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Where To See Turtles In Antigua – Complete Guide

If you’re looking for somewhere to see turtles in Antigua then you’re in the right place.

Nothing can beat that amazing feeling of seeing a turtle up close and personal in their natural habitat! Why not try it for yourself.

This post will tell you all of the best places to see turtles in Antigua and includes where you can swim with turtles and where you can see baby sea turtles hatching.

Can You Swim With Sea Turtles in Antigua?

Yes you can swim with sea turtles in Antigua all year round. 

The most popular activities which allow you to swim with turtles are snorkeling and diving.

There are several beaches and bays in Antigua where turtles can often be spotted swimming around. 

The most popular way to see them is to join a snorkeling tour. The below tour is one of the most popular tours and gives you the chance to swim with turtles and explore sunken shipwrecks:

Make sure you book in advance if you want to do a snorkeling tour as this one often sells out.

Best Places To See Turtles in Antigua

Antigua is a tropical island paradise edged with sandy beaches and turquoise waters. It boasts 365 beaches – that’s one for every day of the year. 

Antigua is actually one of the most popular places in the Caribbean to see sea turtles especially as it is home to 4 different sea turtle species (Hawksbill, Green, Leatherback and Loggerhead).

Below I discuss the exact spots and locations where you can see the turtles for yourself. 

Galleon Beach

One of the best places to swim with turtles in Antigua is at Galleon Beach.

Galleon Beach sits on the southern tip of the island and from here you can easily jump into Freeman’s Bay for snorkeling. The bay features shallow shipwrecks and coral reefs.

The beach features a beautiful quarter mile stretch of golden, sandy beaches and calm, clear waters. The bay also features a healthy snorkeling reef filled with marine life.

One of the most fun ways to see the turtles is to join a sea scooter snorkeling tour. You’ll be provided with snorkeling equipment and your guide will show you the best spots where the turtles like to hangout.

The sea scooters help propel you through the water so you’ll feel like you’re one of the turtles! This is the best way to swim with turtles in Antigua.

At Galleon Beach you’ll get the chance to swim alongside turtles and explore shipwrecks. As well as turtles, you can see stingrays, crabs, barracudas and tons of tropical fish.

Check out the video below to see the kind of sights you can expect on a snorkeling tour at Galleon Beach:

Long Island

Another place in Antigua where you can see turtles is on the small offshore island of Long Island (also known as Jumby Bay Island). 

The most popular way to reach this island is by joining a day trip boat tour where you’ll be taken to the island by your experienced guide.

This tour includes snorkeling sessions and you’ll get the chance to learn all about the turtle project on Long Island. 

Long Island is a private uninhabited island with stunning white sandy beaches, turquoise waters and a pristine ecosystem. 

Few people get the chance to visit this largely untouched island so make sure you do whilst you’re in Antigua.

Carlisle Bay

Another place in Antigua where you can swim with sea turtles is in Carlisle Bay. 

Carlisle Bay, which sits on Antigua’s south coast, is a private luxury resort with crystal clear waters and soft, sandy beaches. 

The beach is private and exclusive to Carlisle Bay guests so you’ll have to stay at the resort to see the turtles.

One thing that makes Carlisle Bay stand out is that it doesn’t allow any motorized water sports. 

This means there’s nothing to disturb the turtles and so sightings are super common as more turtles inhabit the area.

You can jump right into the water and snorkel amongst the turtles or head over to nearby Cades Reef for even more fun.

Luckily, the resort includes a complimentary snorkeling excursion to Cades Reef (which is teeming with turtles) with every stay. 

Check out the video below which shows the vibrant array of marine life you’ll find at Cades Reef:

Half Moon Bay

Another place in Antigua where you can see turtles is Half Moon Bay. 

Half Moon Bay is a quiet, crescent-shaped beach which features 3,200ft of white sand and a nearby national park.

As well as sea turtles, snorkelers and swimmers can often spot pufferfish, barracudas, tang fish and more. You may even spot the occasional dolphin.

The beach has a very unspoiled, authentic feel as it is largely undeveloped and looks like something out of a travel brochure. 

Deep Bay

Another spot where you can swim with turtles in Antigua is at Deep Bay.

This lesser-known spot is the perfect place to escape the tourists. Few people know about it so it feels like a private bay just for you.

One of the biggest draws to this spot is the magnificent sunken ship which you can explore. The Andes, a three-masted steel merchant ship, caught fire and sank in the bay back in 1905. 

This bay is home to a wide array of marine life including sea turtles, stingrays and more. For this reason, Deep Bay is a super popular spot for both snorkelers and divers.

