Cayo Largo - Turtle Watching in Cuba
Cayo Largo - Turtle Watching in Cuba

Cayo Largo - Turtle Watching in Cuba


When Is the Best Time

Cayo Largo is a great island to watch turtles at night. Also, the education centre and breeding station are worth a visit to get an idea of these fascinating cold-blooded animals classified as reptiles. Green sea turtles come at night to lay their eggs between May to September in the rainy season on Cayo Largo in Cuba. They lay their eggs on the same beach where they were born.

Baby turtle before it get released into the water.
A hatchling gets released into the water afterwards.

They dig just with their flippers and cover the ping-pong seized eggs with the sand afterwards. The temperature determines the sex of the hatchlings; hotter sand above 83°F/29°C produces females and below males. The hatchlings emerge roughly after 60 days.

A green sea turtle is laying eggs at the beach at night.
Red light does not disturb a turtle while laying eggs.

The best time to spot turtles laying their eggs is within two hours before and after high tide. Why? The turtles are swimmers, not made for hauling up the sand. They prefer high tide to minimize the way and effort. Digging the hole with the flippers is already challenging. They are vulnerable on land, which is the reason they try to finish as fast as possible. 

Rainy Season
Dark clouds at the sky above the green and blue sea at Cayo Largo in the rainy season
Our nephew enjoys the warm Caribbean water.

It lasts from May to October in Cuba, although showers occur more often at night or in the morning. There is a possibility of hurricanes from August to October. The reason we gave June a try and we had almost always wonderful weather during the day, just some brief showers.

Best Months to Visit


Location and Tips

Cayo Largo del Sur

One morning we saw a guy digging for eggs. We figured out he was an enthusiastic environmentalist, and he told us about his efforts for the sea turtles. We assisted him in digging for the eggs.

The turtle hole is pretty deep to get out the eggs.
We were all allowed to assist in digging for the eggs pretty deep in the sand.

He protects them until they hatch. We were very impressed by how much effort it is to take care of eggs and turtles. He is doing such important work that we gave him a donation.

The human made nests to protect the turtle eggs for predators.
The human-made nests protect the turtle eggs from predators.

But better bring some food for the turtles. This is really appreciated, and difficult to get in Cuba.

The turtles hatched by themselves out of the nest.
After the baby turtles are hatched, they are taken out in a bucket.
Hatchlings are released to the water
The hatchlings are released into the pool for a couple of days.

Afterwards, they are brought to the beach, where their mother laid the eggs before. The baby turtles crawl into an uncertain future in the sea.

The turtle shell is pretty heavy
The turtle shell is pretty heavy.

In the beginning, we were a bit unlucky when we came to observe turtles at night. The light of late arrival planes often disturbs the green turtles, which also happened this night. Cayo Largo is small, and tourism is the main income. However, the arrival of planes should be prohibited at night.

A green sea turtle crawling back to the sea
The turtle got too often disturbed by the light of planes. The reason we were allowed to take one picture.

However, the turtle returned in this night two hours later and successfully laid the eggs. Usually, you can watch the turtles while laying the eggs easily. It is such a big effort for them that they are almost hypnotized during this process.

A green sea turtle laying eggs

Please, remember the turtle-watching rules; no torch, no flashlight, and never stand in front of a turtle; best do it with a professional guide. Repellent for mosquitos is essential in Cayo Largo. Our poor nephew got more than 30 bites through his trouser.

8 Facts About Green Turtles 
Green sea turtle hauling to the beach for basking
Green sea turtles hauling up to the beach for basking in Oahu, Laniakea Beach
  1. They are endangered and the second largest after the leatherback turtle.
  2. Weighing up to 225 kg/496 lbs and reaching 1.2 m/ almost 4 feet in length.
  3. The name comes from the colour of their fat, not their shell.
  4. It's the only species that come onshore for basking.
  5. We watched this once at the Ningaloo Reef and Laniakea, Hawaii.
  6. This species can be found worldwide and nest in over 80 countries.
  7. Their preferred diet is seagrass. It is believed that they enhance the growth of seagrass beds.
  8. The biggest threats to them are humans, with leaving plastic and hooks in the sea. Another threat is the disease called fibropapilloma. It's a fast-growing tumour on the face. 
Nearby Places
Experience the Cayo Largo Lagoon in Cuba on a Boat Tour
8 km
Experience the Cayo Largo Lagoon in Cuba on a Boat Tour
Cayo Largo is a year-round destination. The advantage of the dry season it is…
Crab Migration Playa Larga in Cuba
77 km
Crab Migration Playa Larga in Cuba
In April female land crabs start to migrate from forests to the sea to release…
Snorkeling at Playa Larga in Cuba
78 km
Snorkeling at Playa Larga in Cuba
Best months to visit Playa Larga are November/December through April. The reef…
Birding at Zapata, Playa Larga
80 km
Birding at Zapata, Playa Larga
Birding at National Park Zapata is outstanding. We did this guided tour twice…
Topes de Collantes
155 km
Topes de Collantes
There is much to discover at Sierra de Escambray - Cuba's second-largest…
Snorkeling at Cayo Levisa
252 km
Snorkeling at Cayo Levisa
Cayo Levisa is 4 km long and accessible only by ferry which takes about half an…
Vinales - All About Tobacco Plantations in Cuba
255 km
Vinales - All About Tobacco Plantations in Cuba
Vinales is a must to see where real Cuban cigars come from. But Vinales is more…
Valle Ancon - Vinales
260 km
Valle Ancon - Vinales
Valle Vinales once covered by a mountain limestone range, but today much has…
Cayo Jutias
288 km
Cayo Jutias
Most beautiful Island that we've ever seen. We took a cheap tour from Vinales…
Key West - Snorkeling
341 km
Key West - Snorkeling
Located at the western end of the Florida Keys, Key West offers a great jumping…
Created by
Micha Herber-Bleich
Micha Herber-Bleich
I am always open, curious about new…