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10 Best Places to See Sea Turtles in Oahu

green sea turtle underwater in oahu

Oahu is known for its stunning beaches and marine life. One of the most incredible creatures you may spot on this island is a Hawaiian sea turtle. 

No trip to Oahu is complete without seeing a sea turtle! Luckily, Oahu has plenty of spots to view turtles.

To help you find the perfect place to spot some of these magnificent creatures, I have put together this complete list. It includes places where you will see turtles laying out on the beach, to spots where you can swim with turtles.

Get ready to have a once-in-a-lifetime experience seeing these incredible creatures in their natural habitat. Here are the 10 best places to see sea turtles in Oahu. 

Map of Places to See Turtles

Here is a interactive Google map of spots to see sea turtles on Oahu. You can click each location to get more info.

Where to Find Sea Turtles on Oahu

1. Laniakea Beach (Turtle Beach)

Laniakea Beach, also known as Turtle Beach is a top destination for anyone looking to spot sea turtles on Oahu. 

Located on the North Shore, this beach is a well-known turtle-feeding ground and home to a thriving population of green sea turtles. 

You have a high chance of seeing turtles basking on this sandy beach or swimming just offshore.

The waters can be dangerous in the winter and there are some hidden rocky patches just offshore, so it’s not the safest swimming beach. 

However, Turtle Beach is the perfect place to catch a glimpse of these incredible creatures in their natural habitat! 

sea turtle resting on sandy beach
Sea Turtle in the Sand at Laniakea Beach, Oahu.

2. Kahe Point Beach Park (Electric Beach)

Head out to Electric Beach for a chance to go swimming with sea turtles! This beach, also known as Kahe Point Beach Park is a well-known snorkeling location on Oahu. 

It’s called Electric Beach since there is a nearby power plant that discharges warm water through large underwater cooling pipes just offshore. The pipes attract a variety of marine life including Sea Turtles. 

While this is a great spot to go snorkeling with sea turtles, it’s best for more experienced snorkelers due to the long swim out to the water pipes. 

At times, sea turtles can even be seen riding the current of the water coming out of the pipe! So grab your snorkeling gear and get ready for a thrilling adventure!

belly of sea turtle swimming under water
Sea Turtle underwater at Electric Beach.

3. Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve

The calm crystal clear waters of Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve make it the ideal location for beginners and experienced snorkelers to swim with sea turtles. 

This protected marine ecosystem is an underwater paradise, and it is known as one of the top places to snorkel in Hawaii. 

Vibrant tropical fish, stunning underwater coral reefs, and a chance to spot green sea turtles swimming through the waters or feeding on underwater seaweed make Hanauma Bay a must-visit location. 

Just be sure to check the website and plan in advance since snorkeling is only open on certain days and times. While it might take a bit of planning, it will be worth it! 

4. Makua Beach (Tunnels Beach)

Makua Beach, also known as Tunnels beach, is a hidden gem off Oahu’s north shore that offers incredible views and a chance to spot Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles. 

With pristine white sand and incredible natural beauty, this beach is a popular beach for photography, watching the sunset, and snorkeling. 

The crystal-clear waters and abundance of marine life (including turtles) make it a snorkelers paradise. 

Sea Turtles can often be seen swimming gracefully in the water or basking in the sun. Makua Beach is a destination you won’t want to miss! 

5. Haleiwa Beach

Get ready for a magical experience at Haleiwa Beach, the perfect place to see sea turtles! Located on the north shore of Oahu, this stunning beach is a snorkeler’s dream. 

Known as a popular snorkeling spot, Green Sea Turtles are commonly spotted swimming in the clear waters, hanging out by the reef, or sunbathing on the beach. 

This beach is also family-friendly, and easy to access and there is plenty of parking in the beachfront parking area. 

sea turtle resting on sandy beach
Sea Turtle at Haleiwa Beach, Oahu.

6. Waikiki Beach 

If you are staying near the popular Waikiki Beach, you might be surprised to know that sea turtles can sometimes frequent this beach. 

While you won’t see turtles laying around in the sand of Waikiki as you might at other Oahu beaches if you get lucky you might spot a few sea turtles swimming about 20 feet offshore.

This beach is most known for surfing, swimming, and watersports, so most people don’t think to look for sea turtles in this area. 

If you find yourself at Waikiki Beach, then make sure you come prepared with snorkeling gear and keep an eye out for these beautiful creatures. 

Sea Turtle off the coast of Waikiki Beach.

7. Turtle Canyon 

If you are looking for a guaranteed turtle-spotting adventure in Oahu, Turtle Canyon should be at the top of the list. 

Located just off the shores of Waikiki Beach, you will need to book a boat snorkeling tour to get to this area. 

Turtle Canyon is a unique “cleaning station” where turtles gather to have their shells cleaned by fish.

Many different companies offer excursions out to Turtle Canyon. They will bring you by boat to the snorkeling area, provide you with gear, and show you exactly where and how to swim with the sea turtles. 

If swimming with sea turtles in Oahu is at the top of your list, then you won’t want to miss out on visiting Turtle Canyon. 

Hawaiian Sea Turtle off the coast of Oahu.

8. Cockroach Cove

Cockroach Cove is a hidden gem for spotting sea turtles on Oahu. Also called Kaupo Bay, Holona Beach, or many other names.

Just park at the Halona Blowhole Viewpoint Lookout (right next to the cove) and follow a rocky little trail that skews off to the cove and the beach below.

You will often spot some sea turtles along the small coves and rocky shoreline of this bay. With tide pools and excellent snorkeling opportunities, this is a must-visit destination to spot some sea turtles. 

Just make sure you are a more experienced snorkeler, and check the weather before heading out to make sure that the waters are calm. 

9. Kuilima Cove

Named after a large number of green sea turtles that call this area home, Kuilima Cove is located on the grounds of Turtle Bay, a popular resort area. 

Turtle Bay marks the entrance to the legendary North Shore, which is famous for big wave surfing and scenic stretches of Oahu’s coastline. 

Kuilima Cove within Turtle bay is a great spot for snorkeling and has become known as a hangout for sea turtles. 

Most of the sea turtles are in the deeper waters away from the shore, but sometimes they come closer to the cove and bask in the sun on the nearby rocks or the sandy beach. 

While many people come to this area for surfing, diving, and fishing, it’s a great place to enjoy a peaceful day and hopefully spot some sea turtles. 

Green Sea Turtles near Turtle Bay, Oahu.

10. Papa‘Iloa Beach

Papa’lloa Beach is a hidden gem tucked away in a residential neighborhood on the North Shore of Oahu. 

While there isn’t much parking at this beach, the effort is worth it, because it is an excellent spot to spot some sea turtles. 

The rocky shoreline makes it less than ideal for snorkeling, but you can often see turtles swimming in the waves or sunbathing on the sandy beach. 

The amazing views, beautiful beach, and a chance to spot some Hawaiian Sea Turtles on this uncrowded beach will make it an unforgettable Oahu experience! 

Things to Consider 

If you’re planning to see sea turtles in Oahu, here are some important things to consider. 

Respect the Turtles: Sea turtles are wild animals that should be respected. They are deeply sacred to the Hawaiian people and respecting and protecting them is important for Hawaiian culture and the environment. 

Know the Laws: Green Sea Turtles are protected under the Act of Endangered Species and other federal and state laws. Always make sure that you stay at least 10 feet from turtles, and never feed them, block their movements, touch them, or harass them in any way. 

Protect the Environment: When visiting the sea turtle’s environment, be sure to not disturb anything or leave trash. If you see any litter, pick it up, to help keep the turtles safe. 

Be Aware of Turtle Behavior: Sea turtles are wild animals and their behavior can be unpredictable. If a sea turtle appears to be distressed, back away and give it more space. 

About The Hawaiian Sea Turtle 

Hawaiian sea turtles, also known as honu, are spiritually and culturally significant to the Hawaiians. They represent wisdom, longevity, and good luck, and harming them or disrespecting them could bring bad luck or misfortune. 

There are 7 different species of sea turtles worldwide, and 5 of these can be found in the waters surrounding Hawaii. 

If you spot a sea turtle in Hawaii, most likely it will be the Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle since that species is the most abundant. 

Hawaiian Green Sea turtles don’t look green, but more of a dark brown color. On average an adult Honu is about 4 feet in length and weighs about 300 pounds. 

These turtles have been under the endangered species act since 1978. They normally live about 80 years. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

What time of year can you see turtles in Oahu? 

Sea turtles can be seen in Oahu year-round, but the best time to spot them is in the summer months (May to September). During these months turtles tend to come closer to the shore to bask in the sun. 

What time do sea turtles come to shore in Oahu? 

Sea Turtles normally come to shore about midday (11 a.m. – 3 p.m.), this is the best time to spot sea turtles resting on the beach in Oahu. 

Where is the best place to snorkel with turtles in Oahu?

Some of the best places to swim or snorkel with sea turtles in Oahu include Laniakea Beach (Turtle Beach), Electric Beach (Kahe Point), Cockroach Cove (Kaupo Bay), Turtle Canyon and Haleiwa Beach. 

Are there sea turtles at Waikiki Beach? 

While you won’t see a ton of turtles at Waikiki Beach, you might spot a turtle farther offshore away from the crowds. 

In Conclusion 

Oahu is one of the best islands to visit in Hawaii if you want to see sea turtles in their natural habitat. 

From a chance to spot a turtle in a tourist spot like Waikiki Beach, to places where you will get a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to swim with sea turtles like Turtle Canyon, there are plenty of opportunities to see these incredible animals on the island.

Just remember to always respect the turtles, honor the Hawaiians, and do your part to keep them safe so that they will continue to thrive for generations to come. 

If you are looking for more information about Oahu, check out these posts:

Have you spotted sea turtles in Oahu, or have recommendations on where to look? Feel free to leave a comment below. 

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