Friday, 16 October 2015

Swimming with Turtles in The Tobago Cays.

Swimming with sea turtles in the Tobago Cays in St Vincent and The Grenadines was possibly one of the most amazing experiences of my life. When I was in primary school my favourite dinner lady went to the Caribbean and swam with turtles, she came back and told us all about it, and I still remember as if it were yesterday, staring up at her in awe and announcing that I was going to do that one day.

Swimming with turtles in the Tobago Cays Marine Park

Months before we went to Palm Island, I scoured the internet looking for as much information as possible on swimming with these beautiful creatures. I read about how quickly they swim, and how it can be tough to keep up with them. Reviews also said that you need to be prepared to dive down to the ocean bed to get really close to them. I panicked. I hadn't swum properly in the ocean for years, my asthma was in a sorry state and I couldn't even remember the last time I swum underwater and held my breath.

I decided there was no way I was going to waste my trip to The Tobago Cays. Starting in May I went swimming once-twice per week until August. Each time I went swimming I did 30 minutes, starting off with 20mins of practicing holding my breath while swimming underwater, and then finishing the last 10mins of my session pushing my body as hard and fast as I could go. Aside from one asthma attack in the midst of a session, and two instances where I forgot my towel and underwear (do you know how long it takes to drip-dry when you're 65kgs?! a long time), it was a pretty big success. 

As we sailed from Palm Island to the Tobago Cays I felt confident and finally ready to swim with turtles, after more than 15 years of dreaming of it. We put on our snorkels and fins, and jumped into the beautiful clear ocean in the secluded marine park.

We swam around searching for turtles, and all of a sudden I saw one. Casually floating around on the ocean bed, a small sea turtle was feeding on the seagrass below me. I stared in awe, poked my head above the water, removed the snorkel from my mouth, relaxed, took a big deep breath, and dived down.

Swimming with turtles in the Tobago Cays Marine Park

As I swam down towards the turtle my lungs started to ache as I realized the ocean bed was a lot deeper than it looked, but I was determined.

Swimming with turtles in The Grenadines in The Caribbean

The three months of training my body was coming into good use, and I got close enough to the turtle to almost touch it. I held back, not wanting to scare it, and then swam up to the surface to give my lungs the air they craved. Before I knew it the turtle had joined me, and right in front of me his little head popped above the surface for air, before diving down to the ocean floor again.

Swimming with turtles in the Tobago Cays Marine Park

I was elated, I felt exhilarated, and I shouted as loud as I could 'I SAW ONE! I SAW A TURTLE!', Rach swam over and dived down to see for herself, and I took a photo or ten as we saw more and more turtles.

Swimming with turtles in The Caribbean

Swimming with turtles in the Tobago Cays Marine Park

We carried on swimming in the marine park 'turtle hunting', and as the other members of our boat got tired and jumped back into the dinghy, my adrenaline was pumping and I just didn't want to stop. I felt on top of the world and energized, and I continued to swim alongside the turtles until everyone was sat there waiting.

Swimming with turtles in the Tobago Cays Marine Park

Rach was hanging off the side of the dinghy, and we thought we'd just hang on and be towed back to The Pink Lady. This was a lot harder than it seemed though, so we jumped back in. I say jumped, but everyone had to haul me in and as I could feel my bikini top coming down I shouted 'MY BIKINI! CLOSE YOUR EYES!' and I flashed everyone my boob. It's ok though, I mean, it's just a boob. It could have been a lot worse, at least I didn't have an experience like Fat Amy in Pitch Perfect 2.

Swimming with turtles in the Tobago Cays Marine Park

As I said in my post about Sailing the Tobago Cays, we loved our first experience so much we went back and did it again a few days later! On our very last full day on Palm Island we hopped back onto The Pink Lady and went out swimming with turtles again. We discovered that actually you are allowed to touch the turtles if you want (we didn't do this the first time because we didn't think you were allowed), so our aim for the day was to touch one!

Swimming with turtles in St Vincent and The Grenadines
My swimsuit is from here.

This time the weather was very overcast and the ocean was choppy. Little did I know but my swim training would come in extra handy on this day. I honestly shocked myself with the strength of my body and capability of swimming in such rough seas for such a length of time. This time Cornelius jumped in and snorkelled with us, and it was good having someone with us who could point things out to us and signal where there was a turtle.

