Hey there, turtle enthusiasts!
I remember the first time my boyfriend and I stumbled upon a beautiful sea turtle while snorkeling off the shores of Oahu. We were absolutely stunned by its grace and beauty! Now, after years of exploring Oahu’s beaches, we’ve become experts in finding these magnificent creatures. And guess what? I’m here to share that knowledge with you!
You see, spotting turtles on Oahu can be a bit tricky if you don’t know when and where to look. But fear not, fellow beach lovers – I’ve got your back! In this article, we’ll dive into the top seven spots for turtle sightings around the island. You’ll learn about the best times of day to encounter these gentle giants as well as some fantastic snorkeling tours that will get you up close and personal with our shelled friends.
Warning: Once you experience swimming alongside a majestic sea turtle, regular beach days might never feel quite as magical again!
So grab your snorkel gear and join me as we embark on an unforgettable adventure to discover Oahu’s hidden gems – home to five out of the world’s seven amazing sea turtle species!
Laniakea beach is commonly known as Turtle beach because there are tons of Hawaiian green sea turtles (called honu in Hawaii) lounging on its sands and shores. However, Laniakea beach is a favorite spot for snorkelers, so make sure to come here in the late afternoon to spot turtles with lesser crowds.
The beach is located on the North shore past Haleiwa town, so you can reach here easily by driving from Honolulu in a rental car or taking an Uber. But my boyfriend and I find that the best way to spot turtles here is with a guided tour, which allows uninterrupted snorkeling and sightseeing on the North shore.
After snorkeling, you can relax on picnic tables on the beach and enjoy a packed meal, or head to nearby Haleiwa town, which has great local restaurants to grab a bite from.
Here’s why Laniakea Beach is the best place to see turtles in Oahu:
- There are so many turtles here you can spot them from the road as you drive to the beach.
- You can take great pictures with the turtles from a safe distance.
- The calm waters of Laniakea beach offer terrific snorkeling conditions if you want to swim with turtles.
A short drive from Laniakea beach on the North shore is Haleiwa beach, which is an island-favorite spot for its calm waters, and the green sea turtles crowding its shores. This beach is also ideal for families with young children as they can spot turtles lounging on the sands and won’t have to go far in the waters.
In addition, Haleiwa beach is great for snorkeling as it has terrific underwater visibility, and you can easily see turtles feeding on algae on the ocean floor, plus many colorful tropical fish species.
My boyfriend and I love coming to Haleiwa beach with a guided tour, which includes sightseeing on the North shore and snorkeling with green sea turtles from the tour’s high-quality snorkeling equipment.
Here’s why Haleiwa beach is the best place to see turtles in Oahu:
- During noon time, plenty of turtles lounge on the shores, and you can see them up close.
- You can get snorkeling equipment from nearby Haleiwa town for swimming with the turtles.
- The beach has great amenities and plenty of parking space all day.
Halona Beach Cove
As most places with sea turtles in Oahu stay crowded, you can enjoy some peace and quiet with these creatures on Halona beach cove on windward Oahu. This white-sand patch of the shore is also known as Eternity beach because its stunning views were the filming site of the movie ‘From Here to Eternity.’
Halona beach cove offers calm waves for swimming and snorkeling, and the clear waters increase underwater visibility so you won’t miss spotting a single turtle.
My boyfriend and I love coming to Halona cove for a relaxing day and sunbathing on the sandy shores. And if you want to swim with the turtles, bring along your snorkeling gear and watch these gentle creatures floating on the ocean currents.
Here’s why Halona Beach Cove is the best place to see turtles in Oahu:
- You can enjoy uninterrupted swimming with sea turtles from the secluded shores.
- The waters are ideal for experienced swimmers as the waves get rough on the high tide.
- The beach was also the filming location of the famous movie 50 First Dates for its stunning views.
A terrific beach to spot turtles in West Oahu is Electric beach, which is known amongst locals as Kahe Point Beach Park. Since it’s located close to a power plant, the waters on Electric beach are warm and attract a ton of marine life, such as sea turtles, tropical fish, and even dolphins.
However, the currents at Electric beach are rough, and only experienced swimmers and snorkelers should brave the waves.
My boyfriend and I have visited this beach with a guided snorkeling tour, which allows swimming close to turtles as they lounge on the ocean floor, plus tons of other marine life.
However, since the waves get rough on this beach in the winter, try to visit in the summer months and earlier in the day for the most visibility and abundant marine life.
Here’s why Electric beach is the best place to see turtles in Oahu:
- There are green sea turtles on this beach year-round, and you can even spot some lounging on the sands.
- You can swim with the turtles close to underwater pipes from the power plant where they’re most abundant.
- The waters of Electric beach are exceptionally clear, so you can see marine life from afar.
Located on the southeastern coast of Oahu is Hanauma Bay, one of the best places on the island to spot sea turtles from its shores. Since Hanauma Bay is a marine life conservation district, nearly 400+ sea creatures are in its depths, crowding the Bay’s incredible underwater coral reef.
