10 Best Places to See Turtles in Oahu

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The Hawaiian archipelago is home to 5 of 7 species of sea turtles in the world!

Turtles are important to the ecosystem of the Pacific Ocean and these magnificent creatures are found in almost all of the waters surrounding the islands, making them a common sight.

While reclusive in other parts of the world, these gentle sea creatures are very social in Oahu and will often return to the same spots to nest year after year.

Here’s a full guide on 10 of the best places to see turtles in Oahu, plus we’ll also share information on how to stay safe around these animals!

Let’s get started.

Best Spots For Turtle-Watching in Oahu

1. Laniakea Beach

Laniakea Beach, also known as Turtle Beach, is one of the best places in all of Hawaii to see green sea turtles.

The turtles are often seen basking in the sun on the shore, and the waves here make for perfect conditions for snorkeling with these gentle creatures.

Being one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, it can get quite busy here so make sure you plan ahead.

The best time to visit Laniakea Beach for sea turtles is from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm when they’re at their most active, so don’t miss out!

kuilima cove
Kuilima Cove photo by Max Kiesler

2. Kuilima Cove

Located on the rugged North Shore of Oahu, Kuilima Cove (or Turtle Bay) is a popular spot for visitors and locals alike.

Adored for its stunning natural beauty, this crescent-shaped inlet has become known as a haven for sea turtles.

With crystal-clear waters and abundant marine life, Kuilima Cove is one of the best spots on the island to go snorkeling or diving and get up close with these majestic creatures.

While they are typically found in deeper waters away from shore, you might find them swimming through the calm waters and basking in the sun on nearby rocks or the white sandy beach.

The best time to catch a glimpse of these majestic creatures is during early morning or late afternoon, when they come up to sunbathe or feed.

3. Papa‘Iloa Beach

At the end of Papailoa Road, just down the road from Laniakea Beach, sits another hidden gem: a small, secluded beach surrounded by glistening blue waters and endless panoramic views.

This is a perfect spot for those looking to escape the crowds and enjoy some peace and quiet along the shore.

Whether you’re looking for some great snorkeling or simply want to catch a glimpse of one of Hawaii’s gorgeous marine turtles in their natural habitat, this beach is sure to deliver.

Just be sure to take caution when swimming here, as there can be rough surf conditions at times, especially during the winter months.

Nevertheless, with its beautiful scenery and laid-back atmosphere, this hidden stretch of sand is well worth the trip!

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4. Makua Beach

Makua Beach is like a hidden gem, a pristine tropical paradise that remains under the radar for many people.

The azure waters are crystal clear, making it a dream for photographers who flock here at sunset to capture the picturesque beauty.

And if you’re lucky enough to visit Makua Beach at the right time of day, you might even spot some sea turtles splashing around in the shallows.

With its expansive coastline, underwater visibility is fantastic and you can easily see schools of colorful fish as they glide gracefully through the water.

Soak up the experience and come see for yourself!

waikiki beach
waikiki beach

5. Waikiki Beach

Also known as honu, these gentle creatures are a common sight on the sandy shores of Waikiki.

Sea turtles come here to feed on seaweed, and you can often find them napping by the shore or eating their fill during the early morning hours or before sunset.

Even if you don’t see any turtles, Waikiki Beach is still a great place to relax and soak up the Hawaiian sun.

Snorkel Tour From Waikiki

Take a trip out of this world and explore the beautiful undersea world with a sea turtle snorkeling tour at Turtle Canyon!

Get up close and personal with these gentle giants as you sail along the Oahu coast by luxury catamaran.

You can choose between a 2-hour morning tour or a 3-hour midday tour, both of which include snacks, beverages and alcoholic drinks.

tip

6. Electric Beach

The waters at Electric Beach are crystal clear and provide a perfect habitat for all sorts of marine life, including sea turtles.

These magnificent creatures can be seen gliding through the water or resting on the sandy bottom below as they bask in the sunlight.

Because it’s located just 40 minutes from Waikiki Beach, Electric Beach is easily accessible and is a great spot for families or anyone looking for an up-close view of these amazing creatures in their natural habitat.

So if you’re visiting Oahu, don’t miss this incredible opportunity to see sea turtles in all their glory at Electric Beach.

7. Halona Beach Cove

Located on the windward side of Oahu, Halona Beach Cove is one of the best places to see sea turtles on the island.

With its pristine white sand and clear blue waters, it is a popular destination for tourists and locals alike.

