The 10 best places to see sea turtles in Florida
If you love marine life, this is the perfect post for you! Today we will learn about the best places to see sea turtles in Florida. We will also discuss the different types of turtles in Florida, where you can find these turtles in the wild, and how to help sea turtles.
If you want to find sea turtles in their natural habitat, Florida is the perfect place. Florida beaches are a great place to see nesting sea turtles; if you enjoy snorkeling, you may even encounter a sea turtle in the water! But remember not to touch them; it’s both wrong and against the law.
Here at Florida Travel With Kids, we love all types of animals, so make sure also to check out the best places to see manatees in Florida.
Sea turtles (superfamily Chelonioidea) are reptiles of the order of Testudines. Sea turtles are primarily found in coral reefs but can be found in all oceans except where it’s too cold. Some species even travel between oceans.
If you’re going to drive around looking for sea turtles, you’ll need to rent a car! If you decide to rent a car during your Florida vacation, I recommend renting a car from Discount USA Car Rental.
What kind of turtles are in Florida?
Florida turtles are not one species of turtle. Of the seven species of turtle in the world, five of those species of sea turtles call Florida home, including:
- loggerhead sea turtles
- leatherback turtles
- hawksbill turtles
- green sea turtles
- kemp’s ridley sea turtles
Loggerhead turtles are the most common type of sea turtle in Florida. These Florida sea turtles have brown shells and yellow bellies. They are medium-sized, typically about 275 pounds when fully grown. But even if they are the most common sea turtles in Florida, it’s still exciting to see one!
Leatherback turtles are XL-size sea turtles weighing up to 550-2000 pounds when fully grown! So if you see an enormous turtle, it’s probably a leatherback. They are also the only Florida sea turtle to have a one-piece shell. Along with the three sea turtles species below, the leatherback is on the Endangered Species List. The Loggerhead is not, but it is considered threatened.
Fun fact: the largest leatherback sea turtle (or any sea turtle) ever found was 2019 pounds.
The Hawksbill sea turtle has a distinct jaw, making it easy to identify. They are small (by turtle standards), around 100 pounds, and generally have amber-colored shells. Hawksbill sea turtles can also be shades of orange, red, yellow, black, and brown.
Do you want to guess what color green sea turtles are? If you guessed green, you are correct! They are medium-sized, weighing around 350 pounds. The green sea turtle is the second largest sea turtle. Green sea turtles are very common in Hawaii. I have a post about sea turtles in Hawaii on my other blog if you’d like to learn more!
Kemp’s Ridley Turtles are endangered and very rare. But, you’ll be fortunate to spot one of these! They are the smallest of the Florida sea turtles weighing anywhere from 75-100 pounds. So, if you encounter one of these unique and endangered sea turtles, consider yourself lucky!
Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles are the most endangered sea turtle in the world. Unlike other sea turtles, female Kemp’s ridley turtles nest in the daylight.
When is the best time of year to see turtles in Florida?
Like all wild animals, sea turtles move around, and the best places to see them will depend on the time of year. Generally speaking, the best time to see sea turtles is summer. This is considered “sea turtle season” because it’s nesting season for female turtles. This means you’re more likely to encounter them on Florida beaches.
When is turtle nesting season in Florida?
Turtle nesting season in Florida is generally from May to September. If you visit the beaches in Florida, you’re likely to see nesting grounds blocked off with rope and signs. Some beaches even have numbers to call if you find sea turtle nests that have yet to be blocked off. You can help the turtles by reporting any new nests if you see them.
The female sea turtles will come to lay eggs during the warmer months, and in about two months, those eggs will hatch, and the baby turtles will make their way back to the water.
Fun Turtle Facts:
Did you know that female turtles return to the beach where they were born to lay their eggs? Isn’t nature amazing?? After 25-30 years, they return to the same beach to lay their eggs. Sadly, only one out of every 1000 eggs makes it to adulthood, so being an adult turtle is an accomplishment!
Please remember that bright lights will confuse baby turtles!
Please do not touch the sea turtles in Florida.
Please do not touch the baby sea turtles in Florida or the big turtles. It can harm the turtle, but it’s also illegal. Sea turtles are protected under the US Endangered Species Act of 1973 and Florida’s Marine Turtle Protection Act. It is illegal to touch the beautiful sea turtles or their nests. Please be a decent human being and keep your distance.
Where to find sea turtles in Florida
Now that we have discussed some Florida sea turtle FAQs let’s get to the best places to see sea turtles in Florida. Florida is one of the best places to see five species of turtles in the United States.
We spend a lot of time in southwest Florida, and there are plenty of opportunities to see sea turtles there. However, most of what we will talk about today are on the Atlantic side of Florida, not the gulf coast. Just remember that Florida’s sea turtles can be found all over the state!
Here are 10 of the best places to see sea turtles in Florida.
Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge
Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge is one of the best places to see sea turtles in Florida. You’ll want to get a reservation for their Turtle Walk programs, as they are very popular! The Turtle Walk programs are offered in June and July at the height of the “sea turtle season.”
You’ll have to stay up late because the turtle walks start at 9 PM, but if you’re lucky, you’ll see nesting female loggerhead turtles!
