Best Places For Seeing Turtles on the Big Island
By Viator, August 2013
While sea turtles (known locally as honu), can be found along shorelines of all of the Hawaiian Islands, the following are a few of the best places for seeing turtles on the Big Island of Hawaii.
While somewhat difficult to reach, Kiholo Bay is one of the best places on the Big Island for spotting Hawaiian green sea turtles. Located in Kohala to the north of the Waikoloa Resort, this brackish lagoon which parallels the shoreline was once an ancient fishpond. Today, t's a popular destination for those who've come to see turtles, and in addition to the pond there is a rocky beach where you can snorkel when the surf is calm. Sea turtle sightings are remarkably frequent, although accessing the site can mean trekking from the highway down a long, brutally-hot trail. Nevertheless, the final reward is more than worth the journey.
Pu'uhonua O Honaunau
20 miles south of Kona, Pu'uhonua O Honaunau is best known as a National Historic Park. At this dry, rocky shoreline, ancient Hawaiians could seek protection from the death penalty if they had broken a kapu or social law. Although the kapu system was abolished in 1819, the shoreline which borders the area has remained as one of the best snorkeling sites on the western side of the island. In addition to dozens of fish species and remarkably clear water, Hawaiian green sea turtles are a common sight as they mingle with visiting snorkelers.
Kahalu'u Beach Park
Also on the Kona side of the island, Kahalu'u Beach Park has a shallow lagoon which is popular with beginning snorkelers. Although it isn't an official marine sanctuary, there are copious amounts of colorful fish in addition to Hawaiian green sea turtles.
Waialea Bay/Beach 69
Located in Kohala, “Beach 69” is a small, tucked away beach which is more secluded than popular Hapuna. Turtle sightings are possible here, although the main draw are the colorful reef fish and the crystal clear waters. On a high tide, however, the beach can almost disappear.
Punalu'u Black Sand Beach
Finally, if you're hoping to see turtles on land instead of in the water, the black sands of Punalu'u Beach Park are a great place to find turtles sunning themselves on the sand. The ocean here is too rough for snorkeling, but there's a chance that you could witness a Hawaiian green sea turtle hauling himself out from the sea.