However, snorkeling and swimming at Hanauma Bay require making online reservations, which tend to sell out quickly, so make sure to book yours a few days before your visit.
My boyfriend and I like to swim with sea turtles on Hanauma Bay from this terrific guided snorkeling tour, which handles reservations for you and offers a half-day tour of the stunning Bay.
Here’s why Hanauma Bay is the best place to see turtles in Oahu:
- The Bay is formed in a sunken volcanic crater which attracts a ton of sea turtles to its depths.
- The waters are calm and shallow, making it perfect for beginners and families wanting to see turtles.
- You can also spot dolphins, colorful tropical fish, and moray eels in the waters.
If you can’t make the drive to far-off beaches in Oahu, Waikiki beach is the best failsafe to spot sea turtles year-round. Although the shore at Waikiki is always crowded with tourists, families, and holiday-goers, its warm waters are a favorite playground for sea turtles to play in.
In addition, you can spot these adorable creatures lounging on the sand, munching on seaweed, and napping on the shores during the day. So try to stop by early in the morning or just before sunset when they’re most abundant.
Additionally, we like taking a snorkeling tour from Waikiki beach, which stops by marine life hubs teeming with sea turtles and tropical fishes.
Here’s why Waikiki beach is the best place to spot sea turtles in Oahu:
- The beach waters are nearly empty early in the morning, so you can swim uninterrupted with the sea turtles.
- You can rent snorkeling equipment from rental shacks on the beach and swim out to spot sea turtles.
- Waikiki beach has great amenities and lifeguard facilities all day.
Enjoy the wonders of snorkeling with sea turtles in the middle of the ocean from Turtle Canyon, which is a marine life hotspot accessible from Waikiki. The Canyon has an incredible reef in its depths which attracts a ton of native Hawaiian turtles, tropical fish, and even spinner dolphins to it.
You’ll board a luxury catamaran cruise for the tour, which sails out to Turtle Canyon with limited passengers and an experienced crew. Once at the snorkeling site, you can swim uninterrupted for hours with green sea turtles or watch them break the shore from the ship’s deck.
This trip can get pricier than snorkeling on your own in Oahu, but the incredible marine life, gorgeous coral reefs, and lack of crowds while snorkeling makes the expense well worth it.
Here’s why Turtle Canyon is the best place to see turtles in Oahu:
- The Canyon attracts turtles year round, so you can take this tour any time, which guarantees turtle sightings.
- The tour includes high-quality gear and guidance from the crew, who lead you to the best spots to see turtles.
- You can choose between a morning and midday tour, which are the best hours to see turtles here.
Some Helpful Tips Before You See the Turtles in Oahu
Most of these tips are pretty general but are often overlooked by tourists. So make sure to keep them in mind on your next trip:
- The State of Hawaii is strict about conserving its marine life, so you need to keep a safe distance from the turtles, as harassing them is illegal.
- The turtles in Hawaii classify as marine wildlife and can get dangerous, so you need to be careful around them.
- Don’t disturb the turtles in their natural habitat, such as when they’re breeding or nesting, as this can compromise their health.
- Turtles are sensitive creatures, so don’t try to feed them anything or leave any food behind on beaches that they can feed on later.
- Always report suspicious activity around the turtles, such as someone trying to disturb them.
What is the best time of year to see sea turtles in Hawaii?
The summer months, from May to September, are the best times to see turtles in Hawaii. The warm waters during these months attract turtles and other marine animals, and you can find them sunbathing on the shores of Oahu.
What time of day are sea turtles most active in Oahu?
Turtles in Oahu frequent the shores early in the day or during the late afternoon, where you can find them lounging close to the shore and feeding on algae.
What is the best time to see turtles at Laniakea Beach?
Laniakea beach is on the North shore of Oahu, where the waters can get rough and unsafe for swimming and snorkeling in the winter. So you can see turtles on Laniakea beach in the winter months, ideally around noon from 11 AM to 1 PM.
What type of sea turtles can you see in Oahu?
There are five types of sea turtles found in the waters around Oahu, including the green sea turtle native to Hawaii, hawksbill turtle, loggerhead turtle, leatherback turtle, and olive ridley turtle. Although you won’t see all five types of turtles on one trip, there’s a good chance of seeing a select few per snorkeling site.
Winding Up The Best Place to See Turtles in Oahu
Sea turtles frequent the Pacific ocean each year and crowd the Hawaiian shores, making them a common sight on the islands. And you can find an abundance of these creatures on the shores of Oahu, from beaches and designated snorkeling sites, as the island has three Marine Life Conservation Districts.
So make sure to go snorkeling in Oahu on your next trip, which guarantees sighting turtles and swimming with them.
Looking for the best family-friendly beach to spot turtles? Head to Waikiki beach and Haleiwa beach.
Want to see abundant marine life in Oahu? Snorkel at Electric beach and Hanauma Bay beach.
Need to visit the most abundant sea turtle hub in Oahu? Head to Laniakea beach on the North shore, where turtles crowd the sands and shores.
The best places to see turtles in Oahu are a treat for everyone!
Last Updated on April 3, 2023 by Brigitte