Finding Sea Turtles in Maui
When I booked my trip to Hawaii, I told myself I wouldn’t leave without finding sea turtles in Maui. Coming from the concrete jungles of New York, this would be a first for me and honestly, who can resist those cute little heads bobbing out of the water for a quick breath of air?
Before You Go
Before I dig in too deep, please keep in mind to give turtles their space, and not to disturb them while they are resting on the beach or in the water. They recommend not to approach turtles any closer than 20 feet. If they happen to be swimming towards you just move out of their way and enjoy their beauty. Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, and it’s illegal to touch or harass them. By following these rules, we will all be able to enjoy their graceful presence for years to come!
With that out of the way, the second we got to our hotel, I was in search of sea turtles. I started pounding the keyboard and reading countless articles of where I might get a glimpse without having to pay. I came up with nothing. This is when I decided I would just go to a bunch of different beaches until I found them.
My Favorite Spots
Ok, Ok… so let’s get to the point of where you can find them.Throughout my trip, I learned that Maui is full of turtles but here are the two spots I particularly loved watching them. The first spot, was actually at my hotel, The Sheraton at Black Rock. The second spot was the Honolua-Mokuleia Bay Marine Life Conservation District (Slaughterhouse beach) but not to worry it’s safe. The nickname “slaughterhouse” comes from the Honolua Ranch slaughterhouse and tanning/storage shed that was torn down in the 60’s, but the “wonderful” name stuck.
Black Rock Beach
I was lucky enough to have Black Rock beach right in my backyard. I rented my snorkel gear for the week and dove in. Within minutes I spotted not 1 but 4 green sea turtles! As you could image, I felt like a kid on Christmas that just found out I got a puppy. I learned that the turtles were here around 7am and 2:30pm like clockwork munching on the algae filled rocks. One downside about this place is that it’s a pretty popular place to snorkel. Because of this, people were huddling over the turtles, which broke my heart to see people not giving them their space to swim freely. Please don’t be this person. The great thing about Black Rock is that they have been coming to here for many years, so consider these sea turtles regulars.
We loved Honolua-Mokuleia beach and actually stumbled here by accident. This beach is close to mile marker 32 on Highway 30. It’s part of the Mokuleia Marine Life Conservation District with a sign pointing out to not disturb the wildlife or take anything from the beach, not even the sand. I didn’t see a sign that says Mokuleia Bay or Slaughterhouse Beach, but you will see cars parked off to the side (which peaked our interest to stop and find this gem). Just look for a green painted metal fence and you are likely in the right spot. At the far end of the railing there are concrete steps that lead down to the cove.
This is a nice secluded beach with a local feel. We went down to the far left side and swam by the rocks close to the shore and saw 4 sea turtles just swimming around the rocks! The water was super clear so we watched them for hours. In one spot we were able to just stand and look down. It was low tide. I was in love. Subsequently, I was later bathing in Maui Vera Aloe with my entire back as red as a lobster. Tip: Although this aloe is a miracle worker (and organic), keep applying your sunscreen especially if your snorkeling!
During winter months, surf can be high and not safe for snorkeling so make sure to check before going out. If you find any other great places to see Green Sea turtles in Maui, we would love to hear!