Playona is a micro-village composed of only a few families, with no electricity, situated next to Acandi the biggest town on that side of the gulf of Uraba, exactly in between Triganna and Capurgana, 45min with a small local boat, or 30min with the big transport boats, but only to Acandi. It is on the long beach of Playona that the biggest turtles of the world come to lay their eggs, the leatherback turtles, here called “Tortugas cana”. Those turtles can grow up to 2.3m long and weight up to 700kgs. They are blind as they live in the depths of the ocean, and eat essentially jellyfish. Their shell is not hard but flexible. Interesting to note there are only 18 other beaches in the world where they come to lay their eggs (2 others in the gulf of Uraba)..; it is a privilege to witness this magical moment right next to our little paradise.

Out of the 14kms along that beach (from Goleta, next to Trigana, to Acandi, next to Capurgana), the turtles mostly come to the last 4kms next to Acandi, where the sanctuary is and “parks” where the eggs are moved by volunteers protecting wildlife from predators (birds, dogs, reptiles..) and some locals who occasionally eat the eggs.

It is possible to watch the whole act of laying eggs, which takes about 2hrs between the time the turtles arrive at the beach and leave again. Rigorously follow the instructions from locals; especially use only red lights, remain silent, and don’t go any closer than 3m from the turtles or they could turn back.

Generally they lay their eggs at night, from beginning of February to the end of June. It will take roughly 60 days to the +/- 80 eggs to hatch, so from beginning of April to the end of August we can watch the baby turtles hatch and make their way to the sea. As the most part of the eggs are relocated in parks and dated, it is almost certain to be able to see them hatch. Moreover, when the babies get out of the nest, there always are a few left at the bottom, a bit weaker, taken out by hand the next day and put in the sea. In nature, those babies would die or be eaten by predators, but thanks to people they survive, at least a few more days…indeed, according to a study, only ONE turtle will reach adulthood out of the 1000 babies hatched. These turtles live up to around 100 years old if they die of old age, and reproduce every 2 to 3 years…

Playona doesn’t have a mooring point and in dry season (from beginning of December to end of April) it is impossible to get a boat to the beach because of the waves, the boat will leave you either in Goleta or Acandi, and then you will have to walk to the sanctuary, if you come from Goleta (the beach being very dirty, trash arriving from everywhere with the waves…; thus it won’t be the nicest walk you’ve ever done, added to that you will have to spend the night over there). To us, the best season to get there is May/June because you can both see the adult turtles coming to lay their eggs and the babies hatching and coming out of the nest to get to the sea. Moreover the sea is much calmer in this season; we can arrive directly at the sanctuary by boat around 6pm before nightfall, and leave from the beach afterwards if the sea allows it (as the sea can be agitated as well even if it is generally calm). This way we don’t have to spend the night there. But it is also good to spend the night as it contributes to the local economy. Accommodations are precarious and with no electricity, it is not everybody’s cup of tea.

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