Scuba diving with sea turtles at Dive Zihua

Hello ocean lovers!

Summer is at our doors which means here at Dive Zihua, it’s sea turtle time! Every dive is a possibility to encounter those beautiful animals. If you ever wanted to scuba dive with sea turtles it is a good time to do it.

Not long ago, on May 23rd, was the International world turtle day so I decided to make this post all about sea turtles and the species you can meet during your visit in Zihuatanejo. We are so lucky here in this little tropical paradise to have kilometers of sandy beaches where the mama turtles come back to the same place every year to lay their eggs.  

Turtle season

You have the chance to see turtles all year long in Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo but the summer from June until October, is considered the high season to be able to witness those magnificent reptiles.

Scuba diving with sea turtles

Lately, we already noticed an increase of observations during our dives and at the surface when they come up for a puff of air or two. It is always fun as we are gearing up in the boat to get a little peek a boo from a turtle.  It gives us high hopes to meet them face to face underwater while we scuba dive. Some of our dives sites are good locations to see them like Morros de Potosi, Solitary rock and Sacramento for example.

Olive Ridley sea turtle coming for air close to Morros de Potosi

The coasts of Mexico are visited by 6 out of 7 species of sea turtles. When you scuba dive or snorkel with us at Dive Zihua, you have the chance to meet 4 species of sea turtles.

Sea turtle siting at Sacramento in front of Ixtapa

Know your sea turtles

Here are some tips to be able to identify the species from the region. 

Leatherback sea Turtle (Dermochelys coriacea). Tortuga laúd in Spanish is the biggest specie of sea turtles. They are easy to identify because of the unicity of its carapace. Unlike other sea turtles, the carapace is covered with skin and oily flesh, with five distinct ridges starting at the neck to the tail. It is mostly dark grey to black colour with white spots. One other thing that distinct them from the others is the presence of spines in their mouth to stop their prey from escaping.

Leatherback sea turtle
Inside of the mouth of a Leatherback sea turtle covered in spines

The smallest one you can find in Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo and the most common here, is the Olive Ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea) or tortuga golfina in Spanish. The carapace is heart shaped and olive green but sometimes appears darker because of algae growing on its back. They have 5 to 9 pairs of dorsal scutes with 2 pairs of prefrontal scales on the head. This specie is known for their mass-nesting events (arribadas) when hundreds of turtles come to shore at the same time to lay their eggs.

Olive Ridley sea turtle
Olive Ridley sea turtle mating, Morros de Potosi

Hawksbill sea turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata). Normally, hawksbill turtles or tortuga de carey in Spanish are easy to recognise because they have a very colourful shell with margins that appears serrated at the rear like a saw. The beak is sharply pronounced and hooked because they feed almost exclusively on sponges. They have 2 pairs of prefrontal scales.

Hawksbill sea turtle at Manzanillo
Look at the beak and the 2 pairs of prefrontal scales on this Hawksbill sea turtle

Tortuga verde is the Green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) and is mostly herbivorous. The snout is very short and the beak is unhooked. They only have a single pair of prefrontal scales. The carapace has various colour patterns brown and green that changes in time with a yellow plastron. The name green sea turtles comes from the green fat beneath its carapace. 

Green sea turtle
The green sea turtle is the only specie in Zihuatanejo-Ixtapa with one pair of prefrontal scales.

Hope I was able to help you identify the next sea turtle that crosses your path. The best way is still to see them, get in the boat it’s time to go scuba diving! Either you are in Ixtapa or Zihuatanejo we would love to make your scuba diving experience unforgettable.

See you soon


Owner, scuba instructor and marine biologist at Dive Zihua

If you want to know more about sea turtles


Scuba diving in Zihuatanejo

Hello friends!

 I wanted in my first blog post to give you a summary, a first glimpse, of what scuba diving in Zihuatanejo can be like.

Zihuatanejo is a city on the Mexican Pacific Coast known as the Costa Grande. The town is located around a beautiful bay. It kept its traditional feel of a fisherman village compare to her sister, the resort city Ixtapa, located a mere 5km north. Here in Zihua, life has its own pace, the beaches are amazing, the people are friendly and welcoming and I haven’t even started talking about the food!  Lets not start talking about the food 🙂


But lets go back to our main subject: scuba diving. Scuba diving here is really exciting! The diversity of marine life is pretty incredible. From tiny to huge, we get a little bit of everything. The marine biologist in me is always amaze by the variety of species we can find. Seahorses, nudibranchs (sea slugs)pufferfish, coral, moray eels, whale sharks, sea turtles, eagle rays, stingrays, electric rays, octopus, sea urchins, sea stars, lobsters, and dolphins are simply a sample of everything there is to see!

 In season, from December to March, we get beautiful, enchanting, mermaids… I mean WHALES!! We may rarely see them while we dive, but have you ever scuba dove listening to a humpback whale undersea symphony? Well, here we have!

Argus Morey eel
Spotted Eagle rays
Humpback whale

Visibility and conditions

The diving conditions change throughout the year including visibility, water temperature and currents. April and May are normally the coldest months to dive. I must admit, this is no Caribbean. We are on the Pacific side and the conditions are different. Visibility is rarely 100% but can reach up to 30m (100ft). The best months for visibility are November to January with still very good conditions in February, March, July and October.

Deep Dive paradise

I don’t know about you, but personally, as a scuba diver I’ve always enjoyed deep dives. I just love to look up and see this immense wall of water above me. Here in Zihuatanejo, we have so many amazing deep dives sites to choose from. One of my favorite site is Solitary rock. It is an isolated giant pinnacle coming out of the sea just outside the bay going to 30m (100ft) deep. The marine life is very active around this rock and we always get a great show from enormous schools of fish, and it’s a pretty good place to spot sea turtles, eagle rays and whale sharks.

Solitary rock

Scuba diving in Zihuatanejo can be a very exciting experience. If you allow us, Dive Zihua would love to make you discover all its little secrets.

So now, what are you waiting for? Let’s go diving! 


Owner and Scuba Instructor Dive Zihua