15 Resorts Where You Can Snorkel And Swim With Sea Turtles

Travelers look for many features in a resort. While some may favor relaxation or culinary experiences, others prioritize adventure and unforgettable water-based pastimes. Swimming and snorkeling in clear, warm seas are joys that are hard to translate into words, but anyone who's done these activities will know the feeling all too well. The sense of weightlessness, bobbing on the water's surface while the swell and gentle ripples carry you along, is so relaxing. And peeking below the surface with a mask provides a thrilling window into another world, a realm of marine riches that always offers something to see.


Everyone will have their favorite sea creature, but the humble turtle often ranks high on that list. This unfussy, nonchalant reptile tends to quietly go about its business, unconcerned with creating drama. Some turtles are vegetarian, and others will eat anything, but they all seem among the most chill, unruffled animals in the water, flapping their webbed feet to glide gently through the shallows or the depths. Encountering the creatures in the wild is such a treat, though snorkelers should never touch anything during their adventures. This includes keeping their distance from the marine life and not interacting with, harassing, or closely following them. The following resorts, located all over the globe, offer turtle fans the ultimate combination — comfortable digs and the chance to swim with these graceful animals with incredible ease.


Atlantis Paradise Island - Bahamas

For an experience they will never forget, guests can forge a special bond with a specific turtle under a unique program at this giant resort in the Bahamas. Travelers can take a rehabilitated turtle they have spent time with and ride with it on a boat out to the open sea. Then, they release and swim alongside it while it ventures into its new aquatic home. The package also allows guests to name the turtle, and money goes toward a charity that safeguards the marine environment. This isn't the only chance to see green sea turtles, a protected species in the Bahamas.


On a snorkel trip with Blue Adventures, visitors can voyage around the waters right by the resort and see a wide variety of fish, coral, and even some turtles. Bookings are easy to arrange at the property. Atlantis Paradise Island, named for the mythical underwater realm, is generally a great place to see marine life, with the chance to swim with dolphins at Dolphin Cay (it's a large lagoon) or snorkel with seals and stingrays among the resort's faux undersea ruins.

The Buccaneer - Christiansted, St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands

The Armstrong family opened this property on the north coast of St. Croix in 1947, with the third generation of Armstrongs now running it. A large, sprawling resort, it has tennis courts, a full-service spa, a golf course, and some fantastic beaches. The Buccaneer also happens to be close to Buck Island Reef National Monument. Resorts on St. Thomas advertise Buck Island as a destination for a snorkel tour, but staying on St. Croix ensures you spend less time on the boat getting there.


Buck Island has a vibrant, colorful reef, with sturdy elkhorn coral that can grow up to 30 feet in height, and areas of lagoon where the water is never more than 12 feet deep. Guides usually lead trips, and in addition to lots of coral, visitors can swim around coral grottoes via an underwater trail. Since swimmers are limited to six at a time on the trail, overcrowding is not an issue. Alongside the great coral on view, expect to swim with hawksbill and green turtles — they are often found in the waters around the island.

Colony Club by Elegant Hotels - Saint James, Barbados

On the west coast of Barbados, this property sits on a pretty piece of waterfront, with water a shade of electric blue lapping the soft, sandy shore. With such an enviable bit of the Caribbean Sea right out front, it's little surprise that the resort is a popular venue for water sports. Among the options are waterskiing, fishing, stand-up paddle boarding, riding a tube pulled by a speedboat, and snorkeling with turtles. Out of the water, guests can expect rooms that have a predominantly white palette, four-poster beds, and their own balcony or patio.


Barbados has a large stock of resident turtles, with hawksbill and green sea turtles strongly represented. Holetown, the town right by Colony Club by Elegant Hotels, is known as one area where turtles are often seen offshore. Alleyne's Bay, just north of the property, has calm waters and frequent sightings of the shelled reptiles. 

Daintree Ecolodge - Australia

This intimate resort on the east coast of Australia sits smack in the Daintree Rainforest, part of a Unesco World Heritage site. The forest is estimated to be 180 million years old, and it sweeps all the way down the sea and close to reefs that lie offshore. Only 15 rooms, bayans, or treehouses at Daintree Ecolodge are tucked among the forest canopy, creating a fantasy escape in the tropics. Adding further luster to the property's already illustrious assets is that it allows guests to snorkel on the Great Barrier Reef, another Unesco World Heritage site and the largest barrier reef on the planet.


Trips arranged directly through the property require a car transfer to the coast and a boat ride from the property that can last 45 minutes or longer. Once on the reef, snorkelers will see endless types of coral, fish, and hopefully green sea turtles. Another option is to snorkel on the Low Isles, which are closer to the mainland (and hence the lodge); the reefs there are home to a large green sea turtle population.

