Where To See Sea Turtles In Maui: Essential Must-See Locations

Welcome to the enchanting island of Maui, where the shimmering sea beckons and the graceful sea turtles await your arrival.

Prepare to embark on an extraordinary journey as we unveil the most coveted sanctuaries for encountering these revered creatures.

From the emerald depths of the ocean to the sun-kissed shores, we’ll lead you on a mesmerizing quest to witness the timeless beauty of sea turtles in their natural habitat.

1. Ho’okipa Beach Park

A visit to Maui is incomplete without catching a glimpse of the Hawaiian green sea turtles (honu). One of the most reliable locations for spotting them is Ho’okipa Beach Park.

As a friendly reminder, observing these magnificent creatures should always be done from a distance, respecting their natural habitat.

Ho'okipa Beach Park Maui Hawaii

Ho’okipa Beach Park Maui Hawaii” by dronepicr is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Located on the North Shore of Maui, Ho’okipa Beach Park is not only famous for its sea turtles but also for being a popular spot for windsurfing and watching impressive ocean waves.

The beach offers a family-friendly environment, and the best chance to see turtles here is during late morning and before sunset.

2. Wailea Beach

If you’re looking for a prime location to spot sea turtles in Maui, don’t miss out on Wailea Beach.

This lovely beach is not only known for its clear blue waters and soft, sandy shores but also for being a haven for amazing sea turtles.

Wailea Beach

Visitors to Wailea Beach may often spot these turtles swimming gracefully in the shallow waters or basking in the sun on the beach.

Efforts are continuously made to educate the public about the importance of preserving these magnificent creatures and their habitats.

3. Napili Bay

Napili Bay in Maui is great for sea turtle spotting, offering a serene, clear-watered crescent beach that attracts both turtles and snorkelers.

One of the things you’ll notice at Napili Bay is the abundance of tidal pools. These pools serve as feeding grounds for turtles, making it possible for you to observe them right from the shore.

Person standing on a surfboard in Napili Bay
Napili Bay” by Bill Morson is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

If you’re looking to enhance your turtle-watching experience, consider taking a snorkeling tour that guarantees a visit to sea turtle habitats.

Maui has many reputable tour operators that prioritize environmental stewardship and can help make your sea turtle encounter one to remember.

4. Kapalua Bay

Kapalua Bay, located on the west side of Maui, is one of the top spots to see sea turtles in their natural habitat.

Known for its clear, calm waters and thriving marine life, this bay is perfect for snorkeling and spending a day exploring the underwater world.

When you arrive at Kapalua Bay, you’ll be delighted by the crescent-shaped beach lined with palm trees and gentle waves.

This cozy hideaway is a great place to unwind and soak in the sun while keeping an eye out for sea turtles gliding by.

5. Black Rock (Pu’u Keka’a)

Black Rock at Ka’anapali Beach’s north end is a famed Hawaiian lava formation and a prime spot for seeing sea turtles.

When planning your visit, remember that the best time to see green sea turtles would be in the morning or late afternoon.

These gentle creatures tend to feed on algae and seaweed found in the rocky shorelines near Black Rock.

As you take a dip into the refreshing ocean, keep your eyes open for turtles swimming around or resting near the rocks.

6. Maluaka Beach

Maluaka Beach, also known as Turtle Town, should be at the top of your list when visiting Maui for the chance to snorkel with sea turtles.

Located on the south side of the island, Maluaka Beach is one of the multiple spots along the shoreline where turtles tend to gather.

Maluaka Beach Panorama
Maluaka Beach Panorama” by BirdsEyePix is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

The beach is home to a series of lava formations, which have formed thriving coral reefs, bringing in an abundance of colorful fish and Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles.

If you’re a fan of breathtaking sunsets, Maluaka Beach won’t disappoint. Stay back and take in the spectacular view as the sun dips below the horizon.

7. Ahihi Kinau Natural Area Reserve

The Ahihi Kinau Natural Area Reserve on Maui’s southern coast is an ideal place for seeing sea turtles, boasting a unique marine ecosystem and a coastline of lava rock and coral, perfect for these creatures.