Swimming with turtles in the Tobago Cays Marine Park

The turtles really are fast, and it took a lot of energy to keep up with them, but eventually I managed to stroke the back of a turtle's shell. Mission accomplished.

Swimming with turtles in the Grenadines in The Caribbean

Rach got this awesome photo of her touching one!

Swimming with sea turtles in the Tobago Cays Grenadines

Rach got some photos of me turtle chasing, and then while she swam to the beach to join the others for a rest, I carried on spending time swimming around just soaking up the experience. At one point I swam straight over the top of a huge beautiful turtle, and then I was right beside one as it went to surface for air.

Swimming with sea turtles in the Tobago Cays Caribbean

Swimming with turtles in the Tobago Cays Marine Park
Rach's bikini is from here.
Swimming with turtles in the Tobago Cays Marine Park Caribbean

Swimming with turtles in The Grenadines in The Caribbean

I actually don't know what I would have done without my trusty Olympus TG-850. I'm so so glad I had it, and I'd definitely recommend investing in an underwater camera if you're planning on swimming with turtles or even just going snorkelling! It's honestly an amazing camera and with a selfie screen it's perfect for vlogging. Check out my vlog below from Swimming With Sea Turtles!

Palm Island and The Pink Lady crew, thank you so much for making a dream come true.

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I was a guest of Palm Island throughout my stay. You can find out more about staying at this incredibly special luxury private island on their website, and you can book the brilliant all-inclusive package which includes flights through Virgin Holidays here. As always all opinions (and accompanying emotions and cry-sessions) are my own.


  1. Swimming with sea turtles is absolutely one of the highlights of my travelling - they are so unbelievably graceful and mesmerizing to watch in the water! Lots of love, Andrea xxx

    Andrea's Passions

  2. 1) That looks like so much fun.
    2) Your tushy is on point!

    Honey x The Girl Next Shore

  3. What an incredible experience and your preparation certainly paid off! I love the colours of the tortoises' shells

    Suze | LuxuryColumnist

  4. Swimming with turtles is the most incredible thing ever! When I did just that in Redang Island, Malaysia, I nearly got head butted by a horny sea turtle hot in pursuit of his lady friend. They're such majestic animals and so graceful underwater, and surprisingly frisky! I wish I had an underwater camera like yours, your photos and video are giving me serious post-blogging-regret. x

    Jasiminne | Posh, Broke, & Bored

  5. I can feel your excitement oozing out of this post! Good on you for putting the training in - it definitely sounds like it paid off. I did have a little laugh at the thought of you trying to drip-dry - sorry!

    It sounds like an incredible experience.

  6. Wow! How cool! I swam with a turtle when I was maybe 12 or 13 so it's been awhile! Didn't touch it though, he was just going about his business haha. What an amazing time! Glad you loved it! :)

  7. This looks amazing. What an awesome experience! This totally needs to be added to my bucket list right now! x

    Jasmin Charlotte

  8. Nice photos :)
    Maria V.

  9. I would love to do this,it must be such an amazing experience

    Lauren x |

  10. I think I'm going to play your sea turtle video whenever I need to chill out! It's so relaxing and zen :). What an amazing experience and great that you even got to touch them!
    Lots of love,
    SilverSpoon London

  11. This is amazing - and sounds like it was worth every moment of pre-training!

  12. Oh my - this looks incredible!!!!! You have definitely inspired me to add this to my wishlist!!!!! Gorgeous!!!!!!!

    Happy Sunday :)

    LJ xxx

  13. Great post! Have a nice weekend:)

  14. Wow, these photos are incredible! What an amazing and surreal experience this must have been :)

  15. Oh wow, this sounds like the most incredible experience. Some beautiful photos too! xx

  16. Favourite vlog of yours yet! Magical.

    Polly xx

  17. Oh my god that looks amazing - I am so impressed by your training too, really worth it for such an incredible experience.

  18. This looks like heaven! Your pictures are beautiful, what camera do you use???
    Fab post, thoroughly enjoyed it (even if a little jealous!)


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