Swimming with turtles in Barbados was, so far, one of the most extraordinary experiences of our life. We had the best time snorkelling in Carlisle Bay, discovering the hidden gems of the seabed through shipwrecks and colourful corals.
Endless coral reefs surround Barbados, and turtles love to swim and live in them. As a result, the Caribbean island is the perfect habitat for sea life, and turtles find abundant food and freedom. We explored the island off-season, and even though many sea turtles were gliding through the turquoise water, curious people came toward us, making the experience memorable.
If you’ve never gone swimming with sea turtles before, you should know that Barbados is the perfect place to start. This guide to Barbados snorkelling with turtles will guide you to the best places to do such activity and the best companies to book with.
Suggested sea turtle tours in Barbados | Barbados turtle tour
We did a lot of research before travelling to Barbados, as there is quite a high offer and a considerable request, especially in the peak season. Barbados is the ideal destination for sea turtle snorkelling, so you can expect many people in the designed areas. However, this doesn’t jeopardise your experience or expectations.
One of the easiest ways to swim with the turtles is to get a tour starting in Carlisle Bay, the main beach nearby the Capital, Bridgetown. We joined this catamaran snorkelling cruise and had the best time, stopping at well-known spots. The crew on board will point you to where the turtles and fishes are, so you will better spend your time in the water. Check out the catamaran snorkelling tour in Barbados.
This is one of our best suggestions when planning a Barbados holiday. Booking a catamaran cruise is the best way to spend a day in Barbados and is at the top of the list of things to do in the Caribbean.
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Best Turtles swimming tours in Barbados
- Carlisle Bay Glass Bottom Boat with Snorkeling
- Sunset tour on a clear kayak surrounded by turtles
- Folkestone Coral Reef Clear Kayak Tour
- Catamaran tour with lunch
Barbados Turtle & Shipwreck Snorkel Adventure
Among the many things that convinced us to book this trip, there were:
- Glass-bottom boat, so you can see the marine life while sailing
- Easy to reach, the tour starts in Carlisle Bay
- The local guides are fantastic, and you will get a lot from their knowledge.
- They will teach you how to breathe while snorkelling, so they are ideal for first-timers.
- The upper deck is perfect for sunbathing and watching the horizon.
Other tours in Barbados for snorkelling
Where to swim with sea turtles in Barbados? | Best place to swim with turtles in Barbados
The best areas to swim with sea turtles in Barbados are on the south and west coasts, which have the calmest ocean and most beautiful unspoiled beaches. Below are four essential areas to look for marine life and go snorkelling with turtles in Barbados. Overall we think that Carlisle Bay is one of the best places to swim with turtles in Barbados because it is easily accessible for holidaymakers.
Carlisle Bay Marine Park
Carlisle Bay is undeniably one of the most sought-after snorkeling destinations in Barbados, owing to its several shipwrecks that have fostered a flourishing environment for marine life. When snorkeling here, apart from sea turtles, you can also see multi-coloured tropical fish, sea horses, rays, and eels.
It’s hard to find sharks, but tranquil babies might be seen. Visiting the Boatyard Beach Club, you can enjoy a full day on the beach and a snorkel pass to swim with turtles and shipwrecks in Carlisle Bay. The entrance and daily pass to the Boatyard cost BSD $45, and you will have full access to the facilities, such as showers and bars.
However, the best way to enjoy a few hours of swimming in Carlisle bay is, of course, going on a stand-alone tour. However, please avoid tours that tend to feed the turtles to keep them available for tourists. This makes the ecosystem fragile, and the turtles will be too lazy to find their own food. We avoid companies that are not environmentally friendly, and you should do that too.
Worthing beach is another awesome shoreline on our top list of places to visit in Barbados. Away from the golden sand, tropical wildlife is waiting for you to explore. Snorkelling at Worthing beach allows you to go deep into the blue turquoise water and spot turtles, among other species.
However, this place is not supplied by tours but is definitely well-known among locals and tourists to be one of the best spots to swim with turtles.
