By Meghan McCloskey
DAY TWO — The sun was setting and the race was on to the warm Caribbean waves – for dozens of tiny loggerhead and green sea turtles hatchlings.
I was lucky enough to witness the release of the baby sea turtles at Barceló Riviera Maya Beach Resort in Riviera Maya, Mexico. This resort is dedicated to protecting the sea turtle eggs laid upon its 1.25 miles of glistening beach during sea turtle nesting season from May through October, and guests of all ages are encouraged to participate in the release of the juvenile turtles when they hatch.
During this very special experience, Barceló’s environmental stewards placed the sea turtles close to the tide and allow them to make their way to the ocean for the first time. As the last sea turtle swam away, a crowd of kids and parents cheered.
Barceló’s beaches on the Riviera Maya are teeming with wildlife from the coral reefs in the ocean to the mangrove forests on land. There are so many opportunities to interact with colorful tropical creatures. You can pose for a picture while holding a brilliant toucan or mischievous monkey or even cross the path with an iguana on the way to the beach. If you are curious to learn more about the biodiversity, you can find zoological signs posted around the natural habitats with fun animal facts.
Perhaps the most thrilling way to experience the nature of Riviera Maya is to go snorkeling right at Barceló’s beach. There is no need to charter a boat or find instructors; you can simply borrow snorkeling gear for all sizes included in the all-inclusive package for up to an hour a day. The reefs available to explore are more fantastic with more varieties and hues of fish than any I’ve experienced on any snorkeling trip; and you barely have to swim to access them. Smaller kids can even stay in the shallow areas; and don’t worry, there’s always a lifeguard watching over the snorklers and swimmers.
I spotted a silvery fish that I mistook as a shark, but found out from a wildlife expert he was just a big fish. What a relief! Don’t worry, there weren’t any sharks to be seen. I just hope that the baby sea turtles can say the same.