Barbados is home to beautiful blue beaches and lots of sea turtles such as the Hawksbill turtle, and Leatherback turtle. The most popular is the green turtle. The good news is that you don’t need to book a catamaran cruise to go swimming with turtles in Barbados. This is perfect if you are travelling Barbados on a budget! They are found off many beaches along the west coast. Some of them are slightly further out than others. We want to share the best places to swim with sea turtles here in Barbados.
Make sure that when you are snorkeling in Barbados that you wear some sort of bright colored flag or floaty to let others know where you are. Unfortunately we have had a lot of accidents where people swim out without any markers which makes them very hard to spot from boats and jetskis. Hop on a paddleboard and see the sea turtles with WhatsUp Barbados. Ryan is a fantastic instructor, give him a follow on his Instagram below!
The Barbados Sea Turtle Project
The Barbados Sea Turtle Project is involved in the conservation of marine turtle species in Barbados for the last 25 years. They monitor the beaches during nesting season which runs from June to September. They also run a 24hr hotline (246-230-0142) for sea turtle nestings and emergencies. Turtle nesting happens on most beaches around Barbados and is currently home to over 500 nesting Hawksbill turtles per year. The Hawksbill turtles’ nesting season is usually between April and November and they are found along the West and South coasts of Barbados. Whereas the great Leatherback sea turtle has a nesting season from February to July, and can be found on the rugged coastlines of the east and south coasts, the Leatherback turtle is the largest turtle species/
The mission of the Barbados Sea Turtle Project is to recover the sea turtle populations enough that they can fulfill their ecological role and still allow for responsible and sustainable tourism. If you spot turtles on the beach do not use the flash on your phone, observe from a distance, and call the hotline. If you are swimming with the turtles, again observe from a distance, do not hang onto the turtle’s shells.
Beaches Where You Can See the Turtles in Barbados
Below we are listing off some of the best places to swim with turtles in Barbados. You can swim out on these beaches and find the sea turtles on your own without booking a catamaran cruise. You can spot sea turtles at most beaches in Barbados but these are some of the more popular sites.
If you are planning to take a surfing lesson with Boosy’s Surf School, you can tick this off at the same time. Freights Bay is home to a few sea turtles. If you are not planning to take a surf lesson then make your way down to the beach and paddle out on a boogie board and you will see a few pop up every now and then!
Carlisle Bay & Pebbles Beach
If you are spending the day at Pebbles beach you can spend some time swimming with sea turtles here. Or you can continue north along the beach and swim or walk under the pier passing the Barbados Yacht Club. Swim out carefully, there are lots of boats in the area. There are also a few ship wrecks slightly further out but it is recommended to go with a group since the area is busy.
If you are staying on the west coast then Paynes Bay is probably closer for you. Walk across to Paynes Bay using the public access by One Sandy Lane. Turn left and walk down the beach. Again, this spot is quite busy so take a marker or flag with you so people can see you while you snorkel.
Alleyne’s Bay (Lonestar)
The turtles are located just off Lonestar Restaurant. You can’t miss this spot since many of the catamarans and glass bottom boats come here. The crews from the boats usually throw some food in the water to attract them as well. The best time to come to this spot would probably be early morning before the boats start arriving. It gets super busy here so watch out for incoming feet and hands while you swim around! This spot is probably the best spot to snorkel with turtles especially early morning as it’s really quiet.
Booking A Catamaran Cruise to See the Barbados Sea Turtles
One of the most popular ways to go swimming with turtles in Barbados is by booking a catamaran cruise. There are so many catamarans to choose from and all of them make a stop at one location to give your the opportunity to swim with the turtles. Some of our favorite catamaran cruises include Jammin’, Cool Runnings, Silver Moon and Seaduced. Each catamaran cruise in Barbados has its own level of luxury, you can do private charters or just join a group. Cool Runnings ($95usd) and Jammin’ ($95usd) offer per person rates that include lunch and drinks all day and they usually stop at Paynes’ Bay or Alleyne’s Bay to see the turtles. They also include a stop at one of the shipwrecks along the west coast where you can snorkel and see many colorful fish! You can read all about Joanne’s catamaran cruise here!
Have you ever been snorkeling in Barbados? Did you go swimming with sea turtles in Barbados? Tell us in the comments below!