Is there anything better than diving with sea turtles? These ancient animals are ever-popular with divers and you can find them at top dive destinations around the world.
Whether you want to dive close to home or further afield, there’s a turtle hotspot waiting for you.
Here are our top 10 places to go sea turtle diving.
1. Galapagos Islands
This epic dive destination is teeming with wildlife above and below the waterline. As well as giant Galapagos tortoises, you can also spot unique Galapagos green turtles at these special islands.
This subspecies of the green sea turtle is recognisable by the slightly darker, more domed shell and serrated lower jaw.
Go Galapagos diving at Punta Vicente Roca, on the northwest coast of Isabela Island, and you’ll see plenty of Galapagos green turtles hanging out there.
- Nesting season: December to March
- Hatching season: February to May
- Liveaboard top choice: Nortada
Hawaii is no stranger to top dive destination wish lists thanks to its lava landscapes and abundant marine life, including numerous species found nowhere else on Earth.
Hawaii’s rich waters host 5 of the 7 species of sea turtle, with Hawaiian green and hawksbill turtles commonly seen.
You can spot green sea turtles at various places, including Maui and Oahu. Leatherback, loggerhead and olive ridley turtles are also sometimes seen.
- Nesting season: May to October
- Hatching season: July onwards up to late December
- Liveaboard top choice: Kona Aggressor II
3. Great Barrier Reef, Australia
The Great Barrier Reef is one of the best places to see numerous sea turtles; at Raine Island in the far northern reefs.
This important sea turtle nesting area host tens of thousands of green sea turtles each year during their breeding season.
Go northern Great Barrier Reef scuba diving and you can see plenty of turtles in the waters surrounding Raine Island, plus at Ribbon and Osprey reefs further south.
- Nesting season: November to January
- Hatching season: January to March
- Liveaboard top choice: Spoilsport for Turtle Spectacular Northern Reefs safaris
Seagrass beds are one of the best places to spot grazing green sea turtles, whereas Hawksbill turtles are more commonly seen feeding at reefs.
If you go Egypt diving, make sure you visit Abu Dabbab Bay at Marsa Alam. The seagrass beds there are known for encounters with dugongs and green sea turtles.
The reefs along Hurghada are a good place to spot Hawksbill turtles.
- Nesting season: July to August
- Hatching season: September to November
- Liveaboard top choice: Emperor Elite
Known for its colourful soft corals, Fiji has idyllic reef diving, white-sand beaches and plenty of sea turtles.
Fiji’s paradise islands host 5 of the 7 species of sea turtle, including green, hawksbill, leatherback, loggerhead and olive ridley.
The coral bommies at Makongi Island and sheer walls of the Wakaya Pass are two of many places you can find turtles there.
- Nesting season: November to January
- Hatching season: January onwards
- Liveaboard top choice: Nai’i
Oman is off the radar for most divers, yet this warm water destination has an array of marine species and thriving reefs without any dive crowds.
The beaches of Oman are known for their nesting turtles and are visited by hawksbill and green sea turtles.
Whether you choose to dive the Daymaniyat Islands, Hallaniyat Islands or Musandam Peninsula, you’re likely to bump into sea turtles going out their day on the reefs.
- Nesting season: May to September
- Hatching season: July onwards
- Liveaboard top choice: Oman Aggressor
The Similan Islands have some of Thailand’s best dive sites as well as green and hawksbill sea turtles.
As you dive the Similan Islands you’ll be among submerged boulders, thriving reefs and rock formations busy with reef life.
Just remember to look up for sea turtles and out to the blue for passing mantas and whale sharks.
- Nesting season: October to March
- Hatching season: December onwards
- Liveaboard top choice: Similan Explorer
The Seychelles has diverse diving at two main island groups, the Inner and Outer Islands.
These dramatically different island groups offer granite landscapes dotted with boulders and drop-offs, plus remote diving at coral atolls and reef islands.
Alphonse Island in the remote Outer Islands hosts nesting green and hawksbill turtles and is well worth visiting for pristine reef diving as well.
- Nesting season: September to March (hawksbill), January to September (green)
- Hatching season: November onwards (hawksbill), March onwards (green)
- Liveaboard top choice: Galatea
9. Cayman Islands
Known for its crystal-clear waters and over 350 dive sites, the Cayman Islands are a dream destination for reef, wall and wreck diving fans.
The warm waters also host loggerhead, green and hawksbill turtles, with plenty of turtles seen at Grand Cayman.
- Nesting season: April/May to November
- Hatching season: July to November
- Liveaboard top choice: Cayman Aggressor V
South Male, North Male and Ari Atoll are three of the best places to spot tea turtles at the Maldives, but you’re likely to see these charming animals wherever you choose to dive.
Whilst turtle nesting is rare in the Maldives, there are still plenty of turtles in the waters and you’re most likely to see hawksbills.
You can see turtles any time of year but Ari Atoll scuba diving from January to April offers some of the best dive conditions for spotting them.
- Nesting season: N/A
- Hatching season: N/A
- Liveaboard top choice: Horizon 3
Guidelines for interacting with sea turtles
It’s important to be respectful whenever you come across a sea turtle; whether you’re diving or visiting a turtle nesting beach:
- Never touch or try to move sea turtles
- Don’t approach turtles directly, as you may disturb their feeding and resting behaviours
- If you spot a turtle on the beach, keep at least 15 meters away
- Don’t shine a light at turtles
- Avoid flash photography, so you don’t disturb their natural behaviours.
Threats to sea turtles
Despite having survived in the ocean for more than 100 million years, sea turtles face many threats today. Nearly all species of sea turtle are now classified as Endangered.
Current threats to their survival include:
- Coastal developments affecting nesting habitat
- Artificial lighting on beaches disturbing nesting activities
- Plastic pollution causing deaths from plastic ingestion
- High-speed boats and jet skis colliding with sea turtles
- Trade in turtle products & harvesting for meat and eggs
- Entanglement in fishing gear
- Climate change
- By-catch in fisheries.
How you can help protect sea turtles
You can help protect sea turtles with these easy steps:
- Reduce your carbon footprint to help limit your contribution to climate change. Easy steps include using public transport, switching to LED lights and carbon offsetting your travel
- Stop using plastic bags and other single-use plastics
- Don’t purchase any turtle products, such as jewellery or ornaments
- Choose sustainable seafood without by-catch. You can find best fish guides online that tell you which types of seafood to avoid.
This article was written by divers and writers at LiveAboard.com