Welcome to my guide on where to see sea turtles in Puerto Rico!
If you’re a sea turtle enthusiast (like me) then you’re in the right place as on my recent trip to Puerto Rico, I made it my mission to find as many turtles as possible!
Based on firsthand experience, Escambron Beach in San Juan is by far the best place to see sea turtles in Puerto Rico as there’s a large population of them present in the area.
For the best chance of seeing the turtles, you should join a snorkeling tour with an expert guide who will show you where to find turtles without fail!
In the rest of this article, I’ll cover the other places in Puerto Rico where you can see turtles and some tips on how to increase your chances of seeing them.
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Best Places To See Sea Turtles In Puerto Rico
Although still considered an endangered species, the turtle population in Puerto Rico really is thriving and you can find them in many locations across the island.
In Puerto Rico, you’ll get the chance to meet 3 different species of turtle: hawksbill, leatherback and green sea turtles.
For the best chance of seeing a turtle in Puerto Rico, head to one of the turtle beaches in the list below:
1. Escambron Beach
Hands down, the absolute best place to swim with sea turtles in Puerto Rico is at Escambron Beach in Guaynabo, San Juan. This beach is also known as Balneario El Escambron.
This stunning crescent shaped beach is well known for its coral reefs which bring with them an array of marine life including sea turtles.
Although turtles are pretty common here, I’d always recommend joining a snorkel tour as your expert guide will be able to show you where to find turtles without fail.
This snorkel tour is by far the best as it has incredible reviews (rated 5 stars by over 3,000 people!) and it even includes a GoPro video of you snorkeling so you can remember the experience forever!
I personally did this tour myself when I was in Puerto Rico and absolutely loved it! I saw at least 10 sea turtles as well as tons of other creatures like vibrant fish and rays.
Of course, you’ll also get that once in a lifetime chance to snorkel alongside turtles in the Caribbean Sea and really feel like you’re one of them.
Here’s a few other ways to see the turtles at Escambron Beach:
- Jet Snorkeling Turtle Tour – it’s basically snorkeling but without the effort (you can a jet powered snorkel set)
- Scuba Diving Experience (for complete beginners)
Snorkeling with turtles in Puerto Rico is definitely an experience you won’t forget so it’s really worth booking your tour online in advance.
You’ll get a cheaper price online compared to if you book in person and usually the best Puerto Rico turtle tours are fully booked on the day.
I always use Viator to book my tours as they’re super reliable and have never let me down yet!
Check out the video below which shows one of the sea turtles spotted whilst out swimming at Escambron Beach:
2. Culebra Island
Culebra Island is a small island that is located just off the east coast of the Puerto Rico mainland. You can get there from Fajardo.
Culebra Island can be tricky to get to on your own and it’s hard to navigate when you get there so I’d recommend joining a snorkeling tour that includes transportation.
On this tour, you’ll be able to swim with the turtles and get up close to them. It also includes transport from mainland Puerto Rico to Culebra Island and back which is super handy.
I found that the best place to see sea turtles on this island is at Tamarindo Beach which you’ll find on the western side.
This turtle beach in Puerto Rico is well known for its crystal clear waters and coral reefs that are filled with an abundance of interesting marine life including tropical fish, sea turtles and rays.
I saw around 6 turtles here in a group after just half an hour of snorkeling!
Other beaches on the island where you can see sea turtles include Zoni Beach, Playa Resaca, Flamenco Beach, Playa Carlos Rosario and Playa Brava.
The turtles found on Culebra Island are leatherback and green sea turtles.
- Culebra Island Snorkeling Tour (includes transportation)
Check out the video below to see some of the turtles of Culebra Island seen whilst snorkeling:
Did you know you can also see manatees in Puerto Rico?
3. Condado Lagoon
Condado Lagoon is another great place to see sea turtles in Puerto Rico and it’s located right in the capital city of San Juan so it’s easy to access.
This lagoon is a marine paradise to say the least. As well as sea turtles I saw tons of manatees, stingrays and dolphins. In fact, it’s the best place to swim with dolphins in Puerto Rico.
The best way to see the animals is to get out onto the water as it’s difficult to see them from the shore.
The most popular activity, by far, is joining the glass bottom kayak tour which is what I did. In fact, I noticed that almost everyone in the lagoon was in a glass bottomed kayak!!
This gives you the opportunity to row right alongside the turtles and because the kayak is transparent, you’ll be able to see them swimming right beneath you!!
You could also join this snorkeling experience which gives you the chance to swim right alongside the turtles! It’s pretty awesome.
I’d definitely say that Condado Lagoon is one of Puerto Rico’s best spots for families as there are some many fun and unique activities here.
4. La Cordillera Nature Reserve
This area is located just off the coast of Fajardo and is formed from a range of cays and small islands with wonderful reefs and crystal clear waters. Cayo Icacos is the largest island here.
I found that there was so much marine life to see here, I had a hard time not spotting turtles to be honest.
The only downside to this place is that it’s basically impossible to get to alone so you will need to join a tour.
