From the second we witnessed the thousands of seashells that decorated the home of Peacock Family Stay, we knew that we’d chosen a beautifully remote part of Tangalle to explore; secluding ourselves as you had to take a wooden raft aross the lake whilst the bridge is under construction.
Whilst checking into our family-sized bungalow (just 4480R/£21/$1.40 for 2 nights for 3 people), the son of the owner was explaining where all the shells are picked from; a ‘secret’ beach just down the way, close enough to hear the waves crashing. Upon entering the beach, we were shocked to discover no footprints to the left and no footprints to the right, no white bodies starfished upon the hot sands and no locals playing in the sea. It was just us three, Ben, Yas and I in a real life paradise…
We stripped down to our bathing costumes and went down to the water to cool the soles of our feet from the scorching sand that was layered like dunes. The reason for its appearance soon made apparent by the unusual waves we witnessed; tremendous in both height and power, we felt like Moses parting the sea as we looked out in awe.
Totally impossible to swim in, we sat on the edge and let the odd wave take us out, unnecessary filling our bottoms with sand, the stuff wedging itself into places I’d have rathered it not🙈😂. I’ve literally never been so covered in my life!
The sun was baking and without the protection of the sea to hide in, it was far too hot to sunbathe – so we decided to take a ‘gentle stroll’ down to the Rock Pool at the end of the beach. To say we underestimated the distance would be a joke, as we ended up walking for hours and hours🙈. We walked along soft sands that worked our calve muscles and upon shells that we had to be careful were not hermit crabs👀🐚. Along the way, we found some smaller waves and although the pull of the current was still prevalent, we had the chance to run in, cool down and wash the sand away 🙌!
We kept on trotting along, confused by the many ditches we encountered that we didn’t think were created by the handful of people we came across. We examined one closer and noticed little markings scattered around the entrance. We suspected the hatching of turtles, which was soon confirmed to us by an old local man. He showed to us a much larger trail which belongs to the mother as she traipses back to the sea after laying her eggs. AAAAH, TURTLES COME HERE 😍😍😍!! We were so excited that we instantly started planning our return back that evening, as the events happen in the moonlight.
We eventually reached the Rock Pool which was much busier than the coastline and we had a little splash ourselves in the natural made swimming pool before searching for some much-needed grub.
We came across a place marked on maps.me as ‘Drinks & Snacks’ which we were pleased to find was accurate 😝. We each devoured three ice-cream cones, three homemade potato pastries (fu*% the gluten 🤣) and a cup of tea for JUST 300R (£1.40/$2). It was so delicious and cheap that we went back the next day for a Fish Curry for 350R (£1.60/$2.30) and more pastries before Turtle Watching.
We’d hoped to see turtles the first evening like planned, but instead we just enjoyed a sunset before being chucked off the beach because it’s a protected area 🙄… We should have probably guessed that ha!
So the next day, after an amazing morning kayaking on the river (1000R/£4.70/$6.50 each for all-day rental from Coconut Cabanas) and coming across EVEN MORE wildlife – huge monitor lizards, herons, eagles, comorons and little fish that jumped so high that one actually jumped onboard 🤣 – we were ready for the next episode of our real-life nature documentary…
…A TURTLE LAYING HER EGGS!
We hired our own personal TukTuk driver for the evening for 1,500R/£7/$9.80 who waited whilst we had dinner to drive us down to the Rekawa Turtle Watching Center. When you get there, you have a little look around to understand the current dangers that turtles are facing – such as the Leatherback Turtles eating plastic bags instead of jellyfish – and other man-made issues like climate change bringing the overall population of these gorgeous creatures down by 90%😩.
STOP USING PLASTIC BAGS! REUSE! RECYCLE! SAVE THE TURTLES!
The host went through the rules of the watch, including no flash-photography as it disrupts the turtle and can temporarily blind her, to only approach the turtle from behind and to be quiet and not gather in large groups. Then, you sit and wait until the turtle watchers get a call saying that a turtle is on the beach – for us, a 150kg Green Turtle decided to lay her eggs that night 🐢💚! When we were taken down, the stars were so bright and vast, that they truly lit up the sky. We ventured down the soft sands, necks stretched back hardly believing our luck…and all for a 1000R/£4.70/$6.50 donation!
When we got there, it was around 10pm and the poor turtle was struggling to build her pit, with the first one collapsing in on her, so we all stayed 20 metres back whilst the guide acted as her back flippers to help her dig… and thankfully it was a success!
Once she was deep enough, she began to lay her eggs. We saw hundreds beneath her, as turtles reproduce in large quantities due to how difficult it is for the hatchlings to make it back to the sea. There are predator’s lurking on the beach and baby turtles are weak swimmers in the beginning, only managing to float. However, the chaps who work for the watch are so in love with the creatures and so protective of their nests, I imagine most of them make it back to the sea🤗.
I felt just as protective when ignorant tourists defied the rules and still used a flash on their cameras instead of appreciating the experience under the red light (the only level of light safe for the turtles eyes). Luckily, these sorts of idiots don’t stick around too long – only wanting a photo to show that they’ve seen it – so when it passed midnight, it was only wildlife lovers left who totally respected the situation. If you plan to visit and see this incredible sight, PLEASE be mindful of the rules!
After hours of her kicking up sand to cover the eggs (and into our faces as her flippers are really powerful ha), she was ready to be freed from the brambles she’d trapped herself in to venture back to the sea. What amazed me was her determination to cover those eggs thoroughly to ensure that her babies were safe. Despite the woody obstacles she kept hitting her flippers on, she did not lessen her power and continued to smack them hard to carry on! In the end, because she’d done such a good job, she was encouraged by the guide to begin the long journey home…
She crawled out of her hole and as she lifted her head and sighed in exhaustion, I wept a little. She only managed a few pulls at a time, lacking energy as she dragged her humongous shell along the sands before she’d stop and rest her head again.
It was a truly beautiful sight that showed to me the strength and purity of a Mother’s Love in any species. Whatever and whoever we are in the Animal Kingdom, we are so blessed to have the female in our life that is our Mum. I love and miss mine very very much!💓
As the magnificent Mother-to-be finally reached the waves, we saw the water tease her before she finally floated away. We all clapped and cheered at her incredible efforts! What an amazing creature she was and I feel so lucky to have seen her give life to this world!
Until the next episode of Lonely Planet 🌎😆…