There are three turtle species that particularly enjoy visiting Puerto Rico: the Leatherback and Green Sea Turtles which tend to favor the beaches of Culebra, particularly the relatively isolated Zoni, Resaca, and Brava beaches, and the smaller Hawksbill Turtle, which has a permanent sanctuary on Mona Island, off the island's west coast.
Turtles have a long history in Puerto Rico and if you're interested in turtle watching, you should make sure that you are doing so in an eco-friendly way that does not disturb the turtles. Conservation efforts strive to provide turtles with safe nesting grounds, clear of all sign of human activity.
How to Experience Nesting Season
From February to August, Hawksbill, Leatherback, and Green Sea Turtles are often found nesting on the beaches of mainland Puerto Rico and its outlying islands.
Puerto Rico's Department of Natural Resources leads conservation efforts on the island, but there is no coordinated program on the island for those interested in turtle-watching in an eco-friendly and responsible manner. However, there are a few hotels that invite guests to join them for a special outing during nesting season.
Wyndham Grand Rio Mar Beach Resort and Spa
Beginning in 2013, the Wyndham has partnered with the Department of Natural Resources to lead guests to the lovely stretch of beach on their property, where Hawksbill, Leather, and Green sea turtles lay their eggs or witness the hatching of baby turtles.
The St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort
The 483 acres of the nature reserve at the St. Regis include a pristine stretch of beachfront. Guests at the hotel have the chance to "guardian" the Leatherback Turtles nesting here. You can learn more at the hotel's Nature Center, which has an on-site marine biologist. In fact, the conservation efforts here have led the St. Regis to be recognized as the Caribbean’s first and only Audubon International Certified Gold Signature Sanctuary resort.
Check with the staff at Mamacitas about volunteer efforts to assist the Department of Natural Resources to identify and help nesting turtles (typically April to early June). Volunteers meet at happy landings at 5 pm and travel to the beach for a night of turtle watching.