Frisky Barbados Turtles and How to Swim with them

Turtles are tricky creatures. When they only come ashore to lay their eggs and then as quickly as they appeared, disappear, how can you spend some time with these marvellous animals?

The reefs off Barbados have a thriving turtle population. The turtles are widely considered locals and it is not uncommon to notice one creeping up the beach at night whilst you’re downing a rum in a nearby beach bar. No, you’re not imagining them. The sudden arrival of the turtle-monitoring squad (complete with clipboards) confirms their presence and also prevents the turtles developing any alcohol-related troubles.

Where to find turtles

It is not unlikely that you will meet a turtle while swimming at any of Barbados’ beaches, but there is one spot that they seem reliably to gather at. You’d think the Folkestone Marine Park would be favoured by the turtles (being a marine park and all) but in fact, their favourite spot seems to be just North of there, between Holetown and Speightstown on the West coast of Barbados.

Getting up close and personal with turtles

There are two ways to meet these turtles. The simplest is to get yourself to the beach by the Lonestar restaurant, grab your snorkeling gear and swim out about 100m from the shore. It shouldn’t take you long to meet the turtles.

The other way to meet the turtles is to take a catamaran trip up the West coast. All the catamarans stop by the turtles for a swim at some stage of the day, which is also worth remembering if you have swum out from the shore. The West coast gets a lot of boat traffic, so keep an eye on that, as well as the turtles.

Chill out Dude

The Barbadian turtle crowd are pretty laidback. These turtles are used to gliding through the water inbetween snorkelers’ wobbly bits and seem to take it in their stride. The easiest way to ensure you don’t upset the turtles (and potentially make them defensive) is to not touch them, not chase them and to move slowly in the water without looking threatening. I remember, years ago, my brother chasing a turtle because he wanted a closer look. He followed this turtle in circles and probably grabbed it a bit (which I do NOT advocate) until exasperated and infuriated the turtle gave him a nip, or so you’d think it would. In fact the turtle bit our mother, who had been keeping well out of it and was on the turtle’s side all along! Still, turtles don’t have teeth, so it’s more of a strong chomp really.

Swimming with these turtles in their own environment is a fantastic experience. The turtles are so inquisitive and they are really not shy. It is a wonderful window into the underwater world that many don’t otherwise see.


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