One of my truly favourite memories from staying at our hotel was something that we came across entirely accidentally. A few of our group had decided to give the swimming pool bar a try (yep, it was as awesome as it sounds), so headed towards the beach-side pool about 7 ish. When we arrived there was a small crowd of people on the beach and upon checking it out we saw the coolest sight – they were releasing turtle hatchlings into the wild!
Most hotel resorts in Quintana Roo are located along the same coastal highway, and therefore each has their own specific patch of beach. These beaches are prime turtle nesting area, but unfortunately they’re also tourist hotspots. To counteract any possible harm that could become these animals, the hotel have staff on hand at all time to watch out for turtle nesting spots and eggs. When they do find them, they either cordon off the nests or collect the eggs and take them to a safe place until the eggs are ready to hatch. Once they are, they release them in small groups by the sea to ensure they safely make it to the water.
Hotels are not allowed to advertise this fact on their premises. However, if you already know about it, and are on holiday during turtle hatching times, you can ask what time the hatchlings are usually released and they can tell you! You can pay to have the opportunity to take part in turtle releases with some parks and sea life centres, however watching at your local hotel is entirely free of charge. Releases don’t happen everyday, or even at the same time, so it’s mostly down to luck as to whether you’ll get to see one. There are strict rules that come with viewing turtle releases (you can view some of them here). This includes standing behind a line (maybe a metre or two back) but because it is not a well-known fact you should still have a great view. When we watched, there were only about twenty people there. You’re allowed to photograph and film the event too (no flash allowed), although as we stumbled upon the whole event quite accidentally I unfortunately didn’t get any footage myself. It was a really magical experience watching the little guys go under the moonlight, and to be honest, having no camera to think about really let me have one of those rare opportunities to enjoy the moment without any technological distractions.