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Swimming with Sea Turtles in Curacao

The best places to swim with sea turtles or to spot them.

Diving and snorkeling in Curacao is a special experience. You will never know what wonder you will see beneath the water.

One of the experiences you never get tired of is diving or snorkeling with sea turtles. Quiet and graceful, ranging from a small hawksbill to a larger loggerhead or the largest green turtles, encountering them is an unforgettable experience.

The leatherback turtle also lives around Curacao, but usually prefers deeper waters and is rarely spotted

Sea Turtles, Curacao

Sea turtles are believed to have been on earth for more than 100 million years — since the time of the dinosaurs. Nowadays all sea turtles are endangered species and are on the brink of extinction.

Turtle Underwater Encounter

The best locations for an underwater encounter with a sea turtle are Playa Grandi (also called Playa Piscado), Playa Lagun and Klein Curacao (Little Curacao).

Try to go to Playa Grandi between 12 and 4pm. It is at the turn with the red octopus tree. Playa Grandi is not really a beach, it's mostly a place where the local fishermen keep their boats and come in to gut their catch of the day. When you snorkel here, you will be rewarded with swimming along with graceful and beautiful sea turtles. There is really no coral and not really any other fish to see in the area where you will see the turtles but when you go to the left side, away from the turtles there is a shallow reef with loads of fish.

Klein Curacao, a tiny satellite island of the southeast coast, is almost two hours away by boat. At Klein Curacao, you have to go to the rocky part of the beach. This is the place where you have the best chance to encounter turtles. They swim in 10 to 15 ft. water and are not shy!

Turtle Spotting

The green turtle, loggerheads, and the hawksbill lay their eggs on the beaches in the small bays of Shete Boka National Park. This is a 6-mile coastal stroke at the island's north coast, with 13 small cove-like beaches.

Shete Boka
Shete Boka

Last year there were also turtle nests at Playa Porto Mari and Playa Lagun. When the nests hatch, lots of baby turtles will scramble across the beach to make their way to the ocean.

To spot turtles, it is best to go to Boka Ascension (Ascension bay), which is one of the key feeding areas.

The entrance to Boka Ascension is hard to spot if you don't know your way around in Curacao. The entrance is on the road 'Weg naar Westpunt'. If you are coming from the direction of Willemstad, it will be on your right, just before you reach Landhuis Ascension. You will pass through lots of tall trees, it's like being in the middle of a forest. Right BEFORE you pass these trees, there is a road with a gate at your right between the shrubs. That is the road to boka! If you are unable to find it, go back to the road and go to the Landhuis Ascension. There is a (long) pathway to Boka Ascension from there.

Boka Ascencion, Curacao
Boka Ascension

After parking your car at the boka (bay), you have to stay at the left of the bay and walk until you see a cave with a ladder. You have to climb the ladder and then walk all the way to the seaside. Here you'll find information boards about the turtles, and this is also the best place to spot the turtles.

Spotting the first turtle may take a few minutes, but as soon as you see the first one they will continue appearing.

Another very good place to spot turtles from is just the backyard of Villa Seashell. Apparently there is plenty of food there too. Turtles can be seen there throughout the day.

Turtle, Villa Seashell
Turtle, seen from the backyard of Villa Seashell

If you have not been lucky spotting turtles, you may like to visit the Sea Aquarium in Willemstad where visitors may even feed the turtles.

The Curacao Sea Aquarium has always served as a sea turtle rescue and release station and has also been a pioneer in the monitoring of sea turtle action on this island in cooperation with Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire and WIDECAST (Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network).

Turtle Identification

In case you did see turtles while snorkeling or diving, you may like to have a look at the Sea Turtle Identification Key, published by WIDECAST.

Sea Turtle Identification

Looking for more free things to do in Curaçao?

Check "Top 15 Free Things to Do in Curacao" for fabulous FREE things to do in Curaçao by Susan Campbell.

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