Cayo Largo - Turtle watching

Cayo Largo - Turtle watching

Cuba
Cuba

When Is the Best Time

Green sea turtles come during the 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 getting 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.

Best time to spot turtles laying their eggs 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 only is already challenging. They are vulnerable on land, 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
Frequent quick showers occur in the rainy season - our nephew enjoys the warm Caribbean water.

It lasts from May to October in Cuba, although showers occur more often in the night or 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

Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec

Location and Tips

Cayo Largo del Sur
Cuba
Cuba

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 to protect the turtle eggs for 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 hatched they are taking 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 back to the beach where the eggs were laid to crawl into an uncertain future in the sea. 

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

When we came to observe turtles in the night, we were a bit unlucky. Often the green turtles get disturbed by the light of late arrival planes, which also happened this specific 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 disturbed too often by the light of planes. The reason we were allowed to take one picture. But she came back two hours later and laid them successfully. Usually, you can watch them laying eggs without any problem. It's a big effort for them the reason they are almost hypnotized during this process.

Please keep in mind the turtle watching rules; no torch, no flashlight, never stand in front of a turtle; best do it with a professional guide. Repellent for mosquitos is essential on Cayo Largo. 

Facts About Green Turtles 

Green sea turtle hauling to the beach for basking
Green sea turtle hauling up to the beach for basking in Oahu, Laniakea Beach

  • They are endangered and the second largest after the leatherback turtle.
  • Weighing up to 225 kg/496 lbs and reach 1.2 m/ almost 4 feet in length.
  • The name comes from the colour of their fat, not their shell.
  • It's the only species that come onshore for basking.
  • We watched this once at the Ningaloo Reef and Laniakea, Hawaii.
  • This species can be found worldwide, and they are nesting in more than 80 countries.
  • Their preferred diet is seagrass. It is believed that they enhance the growth of seagrass beds.
  • The biggest threats to them are we, with leaving plastic and hooks in the sea. Another threat is the disease called fibropapilloma. It's a fast-growing tumour on the face. 
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Created by
Micha Herber-Bleich
Micha Herber-Bleich
I love adventurous trips and my husband…