Green Sea Turtles
One particularly good location in Hawaii for snorkelers is Hunauma Bay Beach, in Oahu Hawaii. This "Curved" bay was declared a protected marine life conservation area and underwater park in 1967. This is THE BEST protected cove if you are new to scuba diving or snorkeling with a diverse population of marine life and a large, rich coral reef. Advanced snorkelers and divers can also enjoy the beauty of this bay as the reef extends throughout the cove into deeper water. The bay floor is actually the crater of an ancient volcano that flooded when the exterior wall collapsed and the ocean rushed in. Directions: Take Kalaniana'ole Highway east from Waikiki for approximately 10 miles. Entrance to the preserve is on the right. Note that the beach fills up on weekends, and they turn away additional people, so it is best to get there early.
Big Island, Hawaii
Kahaluu is one of the best snorkeling spots on the Big Island of Hawaii. Fed by a fresh water spring, up to 10 million gallons per day. These shallow waters are almost always calm, with colorful corals, rock formations, and 100+ species of fish. Swim with schools of colorful fish and green sea turtles in these protected waters; don't forget your underwater camera! Location - Approx. 5½ miles south of Kailua-Kona on Ali'i Dr.
North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii
The north shore of Oahu has some great spots to find the green sea turtle, which is called the honu in Hawaii. The honu is a threatened species, however, it’s population is booming here and if you leave the island without seeing one, then you are spending way too much time away from the water. Here are my top places to find the honu on the north shore.The first spot is one of my favorite places to watch a sunset and enjoy a peaceful cocktail. Heading east away from Haleiwa town on Kamehameha Highway, you make a left on Papailoa Road and slowly meander through a nice neighborhood. Towards the end of the road, park in the dirt lot on the left and walk down the beach access towards the ocean. (*Note-it’s a good idea to not leave any valuables in your car anywhere on the island.) Once on the beach, breathe in the fresh air and let yourself surrender to the beautiful view of Mt. Kaala in the distance. Go for a walk down the beach to the left and look on the rocks for the Honu. They will be there chomping away at the limu and sunbathing. Limu is the algae that grows on top of the rocks in shallow water. This is a great spot to go if you don’t want to deal with the crowds and have some space to yourself.
The next spot is just down the road and it is known as “Turtle Beach” for a reason. On a typical day you will see several honu on the beach and a few just offshore. It’s really easy to find, heading east from Haleiwa it will be the first stretch of ocean you will see, it is known as Laniakea by the locals. Park at the far end of the dirt lot near the pine trees on the beach. Dodge the traffic and look for a group of volunteers with an umbrella set up on the beach, these are the honu guardians and are part of a nonprofit group Malama na Honu that educate the public and watch after the turtles. They have all kinds of information about the turtles.
A great way to see the honu without getting wet is to take a guided kayak tour of Kawela Bay with Shaka Kayaks. Shaka kayaks is an eco-freindly outfit that runs their tours through Turtle Bay Resort. There are about two dozen turtles that make Kawela Bay their home and the guides know exactly where to find them and give you an opportunity to see them up close and personal with their see through kayaks. On the tour, you will learn all about the turtles, as the guides are very knowledgeable and have tons of educational information to share. And the kayaks have clear bottoms, so you can see down into the water.
St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands
The very best place to see sea turtles when snorkeling, where a sighting is nearly guaranteed, is the marine sanctuary located at Secret Harbour (near Red Hook). Turtles swim in large numbers in this marine reserve, and are easy to see given the relatively shallow waters extending from the bay. While Sea Turtles can be seen on almost any beach in in St. Thomas, no where are they as common and as easily seen as at Secret Harbor. It was an AMAZING place to snorkel. -- Caroline (See Secret Harbour Resort).
St. Johns, US Virgin Islands
Another good spot (although not as great as Secret Harbor in St. Thomas) is Trunk Bay, where Green Sea Turtles can often be seen while snorkeling the emerald green waters of this beautiful beach. In 2009, we saw a couple of turtles there. -- Caroline.
A simply incredible place, if you have the time and money to travel there, is the marine sanctuary of Sipadan, an island off the coast of Malaysia. One of the Top 10 diving sites in the world, you are guaranteed to see vast numbers of turtles, along with amazing sharks, coral, barracuda, and an array of other amazing fish. -- William S. Howard
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