Sri Lanka activities

Best beach to observe endangered sea turtles, Rekawa Beach Sri Lanka

 “Rekawa beach, where sea turtle watching is popular, is among the top 10 Eco-friendly destinations named by online travel community IgoUgo.”

Rekawa Beach Sri Lanka

What is the importance of Rekawa beach?

Sea turtles are seen very often at the Rekawa beach Sri Lanka, which is located 10km east of Tangalle Sri Lanka. Rekawa beach is not only one of the best places to spot sea turtles only in Sri Lanka but also in the world. In Rekawa you can observe the ancient ritual of turtles coming ashore and laying eggs. Rekawa beach is visited by five different species of sea turtles, which lay their eggs in the sand every night throughout the year.

There are many places in Sri Lanka where you can check on endangered sea turtles, starting from Kalutara all the way up to deep south there are dozens of sea turtle conservation farms. Usually, these sea turtle conservation centres are visited by foreign tourists and a part of the most Sri Lanka road trip. The tourists should pay for the entrance to these centres and it is the main income of the sea turtle conservation centres.

The sea turtles are restricted to big tanks in all these places and their movement is restricted. But, unlike all these man-made sea turtle conservation centres, In Rekawa sea turtles are totally free, no human intervention with their activities. Maybe that’s the reason why so many sea turtles are coming to Rekawa beach for nesting.

How many species of sea turtles can be seen at Rekawa beach?

Five species of sea turtles come to the Rekawa beach for nesting. Therefore Rekawa is one of the very few beaches in the world where visitors can spot five species of seven sea turtles species available in the world. All species of sea turtles are declared as endangered animals in Sri Lanka. So head to Rekawa beach during your Sri Lanka tour and beach holiday you will be rewarded with one of the very rare marvels of mother nature.

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Rekawa beach one of the main natural habitat in southern Sri Lanka, where travellers get the opportunity to spot sea turtles.

Best time for Rekawa turtle watch?

Fullmoon days between January and April considered being the best time to spot Sea turtle here. The turtles tend to come to the shore with moonlight, therefore stronger the moonlight better chance of spotting sea turtles. When there is plenty of moonlight and clear sky turtles are occurring here more frequently and visitors are also able to spot turtles more easily due to more light. Two dozens of sea turtles were recorded in one night at Rekawa beach.  The chance of spotting sea turtle is very high at Rekawa, at least a couple of animals can be spotted here every night.

You need to be patient to watch the turtle, turtles are crawling across the beach in the night, away from the sea. Rekawa, where sea turtle watching is popular, is among the top 10 Eco-friendly destinations named by online travel community IgoUgo.

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How do I go to Rekawa turtle hatchery?

If you happened to be in a hotel near Hambantota or Tangalle you can visit Rekawa without any trouble. It will take less than 30 minutes to reach Rekawa from both beach holiday destinations. A tour can be organized to Rekawa with the help of tour operators or travel desks in any of the hotels in Sri Lanka. Price of the tour varies mainly depending on the distance to Rekawa from your hotel.

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How much should I pay at Rekawa turtle beach?

Like all other man-made sea turtle conservation centres, here also you need to pay for the people that are on duty, however, this is not a fee for the entrance to teh beach but to fund the conservation effort. The protection of the turtles and hatchlings that are coming to the beach is secured by a staff appointed by the wildlife conservation department. So whatever you pay goes for a good cause. But visitors are required to wait for a long time sometimes until the right moment come. Therefore instead of money, you have to allocate some of your valuable time here.

What is the best time for Rekawa turtle watch?

Unlike sea-turtle farms along the west coast, sea turtles cannot see all day long, Because the sea turtles are not restricted to tanks.  The turtles are visiting the Rekawa beach at their convenient time and visitors should wait until the right moment come. Usually, the sea turtles are occurring here at night. Visitors are allowed to use torches to spot sea turtles from the distance.

You need to be patient to watch the turtles, turtles are crawling across the beach in the night, away from the sea. It leaves, on its path, a remarkable trail which looks as if a one-wheeled tractor has driven straight up out to the sea. It’s an agonizingly slow crawl of exhausting half an hour by a creature not adapted to the land. Having reached the top of the beach, the turtle then spends about another 45 minutes digging an enormous hole. After having to lay the eggs turtles make a rest, fills in the hole & eventually crawls back down to the sea. It’s an epic effort, the sight of which makes the whole evening-long experience worthwhile.

The coast guards are monitoring the movement of visitors and any unsuitable behaviour of visitors and hindering the movements of the turtles is a punishable offence. All visitors should keep the minimum distance from the animals.

Special note on Rekawa turtle watching for tourists

I had been to Rekawa beach many times and I did not miss a turtle at any single occasions, it means the turtle spotting is very easy and common at Rekawa beach. Therefore a large number of travellers are gathering to Rekawa beach every night, in some cases, the number rises up 100. So, with a large gathering of people near the nest, the turtle might not comfortable with laying eggs. When many dozens of eyeballs are directed to her, she could feel unsafe.

In one occasion we had that nasty experience, in which a sea turtle that came to the shore to lay eggs returned without laying eggs as there was a large number of people were on the beach. However the specific reason is not evident, I feel large gathering made her to go-back, otherwise, there was no other reason for her to make that decision on a regular dark night.

I feel the turtle watching at Rekawa beach should be regulated like whale watching in Mirissa, unlike in the past now whale watching in Mirissa is under the purview of course guards and therefore boats are committing any actions that can disturb the animals. I think the same policy should be implemented at Rekawa beach and stop people from getting too much closer to the animals.

One other serious mistake some tourist make is illuminating the area with their torch to spot turtles clearly. Usually, course guards carry a torch which has a red light, similar to moonlight, which is turtles are familiar with. However, some people carry very bright lights and some even turn on the flashlight of their phones, which undoubtedly disturbs the innocent animals.

Same times the visitors of the Rekawa beach should be walking on the beach with caution as hatchlings move to the water during the night. The hatchings are very smalls and there is a very good chance of overlooking them on the dark beach.

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Sanjeewa Padmal (Seerendipity)

This blog is all about travelling in Sri Lanka, I am trying to illuminate my readers with a wide range of information related to Sri Lanka travel. Please feel free to contact me at any time if you need more information. Furthermore, we can organize your holiday package or any travel related requirement in Sri Lanka. Please contact us on admin@seerendipitytours.com... read more