Spectacular beaches, incredible seafood and impressive resorts represent just a fraction of the many reasons Antigua and Barbuda make an ideal winter getaway. It’s also an idyllic spot for anyone interested in experiencing the abundant turtle life these twin islands have to offer. When you visit Antigua and Barbuda you are likely to see sea turtles swimming in the warm waters while snorkeling, unless you visit during the summer months when the turtles waddle onto the beach to nest in the beautiful white sand. The breeding season for most turtle species is from June to October, so if you visit Antigua during those months, you may be lucky enough to witness the hatching of baby turtles.
Of the many different marine species that live on the islands, some of the most common are green turtles, hawksbill turtles, and leatherback turtles. Unfortunately, each of these species is listed as endangered; thankfully, Antigua and Barbuda’s Environmental Awareness Group is working with local conservationists to protect these turtles.
Antigua and Barbuda is a turtle playground, so when you visit the islands there are many exciting excursions that will get you up close and personal with the majestic creatures. Snorkeling and diving are among the most popular ways to interact with sea turtles, but there are many other options. You may even casually encounter a few turtles if you’re in the right place! Here is a list of some locations in Antigua and Barbuda where you are guaranteed to see turtles.
This beautiful beach is not only a great place to de-stress and soak up some vitamin D, but also the perfect place to swim with turtles! Located on the southern tip of Antigua, Galleon Beach is only accessible by car or water taxi, making it a peaceful retreat. While the view of the turquoise waters from the soft sand at Galleon Beach may seem hard to beat, just wait until you swim in the water next to a family of hawksbill sea turtles. One of the best ways to swim with turtles at Galleon Beach is to join a snorkeling tour. Tours run year round and your guide will lead you to all the turtle hot spots. In addition to swimming parallel to sea turtles and many species of tropical fish, you will also get the chance to explore one of Antigua’s best shipwrecks!
Perfect beaches, tranquility and rich biodiversity attract many people to Long Island. Just a six-minute boat ride from the main island of Antigua, Long Island (home to the ultra-luxury Jumby Bay) can best be described as a secluded oasis. The island is as much a refuge for humans as it is for turtles. Long Island is home to one of the world’s premier reserves for Hawksbill Sea Turtles: the Jumby Bay Hawksbill Turtle Project. The project focuses on researching the endangered loggerhead turtles and aims to ensure their survival and recovery. This project has made Jumby Bay a haven for sea turtles, so if you decide to take a dip in the crystal clear waters around Long Island, you’re almost guaranteed to swim alongside some sea turtles!
Stingray City Antigua
Stingray City Antigua is the ultimate excursion for animal lovers. Don’t let the name fool you: Stingray City isn’t just for those who want to swim with stingrays. Guests can start their day of adventure by swimming with and feeding stingrays, which are remarkably friendly and like to be fed by humans. Of course, stingrays aren’t the only animals on this excursion that enjoy human interaction. The second half of the tour takes you to Laviscount Island, where you can observe and feed the endemic giant Aldabra tortoise. Just to be clear, this is not your average turtle: it is one of the oldest species in the world and can weigh up to 200 pounds and live to be 200 years old! So keep your camera handy, because this excursion offers many moments that you won’t want to forget!
For turtle lovers, there are even a few resorts in Antigua with opportunities to glimpse sea turtles. The Pineapple Beach Club is a great all-inclusive resort that offers turtle watching excursions and other excursions to flora and fauna on the island. Galley Bay Resort and Spa is a quiet resort that prioritizes sustainable tourism. Galley Bay Resort has created a turtle sanctuary on its property, so guests are just steps away from seeing the turtles up close!