If you’ve ever dreamed of swimming with turtles, the Seychelles is one of the best places to fulfil that ambition. The 115 islands are home to five of the seven remaining turtle species on the planet. Read Culture Trip’s responsible turtle spotting guide for the best chance of seeing these flippered creatures in the wild.
Seize the chance to snorkel with turtles by booking onto Culture Trip’s eight-day group sailing holiday in the Seychelles – complete with a skipper and on-board chef.
Five of the seven remaining turtle species have been recorded in the Seychelles. These are the leatherback, loggerhead, olive ridley, hawksbill and green turtles, with the latter two being the most commonly sighted. After decades of being exploited for their shells and meat, sea turtles are now protected in the Seychelles by law. More than 30 percent of the region has also been made a marine protected area in a bid to help populations recover and prevent injuries caused by the fishing industry. Many resorts in the Seychelles run turtle conservation programmes and strive to educate guests about the ecological importance of these beautiful creatures.
Turtles can be found throughout the Seychelles, but there are several hotspots that attract more than others. Sail over to the tiny granitic islands of Cocos and Felicite, and you’ll be in with a good chance of swimming alongside hawksbill and green turtles, as both outcrops serve as important nesting sites. Other excellent snorkelling spots to encounter these species include the waters off Anse Patates and Anse Caiman on La Digue, as well as Grande Soeur island. Alternatively, head to Desroches, a remote coral island framed by seagrass and home to an eco-focused Four Seasons resort.
In the Seychelles, you’re in with a good chance of swimming with turtles all year round, with fairly consistent water temperatures and visibility. However, April, October and November tend to have calmer conditions, with a lull between the trade winds. During the nesting season, which runs from around October to March, you’re likely to see more turtles coming to shore. Watching the tiny hatchlings emerge from their sandy nests is a highlight for many visitors, and many resorts run turtle hatching experiences.
Swimming with turtles can be a magical experience, so it’s easy to get over-excited. However, it’s important not to disturb the animals and keep a safe distance. Sudden movements can frighten turtles; you’re likely to have a longer encounter if you remain calm and observe from afar. If you’re swimming with a GoPro or underwater camera, avoid pointing the flash directly in their eyes and keep selfie sticks at a respectful distance. Baiting turtles with treats is also not advised. If you’re swimming close to the shore, do not block the turtle’s path, as it might be on its way to lay eggs. Be careful not to swim above turtles, as they periodically need to surface for air.