Where to find turtles in Exmouth, Western Australia
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Turtle Beach Exmouth: Ultimate Guide For Turtle-Watching In Exmouth + Top 5 Turtle Tours

Well, first and foremost – “Turtle Beach” (Exmouth) isn’t really a beach. It’s a stretch of the Ningaloo Coast made of several beaches where marine turtles live, nest and hatch. These are mostly in Jurabi Coastal Park.

Now, some species are permanent residents of the Ningaloo Coast, so you can snorkel with turtles all year round.

But between November and March is “turtle season”. During this time, female turtles come to these coasts to nest, and hundreds of hatchlings emerge 40-60 days later.

This means you’ll have to plan your trip according to which part of the season you want to experience – the turtles nesting, or the hatchlings emerging.

But don’t worry, it’s simpler than it looks! We’ll tell you everything you need to know to plan your trip, how to prepare for the big day, what turtle species you’ll see, and much more:

Best time to see turtles in Exmouth

You can see turtles in Exmouth all year round, but depending on when you visit, you can also experience the nesting or hatching season.

Nesting season – November to March

The best time to view marine turtles nesting is between late November to early March. During these months, the magnificent female turtles lumber up the beach to lay their eggs.

And, although mother nature is unpredictable, many of them lay early in the turtle nesting season.

For a guide on what else you can see during these months in Exmouth view this article: Best time to visit Exmouth

Nesting season is during the summer months in Exmouth. It is very hot and windy during these months and is normally in the town’s off-season.

S&C Travel Tip

Hatching season – 40-60 days later

Turtle hatchlings will break free from their sandy incubators about 6 to 9 weeks after, meaning they could hatch even up to April.

Where to see turtles in Exmouth?

The best spot to experience turtle season in Exmouth is in the Jurabi Coastal Park.

It’s free to enter and you’ll get there after a 20-minute drive from Exmouth. “Turtle” beaches here include Five Mile Beach and Wobiri Beach.

But make sure to visit the Jurabi Turtle Centre first. They will tell you exactly where to go, at what times, and how to do turtle-watching without disturbing the creatures.

You can also experience turtle season outside of Exmouth, in:

Now, if you want to swim with turtles in Exmouth, add Cape Range National Park to the list.

After driving 30 minutes from Exmouth and paying a small fee, you’ll access this mind-blowing park, with dozens of incredible beaches where you can snorkel with turtles.

3 steps to prepare for turtle-watching

Watching turtles nest and hatch is a life-changing experience. But keep in mind that, as excited as you will be, these are very stressful moments for the turtles.

For example, these creatures are very sensitive to light. Do not use any form of light or flashes, as this can disorientate them and expose them to threats.

Here are other things to do before going turtle-watching in Exmouth (or anywhere else), to ensure you won’t disrupt them during your visit:

1) Visit the Jurabi Turtle Centre

This is an educational facility right alongside a rookery (breeding ground) for three turtle species – the hawksbill, green and loggerhead turtles.

Here, you’ll get all the information you need to watch turtles nesting and/or hatchling in the safest way for them. They also provide guided tours, which we discuss further.

The Jurabi Turtle Centre is a 15-minute drive from Exmouth, on the other side of the North West Cape. It’s nestled behind the dunes between Hunters and Mauritius Beaches.

2) Learn the turtle-watching code of conduct

The Turtle Watchers’ Code of Conduct is a set of guidelines designed to ensure you can witness the activity of the turtles without disturbing them.

Check the Code of Conduct here!

Turtle swimming in Exmouth Western Australia. Close to Coral Bay and on the Ningaloo Reef.

3) Understand a bit of turtle behaviour

During turtle season, these magnificent creatures go through a few things:

The mating process.

This usually happens in the last weeks of October. You may see turtles in the shallows – don’t disturb them and give them plenty of space, more so if you find them resting.

The nesting process.

Here’s when mature female turtles lay their eggs. It’s a long and exhausting moment for the turtle and can take up to 3 hours.

It’s key to not disturb them in any way. This could make the turtle release her eggs into the ocean, which sadly makes them non-viable.

Hatching season.

A few weeks later, the turtle-hatching season begins. The hatchlings will emerge and make their way into the ocean. And as tempting as it is, do not touch or handle them!

Some experts estimate that 1 in every 10,000 sea turtle hatchlings will make it to adulthood, so it’s crucial to do our part and help them survive. Ironically, this means not helping them get from their nest into the ocean.

This is because the journey helps the hatchling strengthen its lungs and fins, drastically increasing its chances of survival.

Top 5 turtle tours on the Ningaloo Coast

These tours are ideal if you want to learn about turtles, swim with them, and have locals show you the hidden gems of the Ningaloo Reef:

1) Jurabi Centre Turtle Eco Tours

This is the tour to do during turtle season. The centre offers tours between December and March.

Depending on the moment of turtle season, the guide will take you to see nesting turtles or hatching turtles and teach you everything about them along the way.

2) Half-Day Snorkel Turtle Tour in Exmouth

This is one of the best ways to start (or end!) your visit to Exmouth, as your guides will take you swimming with turtles and other marine creatures.

It’s a small group tour, where you’ll go to various spots of the Ningaloo Marine Park by boat.

3) Half-Day Sea Kayak and Snorkel Tour in Exmouth

If you want to explore the reef on your own while having the expertise of a local guide, don’t miss this tour.

Kayaking the reef is an experience in itself. Add the snorkelling and the swimming with turtles, and it’ll be a truly unforgettable adventure.

4) 3-Hour Turtle Ecotour in Coral Bay

Coral Bay is another great spot to interact with turtles. On this tour, you’ll explore the reef on a glass-bottom boat and visit a turtle sanctuary, with two easy snorkelling sessions.

5) Self-Guided Turtle Tour in Exmouth

During turtle season, you can go see the females nesting and/or the hatchlings emerging on your own too. Just make sure to know the code of conduct by heart to not disturb the creatures.

Top Tips

Turtle season coincides with the summer months, which tend to be very hot, rainy and windy in Exmouth. The good news is that it usually means fewer tourists and cheaper prices for accommodations! Especially in November.

But if you want to take it to the next level, the Ningaloo Turtle Program needs volunteers every season to collect data on turtle nesting beaches. Check volunteering opportunities here.

Did you know?

Three of the planet’s seven species of marine turtles inhabit the waters near Exmouth. Sadly, they are classified as “endangered”:

  • Green sea turtle. These herbivores are the most common turtles found on the Ningaloo Reef.
  • Loggerhead turtle. Omnivorous with reddish-brown shells, these turtles travel vast distances to nest.
  • Hawksbill turtle. The breeding population that nests within this area is smaller than the other species above.

FAQs

Where can I swim with turtles in Exmouth?

You can swim with turtles in Exmouth in the stretch of the coast from the Vlamingh Head Lighthouse down to Cape Range National Park.

What time of day do turtles hatch in Exmouth?

The time of day that turtles hatch in Exmouth tends to be around dusk or down, sometimes through the night.

How big do sea turtles get?

Sea turtles can be as small as a dinner plate, or as large as a golf cart. This largely depends on the species.

The bottom line

Turtle Beach in Exmouth is really a stretch of coast where these creatures live. You can be part of their lifecycle if you visit between November and March.

Just make sure to be prepared and follow the code of conduct to not disturb them. That way, you’ll be able to help conserve marine turtles, ensuring they can keep coming to these coasts for many years.

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