Watching turtles come ashore to dig holes in the sand and lay their eggs at night is an unforgettable experience, as is seeing the baby turtles hatch and begin their journey towards the ocean.
Oman is one of the best places to enjoy turtle nesting and hatching, thousands of turtles visit the country’s beautiful beaches each year.
Five of the world’s seven sea turtle species can be found in Oman, making it an excellent choice for nature enthusiasts who want to catch a glimpse of these rare creatures.
The guide below explains when and where to go for the best turtle watching experience in Oman. There is also practical advice and information about obtaining a visa for Oman.
When Can You See Turtles in Oman?
The best time to see turtles nesting is between April and August. During this peak season, approximately 20,000 turtles appear from the sea at night to dig holes in the sand and lay their eggs inside.
These eggs start to hatch 55 days later.
Tourists should bear in mind that this is summer in Oman and, for this reason, they should be prepared for high daytime temperatures. The average high temperature in July is just over 100 ºF (38 ºC).
Foreigners heading to Oman at this time of year should pack cool clothing whilst respecting the dress code for foreigners in Oman.
Where Can You See Turtles in Oman?
The most popular place to watch turtle nesting and hatching in Oman is Ras Al Jinz. Ras Al Jinz is a coastal village in eastern Oman.
Ras Al Jinz (Raʾs al-Jinz) is the largest turtle reserve in the Indian Ocean and offers tourists in Oman an unmissable opportunity to witness this memorable event.
As one of the most important nesting sites for Green turtles, an endangered species, strict laws are in place to ensure that they are protected. Disturbing the turtles or interfering with their natural habitat must be avoided by locals and visitors.
Tourists are, however, welcome to watch the nesting and hatching of turtles in Ras Al Jinz. Several companies run special turtle watching tours, many different packages are available including some with an overnight stay in a nearby hotel.
How far is Ras Al Jinz from Oman?
Ras Al Jinz is 121 miles (195 km) from Muscat, the capital of Oman, the road distance between them is 160 miles (160 km).
Tourists planning on driving in Oman can get from Muscat to Ras Al Jinz turtle reserve in around 3 hours and 50 minutes by car.
Places other than Ras Al Jinz to see turtles in Oman
Whilst Ras Al Jinz is the largest and most well-known turtle watching spot in Oman, there are several other sanctuaries and resorts where they can be seen:
- Ras Al Hadd: close to Ras Al Hadd, receives around the same amount of turtles
- Masirah Island: green, hawksbill, olive ridley, and loggerhead turtles
- Al-Dimaniyat Islands: home to many sea turtles
What Types of Turtle Can You See in Oman?
Of the 7 different types of sea turtle in the world, 5 species of turtle can be spotted during hatching and nesting season in Oman.
Leatherback turtle, the world largest turtle
The leatherback turtles, also known as the lute turtle, do not come ashore but can be seen when diving in Oman and on boat trips.
Leatherbacks are the largest species of sea turtle on the planet, they grow up to 6 feet (183cm).
The name leatherback comes from the fact that it does not have a hard shell, instead, it is covered in oily flesh. For this reason, the leatherback turtle is easily distinguishable.
Green turtles have a distinctive green shell
Green turtles are large sea turtles that get their name from the greenish color of their cartilage and fat.
Adult green turtles measure 3 to 4 feet (83 to 114 cm).
The green turtle is classified as an endangered species with approximately 85-90,000 nesting females left in the world.
Olive Ridley turtle is the most abundant of the world’s sea turtles
The Olive Ridley, also known as the Pacific Ridley, is the second smallest kind of sea turtle in the world growing to around 2ft (61 cm). The name comes from the olive color of their shell.
Olive Ridley sea turtles are best known for their mass nesting as thousands of females lay their eggs together on the same beach.
Hawksbill turtle, a critically endangered species of sea turtle
With fewer than 25,000 nesting females remaining, the hawksbill turtle is sadly classified as critically endangered.
It is one of the smaller sea turtles, growing to 2.5 or 3 feet (71 to 89cm) and identified by its narrow head and scales in front of the eyes.
Loggerhead turtle, named after its notably large head
The loggerhead sea turtle comes ashore to lay eggs less frequently than other types of turtle spotting one is a real treat.
The females nest every 2 to 4 years. As the name suggests, the loggerhead turtle has a large head and a heavy, strong jaw.
Advice for Turtle Watching in Oman
For the best experience and to avoid disturbing the turtles and their habitat, visitors should follow certain guidelines:
- Visit with a trained expert who can guide and advise
- Keep movement to a minimum to avoid starting the turtles
- Do not approach the animals, stay behind them and out of their field of vision
- Do not use flashlights, allow the eyes to adjust naturally to the darkness
- If using a camera, do not use the flash or use one equipped with an infrared lens
- Do not touch the turtles or be tempted to help them reach the ocean
What you need to go turtle watching in Oman
When planning a trip to Oman to see the turtle watching, the first important step is to check the Oman visa requirements. Most foreigners need a tourist visa for Oman, just GCC members are exempt.
Only certain nationalities can still obtain a visa on arrival in Oman, it is highly recommended that eligible passport holders obtain the Oman visa in advance.
The Oman eVisa application is hassle-free. The process is fully electronic with no need to present paperwork in person at an embassy or consulate or join long lines on arrival at the border.
Clothing and other recommended items to take
As the turtle hatching occurs at night, warm clothing and comfortable footwear are essential.
It’s a good idea to take some food and water, but no pieces of litter should be left behind.
Cameras can be taken to capture the magical moment but, as mentioned above, opt for one with an infrared lens.