The cove is also known as Eternity Beach and is a popular filming spot for blockbuster movies like “50 First Dates”.

Visitors to Halona Beach Cove can enjoy swimming, snorkeling, and sunbathing on the sandy shore.

If you head out into the water with your snorkel gear, you may spot some green sea turtles feeding or even resting in the warm ocean currents.

However, be sure to keep a safe distance from these gentle animals and avoid getting too close to the rocks.

Sea turtle underwater oahu
sea turtle

8. Secret Lagoon at Lanikuhonua

One of the best places to see sea turtles in Oahu is at the Secret Lagoon at Lanikuhonua.

This hidden lagoon, tucked away on the west side of Oahu, offers a great opportunity to spot some beautiful creatures while you’re enjoying the sun and sand.

The turquoise waters are crystal clear and shallow enough for kids to easily swim and play around in.

And since there aren’t many people here, it’s easy to spot the turtles as they swim across the water or rest peacefully.

9. Makaha Beach

When it comes to swimming with turtles, Makaha Beach is the place to be.

Located on the western side of Oahu, this beach is known for its gentle waters and abundant sea turtle population.

To get the most out of your turtle-spotting experience, be sure to bring your snorkeling gear and fins along – it’ll help you navigate more easily as you swim out to where the turtles hang out.

Parking at Makaha Beach is fairly simple – just look for a spot along the sandy area at the start of the beach.

So if you’re looking for one of the best places to swim with turtles on Oahu, Makaha Beach should definitely be at the top of your list!

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10. Haleiwa Beach

Haleiwa Beach is one of the most popular places to see turtles in Oahu, and it’s easy to understand why.

The water here is exceptionally clear so you can easily spot sea turtles feeding on algae along the ocean floor along with other colorful tropical fish.

Plus, the beach is very family-friendly and extremely accessible; there is plenty of parking right on the beachfront parking lot.

Things to Know Before Seeing Turtles in Oahu

If you’re planning on seeing turtles on your next trip to Oahu, there are a few things you should keep in mind.

First of all, turtles are wild animals and can be dangerous if not approached with caution.

Secondly, turtles are protected by law and it is illegal to harass or disturb them in any way.

Finally, while turtle watching can be a fun and rewarding experience, it’s important to be respectful of the turtles and their habitat.

With that in mind, here are a few tips for turtle watching on Oahu:

  • Approach turtles cautiously and from a distance. Do not try to touch or hold them, as this can be dangerous for both you and the turtle.
  • Do not attempt to feed the turtles, as this can disrupt their natural behavior and cause them to become sick or aggressive.
  • Always be considerate of the turtles’ habitat, and avoid disturbing them when they are nesting or breeding.
  • If you see a turtle in distress, or if you notice someone else disturbing a turtle, report it to local authorities right away.
  • Remember that the purpose of turtle watching is to observe and appreciate these incredible animals in their natural environment – not to try and catch them for photos or souvenirs.

If you keep these tips in mind, your experience watching turtles on Oahu is sure to be safe and rewarding.

And who knows – you may even get lucky and spot some sea turtles swimming just offshore!

Best Time of Year to See Turtles in Oahu

While turtles can be seen year-round in Hawaii, the best time to see them is between the months of May and October.

This is because the water temperature is a bit warmer during these months, which means that the turtles will be more active.

You can usually find them basking in the sun on the beaches or swimming near the shoreline.

So if you’re hoping to spot some turtles during your trip to Oahu, be sure to keep an eye out for them during the summer months!

Best Time of Day to See Turtles in Oahu

In Oahu, the best time of day to see turtles is early in the morning or late in the afternoon when the turtles come to the shore to bask in the sun and feed on algae.

If you go to the beach during these times, you’re likely to see turtles basking on the sand or swimming in the water.

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What Type of Sea Turtles Can You See in Oahu?

There are five different types of sea turtles that can be found in the waters around Oahu.

These include the green sea turtle, hawksbill turtle, loggerhead turtle, leatherback turtle, and the olive ridley turtle.

While you may not be able to see all five types of turtles in one trip, you have a good chance of seeing at least a few of them if you go snorkeling or diving in the right areas.

Is It Illegal to Touch a Turtle in Hawaii?

The answer is yes, it is illegal to touch a turtle in Hawaii.

The reason for this is because turtles are protected under the Endangered Species Act.

This means that it is illegal to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, capture, or kill a turtle.

So if you’re thinking about touching a turtle while in Hawaii, think again!