How to See Sea Turtles in Maui (& 9 Spots to Find Them)

How to See Sea Turtles in Maui (& 9 Spots to Find Them)

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It isn’t a proper Maui vacation in Maui if you don’t take a trip to the beach to see some sea turtles. While almost everyone knows about this endangered animal, not a lot of people get the chance to see one on the beach or while taking a dive. So be sure to include seeing or swimming with them in your itinerary if you plan to visit Maui.

Luckily, Sea Turtles can be seen all year round in Maui, but they are easier to spot during the summer months when the waters are warm and calm. However, it’s always best to book a tour with sea turtle viewing in them so you’ll get a chance to see or swim with the turtles without harming them.

Aside from when is the best time to see turtles, this article will also help tourists figure out some of the best spots to do sea turtle viewings around Maui. There are nine popular spots where these fantastic sea creatures can be found on Maui, and there are even dedicated tours for this purpose.

Where Can I Find Sea Turtles in Maui?

How to See Sea Turtles in Maui (& 9 Spots to Find Them)

There are about nine spots in Maui for tourists to see or swim with the turtles. In South Maui, you can check our Makena Landing, Maluaka Beach, Keawakapu  Beach, and Ulua Beach. In addition, South Maui is known for Turtle Town, so you might be able to find tours that allow you to swim with the turtles around those beaches.


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You can also find Sea Turtles in the West Parts of Maui, particularly at Ka’anapali Beach’s Puu Kekaa, an area between Napili Bay and Honokeana Cove, Kapalua Bay, and Honolua Bay. Ka’anapali is a good snorkeling site and a popular spot to see sea turtles. The other sites mentioned are also great spots to see turtles in their natural habitat.

Some tourists get to be lucky and catch sight of sea turtles basking under the sun during the summer. This usually happens at Ho’okipa Bay. You also get to see different turtle breeds gather together at the shore. Just make sure to observe them from a distance so to not disturb them from their routines.

When is the Best Time to See Maui’s Sea Turtles?

Because Maui is a tropical island, the turtles are always around. However, if you’re hoping to find a lot of them at once, especially near the shores of the beach, it’s best to go during the summer months. The turtles like peaceful, calm waters, so the best time of the day to spot them is between 11 in the morning and past lunch around 1 in the afternoon.

Since summer is usually the peak season in Maui, it’s always a good idea to book a tour with turtle viewing in its itinerary. After all, no Maui vacation is complete without turtle viewing. As a plus, several other sea creatures love this type of weather the most, so you’ll most likely see a lot of aquatic life while you’re out searching for turtles.

What Breeds of Turtles Can I See in Maui?

How to See Sea Turtles in Maui (& 9 Spots to Find Them)

Maui is home to 3 species of sea turtles, but you can spot five different species if you’re lucky enough on your trip. However, you’ll most likely spot the Green Sea Turtle as it’s native to Hawaiian waters. Unlike its cousins, the green sea turtle is a herbivore and can be spotted feeding near the shores. If you’re going out snorkeling, you’re most likely to encounter this turtle.

If you see a turtle with a bird-like snout, then it’s probably the hawksbill turtle. They’re not as common as the green sea turtle, but you’ll most likely see this type of turtle on Maui waters. They primarily feed on invertebrates.

The olive ridley turtle can also be found in Maui, but it’s rare. This type of sea turtle is the most abundant of them all on the world scale, but they are not a common sight in Hawaii or any of its islands. If you haven’t seen one yet and happen to chance upon one in Maui, then you’re one lucky tourist.

If you’re at Maui for some deep diving, you should keep an eye out for the Leatherback Turtles. These turtles are native to Hawaii but rarely swim to the shore. Casual watchers hardly see them, but sometimes people get to see them around Maui. For a better chance, some tourists would opt to go deep sea diving.

The last turtle species that you can find in Maui is the Loggerhead turtle. This turtle species is common around the United States coastal shores but is rarely seen around Hawaii. These turtles are named after their large heads, which aid them in getting through shells and mollusks for their meals.

Are Touching Sea Turtles Allowed in Hawaii?

Similar to several other parts around the world, touching the sea turtles in Maui is not allowed. In fact, it’s against the law in Hawaii, and tourists and locals who break this law will have to pay a huge fine. It is also encouraged for tourists to keep a safe distance from the turtles so as not to stress them out.

The fine for touching a sea turtle is $25,000 in Hawaii. They are endangered species, and touching them could cause them harm, such as unnecessary stress, and bacteria on our hands could be harmful to sea turtles. This is not only allowed in the Hawaiian islands but also several other areas.

Always just view or swim with the turtles at a safe distance. Being too close to a turtle may cause them to be distressed and hide underwater. This could be harmful to them because it prevents them from breathing. While sea turtles can last long underwater, they still need to come up to the surface for some air. If they are scared or distressed, they tend to stay down longer than they should.

In addition, tourists who come during the nesting or hatching season shouldn’t disturb the turtles. Camera flashes may cause disruption in their natural behavior. Also, do not pick up the hatchlings; young turtles shouldn’t be exposed to too much stress since they are imprinting on the beach they hatched on. This allows them to return to the beach and lay their eggs in the future. Stressors may prevent baby turtles from imprinting on the beach properly.

Lastly, tourists should take part in keeping Maui a beautiful and clean area where the turtles can visit. Just because it’s vacation season doesn’t mean people should be irresponsible. Sea turtles are the usual victims of tourists who decide to litter on the beach. So, it’s better to help not only the turtles but other forms of life flourish by disposing of your trash in its proper place.

What Other Unique Sea Life Can Tourists See in Maui

How to See Sea Turtles in Maui (& 9 Spots to Find Them)

Aside from the turtles, you’ll be able to see so many other aquatic life in Maui alone. A snorkeling trip or dive will be a good option if you want to see some sea creatures that don’t go to the shore area.

Some of the aquatic life you’ll be able to see are the Hawaiian Monk Sea, Spotted Moray Eels, Racoon Butterflyfish, Hawaiian Day Octopus, whales, manta rays, Slate-pencil sea urchins, parrotfish, pincushion sea stars, dolphins, and so many other species of fish.

Many of these species are endemic to Hawaii and quite rare, even if you’re on the islands. So while you are in Maui, it’s a good idea to try to see these animals before your vacation ends. Snorkeling or dives on tours will allow you to cover more ground, and it’s probably best to ask the locals and tour guides for the best spots to see these beautiful animals.


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