Spectacular beaches, incredible seafood, and impressive resorts represent just a fraction of the many reasons you should visit Antigua and Barbuda. Of course, those looking for a relaxing escape have found the right destination, but it’s also an idyllic spot for anyone interested in experiencing the abundant marine life these dual islands have to offer. Evidently, tourists aren’t the only ones drawn to these islands!
Hawksbill Turtle, photo courtesy of Roddy Grimes-Graeme
When visiting Antigua and Barbuda, you’ll likely see sea turtles swimming in the warm water while snorkelling, unless you visit during the summer months, since that’s when the turtles waddle onto the beach to nest in the beautiful white sand. Nesting season for most turtle species goes from June to October, so if you visit Antigua during those months, you might be lucky enough to witness hatching baby turtles!
Of the many different marine species that live on the islands, some of the most common are Green turtles, Hawksbill turtles, and Leatherback turtles. Sadly, each of these species is listed as endangered; thankfully, the Environmental Awareness Group of Antigua and Barbuda is working with local conservationists to protect these turtles.
Antigua and Barbuda is a turtle’s playground, so when visiting the islands, there are many exciting excursions that will bring you up close and personal with the majestic creatures. Snorkelling and diving are among the most popular ways to interact with sea turtles, but there are many other options. You may even casually bump into some turtles if you’re in the right spot! Here is a list of some locations in Antigua and Barbuda where you’re guaranteed to see turtles.
Galleon Beach Antigua, photo courtesy of the Antigua & Barbuda Tourism Authority
This beautiful beach is not only a great place to de-stress and absorb some Vitamin D, but also the perfect spot to swim with turtles! Galleon Beach is located on the southern tip of Antigua and can only be accessed by car or water taxi, making it a peaceful escape. While the view of the turquoise waters from the soft sand at Galleon Beach might seem hard to beat, wait until you're in the water swimming next to a family of Hawksbill turtles. One of the best ways to swim with turtles at Galleon Beach is to join a snorkelling tour. Tours run all year round, and your guide will lead you to all the turtle hangout hotspots. Besides swimming parallel to sea turtles and many species of tropical fish, you'll also get the chance to explore one of the best shipwrecks in Antigua!
Long Island, photo courtesy of Jumby Bay, Oetker Collection
Post-card perfect beaches, tranquillity, and rich biodiversity draw many people to Long Island. Just a six-minute boat road from the main island of Antigua, Long Island (home to the ultra-luxury Jumby Bay) can best be described as a secluded oasis. The island is as much a refuge for people as it is for turtles. Long Island is home to one of the world’s primary preserves for Hawksbill Sea Turtles: the Jumby Bay Hawksbill Turtle Project. The project focuses on researching the endangered Hawksbill Turtle and aims to ensure their survival and recovery. This project has made Jumby Bay a haven for sea turtles, so if you decide to take a dip in the crystal-clear waters surrounding Long Island, you’re almost guaranteed to swim alongside some sea turtles!
Laviscount Island tortoises photo of Stingray City, Antigua
Stingray City Antigua is the ultimate animal-lovers excursion. Don't be fooled by the name: Stingray City isn't just for those wanting to swim with stingrays. Guests can start their day of adventure by swimming with and feeding stingrays, who are remarkably friendly and love being fed by people. Of course, stingrays aren't the only animals on this excursion that enjoy human interaction. The second half of the tour takes you to Laviscount Island, where you can observe and feed the endemic Giant Aldabra Tortoise. Just to be clear, this isn't your average tortoise: it's one of the planet's oldest species and can grow to 600 pounds and 200 years old! So, have your camera ready because this excursion offers many moments you won't want to forget!
For turtle-enthusiasts, there are even a few resorts in Antigua with options to catch a glimpse of sea turtles. The Pineapple Beach Club is a great all-inclusive resort that offers turtle-watching excursions and other flora and fauna island tours. Galley Bay Resort and Spa is a tranquil resort that prioritizes sustainable tourism. Galley Bay Resort created a turtle sanctuary on its property, so guests are just steps away from seeing the turtles up close!
Antigua and Barbuda is the ultimate vacation spot where the sun always shines, the beaches are always relaxing, and adventure is around every corner. Just remember, keep an eye out because you might see a turtle or two!