If you are planning a trip to North Cyprus and would like to see marine turtles, here is a little background.
From late May until late September the SPOT Alagadi Conservation Centre (see map) is manned between 09:00 and 20:30 and a dedicated team of volunteers are on hand to greet visitors and provide information. It is worth a visit if only to see the place and check out the beach during the day. Our information centre contains great visual displays and the volunteers will talk you through our activities and present a short film on our work.
Alagadi nesting beach is central to a Natura 2000 specially protected area and, during the nesting season, is closed to the public at night. Access routes to the beach are locked and only SPOT volunteers or staff of the North Cyprus Department for Environmental Protection are permitted to enter. Anyone found on the beach who does not have consent to be there will be escorted away. We do, however, invite small groups at night to see the turtles during our research and conservation activities.
There are four great restaurants in walking distance from our base. All of them offer traditional Cypriot cuisine including fresh local sea food, kebabs and mezzes. Please click on the names below for directions:
You could also make a day of your visit by enjoying the well preserved beach and nature reserve. Facilities and great food are available at Alagadi Turtle Paradise and Bar.
We offer three types of activity through the season:
JUNE AND JULY
WatchING Adult turtles at NIGHT
See our Alagadi online booking system for availability and bookings at Alagadi.
During night watch small groups accompany students to the beach at night to watch adult females covering up their nests. This activity is available throughout June to July . In order to limit any possible disturbance to nesting females we only take 17 people per evening. For bookings please follow the instructions on the Night Watch Booking at Alagadi Beach page. We turn away hundreds of visitors each year who leave their booking late and are unable to get on during the remainder of their stay, which is very disappointing, particularly for young kids. A sighting is not guaranteed, as some nights the turtles fail to nest and mid-June to mid-July is busiest. However, in recent years we have seen increasing numbers of nesting females due to our conservation efforts, so the chance of seeing a turtle is also increasing and quiet nights are now few and far between. Naturally though you should expect a late night.
Although Cyprus is exceptionally hot during the summer, the Alagadi midpoint where you will be waiting on the sand with the volunteers can be very cool and breezy at night. So it is important to bring warm clothing. You will definitely get cold in shorts and a t-shirt. It is also important to wear trainers or strapped sandals as you will be walking down concrete steps and on uneven surfaces, possibly over rocks, in the dark or under red torchlight. The total distance is about 2 kms. You are welcome to bring towels to sit or lie on and even blankets to snuggle up and to sleep under the stars until the moment comes for our volunteers to escort you to a nesting female. Guests arrive at 20:20 and last patrol off the beach is at 05:30am, but guests may leave at any time under the escort of our volunteers when they are available. We suggest a donation of £10 per adult participant for this event.
August and September
JUNE AND JULY
These also take place between July 20th and late September on week days. Under controlled conditions, visitors are able to name and release hatchling turtles at night under red light at around 9pm. As with Night Watch, because the beach is closed to the public, visitor numbers are limited and booking is required. Again check the Facebook page, pop in to SPOT Alagadi Conservation Centre or call up on the day for information. Bookings can only be made by phone via our hatching hotline (+905338725350) on the day of the event and bookings can only be taken at or after 12 noon. No bookings are taken in person. The hotline gets extremely busy and places fill up very quickly, so call at noon prompt. Please be patient with volunteers managing the hatching hotline who will be working hard during the morning of the event to juggle conservation and research activities with providing opportunity for your viewing. As with night watch sensible/closed toe footwear is important, but the releases are normally over within half an hour.If you are unable to get onto a private hatchling release in the week, then you can join a public release at Alagadi on the weekend. No booking is required for public releases on the weekend. Again, check the Facebook page for availability.
The importance and value of sea turtles as tourist attractions and as a component of the tourism product of many destinations around the world is increasing as the tourism industry seeks to enrich the traditional “sun, sea, and sand” experience. North Cyprus is no exception to this. The SPOT Alagadi Conservation Centre is now in it’s third decade and in recent years we estimate that around 5000 foreign tourists visit Alagadi each year to watch turtles.
Whilst presenting marine turtles to visitors in a controlled and sustainable way, SPOT is able to sustain itself financially through donations which visitors leave, whilst supporting local and national economies, which in turn support the project. The annual turnover of local restaurants are increased by our activities and thousands of holiday makers enjoy an enriched experience, encouraging them to return year on year. Our conservation efforts have helped sea turtles to become a tangible asset to the North Cyprus economy. In a region which is undergoing rapid development, this continues to play a major role in safeguarding the future of the most vital nesting habitats.
The marine turtle has become the emblem of the North Cyprus Ministry of Tourism and Environment. It is used extensively throughout the tourism and other industries for promotional purposes. Turkish Cypriot citizens even carry the turtle emblem on their identification cards and passports as a symbol of national heritage.