There are three things that visitors to Maui, Hawaii, hope to see: beautiful beaches, swaying palm trees, and, of course, sea turtles! Often referred to as “honu”, these gentle reptiles play an important role in the environment and culture of Hawaii. Continue reading to find out where you can see sea turtles on Maui. Then, access our complimentary Travel Guide to start planning your trip!
What You Need to Know About Maui’s Sea Turtles
Sea turtles have been around for more than 150 million years. On Maui, these ancient creatures are a favorite discovery of snorkelers and divers. The island is home to five different species:
- Olive Ridleys
- Green Sea Turtles (honu)
- Hawksbill Sea Turtles (honu‘ea)
The green sea turtle is the most common species on Maui, followed by the hawksbill. Olive ridley, leatherback, and loggerheads are typically found in deeper waters. The best time to see sea turtles in Hawaii is anytime; often, they’re spotted swimming just offshore or sunning themselves on the beach.
Note: It is important to give turtles their space and to not disturb them. Hawaiian Green sea turtles are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, 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.
Where to Go
Maui’s south and west coastlines offer excellent turtle sighting opportunities. Some of our favorite spots include:
1. Turtle Town (Maluaka Beach)
As its name suggests, Turtle Town is a prime location for sea turtles on Maui. It stretches between Nahuna Point and Black Sand Beach but specifically refers to Maluaka Beach. Maluaka is the best place to snorkel in the area and has a high population of Hawaiian Green sea turtles. Here, calm, blue water beckons visitors of all ages. Dive in and discover an underwater world filled with fish and other marine life.
Tip: Walk south down the beach until you get to the rocks at the end of the sand. This is where the coral reef begins and where you’ll find the most turtles!
2. Black Rock Beach
Black Rock is a small, sandy stretch at the north end of Ka’anapali Beach. The area is popular for snorkeling and cliff diving. It’s also home to one of Maui’s most famous residents — Volkswagen! He weighs in at nearly 300 pounds and is often seen gliding through the water and munching on seaweed. Volkswagen isn’t bothered by humans, but remember to admire him from a distance.
3. Turtle Lagoon
If getting in the water isn’t your thing, consider spending a day at the Maui Ocean Center instead. The Aquarium of Hawaii is just 10 minutes from our inn and features both a top and underwater view of our state’s beloved honu. Talks, tours, and presentations are available throughout the year. Visit the Ocean Center website for details.
Come Home to The Old Wailuku Inn at Ulupono
Looking for even more turtle hotspots? Ask us! Our innkeepers were born and raised on the islands and can tell you where to snorkel, swim, and see these beautiful animals. Afterward, come back to our property and relax. You can kick your feet up on our breezy lanai or retire to your private guest room for a restful night’s sleep. In the morning, join us for a delicious, gourmet breakfast. We can’t wait to hear about your adventures!