One of my most memorable experiences from my 3 days in Cayenne in French Guyana was turtle watching at Novotel Beach. This was a real surprise for us. We knew turtle watching and viewing was something you could do in French Guyana, but what we didn’t know was how random and spontaneous and lucky we would get. It can be done at night and in early morning. By day, you won’t see a single turtle here.
How I found out about Turtle Watching at Novotel Beach, Cayenne, French Guyana
Being a travel blogger means that I’m checking my emails, Facebook fan page and website as often as I can. In short, if I can get online, I will go online. This week I got an e-mail from a fellow traveller who somehow found my blog and realised we are both in French Guyana at the same time. We didn’t quite meet up in French Guyana, but we may do in Suriname or Guyana. It was Daniel who emailed me and he told us about some turtle viewing down on the beach near the Novotel Hotel in Cayenne. He must have read that I had crossed from Brazil into French Guyana that week.
We hired a car in French Guyana which made it easy to get around. For the basis of this post I will refer to the beach as the Novotel Beach. I know this may be “brand naming a beach” and that I shouldn’t do that, but the beach didn’t seem to have a name and I want you to find it, so this is the best way. It’s just down from the Cayenne Novotel.
How to get to the Novotel Beach, Cayenne, French Guyana
If you don’t have your own transport, it will be tricky. There are a few infrequent bus routes that go along the main road between Cayenne and Remire-Montjoly.
But you need to be there after dusk, or early morning to see the turtles meaning the buses are not realistically an option. Take our advice and hire a car – we used Budget in the city centre. If not, get to know locals and ask them for a lift. Worst case scenario get a taxi, but it won’t be cheap…
Follow the main road out of Cayenne which heads east towards Remire-Montjoly. At some point you will see a sign on the left hand side for Novotel. This is the turn off you take. Less than a kilometre down this road is the beach where you can see turtles. The beach will have signs up on the way in and a small car park, and on the left lots of turtle related murals.
When to go Turtle Watching at Novotel Beach, Cayenne, French Guyana
This is a good question as we were there in June 2014 and saw the turtles. We have heard that April and May are the best months and that June and July are also good. But please do your research in advance. We were lucky. On the 23rd June we saw the turtles. Don’t bank on them always showing up on that date though.
What time to go Turtle Watching at Novotel Beach, Cayenne, French Guyana
Again, the whole event seems like chance to me. Yes, it should be dark but the exact time is not always clear. The turtles stay out of the water for around 2 hours only and you need to be lucky to catch them. The night we went, we arrived at 8pm to the beach, had a walk and couldn’t see any so returned to our car. At 8.30pm ish we had another walk and this time we were lucky and we saw them. Daniel saw them after 9pm. Others have turned up at 9pm and saw nothing.
Aside from the turtle watching, there are a few other things to check out so here’s an overview from what you can do there – we went at night and again the next morning.
1. The Information Boards
On the way to the beach you will see lots of information boards about turtles. I will be honest and say I am not a big animal freak so the different types of turtles kind of passed me by. Here are some information boards on the way down to the beach which tell you about the different types of turtles.
2. The Murals
On the right hand side as you walk to the beach there are a load of cool murals all featuring images of turtles and this is sponsored by a group called KWATA which protects the turtles.
3. The Beach
Obviously this is a tropical paradise so the beach itself is worth checking out – go in for a dip and relax. There are not really any ice cream or drink vendors which proves how untouristy it really is. A great spot to relax.
4. Turtle Watching
Of course this is the highlight. We turned up just after 8.30 pm and got to see small baby turtles and a mother nesting her eggs. The eggs need to be in sand in a hole. There were a few turtle experts that came along to explain the process to us.
We were lucky to catch both the mother and the baby turtles. It was quite a sight I have to say and really really worth it. Flash lights are not supposed to be used hence the lack of actual photos – go there and see it with your own eyes. The guides will give you stickers which read “Turtle Safe” to put over your torches to prevent the flashlight shocking the turtles. Protect the animals remember.
5. Sunrise and Sunset
We met a lot of people who were heading to the beach to watch sunrise and sunset. Sunrises in the east of course so sunrise is best. There won’t be too many people about…
There are tour companies all over Guyana, Suriname and French Guyana that organise turtle tours and turtle viewing. But quite honestly – why pay if you can get it for free? We loved our experience in Novotel Beach, Cayenne (thanks for the tip off Daniel!!) and decided to skip Awala completely as we had already been satisfied by our turtle experience here. We hope you get to see the turtles like we did.
I made some videos from the turtle viewing but they are very dark and you won’t see much…