Best Spots for Turtle Watching in Puerto Rico

You could say turtles were the original tourists to Puerto Rico (and much of the Caribbean). Hawksbill, Leatherback, and Green Sea Turtles are often found on the beaches of mainland Puerto Rico and its outlying islands (generally from February to August), and the locals take great care to protect their reptilian friends.

Swimming Turtle | Little Miss Meteo
Photo: Pure Adventure

Conservation efforts strive to provide turtles with safe nesting grounds, clear of all sign of human activity (a mere footprint, for example, could prove fatal to hatchlings trying to make it from shore to sea).

Where to See Turtles

There are three turtle species that particularly enjoy visiting Puerto Rico. The Leatherback, the largest of all living turtles, can grow up to seven feet long and can exceed a whopping 2,000 pounds. They require dark, quiet nesting grounds, and tend to favor the beaches of Culebra, particularly the relatively isolated Zoni, Resaca, and Brava beaches.

Leatherback Turtle - Little Miss Meteo
Leatherback Turtle in rehab - Photo: Turtle Hospital

Green Sea Turtles are also a common sight in Culebra.

The Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas), also known as the green turtle, black (sea) turtle or Pacific green turtle, is a large sea turtle of the family Cheloniidae. The average weight of mature individuals is 150 to 419 pounds and the average carapace length is 31 to 44 in.

Green Sea Turtle | Little Miss Meteo
Green Sea Turtle - Photo: Coastal Seekers

The smaller Hawksbill turtle averages 100-150 pounds and 25-35 inches in length. Noted for its multi-colored shells (dark brown with streaks of red, orange and black) this turtle has a permanent sanctuary in Mona Island, off the island's west coast.

Hawksbill Turtle | Little Miss Meteo
Hawksbill Turtle in the Red Sea - Photo: Joseph Lee's Guide to Sea Turtle Wiki

You can also find all three species nesting on mainland beaches. A good place to spot them is along the Northeast Ecological Corridor, a stretch of Atlantic coastline that runs from Luquillo to Fajardo and includes several terrific resorts. Since sea turtles return to the same beach where they were born to nest, repeat visits are commonplace; the problem, of course, is that those same beaches are also popular with human tourists.

Northeast Ecological Corridor | Little Miss Meteo

How to Experience Nesting Season

Nesting Turtle - Puerto Rico | Little Miss Meteo
Nesting Leatherback Turtle - Photo: Smithsonian Magazine

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. Here they are:

Wyndham Grand Rio Mar Beach Resort and Spa

Wyndham Grand Rio Mar Beach Resort and Spa | Little Miss Meteo Photo: Wyndham

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, Leatherback, and Green sea turtles lay their eggs or witness the hatching of baby turtles.

The St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort

The St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort | Little Miss MeteoPhoto: Booking.com

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.

Mamacitas Guest House

Mamacitas Guest House - Puerto Rico | Little Miss MeteoPhoto: Booking.com

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.

It must be an incredible sight to watch these gentle behemoths crawl along the shore until she finds a spot she likes and begins digging. When the nest is complete, she begins to lay her eggs, and volunteers can then gather close around her. The eggs are counted and the nesting mother is measured before she returns to the water, after covering up her tracks to the nest.

Turtles have a long history in Puerto Rico and any of you who are interested in turtle watching should do so in an eco-friendly way that leaves as small a footprint as possible. The best way to do so is to work with the Department of Natural Resources or check in at one of these hotels!


Source: TripSavvy


  • My friend Lily and I are going in june and we’ll be volonteer and helping for the eggs. Can’t wait!


    Joan Peirce
  • When I was young I was living in PR and I had the chance to see many of them. Now that I live in New York, I linda miss those days. Will go back for sure one day.


    Eduardo Rafinatez
  • We went in Puerto Rico last year and we had a blast! Unfortunatly we didnt go turtle watching but I guess we’ll have to go again because its one of my dream to swim with those gorgeous creatures. 💚💚💚

    Chris Teigan
  • This is the trip of one life!

  • THis is amazing! One of my favorite sea species. Porto Rico, here I come!


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