How to Watch Turtles in North Cyprus: A Guide for Nature Lovers

Aug 10, 2023 | North Cyprus

North Cyprus is a paradise for nature lovers, especially for those who are fascinated by turtles. Of the seven species of sea turtles in the world, two of them nest on the sandy beaches of North Cyprus: the loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta) and the green turtle (Chelonia mydas). These magnificent creatures are endangered and need our protection and respect. Watching them lay their eggs or hatch from their nests is an unforgettable experience that you can enjoy in North Cyprus. In this blog post, we will tell you everything you need to know about turtles in North Cyprus, including where and when to watch them, how to join a conservation project, what to do if you encounter a stranded turtle, and more.

Why North Cyprus Turtles are Important and Endangered

Turtles are ancient animals that have been around for over 100 million years. They play an important role in the marine ecosystem, as they help maintain the balance of food webs, recycle nutrients, and disperse seeds. They are also culturally and spiritually significant for many people around the world, as they symbolize wisdom, longevity, and harmony.

However, turtles are facing many threats from human activities and environmental changes. Some of these threats include:

•  Habitat loss and degradation: The development of coastal areas for tourism, agriculture, or urbanization can destroy or disturb the nesting beaches and feeding grounds of turtles. This can reduce their reproductive success, expose them to predators or poachers, or force them to relocate to less suitable areas.

•  Fishing and bycatch: Turtles often get caught accidentally in fishing nets, hooks, lines, or traps. This can cause injuries, drowning, or suffocation. Even if they are released alive, they may suffer from stress or infections.

•  Pollution and climate change: Turtles are vulnerable to the effects of pollution and climate change on the marine environment. Pollution can contaminate their food sources, damage their shells or organs, or entangle them in debris. Climate change can alter the temperature, salinity, acidity, and currents of the ocean, affecting their migration patterns, food availability, and sex ratios.

•  Poaching and illegal trade: Turtles are hunted for their meat, eggs, shells, or leather. Some people also collect them as pets or souvenirs. These activities are illegal in most countries, but they still occur due to the high demand and low enforcement.

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), all seven species of sea turtles are classified as either vulnerable, endangered, or critically endangered. In the Mediterranean Sea, where North Cyprus is located, the loggerhead turtle is considered vulnerable and the green turtle is considered endangered.

Where and When to Watch Turtles in North Cyprus

There are several beaches in North Cyprus where turtles come to nest and hatch. The most popular and accessible ones are Alagadi Beach near Esentepe, Golden Beach in the Karpaz Peninsula, and Ronnas Bay in the Karpaz Peninsula. These beaches are monitored and protected by the Society for the Protection of Turtles (SPOT), a local NGO that works in collaboration with the University of Exeter’s Marine Turtle Research Group and the North Cyprus Department for Environmental Protection. SPOT also runs a volunteer program and a visitor center at Alagadi Beach, where you can learn more about turtles and their conservation.

north cyprus turtles - where and when to watch

The nesting season for turtles in North Cyprus starts in late May and lasts until early August. During this time, female turtles come ashore at night to dig their nests and lay their eggs. The hatching season starts in July and lasts until late September. During this time, baby turtles emerge from their nests and make their way to the sea. The peak of the hatching season is usually in August, when you have the highest chance of seeing hatchlings.

If you want to watch turtles in North Cyprus, you have two options: you can either join a guided tour organized by SPOT or you can go on your own. However, we strongly recommend that you join a guided tour, as it is safer, more informative, and more respectful to the turtles. SPOT offers nightly tours to Alagadi Beach from June to September, where you can watch female turtles nesting or hatchlings being released. You can book your tour online at Alagadi Beach.

If you decide to go on your own, you should follow some basic rules to avoid disturbing or harming the turtles. These rules include:

•  Do not use any lights or flash photography on the beach at night, as they can scare or disorient the turtles.

•  Do not touch or approach the turtles or their nests, as they can be stressed or injured by human contact.

•  Do not leave any litter or waste on the beach, as they can pose a threat to the turtles and other wildlife.

•  Do not drive or park your car on the beach, as they can damage the nests or crush the hatchlings.

•  Do not make any loud noises or play music on the beach, as they can disturb the turtles and their natural behavior.

How to Join a Conservation Project

If you are interested in helping the conservation of turtles in North Cyprus, you can join SPOT as a volunteer or a sponsor. SPOT welcomes volunteers from all over the world who want to contribute to their research and protection activities. As a volunteer, you will have the opportunity to:

•  Patrol the beaches at night and record turtle sightings and nest locations.

•  Assist with nest protection measures, such as installing cages or screens.

•  Conduct nest excavations and collect data on hatching success and mortality rates.

•  Participate in public awareness events and educational activities.

•  Learn about turtle biology, ecology, and conservation.

To become a volunteer, you need to be at least 18 years old, have a good level of English, be physically fit, and be willing to work long hours in challenging conditions. You also need to pay a fee that covers your accommodation, food, transportation, and equipment. The fee varies depending on the duration of your stay and the time of the year. You can find more information about volunteering at Cyprus Turtles volunteering.