Iberotel Costa Mares - Marsa Alam City, Egypt

On the Red Sea coast of Egypt, south of the Sinai Peninsula area, Marsa Mubarak has carved out a reputation as the spot to find wild turtles. The sheltered bay is also home to a dugong, a sea mammal related to the manatee, coral, seagrass, and much other sea life. The bay sits right in front of the Iberotel Costa Mares, and guests can access it directly from the property, making a snorkeling trip easy to arrange without the need to book an external tour.


The best entry point is the bay's north end, which sits nearest the reef. The central section is where the beds of seagrass that sway to and fro in the gentle currents are located. Around the reef, expect to spot wrasses, surgeonfish, and parrotfish, while green sea turtles habitually congregate in the seagrasses. In addition to all of the above, bluespotted ribbontail rays are known to frequent this stretch of the coast.

Kuredu Island Resort & Spa - Maldives

Located in the Lhaviyani Atoll, north of the Maldivian capital of Malé, the Kuredu Resort & Spa has overwater bungalows. This feature draws many visitors to the Maldives, a fantasy destination for fans of the water. The Indian Ocean is clear, gorgeously blue, and full of marine riches, from coral reefs to large sea creatures. Lhaviyani Atoll is no exception; in fact, it is blessed with a strong resident population of turtles. According to a marine biologist who helms the marine center at the property, almost 300 turtles live in the atoll. More than half have been identified as green sea turtles, along with over 100 hawksbill turtles.


Many turtles frequent the waters around the property, while others are a little further away, requiring a boat trip. One hot spot for turtles ascending and descending in the waters is known as Turtle Airport. It can be visited via a short boat transfer on a tour, and with the marine biologist accompanying guests, the trip is both fun and informative. Turtles aren't the only sizable marine animals that visitors can see, with manta rays, moray eels, and dolphins also regular guests.

Mandarin Oriental Canouan - St. Vincent and the Grenadines

This nation in the southern half of the Caribbean is a water wonder. Comprising 32 islands and cays, linked by some of the most dazzling seas on the planet, St. Vincent and the Grenadines features plenty of fine reefs, lush rainforests, and volcanic peaks. The island of Canouan, home to the Mandarin Oriental Canouan, is a great place to experience the water — it's even shaped like a sea horse. A short trip south from the property brings guests to the Tobago Cays, five uninhabited islands that form a marine preserve established in 1998.


Travelers will come upon blissful turquoise lagoons filled with coral, colorful fish, and lots of green sea turtles. The Tobago Cays were used as a filming location for the first "Pirates of the Caribbean" movie. A large reef helps to keep the seas around most of the islands calm, while the southwestern part of Baradal island is a preserve for turtles. Guests who take the resort's snorkeling excursion — a half-day trip or full-day endeavor — can enjoy the sight of the reptiles roaming free.

Pikaia Lodge - Santa Cruz, Galápagos, Ecuador

Anyone with the slightest wanderlust will know about the rich flora and fauna of the Galápagos. This archipelago of islands many miles off the coast of Ecuador is notable for the level of endemism of the plants and animals. Statistics show why this is one of the places that should be on every traveler's bucket list. According to the Galápagos Conservancy, four-fifths of the birds that live on the islands, 97% of reptiles and mammals on the land, and almost one-third of the plants in the Galápagos are not found anywhere else on the planet. 


A luxury property, Pikaia Lodge sits on the rim of an old volcano, and views take in the forest, savanna, and Pacific Ocean. Guests can go snorkeling right off one of the island's beaches or arrange an excursion through the concierge. While giant tortoises are a big draw for visitors to the Galápagos, sea turtles are also a subject of much delight, finding safety in the mangroves around the islands. In addition to turtles, travelers will have the chance to see sea lions, dolphins, and whales. Plan to visit from December through May for clear, calm seas — the optimal conditions for snorkeling.

Rarotongan Beach Resort & Lagoonarium - Rarotonga, Cook Islands

A group of islands that can be reached via direct flights from Hawaii, Tahiti, New Zealand, and Australia, the Cook Islands might be a new paradise that many U.S. travelers are unfamiliar with. It showcases all the traits of a tropical idyll, with palm-fringed white-sand beaches, still lagoons with ridiculously clear water, and ubiquitously low-rise buildings. There is also plenty of marine life in the area — no surprises there — and at Rarotongan Beach Resort & Lagoonarium, guests can swim with turtles as part of the experience.


The snorkeling adventures take place in the Aroa Lagoonarium, a protected piece of water right in front of the property, where a group of turtles live in tranquility. There are two types of turtles there, the green sea turtle and the hawksbill turtle, and visitors are expected to keep their distance (at least 6 feet away) from either type and not bother them. Guests who take photos of a turtle, usually of both sides of its head and its complete torso, can upload the photos to the resort's Facebook page and help researchers keep track of the resident population. Snorkelers can spot more turtles and eagle rays in the Avaavaroa Passage, which is close to the resort.

