Seeing sea turtles is an amazing part of any vacation, and has become so popular that an entire eco-tourism industry has sprung up around it. All species of sea turtles, except the flatback sea turtle in Australia, are endangered, so it is particularly special to see these turtles in their natural environment. Sea turtles have a life expectancy of 80-100 years, making them some of the longest-living creatures in the ocean.

Best places to see sea turtles in the world

1. Laniakea Beach, Hawaii

Laniakea Beach, also known as “Turtle Beach,” is located on the north shore of the Hawaiian island of Oahu near the city of Haleiwa. It is about an hour drive from Honolulu. Turtles come to this beach year round to feed on the seaweed there and also to lie on the sand to bask in the sun. During the winter, the waves on the north shore of Oahu are too big for the turtles to navigate, so the best time to visit this beach is during the spring, summer and fall.

2. Playa Grande, Costa Rica

Parque Nacional Marino Las Baulas, a national park on the beautiful Playa Grande near the city of Tamarindo in Costa Rica, is an important place for leatherback turtles, which can be seen at this location year-round. The leatherback turtles nest between October and March, and visiting at this time gives you a unique chance to see turtles that just hatched making their way to the water.

3. Coral Coast, Australia

The Coral Coast in Western Australia is home to two very important sites for loggerhead turtles during nesting season from November to April: Dick Hartog Island and Shark Bay World Heritage Area. All year round, you can swim with sea turtles at Ningaloo Marine Park or watch them on a cruise in Shark Bay Marine Park. Head to Cape Range National Park if you want to watch the sea turtles hatch at night.

4. Oaxaca, Mexico

Located on the shores of the Mexican state of Oaxaca, the Sociedad Cooperativa El Santuaria de la Tortuga is a turtle sanctuary and the world’s largest nesting site for Olive Ridley turtles. July is the best time to visit, as females come to the shore to lay their eggs. The baby turtles hatch between August and October.

5. Tamarindo Beach, Puerto Rico

You can often see Leatherback, Hawksbill and Green Sea Turtles on the beaches of mainland Puerto Rico. Culebra Island, off the coast of mainland Puerto Rico, is the most loved destination for seeing sea turtles, though. Go snorkeling and enjoy swimming with green sea turtles in their native habitat. Peak nesting season here is late April to early May.

6. Gili Islands, Indonesia

There are two small sea turtle hatching projects on the Gili Islands of Indonesia, specifically on Gili Trawangan and Gili Meno. After hatching, the turtles are kept in a tank until they are healthy enough to be released into the sea. You can see the sea turtles in their natural environment by going swimming or diving at any time of the year.

7. Perhentian Islands, Malaysia

Many green sea turtles visit the remote Perhentian Islands off the Eastern Coast of Malaysia every year to lay their eggs. July is the best time to come, and there are conservation projects on the islands where you can volunteer to monitor the turtle’s size and number of eggs laid. These islands are some of the most pristine in the world, and absolutely worth the trip.

8. Turtle Islands, Philippines

Known locally as the “Tawi-Tawi Islands,” this is an important nesting site for green and hawksbill sea turtles in the Philippines. Diving here is more difficult than in other places because only a certain number of people are allowed to go each year, due to the Philippine government declaring Tawi-Tawi a Protected Area. Furthermore, it is very far from other Philippine islands and in fact closer to Malaysia; however, it is worth the trip for the beautiful turtle sightings all year round, particularly in July.

9. Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

The Galapagos Islands of Ecuador are a great place to see sea turtles with ample underwater algae for them to feed on. You can see green sea turtles lay their eggs in January and hatch starting in April and continuing into May. Head to La Loberia, Isla Lobos and Kicker Rock on San Cristobal Island to see them.

This article was written by Cathy Trainor.