Want to snorkel and interact with sea turtles? One of the best places to do so is the Cayman Islands. Sea Turtles are so revered in The Cayman Islands that they are pictured on their currency as well as on the national seal and flag. We wanted to learn more about these interesting creatures. Though once hunted for their meat, the huge green sea turtles on the islands are now a protected species. The Cayman Turtle Centre breeds these majestic creatures and is the largest tourist attraction on Grand Cayman.
The centre offers a whole host of fun interactive activities. They allow you opportunities to observe, hold, touch, and swim with turtles! There’s also an aviary
Much more to do than look at turtles, including holding, touching and swimming with turtles. There’s also an aviary filled with all sorts of gorgeous Caribbean and Caymanian birds that visitors can feed. Other animals on display include crocodiles, reef fish, and sharks. Animal-loving Emily was certainly in her element during this portion of our trip!
How The Farm Began
The centre started off as Cayman Turtle Farm. Their goal was to breed turtles to help with conservation efforts. After tragically losing the majority of their turtles in 2001 when a hurricane washed them out to sea, the farm moved inland. It is now a 23-acre theme-park style attraction that has been renamed Cayman Turtle Centre: Island Wildlife Encounter.
Green’s Breeding Pond
A large breeding pond is the first section of the attraction that visitors enter when they first come into the park. We saw a mature sea turtle that was quite impressive in size. Many of the turtles have been with the center since it began in 1968. Some of them weigh as much as 500 pounds!
We bought a bag of food to feed the sea turtles for five dollars. When we threw the pieces of food into the pond over a dozen sea turtles emerged from the water to feed!
Swimming with Sea Turtles
Next, we made our way to Turtle Lagoon. We had purchased a locker when we first entered the park so that when we got changed to swim we had a safe place to store our valuables. The lagoon is a concrete man-made area stocked with algae to benefit the sea turtles and other marine life.
We picked up our snorkels, swim vests, and masks at a small shed. To protect the sea creatures, no fins are allowed. At first, we didn’t see much in the way of marine life. Then Emily noticed a small sea turtle following her. It actually kept on trailing close behind Emily in the water for about 45 minutes! When we found a feeding area with a small reef we finally found a whole group of sea turtles. We were able to get an up-close look as they swam by us, scratched themselves on the coral below, or played with one another.
Feeding Tropical Birds At The Caribbean Free Flight Aviary
The Turtle Center includes a walk-through aviary featuring many incredible tropical birds. For a small donation to the aviary, you can feed the birds. Emily chose to feed a Honey Creeper bird. The staff member retrieved the food for that particular bird, which consisted of seed and nectar. Emily sat still with a cup of nectar in her hand and the bird landed right on her hand and began drinking. Next, she decided to feed an Ibis. The staff member told her to put her arms out with food in each hand. Four ibises appeared out of from under the foliage. Two birds flew up and perched on Emily’s outstretched arms to feed. They were heavier than she had expected!
Touching Sea Turtles In The Touch Tank
Emily then made her way to the touch tank, which is home to the juvenile sea turtles.
Here she and her sister were able to touch and pick up a turtle. There was also a wading tank where six turtles began swimming around them as they entered the tank. They had a great time picking up swimming turtles and watching them flap their arms.
Cayman Turtle Centre
Address: 786 NW Point Rd, West Bay, Cayman Islands