Turtle nesting is usually during the months of March to September. In addition to the Leatherback Turtle Trinidad & Tobago is a nesting site for four other species of turtle, which are the Greenback‚ Loggerhead‚ Hawksbill and Olive Ridley. Nesting sites are community protected through local and government conservation efforts. As a result certain protocol must be met to partake in this set apart eco-adventure.
Matura and Grande Riviere are the most popular spots for thousands of leatherback turtles every year. Leatherback nesting sites can also be found on secluded beaches in San Souci, Manzanilla, Maracas, Tompire, Rincon, Fishing Pond, Guayama, Blanchisseuse, Mission and Patience Bay. Paria Bay, Madamas Beach and Gran Tacarib have also recorded sightings but these beaches are remote and can only be reached by boat or difficult hiking trails.
In Matura and Grande Riviere conservation efforts on the island require that permits be purchased at the Forestry Division in Long Circular Road (622-7476)‚ San Fernando (657-7357) or Sangre Grande (668-3825) to visit nesting sites. This is for the protection of the turtles and their eggs. Both areas offer guided tours and simple accommodation in close proximity to the beach is also available.
The Black Rock area in Tobago is an excellent place to see Leatherback Turtles lay their eggs. The prime beaches in this area for turtle sightings are Turtle Beach‚ Grafton Beach and Black Bay. There are many cozy apartments and charming hotel villas along the shores of these nesting sites. The villas especially provide tour guides for turtle watching but independent tour guides are also available to the public.
Snorkeling for Greenbacks and Diving for Hawskbill
Hawksbill and Greenbacks can also be found on the beaches of Tobago during nesting season. Hawksbills dwell among the coral reefs that Tobago is well known for. Beaches such as the Grafton Beach offer great diving adventures and opportunity to see these unusual creatures in their natural environment. Greenbacks are found among seagrass beds and best sited during snorkeling expeditions.
Volunteer Travel Opportunities
Due to conservation efforts on the both islands opportunities for volunteer travel exist during the nesting season. A community – based conservation group called Nature Seekers operates the Matura Beach Turtle watching site in Trinidad. At present the group has launched the Trinidad Leatherback Project part of which places emphasis on volunteer support. The Save Our Seas Turtles (SOS) conservation group in Tobago invites both international and local volunteers during the season. SOS also conducts research‚ data collection and other education programs.
Turtle watching season attracts a large crowd so making advance reservations for permits and the more luxury accommodations in Tobago should be considered.