Sea Turtle Swimming in Hawaii
January 8, 2021
| by
Karen Fields

Oahu Things to do: Guide to Sea Turtles on Oahu

If you love Sea Turtles, Oahu is a wonderful place to see these beautiful creatures in their natural habitat. See this, Oahu Travel Blog article, ‘Oahu Things to do: Guide to Sea Turtles on Oahu’ to learn more about where and how to see these beautiful creatures.

These are unusual times we find ourselves living in, with restrictions being put in place and lifted with little notice, so please be sure to confirm operating hours before visiting any of the attractions or venues mentioned in this article.

The Sea Turtle or ‘Honu’ is probably one of the most popular animals associated with Hawaii and the Hawaiian Islands. You see the image of the Sea Turtle on T-shirts, paintings, signs, jewelry and many other types of items in Hawaii.

Visitors to Oahu are very likely to see one of these species of Honu in their natural habitat of the beaches around Oahu. You can see these beautiful Turtles in the shallow waters of the beaches around the island, as you snorkel off any one of the many beaches, or even as they relax on the soft sandy beaches on the North Shore.

In this Oahu Travel Blog article; 'Oahu Things to do: Guide to Sea Turtles on Oahu' – we’ll share with you, ‘About Sea Turtles on Oahu’ Best Places to See and Swim with Sea Turtles’ and ‘Tips for seeing Sea Turtles on Oahu.’

About Sea Turtles on Oahu:
Perhaps no other animal is more closely identified with a destination like a beautiful Sea Turtle is aligned with Oahu and the Hawaiian Islands. The Sea Turtle is an important part of the history and culture of Oahu and the Hawaiian Islands. There are 3 species of Sea Turtle that are native to Hawaii; the Leatherback Turtle, the Green Turtle and the Hawksbill Turtle.

Best Places to See and Swim with Sea Turtles on Oahu:
There is a great chance that you may just see Sea Turtles swimming along in the shallow waters off a beach or as they rest on the beach on the North Shore, just by chance. But if you want the best opportunity to see Sea Turtles in their natural habitat there are specific beaches and locations that you can seek out to improve your chances, including:

Haleiwa: This is a great beach location on the North Shore of Oahu. Sea Turtles can be seen in the water here and on the soft sandy beaches when they relax after a day or night of swimming and feeding. The water is very good quality for clarity so if you don’t see the Turtles on the beach, you can venture out into the water with a simple snorkel set, fins and mask and you will likely see Turtles piloting around the beach break the reef.  Haleiwa Beach is approximately a 45 minute to an hour drive from Waikiki – depending on traffic and time of day.

Makua Beach: This is a lesser known beach is set in the foreground of Makua Valley and is among the top 5 Oahu Beaches, but this beach is a great place to see Sea Turtles. The water at Makua Beach is very clear and is home to many varieties of fish located closely off the beach. This area is also a great place to see Dolphins. Be sure to bring a good Snorkel set with fins and mask so that you can swim out offshore for a better chance to see Turtles and Tropical Fish.

Waikiki Beach: Really? Waikiki Beach? Yes. You can walk along the elevated concrete walkway behind the Hotels on Waikiki Beach and in the early morning or late afternoon hours of the day and you can likely see Sea Turtles frolicking and eating in the water below. The elevated concrete walkway sits a few feet above the water level, so you have a better view of the water below.

Laniakea Beach: This beach is consistently rated as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world and as you would imagine it is very popular and can be very, very busy. The surf at Laniakea Beach is shallow and is often a playground to Sea Turtles who will make their way on to the beach throughout the day. You will likely see assigned volunteers who will walk the beach to ensure people are respectful and keep a distance from the resting Turtles. 

Electric Beach: Many consider Electric Beach among the best beaches for Sea Turtles. Located on the west side of Oahu, Electric Beach is about 30 to 40 minutes from Waikiki by car depending on the time of day and traffic. Once you arrive at the beach you will see why this beach attracts a wide variety of marine life, sea birds and more. You will also likely see Spinner Dolphin and schools of many varieties of fish like Angel Fish, Trigger and Clown fish among other types and of course Sea Turtles.

