Our Top 12 best snorkeling spots to encounter sea turtles

Turtles are one of the symbols of the sea. Calm and funny, they are one of the most pleasant creatures to observe underwater. Of the seven species that exist in the world, two, the green sea turtle and the hawksbill sea turtle, can regularly be seen when snorkeling, and are sometimes abundant in specific locations. Whatever your snorkeling level, put on your mask, and a few swimfins kick later, you will soon be enjoying the scene!


A snorkeler sights a sea turtle in Gili Islands
Close encounter with a hawksbill sea turtle in Gili Meno, one of the three Gili Islands. – picture shared by Mahli974

The three small Gili Islands, fringed by white-sand beaches and coral reefs, are among the most popular tourist destinations in Indonesia, and certainly one of the best snorkeling areas in Southeast Asia. In the crystal-clear waters of these paradisiacal islands, turtle-watching is the star attraction! Two species, the green sea turtle and the hawksbill sea turtle, visit their reefs and seagrass beds.


Green sea turtle in the Tobago Cays
Loads of green sea turtles live on the Tobago Cays seagrass beds. – picture shared by Tinoumer

The Tobago Cays are a group of 5 islets sheltered by a horseshoe-shaped coral reef located in the Grenadines archipelago. Their white sand beaches and crystal-clear waters make them one of the most enjoyable ports of call in the Caribbean. As they are protected by a Marine Park, the Tobago Cays also are a paradise for snorkelers. They are especially notorious for the green sea turtles that gather in large numbers right under the water surface.


Green sea turtle in Turtle Town, Maui
A green sea turtle, known in Hawaii as “honu”, photographed in Turtle Town, Maui. – picture by Guillaume from Snorkeling Report’s Team

In Hawaii, the turtles have their own town! On the southwest coast of the island of Maui, Turtle Town is visited by large numbers of green sea turtles. They come for a rest in this calm area, sheltered by volcanic rocks. Great sights guaranteed!

Sea turtles can be seen in almost every spot around Maui. For alternative location, you might try your luck at Kapalua Bay or Ahihi Kinau, for example.


Green sea turtle resting on Lady Elliot Island reef flat
A green sea turtle resting on Lady Elliot Island reef flat. – picture shared by Charmayne Kocsis

Lady Elliot Island has everything snorkelers could wish for: a pristine sea, nice shallow coral reefs with an amazing variety of fish, and a huge population of placid green sea turtles. If you visit the Great Barrier Reef, some other islands of the inner reef, such as Green Island and Fitzroy Island, are also great options.


Turtle watching at Amedee Island, New Caledonia
Amédée Island is a fantastic location to get up close to green sea turtles. – picture by Guillaume from Snorkeling Report’s Team

Small Amédée Island, known for its lighthouse built in 1865, is one of the iconic landscapes of New Caledonia. If it hosts beautiful coral reefs with crystal-clear waters, the islet is better known for being the best spot of the territory, and one of the best in the South Pacific, for swimming with green sea turtles. Many of them are found in the seagrass meadows that stretch out in front of the beach.


Snorkeling with turtles in Abu Dabbab
A green sea turtle and its shark suckers found at Abu Dabbab’s seagrass beds. – picture shared by Lesli

Abu Dabbab, located near Marsa Alam, is one of the most renowned snorkeling spots of Egypt and the Red Sea. Facing a beautiful sandy beach, the bay hosts extensive seagrass beds and healthy coral reefs where snorkelers can easily spot green sea turtles, stingrays, hundreds of colorful reef fish, and even dugongs.


Green sea turtle at NGouja Beach drop off
A green sea turtle found at N’Gouja reef drop-off. – picture by Guillaume from Snorkeling Report’s Team

N’Gouja, to the south of the island of Mayotte, is an exceptional location for swimming with green sea turtles. Many of them are found around its extensive seagrass beds, and they have long been used to human presence. When you enter the water, it won’t be long before you come across them, sometimes just a few meters from the shore.


A snorkeler watching a sea turtle in Denis Island, Seychelles
Around Denis Island, you’ll mainly spot hawksbill sea turtles, the most common sea turtle species in Seychelles. – picture shared by Tinoumer

Denis Island is a natural sanctuary, planted with coconut, takamaka and casuarina trees, and fringed by white sand beaches. Surrounded by pristine waters and vibrant coral reefs, where hawksbill sea turtles and green sea turtles abound, it will bring you wonderful snorkeling adventures.

Seychelles is one of the best snorkeling destinations to spot hawksbill sea turtles. If you are not visiting remote and exclusive Denis Island, head to La Digue, where they can be seen all around the island.


Snorkeler with a green sea turtle in Anse Dufour, Martinique
Close encounter with a green sea turtle in shallow Anse Dufour. – picture shared by veny deny

At Anse Dufour, swimming with green sea turtles is something anyone can enjoy! Dozens come every day to graze on the grassy seabed, just steps from the beach. Anse Noire, just a few hundred meters east of Anse Dufour, is also a great option for sea turtles watching in Martinique.


Green sea turtle in Ama Bay, Japan
A green sea turtle in Ama Bay, Okinawa. – picture by Guillaume from Snorkeling Report’s Team

For snorkelers, one of the best areas to target for encounters with sea turtles in Japan is Ama Beach, on the island of Zamami. Even a few meters from the beach, turtle watching is especially good all year, but be sure to get there at high tide.


Green sea turtle in Pandan Island, Philippines
Pandan Island is one of the best locations in the Philippines to spot green sea turtles. – picture shared by manceau

With its seagrass beds visited by sea turtles, the small North Pandan Island is a favorite snorkeling location around Mindoro. Even if you are not staying at the Pandan Island Resort, you can enjoy the island’s underwater life for the day, with boat trips from Sablayan.


Green sea turtle in Akumal Bay, Mexico
A green sea turtle in Akumal Bay. – picture by Guillaume from Snorkeling Report’s Team

Akumal Bay used to be much upper in this top12 of the best snorkeling spots to spot sea turtles. But a few years ago, very restrictive rules for turtle watching have been decided in the reserve and the experience is now much less exciting. Nevertheless, Akumal remains a fantastic location to spot green sea turtles, which are found in abundance over the bay’s shallow seagrass beds.

This top12 has been selected only from the +380 locations already on our map. If you know a snorkeling spot that is not yet on the map, send us your report and it may be selected to appear on this page!