Secrets Akumal Riviera Maya - Mexico

A property between Playa del Carmen and Tulum on the Riviera Maya, with the island of Cozumel a short distance offshore, Secrets Akumal Riviera Maya provides private snorkeling tours where turtles are the star attraction. Offered all year except for February and September, when the program goes on a hiatus to allow the reefs and seagrass to regenerate and the turtles to get some human-free time, the excursion costs about $50 per person. It's booked in slots of two people, and during the twice daily outing, guests will be supplied with snorkeling equipment and brought to an area where green sea turtles swim freely.


The Riviera Maya is not a part of the Caribbean that is safe from hurricanes, so it is best to avoid visiting from June through November when more wind means less clarity in the water. Mexico has many all-inclusive resorts, including some with overwater bungalows, though the rooms at this property are all on land. Secrets Akumal's rates cover all food, drink, room service, activities, and live entertainment.

Siladen Resort & Spa - Pulau Siladen, Indonesia

An aquatic refuge off the west coast of the island of Sulawesi, Bunaken Marine Park is one of the richest marine environments on the planet. The water is clear and calm, and though steep drop-offs make the park a favorite of divers, with amazing wall formations, the destination is an incredible snorkeling site. Siladen Resort & Spa sits on the cusp of that marine realm, with almost 400 species of coral, shallow reefs, sponges, and anemones galore. The mobile marine life is also out of this world, with turtles a common sighting.


But turtles aren't the only creatures to look out for in the water, with Napoleon wrasse (also known as the humphead wrasse, an endangered animal that can grow to 6 feet long), reef sharks, and eagle rays regularly seen in the waters. There are shallow sections of reef near the island for guests to enjoy, and visibility of about 100 feet ensures spotting things won't be hard. The resort offers morning and afternoon snorkeling trips on a boat and even a night snorkeling excursion. Rates for a boat trip to the park's waters start at $22, though guests can also snorkel for free on the house reef right from the resort's beach.

Sipadan Kapalai Dive Resort - Malaysia

Expect overwater bungalows and fabulous snorkeling at this resort off the east coast of Borneo, an island shared by Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Kingdom of Brunei. Sipadan has long been known as a diving haven in Southeast Asia. It is one of the best sites in the world, in fact, with sharks, barracuda, and large shoals of trevally commonplace. However, visitors don't have to be divers to appreciate and witness all of the marine bounty, and snorkelers will have much to see, including turtles.


Sipadan Kapalai Dive Resort looks like a floating sea station, a web of overwater bungalows sitting next to a slender sandbar. It's not attached to a larger island or the mainland and really does feel like an aquatic mirage. But it's very real. Guests can gently slide into the blue-green water to the reef right by the property. In addition to spotting turtles, they can look for cuttlefish, octopi, eels, and frogfish.

Turtle Bay Resort - Oahu, Hawaii

A property at the top end of Oahu, the island home to Waikiki Beach, but with much more to do beyond that touristy destination, the name of this place says it all. Turtles are long-term residents of Turtle Bay Resort and tend to hang out at reliable locations. The green sea turtle, or "honu," is often seen splashing around in the open ocean, poking its head above water now and then before taking a breath and diving for a bit of exploration or nibbling below the surface.


Within one mile of the property, there are three spots where guests can quickly locate a turtle. Kulima Cove is the closest to the resort, and guests should stay on the right side of the buoys for the best viewing (entering the area to the left of the buoys would bring visitors into a dangerous current). On Stables Beach, turtles sometimes crawl onto the sand to sun themselves or take a breather, while many turtles live in and around Kawela Bay.

Turtle Island - Fiji

Located in the Yasawa Islands, among the top-rated islands to visit in Fiji, this property lets visitors enjoy the serene company of green and hawksbill turtles on a foray into the water. The snorkeling is sublime and can be done from virtually any spot on the island. Turtle Island is a private island that isn't large, so getting to any part of it is pretty easy. Guests can leave their rooms and be on the water in minutes, slipping into the clear turquoise seas and quickly hovering over a reef.


Explorations can be done solo, though guides are also on hand to direct visitors to the best parts of the reef or reliable areas where marine creatures are known to amass. Blue Lagoon is one section where you can see bright reefs filled with lionfish, angelfish, sea cucumbers, octopi, rays, and squid. And, of course, turtles paddle around the ocean, seemingly without a care in the world.

Windsong Resort - Providenciales, Turks and Caicos

The island of Providenciales — locally known as Provo — might be the third-largest island in the Turks and Caicos, but it's the tourist hub of this Atlantic Ocean territory. For starters, it's where to find the international airport and also Grace Bay Beach, one of the finest stretches of sand in this part of the world and home to plush beachfront resorts. Windsong Resort sits right on Grace Bay Beach and has the kind of dreamy turquoise water out front that might make a guest swoon in awe. 


Scrunching your toes in that soft sand is a pretty sweet experience, but even better is stepping right off the beach and quickly arriving at a reef where turtles wander. That means there is no need for car transfers to a jetty or boat rides to some distant coral. Within a few seconds of leaving the shore, guests can float above an ocean bed that is just 20 feet below and see coral, fish, rays, and turtles. Sweeter yet, snorkeling gear is free for guests to use.