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Where To See Turtles In St Thomas, USVI – Complete Guide

If you’re looking for somewhere to see turtles in St Thomas 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 swim with turtles in St Thomas and includes all the information you’ll need for a fun day out. 

Swimming with Turtles in St Thomas

You’ll be happy to know that there are lots of sea turtles present all over St Thomas, which forms part of the US Virgin Islands. 

Luckily, you can snorkel with sea turtles in several different places in St Thomas, both on and off the mainland. 

The best place to see turtles is at the conveniently named ‘Turtle Cove’ on Buck Island however it doesn’t lie on the mainland.

I’d recommend joining this catamaran sailing tour which will take you over to Turtle Cove and includes a swim with turtles experience. 

It’s one of the best tours available so you won’t be disappointed.

The US Virgin Islands is home to three different species of sea turtle. You are most likely to see green sea turtles and hawksbill sea turtles in St Thomas. 

Leatherback sea turtles can also be spotted but they are much rarer to see.

If you’re now wondering where to see turtles in St Thomas, keep reading as I’ll tell you the exact spots and locations! 

I have included several locations both on and off the mainland and I’ve done all the hard work for you by including handy links to top rated tours.

1. Buck Island National Wildlife Refuge

The best place to see turtles in St Thomas is at the Buck Island National Wildlife Refuge.

This wildlife refuge is located about 2 miles south of St Thomas so you will need to take a boat to get there. 

I’d recommend joining this top rated catamaran sailing tour as it provides transport to the wildlife refuge and also includes a swim with turtles experience.

They will provide you with all the snorkeling equipment and take you straight to Turtle Cove where you’ll find the turtles. Easy right!?

The island is completely uninhabited (apart from wildlife) so it has a very natural and untouched feel.

Whilst in the water with the turtles you can admire the colorful coral reefs, home to thousands of tropical fish, sea urchins, barracudas and more. You can even sometimes spot an octopus!

You can then observe the green sea turtles gliding along as they munch on the seagrass. It’s truly a magical experience that you’ll never forget.

If you don’t mind spending a bit more money, then this semi-private swim with turtles tour is another good option.

The groups are much smaller, giving a more intimate and personal feel to the tour. It’ll feel like it’s just you and the turtles.

Tip: Bring an underwater camera like the GoPro Hero 10 to snap some photos of you with the turtles!

Check out the video below which shows the sort of sights you can expect whilst snorkeling in Turtle Cove:

2. Marriott Frenchman’s Cove

Another place where you can see turtles in St Thomas is at Marriott Frenchman’s Cove on the main island.

This dock sits just in front of the luxurious Marriott Frenchman’s Cove hotel but you can still access the water even if you’re not staying at the hotel.

I’d recommend joining this sea kayaking tour around the cove as it gives you the best possible chance of seeing the turtles. 

As you kayak around the cove, you’ll glide past sea turtles, stingrays, tropical fish and more.

3. Lindquist Beach

Another location where you can swim with turtles in St Thomas is at Lindquist Beach in Smith Bay.

Sea turtles, as well as stingrays, love to hang out in the seagrass bed as this is their favorite food. 

You can easily observe them munching on their lunch here due to the extremely clear water.

If you swim out a bit further into the ocean you’ll find a long, lush reef which is also teeming with marine life.

This beach is fairly unknown to tourists meaning it’s usually very quiet and never crowded. 

It’s an ideal place to swim with turtles as you’re not surrounded by other people trying to do the same.

For a super luxury experience, you can charter a private yacht which will take you to several of St Thomas’s top snorkeling beaches where you’ll be able to swim with turtles.

Check out how clear the water is at Lindquist Beach in the video below:

4. Brewer’s Bay

Another great spot where you can see turtles in St Thomas is at Brewer’s Bay.

Brewer’s Bay also doesn’t get super crowded with tourists so it’s ideal if you want to escape the crowds.

There are no coral reefs here but there is a lush, healthy seagrass bed. In fact, Brewer’s Bay is one of the best places in St Thomas to find sea turtles grazing on seagrass.

Due to its quiet location and huge amount of seagrass, it’s an ideal spot for the turtles so you’re almost guaranteed a sighting here. 

The water is also extremely clear here so you’ll get an amazing view. Don’t forget your underwater camera.

Fact: Green sea turtles’ favorite snack is seagrass!

Another added bonus is that this beach is right next to the landing strip of the airport so as you relax on the beach you can watch the planes land. 

Check out the beautiful sea turtle spotted at Brewer’s Bay in the video below:

5. Christmas Cove

Another place where you can go swimming with turtles in St Thomas is at Christmas Cove.

Christmas Cove sits just off the mainland on the west side of Great St. James island. It’s an ideal location for snorkeling as it is protected from the wind and waves of the Caribbean Sea.

You’ll have an amazing time snorkeling here due to the crystal clear waters and diverse wildlife. Regular visitors to Christmas Cove include sea turtles, conchs and eagle rays.

Christmas Cove also features the only floating pizza restaurant where you can grab some lunch. 

You can join a boat tour to Christmas Cove that allows you to swim with the turtles and get some tasty pizza from the pizza boat.

Check out how close you can get to the beautiful sea turtles at Christmas Cove in the video below:

6. Sapphire Beach

Another place where you can swim with turtles in St Thomas is at Sapphire Beach which is located on the east side of the island. 

Sapphire Beach is a popular snorkeling site on St Thomas. Snorkelers are often able to see colorful fish, brain coral, rays and turtles.

It is a great place to spot marine life for all levels of swimmers due to its very calm waters.

Not only that, the beach is very picturesque with its white, sandy beaches and vibrant turquoise waters. It’s like something out of a travel brochure.

Check out the video below which shows a sea turtle and some fish spotted at Sapphire Beach:

7. Secret Harbor

Another great place where you can go swimming with turtles in St Thomas is at Secret Harbor.

Secret Harbor is a protected bay with calm waters so it is perfect for people of all abilities as well as families. 

Secret Harbor is often ranked as one of St Thomas’s best snorkeling locations due to its abundance of underwater marine life.

You’ll likely be able to swim with turtles as well as lots of fish, coral and maybe even an octopus.

To access the reef, head to the left side of the beach and walk a little bit further out into the sea. This is where you’ll find most of the action.

Check out a sea turtle playing in some coral in the video below:

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 St Thomas, USVI.

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.

Find out where to see turtles in St John.

Fun Sea Turtle Facts

To get you prepared for your trip to St Thomas 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 green sea turtle will be 3 to 4 feet long and weighs between 300 and 250 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.
  • The green sea turtles mostly eat seagrass, seaweed and algae.
  • 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 St Thomas, US Virgin Islands. 

St Thomas is a great place to go swimming with turtles due to the abundance of healthy seagrass beds. 

There’s plenty of locations all over St Thomas where you have a super high chance of spotting a turtle.

Why not use these fun snorkeling Instagram captions for any photos you post from your stay in St Thomas?

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