Swimming With Sea Turtles Barbados

Swimming with sea turtles in Barbados is one of the best experiences on the Island. Barbados offers a unique opportunity to swim alongside these majestic creatures in their natural habitat.

 In this post, we’ll dive into everything you need to know about swimming with turtles in Barbados – from the best spots to the importance of conserving the Turles and their habitat.

What Types of Turtles Are in Barbados?

  • Hawksbill Turtles
    Hawksbill turtles are easily identified by their distinctively curved beak and beautifully patterned shell. They are often found around coral reefs where their favorite food, sponges, is plentiful.

  • Green Turtles
    Known for their large size and smooth, heart-shaped shell, Green Turtles primarily feed on seagrass and algae. They are a common sight in the shallow waters of Barbados.

  • Leatherback Turtles
    Although less common than the Hawksbill and Green Turtles, Leatherback Turtles occasionally visit the waters around Barbados. They are the largest of all sea turtles and have a unique, leathery shell instead of a hard one.

What Size Are the Barbados Turtles?

  • Hawksbill Turtles
    Adult Hawksbill Turtles typically measure about 2.5 to 3 feet (75 to 90 cm) in length and weigh around 100 to 150 pounds (45 to 68 kg).

  • Green Turtles
    These turtles are larger, with adults often reaching lengths of 3 to 4 feet (about 90 to 120 cm) and weighing between 240 to 420 pounds (110 to 190 kg).

  • Leatherback Turtles
    Leatherback Turtles are the largest of all sea turtles. They can grow up to 6 to 7 feet (about 180 to 210 cm) in length and weigh as much as 500 to 1500 pounds (225 to 680 kg), although such large individuals are rare.

Where Are Sea Turtles in Barbados?

In Barbados, sea turtles can be found all over the place, particularly along the west and south coasts of the island, because of their calmer waters. Here are some of the notable spots:

  • Carlisle Bay: This bay near Bridgetown is a popular spot for snorkelling and scuba diving in Barbados, offering clear waters and a chance to see Hawksbill and Green Turtles.
  • Paynes Bay: Located on the west coast, Paynes Bay is known for frequent turtle sightings. Many boat tours that offer swimming with turtles operate in this area.
  • Folkestone Marine Park: Situated in Holetown, this marine park has an artificial reef where turtles often visit. It’s one of the best places for snorkelling in Barbados.
  • Accra Beach: Located on the south coast, this beach offers opportunities for turtle sightings, especially for snorkelers.
  • Alleyne’s Bay: Another beach in close proximity to Villa Sunnyside, on the west coast. Alleyne’s Bay is known for its clear waters and the likelihood of finding sea turtles. The Lone Star Restaurant is in Alleyne’s Bay and turtles are often spotted, making it a nice place to eat and do some turtle watching.
Big turtle swimming in Barbados

How to Behave When Swimming with Turtles

Swimming with turtles is a remarkable experience, but it’s crucial to interact with these gentle creatures responsibly to ensure their safety and well-being. Here are some guidelines on how to behave when swimming with turtles in Barbados or any other location:

  1. Maintain a Respectful Distance
    Always keep a safe distance from the turtles. Avoid getting too close, as this can stress them. A good rule of thumb is to stay at least 6 feet (about 2 meters) away.

  2. Do Not Touch the Turtles
    It’s important not to touch, chase, or harass the turtles in any way. Touching them can remove the protective oils from their shells and skin, making them vulnerable to infections.

  3. Avoid Blocking Their Path
    Turtles need to surface to breathe. Ensure you’re not obstructing their path to the surface.

  4. Move Slowly and Calmly
    Sudden movements can startle turtles. When swimming, use slow and gentle movements to avoid scaring them.

  5. No Feeding
    Do not feed the turtles. Feeding wildlife can alter their natural behavior and diet, leading to health problems.

  6. Be Mindful of Your Environment
    Avoid standing on coral or stirring up the sediment. These actions can damage the marine environment, which is the turtles’ home.

    By following these guidelines, you can enjoy the incredible experience of swimming with turtles while ensuring that you don’t mess with their natural behaviour and habitat.