Also, we always suggest Worthing Beach over just Carlisle Bay if you are visiting Barbados with family and kids. The calm water is perfect for first timers and inexperienced swimmers.
So far, Heywood beach is one of our favourites in Barbados. The atmosphere is chill and relaxed, and being one of the most secluded inlets on the island makes it perfect for families. In addition, the typical tropical vibes and corals make it the perfect habitat for sea wildlife. Turtles are easy to spot here, but the lack of facilities makes it difficult if you need the equipment.
If you want calm water and an accessible beach, explore Barbados with kids and head to Heywood seaside to spot and swim with sea turtles.
Sandy Lane Beach
The location of one of the most popular luxury resorts in Barbados, Sandy Lane, is also perfect for finding turtles swimming close to the shore. After all, Sandy Lane is on the west coast, the calmest part of the island. You don’t need necessary book a stay at Sandy Lane to enjoy the beaches, as the shores are free for everyone and open to public use.
However, if you would love to make your holidays in Barbados an unforgettable experience, check the prices for staying at Sandy Lane.
Folkestone Marine Park
Barbados has a protected marine area at Folkestone. This secluded area is perfect for swimming with turtles and snorkelling over the coral reefs. As a protected area, you need to observe rules, but mostly it is common sense. Folkestone Marine Park is also perfect for families on holiday in Barbados, as you can enjoy the underwater world in the Atlantis Submarine. You should book a tour in advance to get inside this fantastic place. Check this option.
Relatively unknown, Paynes Bay is on the west Coast of Barbados, one of the island’s calmest sides. It is a classic holiday resort area with plenty of shops, restaurants, boutiques and beach bars. If you happen to stay in this area of Barbados, definitely look out for tours to swim with turtles.
Types of Barbados sea turtles
Barbados is the habitat of three distinct species of sea turtles.
- Hawksbill turtle
- Green turtle
- Leatherback turtle
Sadly, the hawksbill and leatherback sea turtles are currently considered severely endangered, while green turtles are classified as endangered. Be careful when snorkelling with turtles in Barbados to not hurt them, don’t get too close unless they do, try to not touch them and do not destroy the corals. Also, mind the use of solar cream before getting into the water. The oils included in some products are dangerous for the corals, and these caused the closure of Maya Bay in Thailand to repopulate the wildlife.
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What is the best time to see turtles in Barbados?
The best time to see turtles in Barbados is during the nesting season, which runs from May to October. During this time, female turtles will come ashore to lay their eggs, and you may be lucky enough to witness this incredible sight.
Hatchlings can be seen making their way to the sea from July to November. However, sea turtles can be spotted in Barbados all year round.
Turtle hatching season in Barbados
Barbados’ turtle hatching season runs from July to November, which is an exciting time for visitors to witness these incredible creatures making their way to the sea. During this time, it’s important to be mindful of the hatchlings and their fragile nature. If you happen to see a nest hatch or find a lost hatchling, it’s best to leave them alone and let them make their way to the sea on their own.
The beach where the hatchlings emerge should be kept dark and quiet to avoid disorienting the hatchlings, as they rely on natural light to find their way to the sea. It’s important to remember that sea turtles are an essential part of Barbados’ ecosystem, and we all have a responsibility to help conserve them.
Tips for watching turtles in Barbados
- Respect the turtles’ space | It’s vital to keep a safe distance from turtles and not to touch or disturb them.
- Please don’t use flash photography | Flash photography can harm turtles, so it’s best to avoid using it altogether.
- Don’t litter | This is a general rule, but often turtles can mistake plastic bags and other debris for food, which can be fatal to them.
- Choose responsible tours | If you’re interested in taking a tour to see turtles, choose one that is responsible and eco-friendly.
Tips for safely swimming with turtles in Barbados
- Always approach a sea turtle from the side | Doing that offers turtles a good view of you and an escape route if necessary.
- Don’t make noises | Sea turtles are easy to scare, and make them swim away from you.
