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Iztuzu is one of the region’s most stunning natural beaches, with five kilometres of golden sand, a photogenic backdrop of pine-forested mountains and not a hotel or restaurant in sight. It’s unique for being a mix of river freshwater on one side and salty sea water on the other—the beach is effectively a sandbank between the two water areas—and for its loggerhead sea turtles.

In fact, its nickname is “turtle beach” and if you spend some time here, especially around sunset, you may well spot one of these beautiful creatures crawling across the sand to its beachside nest where it lays its eggs before returning to the sea. When hatched, the babies use the moonlight to guide them back to the sea; for this reason, the beach is closed at night.

Sadly, many of the turtles get injured by man-made objects such as fishing hooks, boat propellers and even satellite tracking equipment, and there’s a conservation centre at the southern end of the beach—established in 2009 by Englishwoman June Haimoff, who also saved the area from development—that saves and rehabilitates them. In the open tanks, you can observe loggerhead, black, and green turtles, some weighing up to 30-40kg. The centre also provides information boards, a short film, and knowledgeable volunteers are around and ready to answer questions.

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