Happy World Oceans Day! 5 places where sea turtles and luxury meet

Happy World Oceans Day! 5 places where sea turtles and luxury meet
A baby sea turtle at the Thai Muang Turtle Sanctuary that's not far from the beachfront resort of Aleenta Phuket near Phuket, Thailand. (Aleenta Phuket)

The United Nations declared World Oceans Day as a day to think about protecting the seas and the marine creatures that live in them. Sea turtles are a good place to start. There are eight species of them worldwide, some endangered because their populations are declining.

In the U.S., you're most likely to see loggerhead turtles in the Southeast and green turtles on the east coast of Florida. There are many places in the Northern Hemisphere to watch them nest and see babies born.

Here are five places where you can stay in luxury while keeping an eye on the turtles.

1. Phuket, Thailand

Aleenta Phuket is located on a private stretch of Natai Beach less than half an hour north of Phuket International Airport. It's also on the doorstep of nesting grounds for endangered green, leatherback and hawksbill sea turtles.

The resort just launched a Catch and Release Turtle Lovers package that includes two nights in an ocean-view loft room and a turtle-releasing ceremony with private dinner on the beach. You'll also get to visit the nearby Thai Muang Turtle Sanctuary, which protects and releases baby turtles and receives funding from the hotel. Prices start at $650 for two nights for two people. Info: Aleenta Phuket.

The Aleenta beach resort near Phuket. (Aleenta Phuket)

2. Riviera Nayarit, Mexico

The Iberostar Playa Mita. (Mary Forgione / For The Times)

Before luxury hotels like the Four Seasons Punta Mita and Iberostar Playa Mita popped up, Nayarit's coast long welcomed nesting sea turtles, specifically a species called olive ridley, named for its olive greenish color.

Between June and December, turtles come to lay their eggs on little known beaches as well as those in front of luxury hotels. Towns such as Sayulita have programs in which the eggs are retrieved and incubated, and then hatchlings are returned to the ocean. Often visitors can participate in the process. There are lots of resort choices along quiet beaches where you can stay while visiting the turtles. Info: Convention-Visitors Bureau Riviera Nayarit.

3. Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Velas Vallarta resort (Velas Vallarta)

Farther south of Nayarit, Velas Vallarta in Puerto Vallarta likes to show off its green side to guests. The hotel takes guests on a tour of the property to see its composting area and solar panels that heat water. The hotel on Marina Vallarta beach is also a sea turtle magnet. The hotel helps scientists and volunteers by providing a nursery for turtle eggs during the 45-day hatch period. Guests can participate in turtle releases too.

Prices start at $147 per person per night, based on double occupancy. That's an all-inclusive rate with meals, beverages and more. Info: Vellas Vallarta, (888) 407-4869

Boca Raton, Fla.

Boca Beach Club in Boca Raton, Fla. (Thomas Hart Shelby / Boca Beach Club)

Many Florida beaches welcome and take care of baby sea turtles. At the Gumbo Limbo Nature Center, you can take nightly walks to see the turtles between July 20 and Sept. 10. The cost is $17 per person, and you can help release baby sea turtles. Tickets are sold online only. Info:

If you plan to spend the night, the Boca Beach Club, a Waldorf Astoria resort isn't far. Rooms start at $249 a night plus tax and fees.

It also offers guests a family-friendly scavenger hunt called Mizner's Quest in which kids and parents have to "find" 17 discovery points. Among the items: A turtle nesting sanctuary. Info: Boca Beach Club, a Waldorf Astoria resort

St. Kitts and Nevis

A sea turtle heads into the ocean at Nevis Four Seasons. (Nevis Four Seasons)

Each year the island of Nevis in the West Indies holds a Sea Turtle Conservancy Weekend. This year, it runs from July 10-13, and visitors can take part in live sea turtle releases at the Four Seasons Nevis. If you can't make those dates, you can take nighttime turtle walks June through October at the resort to observe nesting sea turtles and their hatchlings.

As an added incentive: the resort has a fourth-night-free offer that includes breakfast. Info: Four Seasons Nevis


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