Five of the world’s seven species of sea turtles make their home in Hawaii’s waters, including the green sea turtle (honu), hawksbill (honu‘ea), leatherback, loggerhead, and olive ridley. The green sea turtle is by far the most commonly encountered sea turtle on Hawaiian reefs, followed by the hawksbill. Olive ridley, leatherback, and loggerheads are typically found in deeper, offshore waters and are rarely seen by the average ocean-goer. On Maui, sea turtles are a favorite discovery of snorkelers and divers on the island’s South and West coastlines.

Snorkeling with Sea Turtles in Maui

While marine species are often unpredictable, turtle sightings are nearly guaranteed during tours at our South Maui Turtle Town location.  While snorkeling in Maui, you can often spot green sea turtles lying on the ocean floor, eating algae, or visiting their local ‘turtle cleaning station’. The first time people hear the term ‘cleaning station’ they envision a little car wash with turtles lined up to cruise through. Sounds cute, but the turtle cleaning station is actually an area where sea turtles seek out fish who eat the algae off their shells. Sea turtles usually come up to the surface to breath, and can also be found on Hawaii beaches basking and resting. When swimming with sea turtles in Maui, remember to keep your arms at your side and remain at least 15 feet from turtles and look don’t touch. Harassing sea turtles in any way is illegal in the state of Hawaii. Violators can be fined up to $100,000 per violation and receive jail time for interference with the turtle population. Since sea turtles must come up to the surface of the water for air, it is important not to hover over them for long periods of time. A sea turtle could feel too scared to come to the surface to breathe and eventually drown. If you remain calm and respect a sea turtle’s space, you might just be rewarded with the turtle sticking around.

Now that you know how to view the turtles, read on to learn more interesting facts about sea turtles in Maui.

Snorkel With Sea Turtles