A few years back, I was invited to the island of Barbados, to celebrate their 50 years of independence. I haven’t been since I was 17; let’s just say that’s a while ago and leave it at that!

The purpose of the visit was to experience Barbados, write about it, and show you just what it has to offer.

Other than the celebrations, there was one particular activity that stood out for me – swimming with turtles in Barbados.

Swimming with Turtles in Barbados: Ultimate Guide

Swimming with Turtles in Barbados – Summary

Let’s start this guide with some essential information you should know when travelling to Barbados and taking the turtle swim experience.

What Type of Turtles Are There in Barbados?

Barbados is home to 2 types of sea turtles: the Hawksbill and the Leatherback turtles. The Hawksbill turtles are more commonly sighted, especially around coral reefs where they feed and nest.

The Leatherback turtles, larger and less common, can be spotted during their nesting season on beaches. Both species are integral to Barbados’s marine ecosystem.

Where to Swim with Turtles in Barbados?

Carlisle Bay and Payne’s Bay stand out as prime spots for swimming with turtles in Barbados. Carlisle Bay offers crystal clear waters and a sandy seabed, making it perfect for both snorkeling and swimming near Hawksbill turtles.

Payne’s Bay provides an equally thrilling experience, with frequent turtle sightings.

Short on time?

Here are the quick things you need to know for your trip to Barbados

➡️ Search for the best Tours on Viator & GetYourGuide
➡️ Look at luxury or affordable hotels on Booking or Expedia
➡️ Options for Car rental
➡️ The best travel insurance for Barbados
➡️ Check the flight prices from the UK or the USA
➡️ Make sure you have your e-SIM!

Each offers unique value and special deals tailored just for you. Don’t miss out on these when travelling to Barbados!

Is it Worth it Swimming with the Turtles in Barbados?

Yes, absolutely! Seeing the turtles in their natural habitat, swimming around, and experiencing the biodiversity of the Caribbean Sea firsthand is a moment I’ll never forget.

How Much Does is the Swimming with Turtles Barbados Experience?

The cost of swimming with turtles in Barbados can vary depending on the type of experience you choose.

Guided tours, which often include snorkeling equipment, boat access to prime locations, and sometimes drinks, can range from $30 to $100 per person.

I personally recommend the tour below, which is a catamaran cruise for only about $100 per person, and that includes swimming with the turtles in Barbados!

Barbados Catamaran Turtle Snorkel with Lunch and Open Bar

What to Expect Swimming with Turtles in Barbados

There are a few specific spots where Hawksbill or Green Turtles are known to happily swim around you whilst you snorkel or swim.

We took a catamaran tour along the West coast of the island, it was around 4-5 hours long, and included 3 stops, one for snorkelling, one to see the turtles and one for a swim to Sandy Lane Beach.

You’ll also be fed at lunch time, and in true Bajan style it includes all the rum you can drink! It’s the perfect mix of relaxing in the sun and enjoying the crystal clear water.

At this point, I want to note it’s not guaranteed you’ll see a turtle. We actually spent over an hour looking for them, and got back on board after the captain had given up, only for another group to call us back.

We were lucky! Only a couple of us actually got back in, with some of the group having already started tucking into lunch!

It also meant that as just one turtle showed up, there were about 40 people trying to get a photo, and although my shots look like it was just me and the turtle, I can assure you that wasn’t the case.

But nonetheless, this really was a great experience. It’s one I really think you need to do again. If I came back, I’d spend the day at this beach, swimming in my own time looking for turtles, taking all the photos and video I needed.

Oistins Fish Fry

I couldn’t talk about Barbados without mentioning a few of my other favourites from the island. Nothing felt like it captured the Bajan spirit quite like Oistins, a coastal area of Barbados with a huge fishing community.

Every Friday and Saturday people come from all over the island to taste their favourite fish, and queue around the block if they have to!

And it is well worth it, I loved the mix of locals, returning locals (who live elsewhere) and tourists all enjoying the live music, shopping stalls and of course the food!

We ate at Pat’s Place which was delicious, and don’t forget to try the ‘Macaroni Pie’ somewhere in Barbados, it’s a Bajan speciality which is basically a really delicious Macaroni Cheese.

Best Tours in Barbados

I couldn’t write a guide about Barbados without mentioning some tours I personally joined and loved!

