Kaanapali Beach Rentals

Swimming with Maui's Sea Turtles

Warm sun, gentle breeze and the soothing ebb and flow of the ocean creates a unique peace of mind for people of all walks of life. We love the beach, and its beautiful waters. If you plan to spend a lot of time at the ocean side during your Maui vacation, you'll probably catch a glimpse of the Hawaiian green sea turtle bobbing to the surface for air or dipping down into the waters near the reefs.

Green sea turtles are the largest hard shelled sea turtles in the world. The shell of the adult green sea turtle frequently averages at just over 3 feet in length. These turtles generally weigh about 250 pounds, but some larger green sea turtles can reach up to 500 pounds. Though turtles spend most of their time beneath the water's surface foraging for food, they must come up for air and lay their eggs on land.

Watching them glide through the water is a mesmerizing display you will never forget. If you see a sea turtle while swimming or snorkeling, enjoy the experience, and if you have an underwater camera, take a few pictures. There's no harm in marveling at this beautiful creature when its curiosity brings it close to you. There are a few things you should not do, however. Never chase or swim above a sea turtle. The turtle can become exhausted and begin to suffocate. You should never touch or grab them. It's a good idea to remember that their beak is very strong and that they are capable of biting. There is no reason to fear them if you give them their space, they are a non-aggressive animal and would only bite if harmed.

The Hawaiian word for turtle is, "Honu." In ancient Polynesian lore, these gentle giants led the earliest settlers to the Hawaiian islands. Native Hawaiians hunted sea turtles for their shells and meat, and when western culture touched the shores of Hawaii, turtles were poached on a massive scale, crippling their numbers. In present day, the green sea turtle population has only dwindled further. Some of the dangers that turtles face are loss of habitat, fishing lines, discarded trash, and pollution. Disturbance of nests and females laying eggs is also a problem, so if you are lucky enough to observe such an event, stay far away from the mother turtle.

Today, the green sea turtle is listed as endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and rests under the protection of the federal Endangered Species Act, as well as Hawaii state law. If you'd like to help protect Hawaii's turtles, follow the proper turtle etiquette and make sure not to leave any trash on the beach.

You might see a few other types of sea turtles on your visit too! The leatherback, hawksbill and loggerhead all frequent Hawaiian waters. Keep your eyes peeled for these beautiful animals. Enjoy the beach and enjoy your Maui vacation! If you haven't secured your beachfront Maui accommodations, you'll find our contact information at the bottom of the page, and plenty of units to browse on our website. Mahalo!