Sebastian Inlet State Park
Sebastian Inlet State Park is located between Melbourne Beach and Vero Beach on Florida’s East Coast. This state park is home to all types of Florida sea turtles and offers ranger-guided education turtle walks. Unlike any other permitted sea turtle walk offered in Florida, you might walk up to three miles.
Turtle Walks occur five nights per week, Friday through Tuesday, during June and July. Reservations are required.
Canaveral National Seashore
Canaveral National Seashore is located in Titusville, on the East Coast of Florida (the Space Coast.) You can join sea turtle walks during the month of June. You’ll join a ranger to walk on the beach to see nesting loggerheads. It’s an experience that your family won’t forget!
Don’t forget to check out 33 fantastic things to do in Cape Canaveral Florida.
Loggerhead Marine Life Center
Loggerhead Marinelife Center is one of Florida’s most visited nonprofit scientific destinations on ocean and sea turtle conservation. It’s also one of the best places to see sea turtles in Florida. They rescue and rehabilitate injured turtles to be released into the wild. They are open daily from 10 AM to 5 PM.
Photo is property of Loggerhead Marine Life Center. This is one of their rehab patients who will be released soon!
Sea Turtle Preservation Society
Located in Indialantic, near Cocoa Beach, you can join the Sea Turtle Preservation Society in their Turtle Night Walk. Like the other night walks, this does need to be booked in advance. A night walk is a great way to potentially see sea turtle hatchlings. You can find availability in June and July.
Disney’s Vero Beach Resort
If you’re looking for a place to stay with the best chance of seeing sea turtles, why not Disney’s Vero Beach Resort? During the summer months, Vero Beach Resort offers Sea Turtle Night Walks. Disney has collaborated with The Sea Turtle Conservancy for 15 years to study sea turtles and hosts an annual “Tour de Turtles” event.
Stella Maris Environmental Research
Also located in Melbourne Beach, Stella Maris Environmental Research offers nightly turtle walks, conservation efforts, and many other programs, including a homeschool lab program!
Located in Vero Beach, Coastal Connections’ mission is to protect coastal habitats for sea turtle survival by educating and connecting people to the environment. They offer public events and beach cleanups throughout the year. Check out their website to learn more.
Dry Tortugas National Park
Dry Tortugas National Park is the most active turtle nesting site in the Florida Keys. Turtles are everywhere in and around the Dry Tortugas National Park. It was named “Las Tortugas” by Ponce de Leon in 1513. You can find all five species of Florida Sea Turtles in Dry Tortugas National Park.
We have an entire guide on Dry Tortugas National Park, check it out here: How to visit Dry Tortugas National Park
Check out more things to do in Key West here: 35 Things to Do in Key West with Kids.
How can I help sea turtles?
If you love animals (like we do), you may be wondering what you can do to help sea turtles.
Choose reusable items. Even if you try to properly dispose of your plastic items, they can still blow away and end up somewhere that farms local animals (including turtles.) Make small changes starting with reusable bags, straws, and other plastic. I promise that it’s not much of a change, and you’ll soon realize that the reusable items work much better!
Skip the balloons. I know they are fun, but balloons travel far and end up in our oceans, being consumed by sea turtles that mistake them for food.
Volunteer at a beach cleanup. Volunteer to clean up at a local beach. If you don’t live at the beach, you can volunteer at any type of cleanup. Litter can affect wildlife anywhere. We can all do our part.
Do not disturb a nesting sea turtle or hatchling sea turtles – Do not use artificial lights or flash photography if you encounter turtles in the wild. Do not touch or try to remove turtles or eggs.
Donate to turtle organizations. You may not be able to be out there physically helping the turtles, but you can donate to reputable rescues that are out on the ground every day.
Support Coastal Connections through Amazon Smile. Coastal Connections (mentioned earlier) is a 501(c)(3) and an Amazon charity. Just register with Amazon Smile (you should be doing this anyway if you haven’t heard about it yet!) and choose Coastal Connections. You’ll support sea turtle conservation with every purchase, and it doesn’t cost you anything.
Support Sea Turtle Preservation Society through Amazon Smile. If you don’t have a current charity, you can also support Sea Turtle Preservation Society through Amazon Smile.
Report Injured or Stranded Turtles: If you ever happen to come in contact with an injured or stranded sea turtle, please call Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) immediately: 1-888-404-FWCC (3922)
The best places to see sea turtles in Florida
I hope this list of where to find sea turtles helped you learn more about Florida’s sea turtles and the best places to see sea turtles in Florida. Did you know that Florida has 5 of the 7 sea turtle species found worldwide? Well, now you know and can share fun facts with your friends.
Now that you know the best places to find sea turtles in Florida check out some of our other Florida travel tips:
- Things to do in St. Augustine with Kids
- 16 things to do in Crystal River with kids
- The 26 best places to kayak in Florida
- 30 Things to Do in Miami for Kids
- The Ultimate List of Florida Lighthouses
- The best place to find sharks teeth in Florida
- The 21 Best Places to Visit in Florida with Kids
- The 25 Best East Florida Beaches
- Unique things to do in Naples, Florida
- The 20 Best Shelling Beaches in Florida
About Florida Travel With Kids
Florida Travel with Kids was started by a family who loves to travel the state of Florida with kids! This site will help you explore the fun state of Florida and all of the kid-friendly activities you’ll find here.
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