Ras Al Jinz Turtle Reserve Oman : for many travelers this one of the highlights of a trip to the Sultanate. It is quite an experience to wake up very early , get on the turtle beach and spot wild adults and (if lucky) baby turtles leaving their nest and sliding back to sea. Below is my guide to plan your visit.
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Turtle beach Sur - A Fantastic Nature Experience
Ras Al Jinz is one of the best Nature experiences to enjoy in the Sultanate of Oman.
Every year, thousands of sea turtles migrate from the shores of the Arabian Gulf and the Red Sea to lay their eggs on Oman’s beaches. Reserves have been set up to protect them. They offer opportunities to see them come to shore in the evening and leave their nest in the morning.
Enjoy sunset or sunrise on a beautiful beach while the large turtles make their nest or get to the sea.
It is quite magical to see them dig resiliently and slide slowly back to the water!
(many many more photos of turtles coming in the article!)
So you can understand why it is one of the top things to do in Oman...
Where and When - Turtle season in Oman
Best time to see turtles in Oman
- Ras al Jinz turtle peak season (and hatching) is between May and September, especially July to September (sadly some of the hottest months to travel there)
- Turtles come all year-round. However there could be days in low season when you don't see any. Peak season could give you 20 sightings and more.
- During the night, turtles drag themselves out of the water and on the sand to dig a hole and lay their eggs if they are satisfied. They then slide back to the sea.
- 55 days later the eggs hatch and the baby turtles start their difficult trip to the water. They mostly will be eaten by birds, crab and foxes but some of them will reach the water.
Where to see turtles in Oman
- The green turtles come to shore Ras Al Hadd - Ras Al Jinz near Sur
- Green turtles also land on Masirah Island and the Daymaniyat islands
- Other species nest at specific location especially on the islands
Ras al Jinz is the most well-known Turtle Beach Oman and the easiest to access from Muscat.
Difference Ras al Jinz and Ras al Hadd
The whole coast from Ras al Hadd to Ras al Jinz beach are where the green sea turtles come to nest.
Most of the time people use one name or the other.
Both locations have beach and accommodation.
The reserve with the visitor center is at Ras Al Jinz. While Ras al Hadd is the name of the village at the cape.
From what I have read, the evening tours at Ras al Hadd feel more crowded that at Ras Al Jinz.
About the Ras Al Jinz Turtle Reserve Oman
How to see the turtles in Oman at the Reserve
- Evening tours can be booked by any ones, however photos are not allowed
- Morning tours happen very early morning (around 5am) - available spots normally fill in quickly with visitors staying at the surorunding hotels (so book early) and photos are allowed
- Learn more about the Turtle viewings
How to get to Ras Al Jinz Location
- The reserve is located near the village of Ras Al Hadd, west of the town of Sur
- Muscat to Raz Al Jinz Turtle Reserve - 3h drive
- Sur to Raz Al Jinz Turtle Reserve - 45min drive
- Easy drive
Be overwhelmed by the beauty, not the planning!
Turtle reserve organized tour
If you don't want to drive, there are 2 day excursions from Muscat that take you to the turtle reserve as well as to beautiful Wadi Shab, wadi Bani Khalid and the desert of Wahiba Sands! Check out the program and Book
The Turtle Reserve of Ras Al Jinz
The reserve is actually a beach with a museum.
Once at the museum building, the guide will take you in the minibus for 1km to reach the beach where you will start looking for turtles.
Where to stay - Ras Al Jinz Reserve Accommodations & "turtle resort"
The Ras Al Jinz Turtle Reserve Rooms and Tents
Right by the reserve, they have set up some accommodations of 2 types - carapace rooms and luxury eco-tents.
This way you don't have to drive early morning you are right there! And of course, sunset and dawn tours are included.
The Ras Al Jinz Turtle Beach Resort
Otherwise you can stay at one of the accommodations in Ras Al Hadd.
If staying there, book your evening or morning tour and plan a 20 min drive to get to the Reserve.
First Turtle sighting
In winter time guided tours at the reserve start at 5am (4am in Summer). 20 person can fit in that minibus.
It was still very dark when we spotted our first turtle getting off a hole. Without the flash and with the turtle moving it was difficult to capture it well but those pictures will still give you an idea.
I was impressed by the size of the turtle even though the guide said it was a medium one.
The Rules on the Turtle Beach Oman
- Flashlights are not allowed. Turtles are very sensitive to light (they lay their eggs in the dark) and they will sense white light as a threat so they will not lay their eggs and not come back
- Red lights are acceptable, this is what the guide is using for us to see
- Only our guide was allowed to use white lights and only towards the tail
- Do not stand in front of them. Again, they will feel a threat. So you look at them from the side and from behind
Foxes are also around the area, as they love eating baby turtles. So if you have the chance to see a baby turtle be aware that it might be taken by a fox, a crab or a bird.
Second Turtle sighting at Ras Al Jinz
Then we spotted a second one. We left it alone at the beginning so that it could lay eggs and went searching for babies. No luck there.
Then when it decided to leave the nest (our guide told us it had not laid eggs), we admired its strenuous journey to the sea.
It was so frustrating to see it slide straight into the other holes on the beach and having to do more effort each time. I wanted to turn it right or left to avoid them.
The sun started rising and we could see it better.
Turtle reaching the water - tracks in the sand
Finally the turtle reached the water. It was really a fascinating journey to watch.
The Ras Al Jinz Beach
I also enjoyed the beach. The guide left us wander around before taking us back to the building. There were many turtle tracks and holes all the sandy area.
Free & Public - other "Sur turtle Beaches"
We were indicated a public beach by another guide who insisted it was full of turtles. We went at 3am before the Ras Al Jinz Turtle Reserve tour. We saw tracks and holes but no turtles. And the beach was not clean. But if you want to get a chance to see them for free and if, I hope, you will respect them (not use flash, and use only red lights), here are the directions (not that easy to find especially in the dark):
- 9 km after the turn to the Ras Al Jinz Reserve you will reach a village (coming from Sur)
- Go past the white and green mosque on your left
- Turn left at the poles
- Drive through the village and find a track in the sand. It is the track the fishermen use to get to the beach.
Snorkelling with turtles in Oman
What I love the most is seeing the turtle underwater. They are so graceful as if flying underwater.
You cannot go swimming at the Ras al Jinz turtle Reserve.
However if you go snorkeling around the Daymaniyat islands or in the Bandar Khayran Reserve, you may see some. I did:
Want to see more of Oman's beauty?
Would you wake up that early for the opportunity?