Turtle Watch Rekawa

,, Their future is in our sands ''
Dear Visitors,

Please fill registration form HERE, our mission to make services for You and of course for turtles more, much more qualified and transparent, don't forgot who boss here - TURTLES are. They need your support, attention and LOVE!

Soon you can buy ONLINE ticket's for Turtle Watch journey. We are open daily, from 8PM till 1-2AM (closing time depends on turtles, we can't control natural processes, but please be prepared for magic night).

If you come at 5pm you might be able see baby turtles hatching with one of our guides. We only allow natural hatchings so there is no guarantee of seeing any baby turtles. At 8.30pm there's a very good chance you will see an adult turtle laying her eggs. Please come to the center between 7.45pm and 8.30pm. Our recommendations how to visit and where find us HERE

No flash photography or flash lights are allowed and you are only allowed to be on the beach accompanied with our local guides between 7pm and 6am. 

Your donations are always welcome, BUT please make donations online, then all the money will be forwarded directly to our new projects, it's difficult control cash money. Our transparency is on the TOP, all projects will be shown on the website, no hiddings, clear and simple.

Warm regards,
TWR team

The Turtlewatch in Rekawa, Sri Lanka, aims for a balanced approach between protection of turtles, community development and eco-tourism. Since turtles are (critically) endangered and their eggs still poached for consumption it is crucial to protect their nesting beaches.

In 1993, Turtle Conservation Project (TCP) was established in Sri Lanka as an independent, non-profit, non-governmental organization (NGO). TCP aims to protect all sea turtles native to Sri Lanka. The TCP began to initiate local and national conservation programs in Sri Lanka to address vital environmental issues. The TCP, from the beginning, aimed to devise and facilitate the implementation of sustainable marine turtle conservation strategies through education, research and community participation. Their activities consisted for example of protecting the turtles and turtle nests, community building, raising awareness and research activities.

In 1996 the TCP established its fundamental program in Rekawa (7 km east of Tangalle) by a pioneering in situ marine turtle conservation program, after research confirmed that Rekawa is Sri Lanka’s most important turtle nesting beach. Since the most widespread form of turtle exploitation within this area is illegal poaching of turtle eggs, the TCP implemented an environmentally sound model – a program involving local people formerly dependent of the collection of turtle eggs. By involving them as ‘nest protectors’ and ‘research assistants’ TCP was able to provide them with an alternative, more sustainable income to the poaching of turtle eggs.

The nest protectors organized themselves as the Nature Friends of Rekawa (NFR). As from 1997 tourists were invited to come and watch the nesting process of sea turtles. Therefore, a couple of the nest-protectors where trained to be a guide. In 2006 Rekawa beach was named the first official turtle Sanctuary of Sri Lanka, so the beach has a special status and it is not allowed to develop hotels upon the beach. TCP’s program in Rekawa gained recognition internationally and still continues their important work – for more information, please check their website, www.tcpsrilanka.org.

Since 2012 Rekawa is a community run project, managed on a day by day basis by the local nest protectors of NFR. With the support of tourists who visit the project, they became self-sustainable.

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Our captured moments, magical and untouchable.
Explore our day by day adventure here in TWR.
How to visit us
Please folow instructions how to find us or contact anytime for help.

News timeline

We love to share our life moments, nature so amazing and magical, stay with us and feel it by yourself.
Turtle Conservation

Millions of years ago, long before humans, marine turtles started coming to the undisturbed beaches of Sri Lanka to lay their eggs. The World Conservation Union (IUCN) lists all five species of marine turtles (Leatherback, Green turtle, Olive Ridley, Loggerhead and Hawksbill) that frequent Sri Lanka’s shores to nest as endangered, vulnerable or critically endangered. All these five species nest on Rekawa beach in the southern part of this island. Sri Lankan government legislation (1972) provides national protection for marine turtles and prohibits harming of turtles. However, turtle nesting beaches are being disturbed by tourist industry development and feeding habitats, such as coral reefs, are being destroyed by pollution and unsustainable harvesting. People still eat turtle eggs – and turtles – because they are considered very healthy and festive. Many turtles are accidentally caught and drown in fishing nets each year. The critically endangered Hawksbill turtle has been hunted to the brink of extinction for its carapace to provide raw materials for the illegal ‘tortoiseshell’ trade.

The Turtle Conservation Project (TCP) developed a unique approach to turtle conservation in Rekawa – and continued this up until this day. Firstly, it provides in situ protection for turtle nests. This means that eggs remain where they were laid, with nest protectors providing protection across the entire beach. This maximizes the yield of the nests and ensures as many hatchlings as possible survive into the sea. All nest protectors that are working on Rekawa beach are local men and are former turtle egg poachers. They protect the beach 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in six hour shifts. The nest-protectors ensure all nests are safe from human poaching and, when possible, from animal predators. Besides these activities they make sure the beach remains clean and support the nightly Turtle Watches by patrolling and spotting turtles as they arrive on the beach, checking on the status of nesting turtles and – if necessary – relocate the eggs to a higher, safer place on the beach if the water could wash away the nest. Providing this type of in-situ nest protection is the most effective form of turtle nest conservation. When we know a nest is due to hatch, the nest protector regularly checks for activity in the sand and guides the hatchlings to the sea – making sure crabs, birds, dogs and other land predators do not eat them. Late starters are helped and might be spotted by tourists.

The second core element of TCP’s approach was to establish projects that over time become financially self-sustainable, funded predominantly by tourism revenues and completely run by the local community (see also COMMUNITY PROJECTS). Therefore all benefits from the project directly impact the livelihood of the local people who live alongside the protected wildlife. NFR now runs the daily Turtlewatch in Rekawa and is self-sustainable.

Some Beautiful Moments

It’s these precious moments, that make all our efforts worth it. Take a look here, to see campaigns through our lens.

Sri Lanka, Rekawa
Morning turtles

Sri Lanka, Rekawa

Morning turtles
Sri Lanka, Rekawa
Morning turtles
Sri Lanka, Rekawa
Turtle going back to the ocean
Sri Lanka, Rekawa
Amazing Rekawa beach (golden hour)
Sri Lanka, Rekawa
Mr Crab in Rekawa wild beach
Sri Lanka, Rekawa
Turtle portret
Sri Lanka, Rekawa
Amazing beach
Community projects
The founding organisation of  the Turtle Watch, TCP always aimed for community based conservation, also in Rekawa, supporting the village in many ways. Rekawa is a small village near Tangalle, in the district of Hambantota in southern Sri Lanka. The village lies in between Rekawa Beach and a large saline lagoon surrounded by extensive mangrove forests. Rekawa Beach is the most important turtle nesting beach in Sri Lanka and the village of Rekawa knows a very high biodiversity. Still, the average income of families in Rekawa was relatively low. Therefore TCP heavily invested in involving and helping the Rekawa community and its environment by organizing numerous projects. For more information, please visit www.tcpsrilanka.org.

TCP’s succesful approach was to establish these projects so that they over time became self-sustainable. Many of these projects are now adopted by the community, supported by NFR or no longer necessary.

Nowadays, in cooperation with NFR and the volunteers, there are still many community activities. Please go to the Volunteering subpage to find more information.

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“A bone to the dog is not charity. Charity is the bone shared with the dog, when you are just as hungry as the dog.”