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 3 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, just check out their website to get an idea.
If you are feeling more adventurous and want to take honu viewing to the next level, then I suggest going on a guided kayak tour of Kawela Bay with Shaka Kayaks. Shaka kayaks runs their tours through Turtle Bay Resort, which makes it really convenient if you are staying there. 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. Don’t be concerned with your skill levels either as they take out the beginners to the experts and can suite the tour to match whatever you want out of it.
It’s a perfect way to get the family out on the water together, see some turtles, and learn about your backyard for the time being. If you want to book a tour call Captain Scott at 808-381-4121.
Remember, that the honu is a threatened species and is protected by federal law. You should always keep your distance. Never try and touch or feed the turtles. If you show the turtles respect, chances are you won’t bother them and sometimes they come to check you out. So whether you are kayaking, viewing turtles from the beach, or watching them with a mask and snorkel, remember these are wild reptiles and they have been on this earth a lot longer than we have so give them the respect they deserve.