This snorkeling tour is one of the best rated ones and includes transport to and from the reserve.
Another spot which is part of this nature reserve is the Arrecifes de la Cordillera Natural Reserve.
This site also consists of a chain of islands with mangroves, lagoons, sandy beaches and coral reefs. You’ll find lots of sea turtles here too!
- Snorkeling Tour to Cayos de la Cordillera (includes transportation)
Check out the video below taken whilst snorkelling at Cayo Diablo, which is part of the Cayos de la Cordillera Nature Reserve:
5. Vieques Island
Vieques Island is an island that lies just off Puerto Rico’s eastern coast.
This island is kinda famous for being an excellent snorkeling spot where you can see lots of interesting marine life like turtles, manatees, rays, starfish and more.
The island has a super healthy and large coral reef system that attracts a huge range of marine life including sea turtles. I got the chance to snorkel with a huge group of turtles here.
As Vieques Island isn’t on the mainland, I’d recommend joining a snorkeling tour that will take you from the mainland to Vieques Island and back.
The sea turtles are most often seen at Esperanza Beach, Mosquito Pier and Playa Pata Prieta.
Based on my experience, Mosquito Pier is definitely the best spot on the island for seeing turtles. I saw 5 turtles all in one spot within minutes of entering the water.
You’ll find Mosquito Pier is on the north side of the island.
- Vieques Island Snorkeling Tour (includes transportation)
Check out the video below which shows a sea turtle spotted whilst snorkeling on Vieques Island:
Did you know that Vieques is also one of Puerto Rico’s best horse riding locations? Why not join a horse riding tour whilst you’re there?
6. Cabezas de San Juan Nature Reserve
Another great place to see sea turtles in Puerto Rico is at the Cabezas de San Juan Nature Reserve in Fajardo.
This stunning nature reserve features a blue lagoon, mangroves, coral reefs and sandy beaches.
The best way to see the sea turtles at the Cabezas de San Juan Nature Reserve is to get in the water and join a kayaking and snorkeling tour.
You’ll be able to swim right alongside the sea turtles which is definitely an experience you won’t forget.
I noticed that the sea turtles are most commonly seen around the coral reefs of the nature reserve.
If you enjoy seeing turtles, you may also be interested in knowing where to go whale watching in Puerto Rico.
7. Steps Beach
Steps Beach, also known as Tres Palmas Marine Natural Reserve, is another great spot in Puerto Rico where you can see and swim with sea turtles.
Located on the west side of the island in Rincon, this turtle beach in Puerto Rico is a well known snorkeling spot.
You’ll be able to see tropical fish, turtles and the odd dolphin too!
A coral reef runs right along the length of the beach so it’s the perfect place to go snorkeling with turtles in Puerto Rico.
Most people book onto a snorkeling tour so they don’t miss anything.
The turtles at Steps Beach are hawksbill turtles which are currently endangered, but you have a really good chance of seeing one here!
Check out the video below to see some sea turtles spotted whilst snorkeling in the crystal clear waters of Steps Beach:
8. La Parguera
La Parguera is a little village located in the town of Lajas in southwestern Puerto Rico and it’s another great place to see turtles.
You may have heard of it as it has a glowing bioluminescent bay, mangrove forests and a few nature reserves.
One of the best places to see the sea turtles here is at the La Parguera Nature Reserve where you’ll find a well-developed and extensive coral reef.
I noticed several sea turtles swimming around in this area when I visited.
The best way to see the sea turtles in La Parguera is by renting a water bike. This way you can get out onto the water and see the turtles in action.
This super fun activity allows you to navigate through the beautiful mangroves and pass by lots of wonderful marine life including manatees, sea turtles and iguanas too.
9. Mona Island
Mona Island, a small island that lies just off the west coast of Puerto Rico, supports the largest hawksbill sea turtle nesting ground in the Caribbean.
Mona Island is the perfect habitat and the best kept Caribbean refuge for many marine animals including turtles.
This secluded island paradise is very popular with divers who come from afar to explore the untouched beaches, caves and coral reefs.
The most popular beaches for scuba diving are Playa Sardineras, Playa Pajaros, Punta Arenas and Playa Mujeres.
The island itself is uninhabited and protected by the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources meaning its wildlife is well protected.
10. Wyndham Grand Rio Mar Beach Resort and Spa
If you want to see sea turtles hatching then the best place is at the Wyndham Grand Rio Mar Beach Resort and Spa.
This beach resort has its own stretch of beach where a variety of turtle species come to lay their eggs.
For an unforgettable experience, you can witness the hatching of these turtles for yourself at the resort.
Staff members will lead you out onto the beach during hatching season so you can see it for yourself.
Please note: turtle hatching season runs from February to August.
I hope this guide on where to see turtles in Puerto Rico has inspired you to explore the island and witness the magic of sea turtles in their natural habitat.
Remember to always practice responsible tourism by not getting too close to the turtles and never ever touch them!
Just watching them from afar is more than enough and will still be something you’ll remember for life.