Maui has an abundant reef system filled with a variety of tropical fish, aquatic animals and everyone’s favorite… Sea Turtles! Also known as “Honu” in Hawaii, the turtles can frequently be seen while snorkeling or resting on the beach. The island is home to 5 different turtle species, but the most common one seen is the Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle.
Hawaiian Green sea turtles are protected in the state of Hawaii, and it’s illegal to touch or harass them. It is recommended to stay at least 20 feet away from the turtles at all times. It is important to give turtles their space and to not disturb them at any time, as this can cause them stress. If someone is caught touching or harassing a sea turtle they can be penalized with a $10,000 fine!
Turtles can be spotted from the beach, sleeping and relaxing in the sand or while coming up for air in the water. If you go snorkeling, make sure that you only wear reef safe sunscreen to help keep the oceans healthy and the turtles healthy! Traditional sunscreen is toxic to the reef and causes many problems to the health of the fish and animals that inhabit it. Below we have listed some of the best spots for turtles in Maui.
Where to see turtles in Maui;
(You can click on any title for a google map of the location)
As the name suggests, Turtle Town is a common area for turtle sighting… and it does not disappoint! Turtle Town is located at Maluaka Beach on the South Side of Maui. Turtles love to hangout in the small sea caves and structures made from old lava formations. If you aren’t wanting to get in the water, you can stand and spot them from the shoreline. They are frequently seen popping their heads out of the water when coming up for air. There is a bathroom and shower area here making it a nice stop for the whole family.
Hookipa Beach is located on the North Shore of Maui. It is known for frequently having turtles resting on the sand at one end of the beach. Sometimes there are so many turtles sleeping at one time, that people commonly confuse them as rocks! If you are facing the ocean, the turtles will be seen all the way to the right side of the beach (where the lower parking lot starts). You can also watch the local surfers and windsurfers catch waves off the point. This is a great place to take the family for viewing from land, but since there can be big surf and strong currents we do not recommend getting in the water here. If you want to hangout at the beach and get in the water we recommend heading to the other side of the beach. We also recomend only getting in if the water conditions look good and you are a confident swimmer.
This is one of our top recommended places to snorkel in general. You can see a wide variety of fish, turtles and even the occasional reef shark (Don’t worry they are small and not aggressive!) The turtles here can be seen swimming around the reef or hanging out on the seafloor. One you get to the rocky beach, we recommend swimming out to the right side to see the best action. Be careful when entering and exiting the ocean here, as the beach is made out of large slippery rocks. We recommend taking a boat trip to Honolua, so you can spend the most time in the water possible and not have to worry about a dangerous entry or the long swim out. Our West Maui Snorkel Tour will visit here when weather and conditions are good for the trip.
At Mala boat ramp in Lahaina, there is an old pier that was destroyed by Hurricane Iniki in 1992. This created an artificial reef system that is now full of life and a great place to snorkel or scuba! Snorkelers will see turtles swimming around this area or hanging out around the structures that lay along the seafloor from the old pier. You can access this spot by swimming out from the beach, or it’s commonly visited on some of our snorkel tours (weather and season permitting).