Hawaiian Sea Turtles: Unbelievable At Full Moon!

Shout out to Images by Liz for the lead photo taken under a full moon this week at Poipu Beach. Kauai has seen a plethora of Hawaiian sea turtles coming ashore each night. Apparently, this is part of the fascinating way that sea turtles lay their eggs.

If you have any exceptional Hawaii photos you would like to share with readers at Beat of Hawaii,  just let us know. You can upload them here. If we use one, we’ll be sure to give you credit.

Turtles can visit the beach for several nights before actually laying their eggs. They dig egg chambers in different locations over several nights to find the best possible location in which to incubate the eggs. The process begins by what is called “body pitting,” wherein the turtles use front flippers and body to create the pit. Then, they use hind flippers to dig the egg chamber. Digging a nest can take hours. If they determine that the location is not suitable due to shells, rocks, roots, or simply too dense sand, they move to a new place and begin once again.

Where do Hawaiian sea turtles live? Come to the islands and visit our beloved Honu.

Visit Kauai at and around Poipu Beach Park and Brennecke’s Beach. But that’s just for starters.

On the Big Island, a favorite place is Turtle Cove in front of the Westin Hapuna Beach Resort. You can reach it without stepping on the hotel property. Go to Hapuna Beach and walk as far as you can on the hotel side. Get in the ocean and swim around the rocks into the cove. You won’t be disappointed with the number of Hawaiian Sea Turtles you find. It has some of the best Hawaii snorkeling too. Also check Anaehoomalu Bay, Honaunau, Kahalu’u Beach, Kahuwai Bay, Kuki’o Beach, and Punaluu Black Sand Beach.

On Maui, look for turtles at Makena, Wailea, and Kihei beaches.

And on Oahu, try Makaha, Waikiki, and Laniakea beaches.

Observation Guidelines: Practice social distancing! Turtles are generally not afraid of people. They are protected by law and it’s illegal to touch them. The best recommendation is to stay back about 20 feet and not chase, scare, or hinder their movement.

Endangered Sea Turtles. The Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles, “Honu,” is one of the most ancient species of the world and existed before dinosaurs. Treat this endangered species with respect. Each weighs up to 500 pounds and have a long life span. Honu live close to the shores of our Hawaiian Islands, feed primarily on seaweed, and swim up to 35 mph. Hawksbill Sea Turtles, “ea” in Hawaiian, are elusive and nearly extinct. Noted for its shiny shell, they are unfortunately still hunted illegally. There are only a few dozen believed to be in Hawaii. Leatherback Sea Turtles are the largest of all living turtles (in fact all sea reptiles). This species has no shell and instead is covered by black rubber-like skin and oily flesh. Leatherbacks dwell in deep water away from the island shores and can weigh up to one ton.

Do you have a favorite location to view Hawaiian Sea Turtles? Please leave a comment.

Mahalo to Kauai Wedding Officiant for letting us know this event was happening.

21 thoughts on “Hawaiian Sea Turtles: Unbelievable At Full Moon!”

  1. During Dec 2018 4 generations of my family rented a house up a side street from Poipu Beach. One night everyone except me walked down the block to see the many honu on the beach. One of my everlasting regrets is that I didn’t go. Don’t they haul out to avoid the feeding sharks at night? After 40 plus years visiting Kauai I may not return, but the island has beckoned to my oldest son who will return frequently. Unfortunately he’ll not see it as it was 40 years ago. A hui hoa

  2. Your story on the turtles was wonderful except that you forgot to add some crucial information. What you did not write could further endanger these endangered turtles.
    What needs to be understood by locals and tourists: These turtles are protected by U.S. and state laws. Getting closer than 10 feet or walking between them and the shoreline can get you fined of several thousands of dollars!. A tourist from the Midwest U.S. swam behind a turtle while holding on to its shell. The tourist returned home, posted an underwater photo taken by his friend, and was reported to authorities by people who saw the photo. An investigation followed and wildlife agents appeared at his home. He had to pay thousands of dollars and probably can never return to the islands. Thank you for your understanding and for caring about our island!

  3. Love to snorkel at either Lawai Beach or Tunnels and almost 100% of the time run into sea turtles….great to watch as they swim in the surf…missed being there this year due to C-19. Will find a way to be there in 2021!

    And BTW, love receiving your newsletter!

  4. I am trying to figure out from which angle at Poipu Beach this was taken. I’ve been to Poipu Beach many times and the background does not look familiar.

  5. Beautiful photo but it appears that the photographer used some lighting. On Kauai, we strongly discourage the use of any lights at night on our honu.

  6. Hawaii is one of the few places that green sea turtles come ashore to rest. In other areas of the world, they come on shore only to lay eggs. When you see turtles on shore on Kauai, it does not always mean they are there to lay eggs. They seem to be attracted to the keiki pool at Poipu for resting. The sand there is not deep enough in most areas for egg laying, with lava rock just inches under the surface. I counted 25 there early one morning last year but I have talked to people who have seen more. Most of the turtles you see on Kauai actually lay eggs on French Frigate shoals, 400 miles away, where they were hatched. There are numerous nesting sites showing up on Kauai in the past few years, though.

  7. Have gone swimming and snorkeling with them a good many times. On Maui, there’s an aquarium. There is a section of the aquarium which is for the rehabilitation of green sea turtles. They feed them a lot of green broccoli. Seems that green sea turtles will eat most anything that is green. That aquarium is a must see for travelers to Maui.
    Mahalo Guys

    1. Thank you so much for this beautiful informative picture. You always provide us with the very best and latest on Hawaii.

  8. What a magnificent picture and what awesome creatures of the sea. I (along with my family have visited Kauai 24 times (once every year)since 1998. We love everything about the island. This is the first year we haven’t made the trip, due to Covid 19. We saw one very large Honu resting on Po’ipu Beach one time only. It was May of 1918. We were absolutely mesmerized by the scene. I enjoyed reading this article with so much interesting information about the Honu that I did not know before. Thank you for this all these wonderful facts and the picture. We are missing Kauai, and hoping we can return again next year.

  9. My daughter and grandson like to snorkel in the lagoon at the Hilton Waikoloa Village. There are several Honu there, and they love to watch them glide through the water. They are so beautiful. The picture you posted was amazing. Thanks for the information on the Honu, I’ll pass it on to my grandson. We are all missing Hawaii, and hope to return in March. Maybe we’ll see some whales too.

  10. Punalu’u on the south coast of the Big Island is well known for it’s black sand and turtles basking in the sun. A beautiful day trip from Kona for sun bathing and turtle watching!

  11. We always see them at Whalers Cove Resort. You can look down at Waikomo Stream and go down the steps at the public access.

  12. I have swam with turtles at Lawai Beach, Ke’e Beach and Tunnels…all great snorkeling spots.

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