Loggerhead Marinelife Center in Florida is a great place to visit during sea turtle nesting season — Photo courtesy of Jennifer Reilly, Loggerhead Marinelife Center
There’s nothing quite as exhilarating as making your way to the ocean from a beautiful sandy beach – especially if you’re a sea turtle.
Every year, thousands and thousands of turtles head to the exact site of their own birth to nest. Mamas dig a hole in the sand, lay between 50 and 200 eggs in it, cover it up and go back to the water.
When the eggs hatch, the babies must dig out of the hole – a group effort that can take days – and then find their way to the sea.
The sight of all these baby sea turtles taking their first journey has become a bucket list item for many travelers, and hotels around the world are working with local conservation groups to ensure this is a successful experience for all.
"Sea turtle hatchlings already face naturally low survival rates due to both predation on land and at sea. Climate change and plastic pollution make this survival rate decline even further," said Dr. Justin Perrault, Director of Research at Loggerhead Marinelife Center in Florida.
"Sea turtles are some of the most resilient creatures on Earth; however, that resiliency can only last for so long. Therefore, it is extremely important to do everything we can to protect and preserve these species both on nesting beaches and in their foraging habitats to ensure their survival."
Loggerhead Marinelife Center’s research department has one of the longest-running sea turtle monitoring programs in the state and one of the most comprehensive datasets in the world. They also offer a variety of public programs during the summer nesting season, including evening turtle walks, sunrise nest excavations, hatchling releases and hatchling feedings.
Here are 10 more places where you can watch the miraculous – and adorable – process.
Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort & Spa | Mexico
Celebrate the baby tortugas at Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort & Spa — Photo courtesy of Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort & Spa
To the Huichol people native to the Sierra Madre mountain range, the spiritual symbol of the tortuga is an important one, as turtles are touted as the helpers of the rain goddesses.
From June to December, guests staying at Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort & Spa can participate in the resort’s turtle protection program. In addition to having the opportunity to release newly hatched turtles into the ocean, nature lovers can join the resident biologist for a nighttime stroll along the beach to monitor the nesting turtles.
Guests meet at the turtle nursery at 10:30 pm, where the biologist provides information about the conservation project and instructions for patrolling the beach. This activity is offered every day during turtle season.
Jekyll Island | Georgia
Become a sea turtle biologist for a day on Jekyll Island — Photo courtesy of Jekyll Island Authority
Learn about the amazing journey of loggerhead sea turtles along the Georgia coast, and get an up-close look at turtle nesting during an evening or sunrise turtle walk. The evening program, in June and July, begins at the Georgia Sea Turtle Center exhibit gallery, and is followed by a guided beach tour in search of a nesting mother.
The sunrise program, in August and September, introduces the basics of sea turtle nesting and hatching, the ecological history of Jekyll Island, and any wildlife observations.
You can also become a sea turtle biologist for one night or one morning, thanks to the Georgia Sea Turtle Center’s Ride with Night Patrol & Ride with Dawn Patrol programs. Patrol Jekyll Island’s beaches with experienced biologists on all-terrain vehicles in search of nesting loggerhead sea turtles.
You’ll assist with research efforts, locating and protecting nests, checking for signs of predators, and conducting nest inventories to protect the sea turtle population on Jekyll Island.
Paradisus Los Cabos | Mexico
Paradisus Los Cabos features a "Welcome To Life" program during sea turtle nesting season — Photo courtesy of Paradisus Los Cabos
From August through February, guests of this luxury property can engage and interact with sea turtles through the "Welcome To Life" conservation initiative.
Designed to protect the leatherback, black and olive ridley sea turtles native to the resort, this program includes GPS setting for adult turtle arrival and a nesting counting tour. Guests can get up close and personal with the turtles and eggs and learn about the various types of nests. You'll also count eggs, observe the thrilling moment of egg hatching, be a part of the process where the babies are measured, weighed and tagged, and, ultimately, watch the babies be released.
Panama Jack Resorts Cancun | Mexico
The staff at Panama Jack Cancun take care of all guests, both humans and sea turtles — Photo courtesy of Playa Hotels and Resorts
In Cancun, turtle season starts in May and ends in November. During that time, guests at the eco-friendly, green-certified Panama Jack Cancun are invited to come and watch the release that takes place at sunset if turtles have hatched that day. At Camp Jack Kids Club, children are taught about the turtles and taken to the enclosure to see the eggs in the nests.
More than 10,000 eggs are typically hatched annually during the resort’s turtle release program, and staff are given the opportunity to become certified to handle the turtles. Guests can join beach cleanups to help minimize the sargassum (seaweed), ensuring that turtle nests are safe.
