This is the post I wish I had seen before going searching for sea turtles on Oahu. If you’ve read any of my other posts, you’ll know I’m a major travel planner. Before we left, I had read about Oahu’s “Turtle Beach,” where you are “nearly guaranteed” to see honu, and marked it down on my Google Map for easy finding on the day.
Well it turns out, when you type in “Turtle Beach,” Google will just assume you mean “Turtle Bay,” and while you might expect them to be the same thing, or at least adjacent to each other, they are NOT.
Turtle Bay is a spot on the North Shore of Oahu with beautiful gardens, a resort, and a huge parking area. When you drive in, it looks like the perfect spot to find sea turtles.
We parked and walked down to the water, and I immediately thought how strange it was that there was not a single other person around.
Kevin and I started walking along the rocky shore, keeping our eyes ready for turtles. But the weird feeling that there should be more people looking for Hawai’i’s famous wildlife didn’t sit well. We decided to go back up and ask someone if we were in the right area. We thought maybe the turtles hung out on the opposite side of the resort? Or a hidden cove we hadn’t spotted?
We were not expecting to be told that we were in the completely wrong place. But that’s what a friendly gardener indicated to us. He said if we wanted to see turtles, we should drive a bit further up the coast to Laniakea Beach instead. That’s where we’d find them. So back in the car we went.
Laniakea Beach has no nice parking lot. You have to park along the road, and be careful not to scrape the bottom of your rental car on the steep lip into the gravel.
There were many more people at this beach!
When we arrived, there didn’t seem to be any sea turtles. Kevin and I ventured over by the big rocks, where there were less people. And waited.
I was just beginning to think we’d have to accept the loss and move on, when Kevin pointed. He’d seen one! I told him to put his hand down, or everyone by the sand would notice and come running!
This turtle didn’t seem to want to come in too far. He stayed further away, and I had a very difficult time getting photos of him! He would pop his head above the water for just a second at a time, and then I’d lose sight of him again. It’s amazing how well they blend into the rocks when the water is churning!
Eventually a second turtle showed up, and she came a lot closer! By this time, everyone had noticed and were crowded around.
Since we had noticed them before the crowd swelled, I was right in the front, and poised perfectly when the second larger turtle came right up close! It was amazing!
One of the great things about Laniakea Beach is the volunteers. The lovely woman we met told us that there are a team of volunteers that take turns to monitor the beach, ensure safe distances for the turtles, and provide education. It’s really wonderful! The Hawaiians really care about the safety and comfort of their wildlife – as it should be.
I’m so glad we found Laniakea Beach and stayed long enough to get to see the beautiful creatures who call it home. It was an experience I will never forget!