What’s the Best Season to Swim with Turtles in Barbados?

The best season to swim with turtles in Barbados is typically during the summer months, from July to October. This period is the peak of the sea turtle nesting season, increasing the chances of spotting them in the water. During these months, the sea conditions are usually calmer and the water visibility is better, enhancing the overall experience.

Turtles can actually be seen year-round in the waters of Barbados, as the island enjoys a warm, tropical climate. But for those specifically looking to maximize their chances of swimming with turtles and possibly witnessing nesting or hatching events, targeting the summer and early fall months is probably best.

Can You Snorkel with Turtles in Barbados?

Yes, you can definitely snorkel with turtles in Barbados. The calm waters of the west and south coasts provide excellent conditions for snorkelling and offers opportunities to encounter Hawksbill and Green Turtles in their natural habitat.

Popular snorkelling spots for turtle encounters include Carlisle Bay, Paynes Bay, and Folkestone Marine Park. There are also many boat trips in Barbados that offer guided snorkelling tours specifically focused on swimming with turtles.

These tours often include equipment rental and guidance from experienced locals who know the best spots for turtle sightings. As always, when snorkelling with turtles, it’s important to respect their space and environment to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for both you and the turtles.

Turtles Head Barbados

What to Do If You Find a Turtle on the Beach

Barbados is home to several species of endangered sea turtles, including the critically endangered Hawksbill and the endangered Green Turtle. These species face various threats, such as habitat loss, pollution, and illegal hunting.

If you find a turtle on the beach you should follow these steps:

  • Keep Your Distance
    If you encounter a turtle on the beach, especially if it’s nesting, maintain a respectful distance. Disturbing a nesting turtle can cause her to abandon the effort.
  • Avoid Using Flashlights or Flash Photography
    Bright lights can disorient turtles. If you must use a light, a red LED light is less disruptive.
  • Do Not Touch the Turtles or Eggs
    Handling turtles or their eggs can harm them and is illegal in many jurisdictions.
  • Control Pets
    Keep dogs away from turtles and their nests.
  • Report to Local Authorities
    If you find a turtle in distress or a nest, contact local the Turtle Hotline: (246) 230-0142. This is run by The Barbados Sea Turtle Project.

The Barbados Sea Turtle Project

The Barbados Sea Turtle Project is based at the University of the West Indies Cave Hill Campus. It’s an important initiative in the conservation of marine turtles in Barbados and the wider Caribbean region. 

With a vision centred on restoring local marine turtle populations to levels where they can effectively fulfil their ecological roles, the project is also committed to balancing conservation with sustainable use, benefiting both the turtles and the people of Barbados.

They aim to recover marine turtle populations through scientifically-driven conservation measures and monitoring programs. A key aspect of their approach is the development and implementation of training, education, and public awareness initiatives. These initiatives are designed to encourage support and active participation from various stakeholders, including local communities, tourists, and government bodies.

An essential component of the project’s work is its response to reports of turtle activities or turtles in distress. To support this, the Barbados Sea Turtle Project operates a dedicated Turtle Hotline. If you encounter any turtle activity or a turtle in trouble in Barbados, you are encouraged to promptly report it by calling the Turtle Hotline at (246) 230-0142.

Through its comprehensive approach, the Barbados Sea Turtle Project aids in the preservation of marine turtles and fosters a greater understanding and appreciation of these creatures among the local population and visitors alike.

The Final Word on Swimming with Turtles in Barbados

There are plenty of places where you can enjoy swimming with turtles in Barbados. We have looked at the coral reefs of Carlisle Bay to the serene shores of Paynes Bay. The Barbados Sea Turtle Project does its best to conserve wildlife, teaching us that swimming with turtles must go hand in hand with respect and responsibility.

Remember that each encounter with a Barbadian turtle is a privilege. In doing so, you contribute to a future where the turtles of Barbados continue to thrive for generations to come.

john, Lucy, Teddy & Margo at hunts gardenss
Lucy Bridge

I love to travel with my family. Over the years, we’ve found ourselves coming back to the magic of Sunset Crest. So much so, that we finally decided to take the plunge and buy Villa Sunnyside in 2022!