There are seven species of sea turtles: the leatherback sea turtle, green sea turtle, loggerhead sea turtle, Kemp's Ridley sea turtle, hawksbill sea turtle, flatback sea turtle, and olive ridley sea turtle. Most of them are either endangered or vulnerable.
Central America is one of the few regions of the world that is privileged to receive most of the species off of its shores during their nesting seasons. Keep reading to find the names and fun info about five of the best beaches to find sea turtles and even have a chance to release them and watch them lay their eggs.
Tortuguero - Costa Rica
Costa Rica is considered the place where eco-tourism was born. Over 25% of its territory is protected in some kind of national park or reserve.
It is also filled with beaches that are important for four sea turtles species (leatherback, green, hawksbill, and olive ridley). They come here to nest.
One of these places is called Tortuguero, a 22-mile strip of beach. This is one of the last places where you will be able to see tons and tons of turtles from all four species during the winter months, from February to July.
Aside from sea turtles, Tortuguero offers encounters with land turtles, manatee, crocodiles, a variety of crustaceans, eel and bull shark.
Monterrico - Guatemala
This area of Guatemala is becoming more and more popular as a weekend getaway for locals but it has been a popular place as a nesting place for sea turtles for way longer.
On high tide, during the rainy season from July to late October, female Olive Ridleys leave the sea to lay their eggs on the beach. On the other hand, Leatherbacks prefer November and December.
A reserve called Hawaii was created to preserve these creatures. Here they take as many eggs as they can and protect them from human and animal predators until the baby turtles are born. They are then released.
Southern San Juan del Sur - Nicaragua
In the southern part of San Juan del Sur you will find La Flor Wildlife Refuge. It was created to protect the olive ridleys as well as hawksbill, leatherback, and green sea turtles that visit its shores during nesting season.
Here you will be able to see those three species of sea turtles between the months of July and December.
The most common one is the olive ridley with over 100,000 of them that come to lay their eggs on this beach each year.
Ambergris Caye - Belize
Belize has the second largest coral reef in the world which receives three endangered species of sea turtles (green, hawksbill, and loggerhead) on its shores.
Most only lay their eggs and leave, but some stay among the reefs for a little longer, eating. This allows the unique opportunity to swim with them while scuba diving.
The month of August is the peak period for turtle nesting season in Belize. But you will be able to find them as early as May and as late as November.
Jiquilisco Bay - El Salvador
Four species of sea turtles visit the Pacific coasts of El Salvador, you can see hawksbills, olive ridleys, leatherbacks, and greens sea turtles in them.
A good place to visit if you want to check them out is Bahia Jiquilisco. This is a Biosphere Reserve that protects some of El Salvador's most important natural habitats.
But a weird thing happens here, hawksbills don't come here just for nesting, instead, there is a permanent residence of them year-round in the estuary.