As you enter the reserve, you’ll notice that it has a $5 non-resident fee per vehicle. Paid at the newly paved parking lot, the fee helps maintain and protect this beautiful area.

Since fishing of any kind is not allowed in the reserve, sea turtles are more likely to be found here.

Following these guidelines will ensure a positive experience for both you and the wildlife at Ahihi Kinau Natural Area Reserve.

8. Kamaole Beach Park I, II, and III

One fantastic spot to witness sea turtles in Maui is the Kamaole Beach Park area, which consists of three beautiful beaches known as Kamaole Beach Park I, II, and III.

These beaches are among the most popular in the Kihei region and offer lovely views, alluring waters, and numerous opportunities to spot these wonderful marine creatures.

When visiting Kamaole Beach Park I, enjoy the sandy water entries and explore snorkeling spots near the lava rock outcroppings at both ends, where you might swim near sea turtles.

As you continue your exploration of Kamaole Beach Park II and III, also accessible from South Kihei Road, you’ll find more stunning coastlines, beach parks, and turtles.

9. Molokini Crater

If you’re looking to spot sea turtles in Maui, be sure not to miss the beautiful Molokini Crater.

This crescent-shaped volcanic crater is renowned for its diverse marine life, providing an exceptional snorkeling experience.

In the crater’s cuddle, discover a vibrant marine sanctuary with 250+ species, including manta rays, urchins, triggerfish, sharks, and graceful sea turtles.

The thriving coral reef within this protected conservation area provides the perfect environment for you to encounter these beautiful creatures up close.

Access to Molokini Crater is restricted to tour operators, so be sure to book a snorkeling tour to fully appreciate the beauty and marine life this location has to offer.

10. Olowalu Reef

Olowalu Reef in Maui is a must-visit spot known as “Turtle Reef” for its abundance of Hawaiian Green sea turtles.

Olowalu is home to one of the state’s most diverse reef systems, boasting 24 species of coral, some of which are hundreds of years old.

Olowalu 'Turtle Reef'
Olowalu ‘Turtle Reef’” by Kirt Edblom is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Get ready to discover the rich marine life at Olowalu Reef, including Hawaiian green sea turtles, rare species like black durgon triggerfish, goatfish, peacock grouper, and occasional manta rays.

Explore Olowalu Reef’s wonders with kayak, snorkel, and whale-watching tours for an unforgettable experience.

Encounter turtles year-round and witness humpback whale migration from December to April.

11. Waianapanapa State Park

While planning your trip to see sea turtles in Maui, one location that should be on your must-visit list is Waianapanapa State Park.

This beautiful park offers more than just turtle sightings; it’s also known for its stunning black sand beach and lush greenery.

Maui, Hawaii 509 Road to Hana, Wai'Anapanapa State Park, Beach
2012-02-10 02-19 Maui, Hawaii 509 Road to Hana, Wai’Anapanapa State Park, Beach” by Allie_Caulfield is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Upon park arrival, pay a small entrance fee. Out-of-state car parking is $10, and walk-ins, drop-offs, and bicyclists pay $5 per person. Reserve at least 30 days in advance; same-day reservations are not accepted.

As you explore the park, keep an eye out for the majestic Green Sea Turtles (honu) and the rarer Hawksbill Sea Turtles (honu’ea) that can be found near the shoreline or even on the beach.

Enjoy a refreshing dip in freshwater pools, hike scenic coastal trails, and relax with breathtaking views at Waianapanapa State Park.

12. Kahului Harbor

Kahului Harbor is a must-visit location for spotting sea turtles in Maui. Located on the north shore of the island, this harbor’s calm waters make it a popular gathering spot for these majestic creatures.

One of the best ways to see sea turtles at Kahului Harbor is by snorkeling or scuba diving. The clear waters provide excellent visibility, allowing you to get up close and personal with these beautiful animals.

