If sea turtles and humans have anything in common, it’s an attraction to Caribbean beaches. Whereas humans relax and recharged on these sunny strands, sea turtles depend upon beaches for their survival as they crawl ashore to lay their eggs. Beach development, lighting and illegal egg poaching have impacted the six species of turtles that live in the Caribbean, all of which are threatened or endangered.
Fortunately, increased awareness and conservation efforts in recent years have helped sea turtle populations. Many resorts play an important role in helping sea turtles, and these Caribbean resorts, in particular, are committed to protecting the sea turtles that have used these beaches long before they were tourism draws.
Rosalie Bay, Dominica
Reopening in February 2020 after being devastated by a direct hit from 2017’s Hurricane Maria, Rosalie Bay on Dominica continues monitoring and helping the hawksbill, green and leatherback turtles nesting on its pristine beach.
Working with the Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Network, Rosalie Bay’s sea turtle conservation program uses night patrols with guests to locate and identify nesting sites. Nests in danger of being compromised by people or tides are relocated to the resort’s nursery, a cordoned-off area where the eggs are carefully reburied.
Guests are notified when a nest hatches and can watch as the tiny turtles are gathered and brought to the shore for release. Guests can also help naturalists collect data on nesting turtles and patrol the beaches to check on nests.
Related article: How to be a responsible wildlife tourist
Cooper Island Beach Club, British Virgin Islands
At Cooper Island Beach Club in the British Virgin Islands, you can help sea turtles by drinking beer. The resort’s Cooper Island Brewing Company donates $1 of every IPA beer sold to the Association of Reef Keepers (ARK), where its BVI Sea Turtle Programme monitors and helps leatherback and other species that call BVI’s waters home.
Sign up through the resort to participate in the Turtle Encounters Project, in which guests can help capture, tag, record data and release sea turtles with marine biologists. The resort and brewery are solar-powered and desalinates water, limiting Cooper Island Beach Club’s environmental footprint. Beginning in 2020, guests can stay aboard and sail on the Electrified, an electric-powered yacht.
Bucuti & Tara Beach Resort, Aruba
At Aruba’s Bucuti & Tara Beach Resort, beach areas are roped off to protect nesting sites. The resort has earned several environmental designations and awards including being LEED Silver certified and is carbon neutral.
Bluefields Bay Villas, Jamaica
Jamaica’s Bluefields Bay Villas support the resort’s Bluefields Environmental Protection Association which has brought computers and indoor plumbing to local schools since 2009. Its Sea Turtle Protection Program monitors nesting sites and protects them from poachers, and helps fund and enlist local fishermen to assist in protecting turtles.
Harbour Village, Bonaire
Bonaire’s Harbour Village is a favorite destination for scuba divers, and partners with Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire to protect the hawksbill sea turtles that nest on its beach. Its gift shop sells a range of sea turtle-themed jewelry and art, and all proceeds from turtle-related sales are donated to the organization.
If you can’t visit in person, Harbour Village’s November hatchling release is live-streamed on the resort’s Turtle Cam. Diving guests can also help the Harbour Village Reef Foundation by transplanting coral onto metal structures electrified to promote growth.
Turtle Beach Resort, Barbados
Aptly named Turtle Beach Resort, located in Barbados, protects its 1,500-foot stretch of beach for nesting turtles and hatchlings with its ‘Turtle Pioneers’ – employees who educate guests about sea turtles and help release hatchlings as thrilled guests watch.
Turtle Beach Resort works with the Barbados Sea Turtle Project to monitor nests and numbers, and guests can accompany naturalists at night as they search for nesting mothers and even help guide hatchlings into the sea. Guests can also participate in beach hikes and cleanups to remove washed-up debris from interfering with the turtles.
Amanyara Resort, Turks & Caicos
Guests of Amanyara Resort can help biologists tag turtles and collect data through the Amanyara Sea Turtle Initiative. Sea turtle flippers are tagged and satellite trackers are attached to shells to learn more about population numbers. Stop by Amanyara’s Nature Discovery Centre to learn more about the ecosystem of the Turks and Caicos.
For more information about the Caribbean’s sea turtles and conservation efforts, visit the Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network (WIDECAST), Sea Turtle Conservancy and SEE Turtles