The nesting season for three species of sea turtles in Cayo Largo is underway – and this is a natural phenomenon not to be missed. We visited the turtle sanctuary in mid-May and were impressed with the conservation work that is being done in this small place. The 1 cuc entry fee is nominal – although some visitors thought it was too much. I guess they haven’t checked out the price of turtle food lately Our timing was bad since a large group of Italians arrived after us on a tour bus, so we were mostly ignored which was a little disappointing. Fortunately we had done our research beforehand and had also visited the National Turtle Center in Mazunte, Mexico a few years earlier so we were familiar with the conservation programs. There is a large incubation area where the eggs are kept in a natural environment (away from predators) until the turtles hatch. They are then kept in the on site pools until they are ready to be released back into the sea. At the sanctuary you can pick up the little turtles – you will be shown how. They are so sweet! If you are fortunate enough with your timing you can participate in the turtle release program – again for only 1 cuc. This is a very emotional event as seen in the wonderful film: Turtle: The Incredible Journey.
We were ecstatic to learn that two nests would be dug out and the eggs taken to the incubation station at 6 pm that evening. So, off we went to take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Well, the walk to Punta Mal Tiempo was not 35 minutes from the Sol Pelicano as suggested, rather a 1 ½ hour arduous walk on the beach and dune ridges to get there. It was definitely worth the hike since the area is so beautiful and pristine – definitely virgin. Once we arrived we saw many old nests as well as fresh turtle tracks leading to new nests. Some new nests were already identified with a can and a stone by the conservation group. But, nowhere could we find the marine biologist from the turtle sanctuary even though we had allowed an hour for the walk. Kind of like finding a needle in a haystack. We didn’t have a flashlight with us, so we needed to get back to Playa Lindamar before sunset because the walk on the ridge, which was approx 30 – 40 feet above a very rocky shoreline, would have been too treacherous with the vines and roots and burrs even though there was a small path. As a result we didn’t get to see the spectacular sunsets that can take place there. I actually thought we had creamed up well prior to our trek but we were still slaughtered by bugs on the way back.
The hotels also offer late night excursions to see the turtles nesting. Of course, there are no guarantees and there seems to be a difference of opinion on watching the turtles in respect to scaring them. But I would assume one would not be obtrusive. Not sure of what the exact cost is – we were told that the only charge is for the bus – since we were still recovering from our many itchy lumps and my partner’s swollen eye was just back to normal from the bite he got, we decided to pass even though that had been on our to do list.
If you have the opportunity to witness any aspect of this birth cycle, we highly recommend that you go for it. It is definitely worth it. If you are still uncertain, take a look at the movie, Turtle: The Incredible Journey. That will surely convince you.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.