Where To See Baby Sea Turtles In Antigua

One of the main reasons people come to Antigua to see turtles is to see the baby turtles hatching from their eggs and making their run towards the ocean.

Seeing this phenomenon for yourself is a magical experience and it’s something you’ll never forget. 

Imagine the tiny turtles poking their way out of their eggs and imagine being part of it yourself. 

The babies face more challenges than ever including:

  • Eggs are often crushed by beach activities.
  • Birds take the eggs whilst looking for a meal.
  • Development on the beaches damage breeding grounds.
  • Ocean pollution.

Some of these baby turtles struggle to make it to the ocean because of this and need extra help from volunteers. 

Luckily for you, there are several baby turtle release programs offered by hotels in Antigua where you will be taken to the exact beaches where the turtles lay their eggs. 

You can help the baby turtles’ chances of survival by taking care of their nest, protecting them until birth and then helping them reach the ocean after hatching.

Hotels which offer turtle watching tours in Antigua:

Check out the video below which shows some baby turtles spotted on the beach at St. James Club Resort:

Another location where baby turtles can sometimes be spotted hatching is on Galley Bay Beach which lies on the island’s northwest coast.

For the best chance of spotting baby turtles on this beach, go after dark as this is when they usually hatch.

Best Time of Year to See Turtles in Antigua

The best time of year to see turtles in Antigua is in the summer from June until October as this is when the turtles return to Antigua to lay their eggs. 

You can however swim with turtles in the ocean all year round.

One interesting feature of the Hawksbill turtles that you’ll see in Antigua is that they always return to the same breeding grounds at the same time every year to lay their eggs. 

Whilst you can see turtles all year long in Antigua whilst snorkeling or diving, the summer months is the best time as the turtles come ashore to lay their eggs on Antigua’s beautiful beaches. 

Baby sea turtles tend to hatch around 45 days after their egg has been laid and then they make their way into the ocean to begin their life.

This means that from June to October you will actually be able to see the turtles nesting. 

The baby turtles start hatching from July until November so if you’re lucky you might even spot a baby sea turtle hatching from an egg! Now that would be a sight you wouldn’t forget in a hurry.

Tips For Swimming With Turtles

First time swimming with turtles? 

To ensure the turtles remain safe, there’s a few key things to bear in mind when swimming with them in Antigua.

Remember that all of the different turtle species are endangered so it’s important that we do all we can to help their chances.

  • Don’t be too loud. Try to be as quiet as possible when swimming up to a turtle as loud noises will scare them away.
  • Do not touch the turtle. Turtles are wild animals and should be respected.
  • Do not get too close. This might scare the turtle and they could bite you if they get really scared (don’t worry this is super rare!).
  • Do not feed the turtles. They don’t need help finding food.
  • Always approach a turtle from the side. This gives them a clear view of you and a clear path ahead of them if they want to swim onwards.
  • Don’t disrupt the turtle’s natural behavior. You can enjoy the turtles by watching them do their thing but try not to disturb them.

These key tips protect both you and the turtles.

Did you know you can also see turtles in Bermuda?

Fun Sea Turtle Facts

To get you prepared for your trip to Antigua where you’ll hopefully see some beautiful sea turtles, here’s some fun turtle facts.

  • The correct word for a baby turtle is a ‘hatchling’.
  • A typical hawksbill sea turtle will be 2 to 3 feet long and weighs between 100 and 150 pounds.
  • Sea turtles tend to build their nests for their eggs in the same location that they were born.
  • Mother turtles lay up to 100 eggs in each nest.
  • It is estimated that only 1 out of 1,000 hatchlings survives to be an adult so they need all the help they can get.
  • In their lifetime, female turtles lay thousands of eggs so at least a few will survive.
  • Sea turtles have been on Earth for more than 100 million years, even outliving the dinosaurs who became extinct 65 million years ago.
  • All species of sea turtles are either threatened or endangered.
  • Sea turtles never get to meet their babies as after laying their eggs, the mothers return to the ocean.
  • Male sea turtles spend their entire lives at sea.
  • The gender of a baby turtle is determined by the temperature of the nest – warmer temperatures tend to lead to females whereas cooler temperatures tend to lead to males.

Thanks for reading this post on where to see turtles in Antigua. 

Wherever you are in Antigua, there’s plenty of options here to see turtles in their natural habitat. 

Whether you’re wanting to snorkel alongside the turtles in the water or help the baby turtles make their first journey to the ocean, these are all unforgettable experiences that will make your trip even more special.  

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