If you cannot volunteer but still want to support SPOT’s work, you can become a sponsor. As a sponsor, you can:

•  Adopt a turtle or a nest and receive updates on their progress.

•  Donate money or equipment that will help SPOT’s operations.

•  Promote SPOT’s mission and vision through social media or word-of-mouth.

You can find more information about sponsorship at Cyprus Turtles Sponsor Ship Donation.

What to Do If You Encounter a Stranded Turtle

Sometimes, turtles may wash up dead or injured on the shores of North Cyprus. These turtles may have been hit by boats, entangled in fishing nets, or affected by diseases or pollution. If you find a stranded turtle in North Cyprus, you should report it to SPOT as soon as possible. SPOT will send a team to collect the turtle and examine it. If the turtle is alive, SPOT will try to treat it and release it back to the sea. If the turtle is dead, SPOT will perform a necropsy and collect data on the cause of death and the health status of the turtle.

To report a stranded turtle in North Cyprus, you can fill out an online form at Cyprus Turtles. When you report a stranded turtle, you should provide the following information:

•  The location and time of the sighting.

•  The condition and appearance of the turtle.

•  Any photos or videos of the turtle.

You should also follow some basic guidelines to avoid harming or stressing the turtle further. These guidelines include:

•  Do not touch or move the turtle unless instructed by SPOT.

•  Do not attempt to remove any hooks, nets, or other objects from the turtle.

•  Do not pour water over the turtle or cover it with wet towels or seaweed.

•  Do not feed or give water to the turtle.

•  Keep away from crowds and noise and keep pets away from the turtle.

How to Plan Your Trip to North Cyprus to Watch Turtles

If you are planning to visit North Cyprus and watch turtles, you need to consider some factors that will affect your trip. These factors include:

•  The best time: The best time to watch turtles in North Cyprus is between June and September, when both nesting and hatching seasons occur. However, this is also the peak tourist season in North Cyprus, so you may encounter more crowds and higher prices. If you prefer a quieter and cheaper time, you can visit North Cyprus in May or October, when there is still some chance of seeing turtles but less tourists.

•  The best place: The best place to watch turtles in North Cyprus is Alagadi Beach near Esentepe, where SPOT offers guided tours every night. This beach is easily accessible by car from Kyrenia (Girne), which is the main tourist hub in North Cyprus. You can also watch turtles at Golden Beach or Ronnas Bay in the Karpaz Peninsula, which are more secluded and scenic but also more remote and difficult to reach. You will need a car rental or a taxi to get there from Famagusta (Gazimağusa) or Nicosia (Lefkoşa).

•  The best mode of travel to North Cyprus: The best mode of travel to North Cyprus depends on where you are coming from and what you want to see. If you are coming from Turkey, you can take a direct flight to Ercan International Airport in North Cyprus, which is the only airport in the north. If you are coming from any other country, you can take a flight to Larnaca International Airport or Paphos International Airport in South Cyprus, and then cross the border to North Cyprus by car, bus, or taxi. You will need a valid passport and a visa (if required) to enter both parts of Cyprus. You can also take a ferry from Turkey to Kyrenia or Famagusta in North Cyprus, which is a cheaper but slower option. Once you are in North Cyprus, you can get around by car rental, taxi, or public transportation. However, car rental is the most convenient and flexible way to explore the island, especially if you want to visit the turtle beaches.

•  The visa, currency, and health requirements: The visa, currency, and health requirements for visiting North Cyprus vary depending on your nationality and purpose of travel. Generally speaking, you will need a valid passport and a visa (if required) to enter both parts of Cyprus. The currency used in North Cyprus is the Turkish lira (TRY), which you can exchange at banks, hotels, or exchange offices. You can also use euros (EUR) or British pounds (GBP) in some places, but the exchange rate may not be favorable. The health requirements for visiting North Cyprus are minimal, as there are no major diseases or risks. However, you should have a travel insurance that covers medical expenses and emergencies. You should also bring some basic medicines and sunscreen with you.

The History and Culture of Turtles in North Cyprus

Turtles have a long and rich history and culture in North Cyprus, as they have been part of the island’s natural and human heritage for centuries. Turtles have been featured in many myths, legends, stories, and artworks that reflect the beliefs and values of the people of North Cyprus.

One of the most famous myths about turtles in North Cyprus is the legend of Aphrodite and Adonis. According to this legend, Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty, was born from the foam of the sea near Kyrenia. She fell in love with Adonis, a handsome mortal prince who was hunting in the mountains. However, their love was doomed by fate, as Adonis was killed by a wild boar sent by Ares, the god of war and Aphrodite’s jealous lover. Aphrodite was so heartbroken that she turned Adonis’ blood into red anemones and his tears into green turtles. Since then, turtles have been associated with love and sorrow in North Cyprus.

