Turtle Watching

Leatherback Turtle emerging onto the seashore.

Discover Turtle Watching in Tobago

Tobago’s immaculate coastlines set the scene for one of nature’s most remarkable rituals as giant leatherback turtles come ashore to nest each year.

Witness this rare and moving sight between the months of March and September, when these magnificent creatures emerge from the water under the cover of darkness to lay their eggs at common nesting sites, namely Turtle Beach, Grafton Bay / Stone Haven Bay and Back Bay.

A leatherback turtle on the sand
The Leatherback Turtle

Leatherback turtles (Dermochelys coriacea) are the most numerous sea turtle species nesting in Tobago. This important nesting population is the third largest in the world. Leatherbacks come from as far as Africa, Canada and the UK to nest on our beaches.

A hawksbill turtle in a reef
The Hawksbill Turtle

Hawksbill Turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata) are named for their hawk-like beak that allows them to feed on sponges, corals and other invertebrates. They are the most tropical of the sea turtles, preferring to live in clear shallow water so they are the most commonly seen turtle when snorkelling and diving. They nest mostly on isolated rocky beaches around the island. 

A green turtle beneath a coral reef
The Green Turtle

Green turtles (Chelonia mydas) typically inhabit shallow lagoons, feeding on seagrass and algae.  This gives their body fat the ‘greenish’ colour to which their name is attributed. Unlike the closely-related hawksbill turtle, the green turtle’s snout is very short and its beak is unhooked. The offshore population of Green turtles can be spotted inhabiting seagrass beds around the island.

Beachgoers watching a leatherback turtle nest from a safe distance

Responsible Turtle-Watching

Here are some tips to follow during the nesting season:

  • Don’t visit nesting beach alone, ensure you have a permit and/or tour guide with you at all times
  • Do not drive on nesting beaches
  • No loud noises at nesting beaches
  • Flashlights and flash photography are prohibited unless otherwise instructed by a tour guide
  • Keep a safe distance from the laying turtle
  • Wear comfortable shoes, and long clothing – some beaches are long and there may be a walk to a nesting turtle
  • Do not leave trash on the beach
  • Do not pick up hatchlings or hinder their progress to the sea unless advised by a tour guide

Hawksbill Turtle at Flying Reef

Tours & Volunteering

Add turtle-watching to your Tobago bucket list to witness these magnificent creatures emerge from the water under the cover of darkness to lay their eggs at common nesting sites. Turtle-watching tours should be booked through Save our Sea Turtles (SOS) or a registered tour guide.

Save our Sea Turtles is a community based organization whose ambitious mission is to conserve Tobago’s sea turtles as well as their coastal and marine habitat through research, education and eco-tourism.

If you are on the island for four (4) weeks or more, you can get involved directly with SOS. Whether it’s long nights on the beach tagging turtles, early morning walks to count nests and rescue disoriented hatchlings, putting together a children’s program or helping to create a new website feature.

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