Kahului Harbor Sun Rays
Kahului Harbor Sun Rays” by Averain is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Here’s a list of some of the sea turtle species you might encounter at Kahului Harbor:

  • Green Sea Turtles (Honu)
  • Hawksbill Sea Turtles (Honu’ea)

By visiting Kahului Harbor and its surroundings, you can experience the awe-inspiring beauty of sea turtles in their natural environment.

13. Makena Landing

Makena Landing is a fantastic spot in South Maui to see sea turtles up close. This lovely beach park has a rich history and provides a beautiful, calm environment for visitors.

You’ll be captivated by the clear blue waters and the abundance of marine life. It’s a perfect place to visit if you want to enjoy a peaceful and authentic Hawaiian experience.

Makena Landing, Maui, Hawai'i
Makena Landing, Maui, Hawai’i” by Only in Oregon is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

When you arrive at Makena Landing, you may choose to simply relax on the beach and soak in the sun, or take advantage of the excellent snorkeling opportunities.

The bay’s right side is famous for snorkeling, especially towards Turtle Town, where you can spot sea turtles amid coral reefs and marine life.

14. Polo Beach

Polo Beach in Maui is a stunning crescent-shaped spot with soft sand, clear waters, and frequent turtle sightings. The warm, friendly atmosphere adds to its charm.

When visiting Polo Beach, the best time to see sea turtles is during the morning or late afternoon. The turtles often return to the shore during these times.

Polo Beach Park Maui Hawaii
Polo Beach Park Maui Hawaii” by dronepicr is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

To improve your chances of spotting these majestic creatures, try walking along the shoreline or snorkeling around the nearby rocks.

While the sea turtles are undoubtedly the main attraction, Polo Beach also offers a variety of other activities to make your visit memorable.

15. Palauea Beach

Palauea Beach, also known as White Rock, is a beautiful spot to encounter majestic sea turtles in Maui.

Located in the southwest area of the island, it’s known for its pristine white sand and clear waters that provide an excellent snorkeling experience.

Paluea Beach
Paluea Beach (33393971568)” by Kirt Edblom from Kihei, Hi, United States is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

At Palauea Beach, sea turtles are best observed early in the morning or late afternoon when they often come close to the shore to feed or bask in the sun.

The clear waters of Palauea Beach provide an excellent view of its rich underwater world.

With a little luck, you may spot one of the five different species of turtles found in Maui, such as the Green Sea Turtle (Honu), Olive Ridleys, Hawksbills, Leatherbacks, or Loggerheads.

16. Kaihalulu Red Sand Beach

Kaihalulu Beach, also known as Red Sand Beach, is a marvel forged by volcanoes and tucked away on Maui’s famous Road to Hana.

Experience an extraordinary beach in Maui—controversial yet essential. Witness sea turtles in their natural habitat, making it a must-visit destination.

Red Sand Beach, Hana, Maui
Red Sand Beach, Hana, Maui (1)” by Matt McGee is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.

To increase your chances of spotting sea turtles, ensure you visit during their peak activity times. Here are some tips to help plan your trip:

  • Morning hours: Sea turtles are often more active in the morning, so try to arrive at the beach early.
  • Monitor tides: High tide increases the chances of spotting sea turtles, so plan your visit accordingly.

17. Kahana Beach

Kahana Beach, located on the west side of Maui, is a wonderful spot to admire sea turtles gliding through the crystal-clear waters.

This charming bay promises not only breathtaking views but also a memorable experience of observing these majestic creatures in their natural habitat.

To maximize your chances of seeing sea turtles, it’s advised to visit Kahana Beach early in the morning or late in the afternoon. Sea turtles are known to be more active during these times in search of food.

Kahana Beach provides an ideal spot for sea turtle sightings and offers a range of water activities such as snorkeling, swimming, and paddleboarding.

Where To See Sea Turtles In Maui: A Recap

In this section, we’ll highlight key locations in Maui known for exceptional sea turtle encounters. Include visits to these renowned sites as you plan your trip.

Among the top places across Maui, you may consider visiting Olowalu Reef, which is a popular spot for turtle sightings.

Remember to be respectful during your encounters with sea turtles by maintaining a safe distance and never touching or disturbing these protected animals.

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