Mount Gay Rum Tour

As a rum lover, I wasn’t going to let a visit to Barbados pass without a Mount Gay Rum tour! At the cocktail tour you can see how after 300 years they’ve perfected the craft of distilling, ageing and blending the rum.

Not forgetting of course the drinking part, you get to check out all 6 variations and if you’re lucky even try the 1703 Old Cask selection, which must be drank neat!

You can’t go too wrong with any Mount Gay variation, but I brought home a bottle of my favourite Black Barrel; rum matured in a bourbon oak barrel allowing it to release spicy aromas!

This makes it the perfect rum to enjoy over ice, or mixed in a cocktail.

Check out the tour below – Spoiler alert: You won’t be disappointed!

Submarine Tour

Another great way to see the stunning wildlife under the ocean is to take a submarine tour, especially if you’re not keen on Scuba Diving or Snorkelling.

This tour on the Atlantis XV took around 45 minutes and we went to a depth of 100 feet (30 metres), there’s a shipwreck to explore and we saw 3 or 4 Hawksbille Turtles!

Although most of them were the wrong side for us, but I did manage to get one photo which turned out okay. All in all, I did enjoy the experience!

50th Year of Independence of Barbados

And finally, here are a couple of highlights from the celebrations of 50 years of Independence, and congratulations Barbados! Can you spot Prince Harry and Rihanna?

One thing that hit me is just how much there is to do here in Barbados, and it’s often used as a holiday makers ‘all inclusive’ option, especially by us Brits! So the 3 things above are my ‘must do’ along with Harrison’s Cave, get out and explore this beautiful island!

Where to Stay in Saint James Barbados

Here are some great places to stay in Saint James, Barbados for a fabulous trip.

Luxury: The Club Barbados

This adults-only resort in Saint James boasts a private beach, outdoor pool, and spa center. Rooms feature flat-screen TVs, air conditioning, and private bathrooms.

Amenities include free WiFi, on-site parking, a gift shop, an oceanfront restaurant serving international and Caribbean cuisine, and a beachside rum bar. All meals and selected beverages are included.

Mid-Range: All Seasons Resort

Just 984 feet from Sunset Crest Beach, this resort offers spacious cottages with terraces, an outdoor pool, and a restaurant serving local dishes.

Cottages come with air conditioning, a seating area, and a kitchenette. Amenities include a poolside bar and free WiFi. Close to Sunset Crest center, a golf club, Folkestone, Holetown, and a 30-minute drive from the airport.

Budget: Eumelvilla

A short walk from The Garden Beach in Saint James, Eumelvilla offers private, air-conditioned apartments with free parking and WiFi.

Apartments feature a private entrance, fully equipped kitchen, dining area, flat-screen TV, and a terrace. Facilities include barbecue and picnic areas. Ideal for guests seeking privacy and convenience near the beach.


Whether you’re snorkeling in the crystal-clear waters of Carlisle Bay or exploring the underwater scenes of Payne’s Bay, swimming with turtles in Barbados is just an experience you can’t miss.

I hope this guide was helpful for you to make the most of your trip! Did you make it in Barbados? How was the tour? Let me know!

Support Intrepid Escape by adding this article using the photos below to Pinterest, Twitter or Facebook. For you to read later and share with your friends. Have you been to Barbados? What can you recommend to do here? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below. Thanks for reading and happy travels!

4 thoughts on “Swimming with Turtles in Barbados: Ultimate Guide for 2024

  1. Kate says:

    Hi Scott,as a regular visitor to the Caribbean (2/3 months annually) I read your blog with interest.
    Although we do opt for the’AI’ option,we also take every opportunity to get out and explore on our own.
    Personally,a mention about the unending walking available,the vast area of distance that can be travelled by public OR the reggae bus…AND all for 2$.
    So much to do,so much to see…made even more wonderful when it includes meeting the wonderful Bajan hospitality.
    Shame I am almost 69 or else I would be applying for your job ?

    • Scottie T says:

      Hi Kate, thank you so much for the comment!!
      There must be some great walks, can you recommend any areas to start out? And yes the Reggae bus I should have mentioned that, great tip ?
      It’s never to late to start writing about travel and your experiences in Barbados ?

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