After a few days on Boa Vista, you might start to wonder whether the rest of the island is as barren as where you are. And yes, it is. But the best way to figure it out, is a tour of the island. A full loop of Boa Vista takes a whole day in a 4x4 on dirt tracks, in sand dunes, over stony desert, and occasional on a stretch of real road – with potholes of course. Rent a car with a driver, since they know the right track from the wrong ones.
A suggestion for a route could be:
Sal Rei (town) – Rabil (village) – Deserto Viana (desert) – Povocao Velha (village) – Praia da Varandinha (beach with caves) – Praia de Santa Monica (beach) – Curral Velho (ruins and salt lake) – Praia de Joao Barrosa (turtle nesting beach) – Baobab (a lone Baobab tree) – Ervatao (a surf beach) – Fundo das Figueiras (village) – Santa Maria shipwreck – Sal Rei
Take a look at the photo gallery for more details.
The best place to see sea turtles lay their eggs on the Comoros is the beach at Itsamia village. The sea turtles (mostly green sea turtles) come in every night year round to nest. Some nights only one or two turtles come ashore, while other nights there might come twenty or even more. Though the beach is long, the number of nesting turtles is so huge (more than 3,000 per year) that they bump into each other or accidentally dig each other's nests up. The village has a turtle program where they educate both locals and visitors. Apparently the people of Mohéli don't eat turtle meat or eggs, but unfortunately the people of Anjouan do, but the protection program seems to have been fruitful against the poachers from Anjouan. Watching nesting sea turtles is an unmatched experience and it's hard to contain your excitement when spotting a female dragging itself out of the water. Hatching of baby turtles can of course also be watched, if you're a bit lucky. Use a local guide from the turtle program, who knows what to do and not do.
If you like snorkelling or diving, Puako is the place where you will find serenity in Hawaii. A healthy, protected marine reserve awaits you under the water. Literally hundreds of turtles live along the reef, and they congregate in specfic areas for their cleaning. Along the reef, you can see turtles allowing schools of fish to eat all the parasites off their shells, an amazing site to see. White tip reef sharks, morey eels, and garden eels are also frequent residents of the Puako Reef.
Though Punalu'u Beach is set on a beautiful backdrop of tall coconut palms, its most striking feature is the raven black sand. The beach is almost as popular with resting sea turtles as it is with sunseeking tourists. Remember to enjoy them from a distance - mind you, the sea turtles.
The diving around Indonesia’s Gili Islands is nothing short of spectacular, with enough variety to keep even the fussiest divers busy for more than just a few days. Accessible also from north-western Lombok, dive sites abound around the three Gili islands. It is a great place to see Green Sea and Loggerhead Turtles, some of which grow to one and a half metres in diameter. Reef sharks are common along the reefs, which abound with tropical fish species of all kinds, ranging from moray eels and Napoleon fish to lionfish and clownfish. The corals are diverse and splendid in colour, and for those looking for something extra, there are several excellent wreck dives. If that’s not enough, the Gili after-dive scene might just win you over.
Satang Island, Pulau Satang Besar, is a small island off the coast of Sarawak and part of Talang-Satang Marine National Park, a sanctuary for sea turtles. The marine national park includes three other islands, but only Satang Island is open to visitors. It has a small turtle hatching area and there is a chance to see turtle landing, where sea turtles (mostly green turtles but also Hawksbills) come ashore to lay eggs (April to September is peak season). Some great snorkelling can be done around the island at low tide, where you might bump into a turtle under water. Though it's possible to stay overnight on Satang Island in some very basic accommodation, most people visit the island on a day-trip combination with some dolphin watching (Irrawaddy and Indo-pacific humpback dolphins) at the river mouths of Santubong and Salak Rivers off the mainland.
Every night from July to January tens, even hundreds, of sea turtles come out of the ocean and crawl laboriously up on the beach for lay their eggs. About six weeks later hundreds of small baby turtles dicking themselves out of the sand and rush to sea. This beach is a wet dream for any animal lover and an unique opportunity to experience the endangered Leatherback which still comes here to nest, though most of the sea turtles are of the Olive Ridley species. Though the beach is protected by the military and rangers there are few limitations for visitors, so please act responsible and do not disturb the turtles in any way. Visiting turtle sites (when done right) can actually help saving them, since the "tourist money" can give poor local communities a reason to protect the sea turtles.
This beach and protected area is a nesting ground for the Green turtle. It's possible to witness the egg laying from close distance and later see other nests hatch, where over a hundred small turtles race to the ocean. It's close to impossible to get there without a car - as elsewhere in Oman. The peak season is March to September.
Turtle Pool is this wicked place, where a local family for decades has held a dozen of seaturtles captured in a fenced off part of a lagoon. It's a rare opportunity to swim or snorkle with seaturtles. When we visited in low season, we were the only one in the pool, but it's probably a differet story in high sesson. Whether you want to support such a business is entirely up to you. If you want a chance to see seaturtles in the wild, head to the viewing platform over the lagoon behind the Lava Church further up the main road. If you’re lucky, seaturtles will stick their head up for breathing.
Is probably one of the longest and most beautiful beaches in all of Sao Tome & Principe. Not only is it long with plenty of leaning coconut palms, but it's a major nesting site for three species of sea turtles (Green turtle, Hawksbill and Leatherback). There is a small simple museum (only open in turtle season from October to April) and that is it. The dirt road is really rough, but very pretty.