“Honu” is the Hawaiian word for the green sea turtle that lives on the Hawaiian Islands. There is nothing more magical than seeing or especially swimming among these amazing animals. I believe everyone should have the chance to experience these creatures, but with that being said, I do need to let you know that these local guys are protected, which means that you need to respect them by following these two rules :
Look but don’t touch the sea turtles. The Hawaiian green sea turtles are federally protected and it is illegal and harmful to touch or harass them! You should stay at least 10 feet away from all sea turtles no matter if it is on land or in the ocean.
Enjoy but don’t chase the sea turtles. If you see a sea turtle stay calm and don’t chase it. If you do so then there is a good chance that the turtle will decide to hang around for a very long time. There is no need to harass them in their own habitat. If you come to close they will likely get scared and try to swim away. The sea turtles regularly need to surface to breath. If you don’t give them the space they need they can in worst case end up drowning.
The 5 best beaches on Oahu to find Sea turtles
Laniakea Beach (Turtle Beach)
Laniakea Beach is located on the North Shore. The beach is also known as “Turtle Beach” and for good reasons. If you haven’t seen any turtles on your trip you can be sure to find them here. The Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle has returned to this beach for decades as it serves as a feeding ground because of the good amount of kelp growing there.
Since it is prohibited by federal law to touch the turtles or get to close to them there are now volunteers on location who devote their time daily to roping off the area surrounding the turtles, and answer questions that visitors may have about the turtles.
Laniakea Beach in the summer is a good place to go snorkeling and watch the Sea Turtles. In the winter the water is usually more rough, which makes the visibility bad as well as dangerous.
OBS: There is a very limited amount of parking spots for visitors at Laniakea Beach. Pedestrians cross the road regularly, which is causing the traffic to move very slowly. Be aware that this is causing frustration for Oahu’s North Shore residents. Therefore, try to be respectful and don’t just cross the road without giving a heads up.
Electric Beach is amazing for snorkeling. The beach in itself is not very charming as it has an electric power plant facility as a backdrop. The power plant is not all bad though, as it creates warmer water that attracts huge amounts of marine life, including the green sea turtle. Electric Beach is located on Westside of Oahu. It is a 30-40 minute drive away from Honolulu, but it is without a doubt worth the trip. Be aware, that the waters can be rough here from time to time. The water also often breaks close to shore, which can make entry a little hard. Therefore, I will only recommend that you go snorkeling here, if you are an avid swimmer. It is always a good idea to check the water conditions before you go. You can check the Hawaii Snorkel and Scuba Diving Report HERE
Makau Beach is one of my favorite beaches on Oahu. It is on of the most secluded beaches on Oahu and is almost as far west as you can go. The beach itself is gorgeous and is backed by the Waianae Mountain Range and Makua Valley. The water visibility is most of the time amazing and sea turtles here is not an uncommon thing. A pretty bonus about this beach is that it is a also a hot spot for Spinner Dolphins, so if you are lucky a pod of playful dolphins might join you and the turtles!
Ali’i Beach Park is located close to the beautiful and historic Haleiwa town. This beach is another great place to find sea turtles. Here you can spot turtles above or under water.
The waters here are shallow and the reef is close to shore, which makes it a great spot to see the sea creatures feeding on seaweed and coming up for air. If you decide to go swimming here then be careful to not hurt yourself on the reef as is pretty shallow here.
Hanauma Bay is absolutely gorgeous. You can’t visit Oahu without giving Hanauma Bay a visit too! Hanauma is home to over 350 species of tropical fish, including the sea turtle. I won’t say Hanauma Bay is my favorite place to go find turtles myself, but it does deserve a place on the list as it is a very family friendly place to go look for turtles as well as a good spot for people who might not be too comfortable swimming in the open ocean. Hanauma is therefore a great place to be brought nose to nose with these amazing creatures.