Another famous story about turtles in North Cyprus is the tale of Hasankeyf Castle. According to this tale, Hasankeyf Castle was built by a king who wanted to protect his daughter from invaders. He ordered his architects to design a castle that would be impregnable and invisible. The architects came up with a brilliant idea: they built the castle on the back of a giant turtle that lived in the sea. The turtle would carry the castle on its shell and submerge it underwater when enemies approached. However, one day, the turtle got hungry and ate some seaweed that made it sleepy. It forgot to submerge the castle and left it exposed on the surface. The enemies saw the castle and attacked it with fire and arrows. The turtle woke up and felt the pain on its shell. It dived into the water and dragged the castle with it. The king, his daughter, and all the people inside drowned. Since then, Hasankeyf Castle has been lost under the sea.

Turtles have also been depicted in many artworks that show the artistic and aesthetic appreciation of turtles in North Cyprus. For example, you can see turtles carved on ancient coins, pottery, jewelry, and sculptures that date back to the Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman, and British periods. You can also see turtles painted on modern murals, graffiti, posters, and stamps that celebrate the beauty and diversity of turtles in North Cyprus.

The Other Wildlife and Attractions in North Cyprus

Turtles are not the only wildlife and attractions that you can see in North Cyprus. There are many other animals and plants that you can admire in North Cyprus, as well as many other attractions and activities that you can enjoy in North Cyprus.

north cyprus nature

Here are some of them:

•  The wild donkeys: The wild donkeys are one of the most iconic animals in North Cyprus. They live freely in the Karpaz Peninsula National Park, where they roam around the fields and forests. They are friendly and curious creatures that will approach you if you offer them some food or water. You can also take photos with them or ride them for a small fee.

•  The orchids: The orchids are one of the most beautiful plants in North Cyprus. They grow abundantly in the springtime (March-April), when they display their colorful and fragrant flowers. There are over 30 species of orchids in North Cyprus, some of which are endemic or rare. You can see them in various locations, such as the Alevkaya Forest, the Kantara Castle, or the Kozan Picnic Area.

•  The olive trees: The olive trees are one of the most ancient and important plants in North Cyprus. They have been cultivated for thousands of years for their oil, fruit, wood, and leaves. They are also a symbol of peace and prosperity in North Cyprus. You can see them in many places, such as the Lapta Olive Festival, the Zeytinlik Olive Museum, or the Selimiye Mosque.

•  The carob pods: The carob pods are one of the most delicious and nutritious plants in North Cyprus. They are the fruits of the carob tree, which is a native and drought-resistant tree in North Cyprus. They are also known as “Cyprus chocolate”, as they have a sweet and chocolate-like taste. You can eat them raw or processed into various products, such as syrup, jam, cake, or coffee.

•  The castles: The castles are one of the most impressive and historical attractions in North Cyprus. They were built by various civilizations that ruled over North Cyprus, such as the Romans, Byzantines, Crusaders, Venetians, Ottomans, and British. They are also located in strategic and scenic places, such as the mountains, the coast, or the city. You can visit them and explore their architecture, history, and views. Some of the most famous castles in North Cyprus are St. Hilarion Castle, Buffavento Castle, Kantara Castle, Kyrenia Castle, Famagusta Castle, and Nicosia Castle.

•  The monasteries: The monasteries are one of the most sacred and spiritual attractions in North Cyprus. They were built by various religious orders that practiced their faith in North Cyprus, such as the Orthodox Christians, the Catholic Christians, or the Muslim Sufis. They are also located in peaceful and serene places, such as the hills, the valleys, or the islands. You can visit them and admire their art, culture, and atmosphere. Some of the most famous monasteries in North Cyprus are Bellapais Abbey, Antiphonitis Monastery, Apostolos Andreas Monastery, Panagia Kanakaria Monastery, and Tekke of Hala Sultan.

•  The casinos: The casinos are one of the most fun and exciting attractions in North Cyprus. They offer a variety of games and entertainment options for adults, such as slot machines, roulette, blackjack, poker, bingo, and shows. They are also located in luxurious and lively places, such as hotels, resorts, or clubs. You can visit them and try your luck or have a good time. Some of the most famous casinos in North Cyprus are Cratos Premium Hotel Casino Port Spa, Merit Park Hotel Casino, Rocks Hotel Casino, Jasmine Court Hotel Casino, and Salamis Bay Conti Resort Hotel Casino.

•  The golf courses: The golf courses are one of the most relaxing and enjoyable attractions in North Cyprus. They offer a chance to play golf in a beautiful and natural setting, with views of the sea, the mountains, or the countryside. They are also located in comfortable and convenient places, with facilities and services such as clubs, carts, caddies, restaurants, and shops. You can visit them and play golf or have a picnic. Some of the most famous golf courses in North Cyprus are Korineum Golf & Beach Resort, CMC Golf Club, Elexus Hotel & Spa & Casino Golf Club, and Vuni Palace Hotel & Casino Golf Club.


Turtles are amazing animals that deserve our admiration and respect. Watching them in North Cyprus is a unique and rewarding experience that you should not miss.

If you are looking for a place to stay or invest in North Cyprus, you can visit, where you can find a wide range of properties for sale in North Cyprus. You can also contact us for any inquiries or assistance regarding your real estate needs in North Cyprus.

Thank you for reading and happy turtle watching!


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