Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands1. Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
They’re small, but they’re frisky: Since 1981, approximately 31,000 hatchlings have been released from Grand Cayman’s turtle farm. They grow up, but they don’t go far. Last year at Omega Reef, Michael Maes, island resident and underwater videographer, had an encounter that might make an onlooker wonder what he rubbed on his lens. A hawksbill beelined for him and proceeded to keep his beak pressed to the glass for what must have been nearly 20 minutes. It stroked its way to the surface, then returned right to Maes. Maybe it’s the farm’s annual turtle release — or lack of predators — that explains the boldness of these young turtles — or maybe it’s just something in the water.
Learn more about diving the Cayman Islands here: divecayman.ky
Bequia, St. Vincent and The Grenadines2. Bequia, St. Vincent and The Grenadines
The first two years in a turtle’s life are its most vulnerable — hunted on shore and sea. On Bequia, Orton “Brother” King learned of sea turtles’ mortality rate, and the Old Hegg Turtle Sanctuary was born, creating a safe haven for juvenile hawksbills. It has become one more reason the Grenadines maintains a healthy turtle population. For divers and snorkelers, one of the best areas to target for encounters is the Tobago Cays Marine Park east of the island of Mayreau. This protected zone includes the reefs around five uninhabited cays, which also serve as turtle nesting grounds.
Interested in learning more about diving in these lovely islands? Check out our Complete Dive Guide to St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Makaha Beach, Oahu, Hawaii3. Makaha Beach, Oahu, Hawaii
In Hawaii, it’s a challenge to walk the beaches without stepping on throngs of basking green sea turtles — which, by the way, would be illegal because these animals are heavily protected in the Aloha State. Underwater, dive guides can take you to sites such as Makaha Beach off Oahu for known cleaning stations. And it’s full of entertainment. The turtles are about as active as they are on the beach, so although you might not get nose to nose literally, you’ll gain abundant face time — a coup for those who didn’t get enough Instagram fodder from simply walking the beach.
Learn more about diving Hawaii here: diveoahu.com
|Image: Sport Diver|