Where to see turtles in Oman? In this article we will answer the question. But in short: almost in all mentioned turtle beaches. But you don’t necessarily need to pay for a tour, in the right hours of the day you might find turtles by yourself as well, very close to you! We will list here the best areas to spot turtles, as well as we update you on their daily schedule so you’ll be aware, when they might be around.
When to see turtles in Oman?
Every year, a lot of turtles migrate to the beaches and shorelines of the Arab Peninsula to dig a hole and lay their eggs. In Oman, which is one of the hot spots for turtles, the best time to see them is between May and August every year.
During these months, around 20,000 turtles come to Oman’s beaches, especially on the Eastern side. These turtles lay 50,000 to 60,000 eggs during this period and are buried under the sand. They do this to protect them. After the eggs are laid, around 55 days later the eggs hatch and the babies begin their lives.
The daily schedule of the turtles: When to spot them?
During every night, turtles came out of the water and on the sand dig a hole and lay their eggs if they are satisfied. Then they slide back to the sea. Since they are not very fast, this activity takes for a little while.
If you ask the locals when is the best time to spot the turtles, they will say the same: after 10-11pm. Which is true, but if you want to take good photos about the turtles without disturbing them, it’s not the best period. Especially if you are there during the peak months of turtle-spotting the sun already goes down around 7pm, so to wait till 11pm and then go out hunting in the dark without any light is not the safest activity. Neither for you, nor for the turtles.
The other option is to go before sunrise. We were much more luckier with this option in Ras al Hadd. We had the chance to see many turtles´ paths and found 3 turtles still doing their job, digging in the holes, climbing out calmly and then nicely approaching the sea. Such a beautiful experience! While the first rays of the sun appearing, seeing all these beautiful creations, unforgettable. And some slower ones are still out there for a little while after sunrise! But cca. 30 minutes after sunrise, they are all gone, back to the sea.
What types of turtles you can see in Oman
There are seven different types of sea turtles around the world – and Omani waters are home to five of them!
- Leatherback Sea Turtles: They are not only the largest of all sea turtles with a size ranging from 1.2 up to 2.4 meters but also the oldest of all of them. They survived the extinction of the dinosaurs! But the Leatherback Turtle doesn’t come ashore in Oman – so they can only be seen during Snorkeling or Scuba Diving in Oman.
- Green Turtle: This turtle gets its name from the green fat found underneath its carapace. They are the ones we can see the most around the shores of Oman.
- Olive Ridley Turtle: This turtle is the second smallest in the world but the most abundant of all sea turtles. These turtles are known for their mass nesting and breeding. Thousands of females travel together and lay their eggs on the same beach.
- Hawksbill Turtle: The hawksbill sea turtle is unfortunately, a critically endangered species. Their appearance can be easily recognized by their sharp, curving beak and their saw-like shell margins.
- Loggerhead Turtle: The loggerhead sea turtle comes ashore to lay eggs less frequently than other types of turtle spotting. One is a real treat. The females nest every 2 to 4 years.
Signs to look for to know if a turtle is around
Their footprints in the sand
This is the most important marker that a turtle was or is still around. Their path looks like a little tractor or jeep with narrow wheels were around. But if you check it from closer you will realize that the paths are much narrower than any vehicle could be, so you can be sure, the turtles are around. Since they walk for a while to find the best spot in the sand, you just need to follow these paths and check if there are any bigger holes or any turtles on the way / in the holes.
By the morning the turtles beaches in season are full with these paths, indicating the high number of turtles’ visits during the night.
Their holes in the sand
Once you follow the path you will spot their holes. It can be empty, hald covered or having the turtle still inside, doing his job. They are the most vulnerable during this action, so it’s better just to observe from a distance.
Once they finish, they climb out from the hole, which is not an easy activity as they are able to dig themselves very deep and their legs are very short. For me, they are cutest when they are trying to climb out from their holes. Super nice, using all their muscles to somehow get out. And once they are out, they happily can “run” back to the sea.
Digging activity in the sand
The other sign that you need to look for is any kind of digging activity. You can spot from a distance that sand is being swiped out randomly from a hole or behind a sand dune. If you see this, even though that you cannot spot the turtle from afar, it’s worth getting closer, it’s very likely that a turtle is digging inside and swiping out some sand during the activity.
Where to see turtles in Oman?
Ras al Hadd
We have spent two nights in Ras al Hadd, and the second morning we woke up at 4:00 am, and still in the dark decided to go for turtle spotting. None of us wanted to join any tour, rather decided to do it by ourselves, on our way. We have chosen the so called “Al Hadd beach for Turtle” spot and got there by car.
In the dark it was not easy to understand where exactly we are, but we found the beach entrance and we just started walking to the sea direction, in the sand, in completely dark. When we arrived at the sea, it was already a bit of dawn light, but only enough to finally locate ourselves. And the moment the sky started to be a slightly brighter, we noticed the crazy amount of turtles’ footprints around us. But we haven’t seen any turtle, only their paths, that showed that indeed they were here, or maybe they are still around.
We randomly started to follow some paths and shortly noticed that we have some turtles still working in their holes, digging, or climbing out of their holes, or on their way back to the sea. As they are very slow, we had enough time to respectfully approach and observe them and their return to the sea.
Ras Al Jinz
Ras al Jinz is maybe the most well-known Turtle Beach in Oman and one of the easiest to access from Muscat. Hence there are many tours, tourist services around specialised in turtle-watching. Of course, if you don’t trust your own luck it’s easier to go for a tour and they will bring you to the right spots. It is located near to the easternmost point in the Arabian Peninsula.
Good to know, that the whole coast from Ras al Hadd to Ras al Jinz beach are where the Green Sea Turtles come to nest. Both locations have beaches and accommodations. The reserve with the visitor center is at Ras Al Jinz. While Ras al Hadd is the name of the village at the cape, where you can also find some hotels and accomodations easily.
Jaza’ir Daymaniyat are located in the Arabic Sea close to Muscat. It is a protected area. The Nature Reserve is composed of nine islands with a total area of 100 hectares. The reserve has a rich natural heritage and is replete with several kinds of coral reefs, including some examples that are quite rare. The island is home to a large number of sea turtles, as well as a magnet for migratory birds.
Approval of the Ministry of Environmental Protection is required to visit the islands.
- Staying on the island is allowed for a maximum of 5 days.
- The number in the group must not exceed 12 people.
Masirah Island is a major nesting site of the Loggerhead sea turtle and the Green Sea Turtle. The island is also home to the largest Loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta) nesting population in the world. But besides them, we can spot Olive Ridley and Hawksbill Sea Turtles as well on Masirah.
We had the chance to meet one Green Sea Turtle in the sand around 9 pm near the Masira Island Resort. Also, at the same beach, Dani spotted a turtle swimming next to him in the water while taking a bath in the afternoon.
- Don’t bother them with lights or flash, they have important job to do in the sand. They are sensitive to white light especially and sense it as a threat so they will not lay their eggs or not come back again.
- Only red lights are allowed, usually the tour guides are using that too.
- Don’t make noises, they are there in the dark hoping that no one will disturb them.
- Always look for their path. In the dark without lights you might miss them, and accidentally you can step in their holes, destroying it, or even you can step on the turtles in the dark.
- Don’t cross their way back to the sea. Their purpose is to reach the water as soon as possible, but if you distract them, or cross their ways, they will immediately change direction. Obviously they are not very quick, so you give them additional work to find an alternative route back to the sea to avoid you. You should always look at them from the side and from behind.
- Never try to feed them, nor touch them.
- Never step in / on their holes.
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