtles. The area is known for its significant sea turtle population, and visitors can snorkel or swim alongside them. It’s important to remember to treat the sea turtles with respect and not to touch or disturb them while swimming with them.
Ask your Member Services or Pre-Arrival agent about available tour options to swim with sea turtles in Cancun.
In Los Cabos, the late summer to early winter months mark the start of sea turtle season, as five different species of sea turtles migrate to the Baja California peninsula and the Sea of Cortez to lay their eggs. These species include the hawksbill, loggerhead, leatherback, green turtle, and olive ridley.
During this time, ASUPMATOMA, or the Association for the Protection of the Environment and the Marine Turtle in Southern Baja, works alongside other organizations to protect sea turtles by safeguarding nests, relocating them if necessary, and promoting awareness among locals and tourists about the importance of respecting the life of sea turtles. The government, hotel industry, and non-profit organizations also contribute to these efforts, resulting in a nearly 96% success rate in incubating turtle eggs.
Villa La Valencia Los Cabos takes measures to protect any sea turtle nests found on the property until the baby turtles hatch. They also organize sea turtle releases on the beach in front of the resort for members and guests to participate in once the hatchlings emerge. However, this activity is not guaranteed, and members and guests are recommended to check with guest services or the activities team upon arrival during sea turtle nesting season. Releases are more likely to happen in September.
While Villa del Palmar Cabo and Villa del Arco don’t organize sea turtle releases, members and guests staying at these resorts who wish to participate in a sea turtle release can visit Rancho Carisuva. They offer sea turtle releases from August to early January. The tour starts at 4:30 pm and lasts an hour and a half. They have a biologist at the ranch who teaches you about sea turtles, you can see the nests, and proceed with the release. The cost of the tour includes roundtrip transportation from Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo.
One of the most popular places to swim with sea turtles in Cabo is Chileno Beach (also known as Playa Chileno), approximately a 7-minute drive (3 miles) from Villa La Valencia Los Cabos and a 15-minute drive (10 miles) from Villa del Palmar Cabo and Villa del Arco. Chileno Bay is a protected marine sanctuary, making it an ideal habitat for sea turtles. Visitors can join snorkeling tours or rent snorkeling equipment to swim alongside these magnificent creatures in their natural environment. Cabo Adventures and Cabo Trek are two companies that offer snorkeling tours to Chileno Bay. Ask your Member Services or Pre-Arrival agent about which tours they recommend.
Islands of Loreto
The Islands of Loreto are home to five different species of sea turtles: the olive ridley, hawksbill, green, leatherback, and loggerhead turtles. These majestic creatures travel thousands of miles each year to lay their eggs on the beaches of Loreto between July and December.
If you’re looking to swim with sea turtles, there are many beautiful areas around the Islands of Loreto where you can do so. One of the most popular spots is Coronado Island, which stretches four miles long and is approx. 25-minutes away from the town of Loreto. The waters around the island are teeming with marine life, including sea turtles, which makes for an unforgettable snorkeling experience.
Visitors can also take a Danzante Island Tour, and explore the wonders of Danzante Island. The tour takes place daily from 9:00 am – 12:30 pm. You will sail to the island on a speedy inflatable APEX vessel while your captain and guide share some of nature’s best kept secrets with you. Once you reach the island, you will have the opportunity to jump in the water and discover the treasures under the sea while snorkeling. Look out for sea turtles, bottlenose dolphins, and manta rays.
If you are staying at Villa del Palmar at the Islands of Loreto during sea turtle nesting season, you may have the opportunity to participate in a sea turtle hatchling release. When sea turtle nests are found on the beach in front of the resort, the staff protect the nests until the hatchlings are ready to be released. When this happens, guests are invited to participate, although this activity is not guaranteed. Check with guest services or the activities team upon arrival and keep in mind that releases are more likely to happen in September.
Sea turtle season in the Islands of Loreto is a truly unique and fascinating experience that should not be missed. With opportunities to swim with these incredible creatures, it’s a great way to get up close and personal with some of the most beautiful marine life in the world.
In Cabo, Puerto Vallarta, Cancun, and the Islands of Loreto, visitors have the opportunity to witness the amazing spectacle of a sea turtle giving birth on the beaches and also participate in a baby sea turtle release, which is an incredible chance to witness the wonder of these ancient creatures, and also play a role in protecting their future. It’s a truly worthwhile eco-tourism activity that combines education, conservation, and adventure. If you want to be a part of this incredible experience, plan your trip accordingly and visit us in the late summer or early winter. We can’t wait to share this magical experience with you!