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Where To See Turtles In Greece – 2023 Guide

From the sandy beaches of Zakynthos to the hidden coves of Crete, this Mediterranean paradise is teeming with sea turtles.

I’ve been to Greece many times and explored more of it’s island than I can count. Today I’d love to share with you all of my favorite places to see turtles!

Based on my own experience, Zakynthos is the best place to see turtles in Greece.

In particular, you should head over to Marathonisi (also known as Turtle Island) where sea turtle sightings are ridiculously common.

I’d recommend joining this half day tour to Turtle Island. It gives you the best possible chance of meeting turtles as the expert guides know where to find them.

In the rest of this post, I’ll be covering all of the exact locations where you can swim with turtles in Greece and where you can see baby turtles hatching!

Best Places To See Turtles In Greece

Greece is a popular turtle breeding ground meaning that sea turtles return every single year to lay their eggs and baby sea turtles hatch on the beaches.

During the summer, you can actually also swim with turtles in Greece.

The most common species of turtle present in Greece is the rare Loggerhead turtle which are known locally as caretta-caretta sea turtles.

Keep reading to find out exactly where you can see sea turtles in Greece including both the Greek Islands and mainland Greece.

1. Zakynthos

Based on firsthand experience, I’d say that the best place in Greece to find turtles is on the island of Zakynthos, also known as Zante.

The small islet of Marathonisi, located in Laganas Bay, is conveniently nicknamed ‘turtle island’ as turtles can regularly be spotted swimming around and laying eggs there during the summer.

This is by far the best place in Zakynthos for finding turtles – sightings are almost guaranteed.

Turtle in Greece

Female loggerhead turtles come to Marathonisi every single summer to lay their eggs on the beaches.

Another top turtle spot in Zakynthos is the resort town of Kalamaki which lies on the southern coast of the island, just 5 minutes down the road from Laganas.

This town is also a hotspot for turtles as it’s a known breeding ground so seeing turtles here is almost guaranteed.

I’d recommend joining this half day tour to Turtle Island as it includes a stop at both Turtle Island and Kalamaki so there’s almost no way you don’t see and swim with turtles.

This is the tour that I did recently when I was in Zakynthos and I can only say great things about it.

I saw about 15 turtles, swam alongside them and also got to see some truly breathtaking sights.

You should be able to spot the turtles in the ocean or hanging out on the beaches, preparing to lay their eggs. 

You can also often see turtles on Cameo Island which you can access via a footbridge from the main beach in Laganas.

I found that the area to the north of Cameo Island is the best spot for seeing turtles.

2. Crete

I actually have a full guide on where to see turtles in Crete with a long list of turtle watching hotspots but here’s my top pick…

I personally found that Elafonissi Beach is the best place to see turtles especially during nesting season as you get to see mother turtles laying their eggs and the baby turtles hatching!

Turtle in Greece

To make things super easy for you, you can join an Elafonissi Beach full-day trip which will take you to the beach. I did this recently and loved it!

This beach is very famous, not only for its nesting turtle population, but also for its pink sand! Yep, you read that right – this beach is pink.

The pink color comes from the thousands of broken seashells which form part of the sand.

Other areas in Crete where turtle sightings are common include the beaches of Rethymno, Messara Bay and Chania.

3. Peloponnese

Peloponnese is a region located on the southern tip of Greece’s mainland.

There are several locations in Peloponnese where sea turtles come to lay their eggs. These include Navarino Bay, Kyparissia Bay, Lakonikos Bay and Koroni Beach.

One of my favorite activities in Navarino Bay is joining a sea kayaking tour. This gives you a chance to get out onto the water and see the turtles up close!

These locations are perfect for if you’re on the mainland and don’t want to head over to a Greek island to see the turtles.

Each summer sea turtles come to Kyparissia Bay to lay their eggs – this is one of the best spots to see them. I saw them here recently and all I can say is wow!

Head out into the water for a closer look and the chance to swim alongside them.

The majority of turtles found in Greece are Loggerhead turtles but in Lakonikos Bay, you can often spot Green turtles too.

Lakonikos Bay is quite big and has several beaches. I found that the best ones for turtles are Mavrovouni, Valtaki, Selinitsa, Vathi and Evrotas.

Check out the video below which shows a beautiful sea turtle, spotted at Kyparissia Bay in Greece:

Where Do Turtles Hatch in Greece?

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

There are several different places in Greece where sea turtles regularly come to hatch.

One interesting feature of these turtles is that they always return to the same breeding grounds at the same time every year to lay their eggs so it is easy to predict where they will show up. 

The top locations for hatching turtles are Zakynthos (Zante), Kyparissia, Lakonikos, Rethymno, Chania, Messenia, and Koroni.

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.  

You may occasionally find certain sections of the beaches closed off to protect the turtles as they hatch.

When Do Sea Turtles Hatch?

Sea turtle nesting season in Greece runs from late May through to August. This is when the mother turtles come onto the beaches to lay their eggs.

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 May to August you will actually be able to see the turtles nesting. 

The baby turtles start hatching from late July until October 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.

Best Time Of Year To See Turtles

Between May and October is turtle nesting season in Greece so this is when mother turtles come to Greece to lay their eggs. For this reason, it’s the best time to see turtles in Greece.

In fact, each year thousands and thousands of sea turtles return to Greece to nest so you’ll have a really good chance of spotting a turtle if you visit during these times. 

Luckily, between May and October is also the best time to visit Greece as the weather is really hot.

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 Greece.

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 the Maldives?

And that’s it!!

Greece is one of the best locations in the whole world for seeing the rare Loggerhead sea turtles (or caretta-caretta turtles) up close and personal.

You may even get the chance to see baby sea turtles hatching too which is truly a once in a lifetime experience. 

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Megan Jones is a travel expert and founder of Traveller's Elixir who has been travelling the world full time since 2021. Megan's travel tips been featured in numerous media outlets including Metro, Timeout, Thrillist and more.