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La Flor Sea Turtle Reserve – San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua

Baby Sea Turtles Entering The Sea, Nicaragua
Several baby sea turtles making their way to the ocean

When visiting San Juan Del Sur, consider spending a night at the La Flor Sea Turtle Reserve on the Pacific Coast. Board the shuttle from the Casa El Oro at about 8 or 9pm and spend an hour driving the bumpy dirt roads through the jungle out to the reserve. When you arrive, depending on season, expect to see a handful of armed guards to protect against poachers, and a bunch of white sacks containing turtle nests. If you’re lucky, a short walk to the beach and you could be amongst a mass arival of hundreds if not thousands of turtles.

Visiting early in the season, before the first large arrival, we got lucky that one of the nests had just hatched. We were greeted by a basket of baby turtles, hardly an hour old, ready to be let into the sea. The process is actually quite slow, and only red lights can be used to see the turtles (bring one if you have your own, otherwise you’re at the mercy of the group). It took about an hour to get them to sea, and not all of them made it. Apparently the percentage of sea turtles that survive past infancy is quite low. After releasing the babies, we walked the beach looking for tracks of adult turtles who’ve come to the beach to lay eggs. 30 minutes later and we found one already laying her eggs. We shined the red lights on the back side and watched her lay the eggs, cover, compact and disguise the nest, then re-enter the sea. This took about 40 minutes, then the guards told us to leave and we took the same bumpy dirt roads back to Casa El Oro.

Bagged Sea Turtle Nests Waiting To Hatch In Nicaragua
In order to help preserve the sea turtles, nests are gathered and placed in safe keeping on slow nights
Fresh Sea Turtle Hatchlings In the La Flor Sea Turtle Reserve
A basket of new born turtles waiting to enter the sea for their first time

Best time of year to do this is July to November, however the turtles are unpredictable, and usually come in large groups. Luck is required, however in most cases you should see at least a turtle.

A video of the mother turtle laying her eggs
Baby Sea Turtles Crawling out for their first swim in the Ocean

La Flor Sea Turtle Reserve Map

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