Weekend at the Turtle Coast

Dreaming of a dip in the sea with the turtles? Come to the Ionian coast of turtles in Calabria

© Regione Calabria

Sport and nature

Are turtles your passion? Do you dream of admiring their hatching and accompanying them into the sea?

Come and discover turtles in Calabria and the beaches along the Calabrian Ionian coast that are chosen each year by the Caretta Caretta species in Calabria to lay their eggs.

You will experience a unique emotion, in contact with a true miracle of nature that enchants young and old alike.

Caretta Caretta turtles in Calabria

Did you know that turtles are among the most common marine species in Calabria?

They can be found in various stretches of sea, from the Tyrrhenian to the Ionian Sea, in particular along the Riviera dei Cedri (Dino Island and Cirella Island), in the Regional Marine Park "Scogli di Isca" and in the Protected Marine Area "Isola Capo Rizzuto", among the largest in Europe.

However, there is a specific area that Caretta Caretta turtles in Calabria choose to lay their eggs and reproduce. Anyone wishing to get to know the Caretta Caretta Calabria, the species that enjoys protection and preservation among turtles in Calabria, should head for the unspoilt beaches of the Lower and Middle Ionian Sea, between the provinces of Reggio Calabria and Catanzaro, where dozens of sea turtles nest every year.

Tartarughe caretta Caretta
Regione Calabria

Caretta Caretta in Calabria gather in the areas chosen for reproduction, which almost always coincide with the beaches where the specimens themselves were born. To find them, they travel thousands of kilometres, storing the coordinates by imprinting. Mating takes place in the water, while spawning takes place on the beach, in the same spot as the year before. Hatching occurs between 40 and 60 days later and is a very delicate moment, during which the presence of people, animals, lights and sounds can interfere dramatically.

The fragility of this moment does not exclude the possibility of witnessing it. On the contrary, the associations in the area that work to protect turtles in Calabria delimit special protection areas, beyond which it is possible to observe the hatching from a distance and be thrilled to see the little turtles searching for water.

Turtle beaches in Calabria

What are the turtle beaches in Calabria?

The pristine, sandy ones on the Ionian coast, between the Costa dei Gelsomini, in the province of Reggio Calabria, and the Costa degli Aranci, in the province of Catanzaro.

In particular, the beach of Brancaleone (RC) is the place for Caretta Caretta in Calabria. Here, in the town that hosted the confinement of writer Cesare Pavese, whose House-Museum can be visited, the turtles return every year after crossing seas and oceans in search of their old nests.

It is no coincidence that Brancaleone is home to one of the most important Sea Turtle Recovery Centres in the Mediterranean, which deals with the rescue, care and rehabilitation of specimens found in difficulty due to human activities.

Visiting Brancaleone on the trail of the turtles in Calabria means enjoying its clean sea, protected by the Capo Spartivento lighthouse, the Mediterranean maquis that frames it, and the charm of the ruins of the ancient hilltop village, Brancaleone Superiore. The latter, now abandoned, is a maze of rupestrian caves (cave-houses and cave-churches) that preserve inside them sacred engravings of Armenian origin. 

Regione Calabria

Another stretch of beach that is a reference point for turtles in Calabria is the one between Monasterace (RC) and Badolato (CZ), two important Caretta Caretta egg-laying locations in Calabria.

What to see along this stretch of coastline? The National Archaeological Park of Ancient Kaulon (Monasterace), where you can admire the mosaics of the Greek baths that bear witness to the symbolic presence of marine animals since antiquity (dragons, hippocampus and dolphins), and a visit to the historic centre of Badolato Superiore, one of The Most Beautiful Villages in Italy.

Regione Calabria

Caretta Calabria Conservation

Want to know more about Caretta Caretta Calabria?

Visit Caretta Calabria Conservation, the non-profit association founded by a group of naturalists and marine biologists working to protect turtles in Calabria.

Caretta Calabria Conservation is located in Palizzi (RC), another locality in the lower Ionian Sea of Reggio Calabria characterised by the presence of sea turtles, and is involved in monitoring, awareness-raising, training, holiday camps and nature tourism.

During your visit to Caretta Calabria Conservation, we suggest a stop at the evocative Calanchi Bianchi di Palizzi, the geological area close to the coast that will amaze you with its lunar atmosphere, amidst white clay marls and valleys sculpted with extraordinary shapes.

Calanchi di Palizzi
Vincenzo Stranieri


Ultimo aggiornamento: Apr 19, 2024 7:27 AM