If you’re searching for where to see turtles in Mauritius, then you’ve come to the right place! Yep, this guide is all about scouring the paradise isle in the midst of the bath-warm Indian Ocean for the top spots that offer sightings of everyone’s favorite marine reptile.
The good news is that there are plenty of options. Most of them string along the northern and eastern sides of Mauritius. Those are the beaches and lagoons that have the best protection from the ocean swells and host the largest populations of turtles.
Along the way, you’ll find hidden runs of sand that combine with pristine coral reef reserves where the turtles feed in the mornings. Our selection of where to see turtles in Mauritius also offers spots that are close to the famous resort towns of Flic en Flac and Grand Baie, you know, just in case you don’t want to veer too far from the hotel pool!
Baie aux Tortues
It should hardly come as a surprise this spot reigns supreme at the top of our list of where to see turtles in Mauritius. Its very name – meaning Bay of Turtles in English – alludes to the fact that these gentle swimmers of the ocean are a regular inhabitant of the waters. Sadly, it was given the moniker way back in the 1700s, and turtle numbers have been decimated in Mauritius since then, so there’s only a fraction of the shell-topped critters that there once were.
But you can still spot them. Making a paddle off the main beach into the shallows in the early morning is your best bet. There are sometimes groups of the creatures scanning the sea floor and popping up to breathe now and then. The middle of the bay is now dominated by the uber-luxurious Maritim Resort & Spa Mauritius, which has sunbeds spilling out on the sands and pools right by the water’s edge. The bustle of people there often keeps the turtles away, so stick either side of the hotel to up your chances of an encounter.
How to find Baie aux Tortues? Cruise up in the direction of the north coast of the island from Port Louis to the famous resort area of Balaclava. The beaches that make Turtle Bay string along the northern portion of it, centered on the mouth of the Citron River.
Pointe aux Piments
Pointe aux Piments is another north-shore mainstay for turtle spotters on their way to Mauritius. In all, it occupies just under three miles of shoreline about 25 minutes’ drive north from Port Louis. The location is stunning, too – think rock-speckled sands of pure white talcum, all backed by sea-view cottages and snack bars.
The reason the turtles love it here is the long, pristine fringing of coral reef that dashes along the whole outer side of the main beaches. You’ll know that it’s there because it protects the sands from the bigger waves of the open Indian Ocean, causing whitecaps to froth something like 200m distant from the shoreline and the waters closer to the beach to be still and clear most days.
That’s perfect for launching turtle-spotting expeditions with your snorkel and goggles in tow, since it means you can simply paddle straight out from the public beach to the point where the reefs begin. Common sightings include green and hawksbill turtles in the main viewing season, but you’ll also get the bonus of oodles more marine life, from nudibranchs to mantis shrimps, octopi to sting rays.
Flic en Flac
The hubbub of a town that is Flic en Flac might be better known for its honeymoon beach hotels and its lively nightlife scene of bumping rum bars but there’s still something to be said for the quality of the diving. Yep, with access to many of the best high-visibility locations that span the protected western coast of Mauritius, the dive providers of the resort have some of the best offerings around, including trips that all but guarantee a sighting of a sea turtle!
We’d say that the best place to be if you’re keen to go turtle spotting is the southern district of Wolmar. It’s a bit more of a modern extension of Flic en Flac proper, hosting large-scale hotels with pools right on the side of the saltwater. But the relative lack of development there compared to the center makes it a superior area to spot these shy and elusive animals of the deep.
Some of the easiest dives and snorkel trips will take place in Flic en Flac lagoon, a sheltered inlet that has reef clusters and plenty of small fish in the middle of the main bay. Turtles are known to go there but their appearance is rarer than at the deeper dive sites of La Cathédrale and Couline Bambous, where the H2O hits depths of up to 35 meters for more experienced scuba aficionados.
Just around the headland from the uber-famous, forever-bustling resort of Grand Baie, Pereybere Beach is a breath of relative quietude and fresh air where you can even meet some sea turtles if you’re lucky. The main public beach is at the southernmost point in the bay. It’s 100% dedicated to swimming and has a buoyed-off area that’s got a shimmering sand bottom.
That means you’ll need to move to one of the two designated snorkel locations at Pereybere to really get stuck into the underwater wonderworld that awaits. The first is to the north, over the rocky Pointe d’Azur. You can enter the beach a stone’s throw up from the headland, swimming about 150m out to meet the fringing of reef that lies off Plage des Blancs.
The second spot – and arguably the better one if you’re on the search for sea turtles – is the cluster of reef and sandbars that sits on the south side of Pointe d’Azur. You can get to that one by swimming out about 200m from Plage du Mur on the north side of the main bay.
Both locations are a doozy even if you don’t spot the shelled paddlers you’re looking for. They’re a mix of well-preserved and degraded coral gardens that host all manner of strange creatures, from Mauritius clownfish to unusual surgeonfish and more.
Bain Boeuf Public Beach
The glowing arc of shimmering white sand and stooping palm trees that is Bain Boeuf Public Beach represents one of the quieter spots on the northern coastline of Mauritius. This is where the crowds and the big hotel complexes of Grand Baie finally start to peter out and the sunbeds and beach bars are fast replaced with empty expanses of powder.
The seclusion isn’t just good for us humans on the hunt for somewhere peaceful and less packed. It’s also a gift for the sea turtles, because the reefs that line the headland to the east and west ends of the bay tend to have less snorkeler fin fall. That leaves the unique and loveable reptiles just a little extra room to feed and relax to themselves.
The other great thing about Bain Boeuf Public Beach is that it’s well protected by a long band of fishhook-shaped coral reef. It lies something like 700 meters off the shoreline, bending all the way around the northern tip of the isle at Cap Malheureux. It helps to temper the ocean swells and keep the waters on the inside of the bay warm and filled with nutrients – just the way the turtles like it!
Where to see turtles in Mauritius? Our conclusion
If you’re looking for where to see turtles in Mauritius, then it’s a good idea to stick to the northern part of the island. Most of the best lagoons and coral reefs that host these unique marine animals lie up that way. Most of them string between the resort of Flic en Flac and the northern cape of Cap Malheureux. Some are remote affairs – the long sands of Bain Boeuf Public Beach come to mind. Others are just a stone’s throw from popular resort towns – think Pereybere Public Beach on the outskirts of ever-lively Grand Baie.
When is the best time to see turtles in Mauritius?
The summer months between November and March are generally considered the best times to see turtles in Mauritius. The warmer waters and the drift of the ocean swells combine to offer prime conditions for the shelled swimmers, who come in considerable numbers to the northern coastline around the towns of Bain Boeuf and Grand Baie.
What sea turtles can I see in Mauritius?
There are two types of sea turtles who live in Mauritius: The hawksbill turtle and the green turtle. These are just two of the six sea turtle species that are known to live in the Indian Ocean. The hawksbill is named for its pointed nose and is listed as critically endangered by the IUCN. The latter is an herbivorous animal that’s listed as endangered by the IUCN.