If you love Sea Turtles, Oahu is a wonderful place to see these beautiful creatures in their natural habitat; swimming along the reef eating their favorite meal or relaxing on the soft sandy beaches around Oahu.

Tips for seeing Sea Turtles on Oahu:
First and foremost, when you see Sea Turtles on Oahu, please know that they are protected by laws and should never be touched, chased or pursued in the water, on the beach or anywhere you may find them. The rule is that you must stay a minimum of 30 feet away from the Sea Turtles – please, follow this important rule.

The best ‘Tip for seeing Sea Turtles in the wild on Oahu’ is - keep your eyes open. Seriously, it is often just that simple. If you spend much time on the various beaches of Oahu during your stay you are very likely going to be very close to Sea Turtles and you may just need to ‘look harder’ to see them. 

You would not likely think that Sea Turtles would swim around busy Waikiki Beach but you can walk along the elevated concrete walkway behind the hotels on Waikiki Beach, and if you happen to be there in the early hours of the day or just before sunset, you will likely see a few Sea Turtles swimming just off the water’s edge.

You will also likely see Sea Turtles resting on the beaches around Oahu, and when you do, it is an amazing sight. You can watch them sleep or make their way out of the water and onto the beach or you may be lucky enough to see the Sea Turtles swimming along the reefs off the beaches.


Facts about Sea Turtles on Oahu:

  • Sea Turtles are protected by laws in Hawaii. You are required to stay a minimum of 30 feet away from any Sea Turtle on the beach or in the water.
  • Green Sea Turtles are believed to have been around for more than 150 million years.
  • Not long ago, a couple of hundred years or so, there were millions of Sea Turtle swimming in the ocean waters around the world, but today all species of Sea Turtles are endangered.
  • Sea Turtles have long been a part of the history, culture and mythological part of many cultures. Sea Turtles, or ‘Honu’ as the Hawaiian people refer to them, still are an honored part of the Hawaiian culture.
  • Great lungs! Sea Turtles can hold their breath underwater for swimming for up to a staggering 5 hours! This gives them plenty of time to eat and travel from location to location.
  • Sea Turtles can swim up to 35 mph in the water – much faster than you may imagine.
  • Green Sea Turtles are born at a tiny 2” – 3” long but over their lifetime, they can grow up to 5 feet in diameter and can weigh up to 600 to 700 pounds – wow!
  • Sea turtles are gentle reptiles that spend most of their lives in the ocean. Females reach reproductive age after 35 to 40 years, and only then return to the beach of their birth to lay their eggs for the next generation. Although a female may lay hundreds of eggs in one season, only a few of the hatchlings will survive to reach maturity.
  • Girls on the Beach! Sea Turtles spend most of their lives in the ocean and in fact Male Sea Turtles do not leave the ocean except for rare occasions. So, it is safe to say that if you see a Sea Turtle on the beach, it is an almost 100% certainty that it is a female.
  • Turtles travel! Sea Turtles can travel up to 800 miles from their primary feeding ground to lay their eggs.

Any visit to the Hawaiian Islands is a special occasion, but if you can see beautiful Sea Turtles in their natural habitat, in the water or on the soft sandy beaches, then it is a bonus and some people say it can be ‘life changing.’

We hope you have this exciting experience during your next visit  to Oahu. 

But we hope our latest Oahu Travel Blog article; 'Oahu Things to do: Guide to Sea Turtles on Oahu' has helped you appreciate these beautiful creatures that we share this island paradise with.

If you have any questions about the beaches and locations mentioned in this guide, please feel free to ask our Concierge for directions or any other questions you may need. 

Visit our Oahu Visitors Guide for more recommendations for all there is to do, see and experience when visiting Oahu.

Visit our current Special Offers for the ‘Best Rates Guaranteed’ at our Waikiki Hotel or Book Now.