Sansara Surf & Yoga Resort | Cambutal, Panama
Sansara offers a special Yoga, Surf and Sea Turtles retreat — Photo courtesy of Sansara Surf & Yoga Resort/Fundación Tortuguías
Located in Cambutal, a small village where the jungle meets the sea, Sansara is all about health and wellness – for both humans and sea turtles.
Cambutal is home to five species of sea turtles, four of which are on the critically endangered list. Although you can help support the turtles’ journey to the sea year-round, a July "Yoga, Surf and Sea Turtles" retreat offers an immersive experience, with ten percent of registration costs benefiting Fundación Tortuguías, a local organization dedicated to protecting and conserving the turtles.
Guests will experience mother sea turtles coming up to shore to lay their eggs, and will work alongside resident marine biologists to ensure the eggs are protected, marking where the eggs are laid and to what species of turtle, as well as when they will be ready to hatch.
10 of the least known islands you should visit to see wildlife
10 of the least known islands you should visit to see wildlife
B Ocean Resort | Fort Lauderdale
Adopt Shel-B, a stuffed plush sea turtle, to help protect real ones — Photo courtesy of B Ocean Resort
This iconic beachfront property partners with the Broward County Sea Turtle Conservation Program, reducing artificial lights on the beach and organizing night walks to watch over hatchlings as they make their way to the water.
From March through October, which is turtle nesting season in Greater Fort Lauderdale, guests can participate in eco tours, turtle treks and hatchling release. The resort supports sea turtles all year, and its B Humane program offers Shel-B, a stuffed plush sea turtle, for sale, with a portion of proceeds benefiting conservation efforts.
Rancho Santana | Nicaragua
Turtle rangers care for endangered species at Rancho Santana — Photo courtesy of Rancho Santana
Located on 2,700 acres of Nicaragua’s Pacific coast, Rancho Santana partners with wildlife conservation agency Paso Pacifico. They train a fleet of turtle rangers to care for the critically-endangered hawksbill and green sea turtles who nest on their five beautiful beaches.
When an egg hatches, the rangers alert the concierge, who sends a notification via the Rancho Santana app for anyone who wants to come down to watch. As the turtles emerge, the rangers record the data and the turtles make their way to the sea.
The busiest time for this is September through December, and guests can visit the turtle sanctuary between hatchings, as well.
Jupiter Beach Resort & Spa | Jupiter, Fla.
Jupiter Beach Resort & Spa offers a "Stay & Save the Sea Turtles" package — Photo courtesy of Jupiter Beach Resort & Spa
An idyllic nesting place, the Palm Beaches welcome leatherbacks, loggerheads, green turtles, Kemp's ridleys, and hawksbill turtles to their shores. In 2017, more than 39,715 sea turtle nests were created along the coastline in Palm Beach County, with each one holding 80 to 120 eggs.
Jupiter is a haven for sea turtles, and Jupiter Beach Resort & Spa is the area’s only hotel nestled right along the oceanfront. You can easily spot sea turtle hatchings at night on the resort's beach during nesting season, which runs from May through October.
Guests booking the "Stay & Save the Sea Turtles" package can also adopt a sea turtle in their name, and a portion of proceeds from your visit will be donated to Loggerhead Marinelife Center. You’ll also receive a plush "Loggy the Loggerhead" to take home.
Kasiiya Papagayo | Costa Rica
Kasiiya Papagayo is a great place to see the largest sea turtles — Photo courtesy of Kasiiya Papagayo
At this eco-retreat overlooking the Pacific Ocean, guests can watch baby sea turtles take their first steps towards the sea on one of its two beaches. This particular region of Costa Rica is a go-to destination for leatherbacks, the world’s largest sea turtle.
Guests will be led to the beach at night with flashlights, or during the day with a local wildlife guide, to witness the sea turtles begin their journey towards the ocean. Peak nesting season is October-March, but leatherback turtles nest in small numbers year-round.
Puerta Cortes | La Paz, Mexico
What better place to watch sea turtles than at the "aquarium of the world?" — Photo courtesy of Puerta Cortes
Located on the Sea of Cortez, named the "aquarium of the world" by Jacques Cousteau, Puerta Cortes is a great place to see olive ridleys and leatherbacks, and the concierge can arrange special turtle-themed eco tours for guests.
From September to December, a group of professionals make sure the nests are marked and delimited with gill net to keep them safe. The release of the newly-hatched turtles is performed at night, with low visibility, to ensure a successful journey for the new turtles as they venture out to sea.