- Don’t touch the turtles | If you are snorkelling with them or watching them on the shore, never touch the turtles.
- Do not feed the turtles | Turtles don’t need extra food, as they are abundant in the natural environment. Giving food to turtles changes their habits and puts the already endangered species in more danger.
- Remember that you are in their space | While swimming, be nice, as you are invading their space and not the opposite. The ideal is to keep a distance of 1.5 m and not disrupt their natural behaviour.
- Do not chase after the turtles | You will have plenty to see, and they will surround you at a certain point if you behave; there is no reason to chase and stress a cute turtle.
- Relax and enjoy the adventure | More you are chilled and swimming without chasing them, the more likely it is to get them quiet and friendly swimming near you.
Book your travel insurance before travelling to Barbados.
Having travel insurance is essential when traveling to Barbados and participating in activities like swimming with turtles. While these experiences can be fun and exhilarating, they also come with some degree of risk. Travel insurance can help protect you from unexpected incidents such as illness, injury, or theft.
In addition, some tours and activities in Barbados may require you to have travel insurance before participating. This is because they want to ensure you have adequate coverage in case of unforeseen events.
To ensure that you have a worry-free trip to Barbados and can fully enjoy all the fantastic experiences the island offers, it’s essential to book travel insurance before you go. Don’t let a lack of coverage ruin your trip to Barbados. Book travel insurance today and enjoy a worry-free adventure.
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How can I help conserve turtles in Barbados?
There are seven species of turtles in the world, with six of them located in the Greater Caribbean Area. Of these, there are three who live on or near Barbados. As you can comprehend, all the species are endangered, making their ecosystem very fragile.
There are some ways that tourists can help locals to conserve local habitats and conserve turtles in Barbados. The local authorities have a program that aims to preserve and assist turtles and marine life. The Barbados Sea Turtle Project (BSTP) is a public education and awareness program that you can support through donations or volunteer work. Other ways to help turtle conservation are:
- Reduce plastic use | Plastic pollution is a significant threat to sea turtles. Reduce your plastic use and dispose of it properly to help keep our oceans clean.
- Use only eco-friendly products | Choose sunscreen and other personal care products labelled as “reef-safe” to help protect the turtles’ habitats.
- Respect the turtles’ space | When visiting beaches where turtles are present, keep a safe distance and don’t touch or disturb them.
- Report any turtle sightings | If you see a turtle in distress or notice any illegal activity related to turtles, report it to the authorities immediately.
- Do not anchor on the reef.
- Do not touch or take any coral, fish or marine life.
- Participate in beach cleanups or underwater cleanups.
Where to stay in Barbados to swim with turtles
Affordable stay in Barbados
£100 PER NIGHT
If you’re looking for an affordable but still fancy place, Coconut Court Beach Hotel is the right option for you. Not far from the important UNESCO site of Bridgtown, Coconut Beach Hotel offer a cosy one-bedroom apartment with easy access to the beach!
Hilton Hotel Barbados
The hotel facilities are incredible, boasting two pools, a Jacuzzi facing the central area, a Spa, a Breakfast/lunch Terrazza and an excellent two-sided beach with all comfort. The rooms face the ocean, taking advantage of being in a corner.
SANDY LANE HORIZON LUXURY RESORT
The shoreline of Sandy Lane is one of the calmest places in Barbados and is perfect for wildlife watching and swimming with turtles. Located on the west coast, the Sandy Lane Luxury resort offers every kind of comfort and features some activities and supplies included within the price.
Q&A Barbados Turtles
Why do turtles come to Barbados?
Sea turtles are known to return to the same nesting beaches every year, and Barbados is no exception. The island’s warm, sandy beaches provide the perfect nesting habitat for these creatures. Barbados is also home to a healthy population of seagrass, an important food source for turtles.
WHERE TO GO NEXT?
Every time is good to travel and make new experiences. From London there are direct flights to Barbados and you can plan your next holiday and including all the amazing activites that the island has to offer. Check our guides about Barbados:
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