Swimming with Sea Turtles At Cayman Turtle Farm

Cayman Trutle Farm

Swim with turtles in a lagoon full of colorful marine life. Come nose to nose with sharks and other predators of the sea. Explore a free flight zone filled with local and exotic birds.

The Cayman Island Turtle Farm offers an Adventure Tour that includes: Turtle Lagoon, Predator Reef, Caribbean Free Flight Aviary, and Breaker’s Lagoon. All in one location, you can swim in a lagoon with Green Sea Turtles, watch sharks and other predators through the underwater or dry view panels, see and feed Caribbean birds, play in the largest swimming pool on Cayman, rush down a two loop water slide, and stroll along a beautiful nature trail. 

The original farm was created to breed Green Sea Turtles for their meat, a traditional Caymanian dish. It continues that service today, supplying all turtle meat sold on the island. The turtles remain a central attraction, and you can tour the research–breeding facility with thousands of turtles in various stages of growth, some up to 600 pounds and more than 70 years old. There are four areas, three aquatic and one dry, covering 23 acres.

Upon entering the park, we were greeted by The Green’s Breeding Pond where most of the park’s breeder turtles reside. Massive turtles, larger than any I’ve seen before, were swimming in the sun and occasionally surfacing to take a breath of air or eat food that was on the surface of the water. There seemed to be dozens and maybe even hundreds. While they had their own space, I wondered about the inhumanity of it all. It is a farm and they are breeding the turtles for their meat, which isn’t necessarily the problem. I do eat meat and I’m certain it isn’t always “processed” in the most humane ways but watching the turtles swim around and over each other, devouring any food thrown into the water, made me stop and think about the process.

Large Turtles at The Cayman Turtle Farm

We held yearling turtles and I cooed over their adorable little fins flapping in my hands. I was grateful for the encounter and surprised at how quickly they calmed down when I rubbed their neck. Again, though, a sadness entered my mind when I thought about their fate. I was conflicted; both grateful and saddened by the experience, so we ventured to the Turtle Lagoon for an uplifting encounter.

Cayman Turtle Farm - Baby Turtles

At the Turtle Lagoon, we were able to snorkel with sea turtles and various reef fish. I’ve finally become comfortable with being surrounded by marine life and it’s a pleasure to be in a new, colorful environment. There was one corner of the lagoon where dozens of fish schooled together. While I did feel more intimidated, I didn’t panic or swim away. I relaxed my body and floated over them calmly. They continued swimming freely, without fear. Every time I’m in a situation like this, I become more and more comfortable in their world. I might even be ready for sharks, but I’ll cross that bridge when I get there.

Schools of Fish Cayman Turtle Farm

Next, we made our way over to the swimming pool to take a spin on the Turtle Twister water slide. It was a cooler day with high winds so one trip down the slide was plenty for us before running for the hot showers.

Water Slide Cayman Turtle Farm

The Cayman Turtle Farm is continuously sharing its research, they sponsor an annual turtle release to help replenish the wild population of green sea turtles, and the programs offered to tourists are undoubtedly educational, yet I’m torn between all of the good that they do and the breeding grounds where the turtles are kept. Life on the Cayman Turtle Farm is obviously a bleak contrast from how sea turtles live in the wild. Do the benefits of facilities like The Cayman Turtle Farm outweigh the damages? Should we be thinking more critically about our forms of entertainment?

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36 thoughts on “Swimming with Sea Turtles At Cayman Turtle Farm

  1. I think the turtle farms have the potential to make positive changes and help the species recover only if they are run by reputable people who are in it for the animals. Nothing will change if humanity doesn’t change. The same can be said with tigers, elephants, rhinos and any other endangered creature. The biggest problem comes from us and the damage we’ve done to their habitats. Unfortunately, many of these animal farms are created for financial gain and do very little to actually help an endangered species.

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  2. Great point about thinking critically about our entertainment. My hope is that attractions like this bring people closer to nature and help connect them to the world instead of separate us. Thank you for sharing.

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  3. I went there!! It was amazing!!! I love love love turtles and getting to hold them and kiss their little faces was so amazing! I didn’t get to swim with them (I swam with the dolphins that day), but I hope to go back sometime so that I can swim with the turtles! Yay!

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  4. I have been there a couple of times myself. Although, the second time I dropped off the wife and kids and drove around. I have swam with turtles in Barbados, Dolphins in Honduras and Cozumel. I have been on over 60 holidays that require air travel in the past twenty years. I even met my niece from Ohio in Cancun totally by coincidence. I bless your free spirit. It is that kind of spirit I write about in my book series. I think you epitomize a great example of what it means to put energy into living life. I hope one day we can correspond.

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  5. Your pictures are making me want to take a return trip to Grand Cayman! My family and I visited the Turtle Farm when we were there, and I agree with your statements about having mixed emotions about the entire experience. It made us wonder about their standards for the turtles and how close of an eye they keep on how the visitors handle the turtles.

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  6. Awww they’re so cute; how heartbreaking about their fate though. The school of fish thing make me a little anxious as well which always makes the idea of scuba diving a little rough for me. I couldn’t even imagine what a 600lb turtle looks like!

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  7. A great experience, but this is one time I can say with confidence that I wouldn’t change a visit there for my couple of memories of unplanned experiences when I went swimming and rowing with simply enormous turtles in the wild. One cannot believe how big they do get.

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  8. I was so sad to see turtle soup being served there! It was really hard to see the turtles and take photos with them, then see people eating turtle soup. I’m also nearly vegetarian, so I’m a little sensitive I suppose. My husband and I definitely had lots of mixed emotions about the place, too

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  9. I did that a couple of years ago! I was shocked to see they serve turtle soup! Even more shocked that while I was swimming with the turtles with my mom and cousin, my dad had a bowl! I adore sea turtles, my favorite animal. 🙂

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  10. Wow this is so beautiful. A bit sad though, as you said. It is a breeding and growing pool for food. I guess someone has to do it. I’m sure it was a joy though to hold them and see them. Love your adventures. Much love and light to you and have a blessed day!

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  11. I feel conflicted about zoos and aquariums in the same way. The only way I’ll ever get to see many of these animals is when they’re in captivity, which makes me grateful for the experience, but sad that these beautiful creatures can’t live “normal” lives.

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  12. I figure it’s an either/or. Either you participate in animal farming by eating meat of you don’t, out of conscience. It’s a tough call, for sure.

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  13. It surprised me that they are given permission to kill for meat, although it’s a farm, because all turtle species are classified as endanger by IUCN ( International Union for the Conservation of Nature). Looking from a positive perspective, though, it should be relieving to know that they are farming thousands of turtles. This hopefully mean that turtle egg poaching and wild green turtle hunting is minimized. I’m wondering how their working model is… Good knowledge, thank you for sharing!

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  14. Love the photo of the yearling turtle. Such a little cutie. As for the farm, I think it’s a good thing if it’s managed in a humane way. If anything it gives value to the turtles, which often our society doesn’t value animals, even the ones we eat. It also sounds like they study the turtles and maybe that info helps the wild turtles. And hopefully by having tourists there it promotes an open door policy, humane treatment and more incentive to do good in order to attract tourist dollars. I for one never knew a place like this existed but because of your blog, I do now and will keep it in mind if we find ourselves in the islands.

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