Best time to go on a turtle conservation vacation

What time of year do sea turtles hatch?

Happily for keen turtle conservation volunteers, there is not just one natural event to look out for – but two. Female turtles will haul their massive bodies ashore at night, dig holes with their back flippers and then lay their eggs. And around 6-8 weeks later, tiny, vulnerable hatchlings will emerge and scramble across the sand towards the sea.

Timing your visit in the latter half of the nesting season may mean you have the chance to witness and be hands-on at both the egg laying and the sea turtle hatching: measuring and tagging mothers and watching over the babies to ensure they are not preyed upon – or lured astray by artificial lights.

On beaches where several species of turtles nest, there may be nesting seasons throughout most of the year as different species come ashore in different months. Hatcheries provide longer term protection for babies – as well as the occasional injured adult – which may mean that placements are available outside of the main nesting period.

When do sea turtles hatch in Costa Rica?

Nesting seasons vary in Costa Rica between different species, and between the Caribbean and Pacific coasts. July to October is the peak nesting and hatching period for green sea turtles in locations such as Tortuguero National Park, whereas it’s March to October for the hawksbill turtle, which prefers the Caribbean coast and can nest up to four times each season.

Visit Costa Rica in September or October to witness an arribada, which is a spectacular mass nesting of olive ridley turtles. Leatherbacks nest and hatch on Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast between March and May, and between September and March on the Pacific coast. Pack waterproof gear whether you visit in the wet season or not – especially if staying on the Caribbean coast, as rain can fall at any time

When do sea turtles hatch in Greece?

Loggerhead turtles begin nesting on the Ionian island of Kefalonia from late May to early August. The eggs need around 55 days to incubate, so you can witness turtles hatching in Greece from late July to early October. This is peak tourist season, when volunteers will be needed to mark nests and help unwary beachgoers avoid causing damage to them.

When do sea turtles hatch in the Maldives?

The Maldives play host to no fewer than five sea turtle species: hawksbill, green, leatherback, olive ridley and leatherback, so there is nesting and hatching going on at different points throughout the year. Generally speaking, however, the busiest time of year is May to June for nesting and July to August for hatching. There are a lot of beachfront resorts, villas and bars in these paradise islands, meaning a lot of light and noise pollution too. Turtle volunteer projects in the Maldives focus a lot on minimising this, and on community outreach, to help keep the mother turtles and hatchlings from becoming disoriented.
Travel Team
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When do sea turtles hatch in the Seychelles?

Hawksbill turtles lay their eggs on the beautiful beaches of the Seychelles from September to March, peaking in October to January. The eggs hatch around 55 days later, depending on the temperature of the sand. Green turtles arrive to nest from January and can be seen right through to September – meaning that you can travel here throughout the year. Bear in mind that November to March is the monsoon season, bringing heavy downpours particularly in December and January.
Photo credits: Isabella Jusková [Intro: David Troeger] [Malaysia: Gerwin Sturm] [Seychelles: David Stanley]