Back to Captain's Blog

Maui Turtle Town Snorkeling: Is It Worth the Effort?

Are turtles one of your favorite animals? You’ve definitely seen a turtle at a pet shop or in photos before, but have you seen one larger than you and in person? Maui is home to the greatest place for snorkeling with the Hawaiian green sea turtle: Turtle Town. The strip known as Turtle Town has numerous underwater caves, but it is mainly visited for the abundance of turtles! We’ve got more on Turtle Town below.

Maui’s Wide Variety of Marine Life

If you’ve never been to Hawaii or Maui, then you probably have no clue as to just how diverse the marine life is! Fish alone can be found in several different species, but you can also find some more exciting life if you’re lucky. The bodies of water near your home probably have a good variety of marine life too, but they’re much harder to see because of disturbed and murky waters. Furthermore, they definitely aren’t as vibrant or eye-catching as what you’ll see in a tropical environment like Maui. 

Aside from fish, the main two critters you will see are whales and turtles. Humpback whales can be found during the cold months of the year, but turtles are visible year round. If you dedicate enough time you can also see dolphins and manta rays, but those are a little more rare.

This means that turtles are the real staple of snorkeling in Maui. As a matter of fact, giant turtles are so abundant in parts of Maui that there is a strip of water known as Turtle Town. As the name might imply, the waters are absolutely packed with majestic sea turtles happily swimming about!

The Turtles of Maui

There are actually more than just one type of turtle in Hawaii. There are a total of five different species that you might see, although some are much rarer than others. In order from most common to least common, here are the turtles that live in Hawaii:

  • Green Sea Turtle – definitely the most common turtle found in Maui. These turtles grow to around 4 feet long and weigh 400 pounds. Green sea turtles are particularly round and do have a hard shell.
  • Hawksbill Turtle – not as common as the green sea turtle, but also found in high numbers around the islands. Hawksbill turtles only grow to 3 feet and weigh an average of 200 pounds. They are easily identified by sharp edges and a beak-like mouth.
  • Olive Ridley Turtle – these guys aren’t rare by any means, but they aren’t particularly common in Hawaii. Olive ridley turtles grow to just 2 feet and 100 pounds. As their name implies, their shell coloring is olive.
  • Leatherback Turtle – a complete outlier when it comes to sea turtles in Hawaii. This bad boy can grow up to 8 feet long and more than 2,000 pounds! They are extremely adept divers thanks to enormous flippers and are the only turtle without a hard shell. Instead they have thick skin resembling leather.
  • Loggerhead Turtle – undoubtedly the rarest turtle to find in Maui even though they can be found all across the U.S. Loggerhead turtles grow up to 3 feet and 150 pounds. Their most distinguishable feature is a large head and bulging neck. 

There are two other species of sea turtles (flatback and Kemp’s ridley), but you won’t find them anywhere in Hawaii. 

Snorkeling in Turtle Town

Knowing that Turtle Town is the best place to sight turtles, what can you expect to see? As the distribution of turtles in Hawaii indicates, green sea turtles will definitely be the turtle you see most. You’ll probably also see some hawksbill turtles without really noticing the difference between green sea turtles. If you have the dedication for it, leatherback turtles can be seen much farther out into the ocean.

Turtle Town is commonly referred to as the portion of the coastline known as Maluaka Beach. Unofficially, Turtle Town stretches between Black Sand Beach and Nahuna Point. The white sand beach of Maluaka has beautiful blue water on its border. When you walk a little farther towards the coral reef, you can start to find the vibrant marine life that makes the area so alive!

Because the entrance to Maluaka Beach is actually hidden, most tourists don’t actually know about it. This is certainly a shame for them, but it means that you have fairly exclusive access to the turtles! You will still have some fellow snorkelers, but it will be much less crowded than an area like Molokini Crater during the middle of the day.

Green sea turtles are definitely the drawing attraction of Turtle Town, but that doesn’t mean other life is void from the area. You can still see plenty of gorgeous tropical fish in the water, giving you a varied snorkeling experience. Variety is important for giving your eyes a visual break, allowing you to appreciate the glorious sea turtle that much more! Even if you don’t love turtles, there’s something simply awesome about one that is bigger than you!

Touring Turtle Town in Comfort

Hawaii’s great island, Maui, is home to a nice spread of exciting aquatic creatures. Fish are definitely cool and eye-popping, but don’t overlook the laid-back demeanor of the sea turtle! Hawaii is home to five different sea turtles; the green sea turtle, hawksbill turtle, olive ridley turtle, leatherback turtle, and loggerhead turtle. Taking a trip to Turtle Town will probably entail a lot of green sea turtles and maybe a few hawksbill turtles.

You could certainly visit Turtle Town from the beach, but that might be tricky, and what fun is that when you’d need to hike and swim so far? Snorkeling tours like those offered by Kai Kanani are perfect for direct transportation right to Turtle Town. Our Signature Deluxe Snorkel is perfect for an unobstructed view of Hawaiian sea turtles! After enjoying the turtles, you’ll finish up by sailing through the waters of Haleakala, Makena, and South Maui! Secure your relaxing vacation by reserving a snorkeling trip today!

  • Posted in: