What Kind of Sea Turtles are in Hawaii?
Hawaii is a magical place who’s waters are full of colorful and curious marine life. Many people come to Hawaii in hopes of seeing one of our many sea turtles. The Big Island has many beaches where turtles like to hang out.
Sea Turtle Facts:
- Hawaii is home to 2 types of sea turtle the Green and Hawksbill
- You will commonly see green sea turtles
- The Hawaiian word for Sea Turtle is Honu
- Sea turtles are protected by law
- If you know where to go they are easy to find
- Sea turtles haul up on shore to rest/sleep
- Sea turtles eat algae growing on rocks
- Sea turtles are not afraid of humans here because we are respectful of them
What kinds of turtles are in Hawaii?
Green sea turtles are most prevalent. You may occasionally sea a Hawksbill sea turtle but they are much less common than Greens. Green sea turtles nest on beaches in the Northwest Hawaiian Islands. Hawksbill’s nest on the south end of the Big Island of Hawaii.
A Hawksbill turtle has a distinct pointy beak
How often will you see turtles
It depends. Some sites are often full of turtles and others you will only occasionally see a single turtle if any at all. Here’s a few places where turtles are common. If you visit these turtle aggregation spots you are more likely to see them
These spots are best for people that want to see turtles via shore. If you don’t want to have to get wet to see turtles. These places are the best.
4 Seasons Beach Access
Nice little beach with some shade and crummy ocean entry but lots of turtles. Head to the Four Seasons gate and ask for beach parking. They will tell you how to get there or you can just follow this google map point. Once you arrive walk over the bridge and head left onto the sand. From there (the north end of the beach) you will head south along the shore. Eventually you may notice some large black rocks in the sand. These are not rocks they are resting turtles! Please be respectful of these animals as they are endangered and there is a law that requires you keep your distance from them. That being said just use common sense and don’t disturb these poor creatures who are all but helpless on land.
A Green Sea Turtle rests on the rocks at Kaloko-Honokohau park beach
Kaloko-Honokohau Park Beach aka North Harbor Beach
Located directly north of the boat harbor this beach is a bit of a rough walk but it’s located so close to town and all of the action around the harbor it’s usually only a quick detour from your itinerary. The park rangers here enforce the legal requirement that you keep your distance from these creatures. Walk slowly north along the shore and you may see rocks in the sand or on the rocks in the shape of sea turtles. This is probably because they are sea turtles! You will often see turtles in the water munching on the algae covered rocks. Watch out for the slippery algae on the rocks.
Kona Boat harbor aka Honokohau Harbor
The boat harbor is a really great place to see turtles because you can easily see them in the water without even having to get wet. The turtles that hang out in the harbor are often residents. They haul up at the North harbor beach and hang out during the day in and around the harbor. If you simply spend a bit of time walking around Kona Snorkel Trips location you will likely see one. If there aren’t any around (which is unusual) you can simply stroll around all of the boats in the harbor and you’ll probably come across one eventually.
Kiholo is located about 40 minutes to the north of Kona. It was an unregulated beach community neighborhood where locals would go to camp. Some Micronesian islander people moved in and began living there. They were eventually forced out and it was discovered there was a pile of empty turtle shells. they had been eating the turtles! Now kiholo has regulated camping and is a great little day excursion. The turtles love to beach themselves on the little sand spit island in the middle of the bay. The bay itself is shallow and beautiful due to the sand bottom colors. The turtles are often there and it’s almost a guaranteed turtle sighting spot on shore.
In the Water
Snorkeling with sea turtles can be a special moment in your life. These creatures while slow on land can be downright spirited underwater.
One of the more popular snorkel spots. Located 45 minutes south of Kona it’s not the most consistent place to find turtles. They enjoy coming in close to much algae from the rocks and during a high tide they will often come up in to the tide pools to much algae.
Snorkel Beach aka Kahalu’u Beach Park
Turtles seem to like to come in here an hang out. Maybe because its well protected from the open ocean or maybe because it’s shallow and the algae grows more here. Either way, it’s a great spot not only to snorkel but to see turtles while doing it. See our blog about the best snorkel spots for more on this.
Puako End of the Road
Puako is a well known turtle hangout area. Located 45 minutes north of Kona the snorkeling is good but it’s probably better as a scuba diving site as most of the turtles seem to like to hang out in the deeper parts of the site more offshore. The coolest thing about this site is the cleaning station where turtles go to get their shells de-fuzzed by reef fish.
Other Large Critters
Kona is home to so many large ocean animals that most people are completely unaware of. Here’s just a few you can see when you join us on a tour.
Kona is home to one of the most friendly manta ray populations in the world. Many visitors come to the Big Island just to swim with these magnificent creatures. Check out our blog about the experience. or visit our manta ray snorkel tour page.
Snorkeling with Manta Rays is one of Kona’s most popular activities
Humpback whales visit Kona on a regular schedule usually showing up in large numbers beginning December and lasting through April. They migrate from Alaska to Hawaii to have calf’s and spend a little vacation time in the warm clear waters off Kona’s shores. Kona snorkel trips runs whale watching trips daily during From December through April.
A humpback whale breaches off the Kona coast of Hawaii on a whale watching trip
Dolphins hunt at night and spend the daytime resting in the bays near shore. We will often spot them as we leave the harbor or along the way to the snorkel site. Regulations are underway to prohibit disturbing them while they rest. Kona Snorkel Trips prides itself on being a dolphin friendly operator offering dolphin viewing only. We feel that dolphin swimming is harmful harassment of the local dolphin populations and we are in support of the marine mammal protection ban. Check out our Kealakekua Bay snorkel trip where we often see dolphins along the way or at the bay itself.