When Is the Best Time
When traveling to Oahu, Hawaii, one of the top attractions for anyone visiting the island is to see the Hawaiian green sea turtles (honu) along the North Shore. The turtles call this island home.
We visited this area multiple times during different seasons and share everything you need to know. After reading our tips you’ll have the best chance of viewing these majestic creatures at Laniakea Turtle Beach on your next trip.
Best Time to See the Green Sea Turtles at Laniakea Beach
The best time to see the green sea turtles at Laniakea Beach is during the summer months. Plan a trip between May and August to have the best chance of viewing the green sea turtles. When the waters are calmer and warmer, the turtles are more likely to come ashore and enjoy the sun.
Winter: During the winter (in December, for example), larger waves are experienced in the North Shore, making the green sea turtles more unlikely to come inland. If you are visiting in the spring or fall, you’ll still have a good chance of seeing the turtles if you time your visit right.
Are Turtles Sightings Guaranteed at the North Shore of Oahu?
If you follow our tips, the chances of spotting those fascinating creatures are very high. However, it’s important to note that the turtles might not always come out and onto the sand, but you may be able to witness them swimming in the water.
On occasion, we noticed that the turtles never came up on shore. But still, we were able to spot them in the water coming up for air. It was also possible to see their underbellies, which is a great thing when you’re watching them in the ocean.
Best Time of Day to See Green Sea Turtles at Laniakea Beach
At Laniakea Beach, the best time of day to see green sea turtles is between 11 am and 1 pm. Alternatively, just before sunset offers a good viewing experience. Avoid arriving too early in the morning, as you’ll likely just have to wait around until about 11 am to view the turtles. While the beach is a lovely place to spend a few hours, it’s best to arrive at the peak viewing times as it’s not a good location for swimming.
Special Viewing Tip: Visit the Beach Around Sunset
One advantage of arriving later in the day before sunset is that parking is easier since most visitors have already been gone for the day.
Amazing view: When being there at sunset, you’ll notice that the water is so inviting, and while watching the surfers and the turtles, you are able to experience one of the most amazing sunsets. The Hawaiian sunset is a magnificent sight to be seen as it’s one of the most memorable things here.
How to Get to Laniakea Beach
To get to Laniakea Beach, drive along the Kam Highway, which is located outside Haleiwa. As the beach is small, there are limited signs on the route. Parking can be found on the Pohaku Loa Way, so just keep an eye out for other cars in the area.
Parking: The best side to park on is the Mauka side of the road, which is closest to the mountains. When parking, beware of the potholes which are present along the road. To access the beach once you are parked, you’ll see a small path between two homes, which serves as the entryway to Turtle Beach. Make sure you are careful when crossing the road, as there isn’t a crosswalk.
Planning Your Journey in Oahu, North Shore for the Turtles
Wherever you are traveling from, we recommend using Google Maps and just putting ‘Laniakea Beach’ into the search field. If you are driving from Haleiwa, it’s only about 2 miles, whereas, from Waikiki, you’ll travel for about 45 minutes to reach the beach. The traffic can be a nightmare in this area, so keep that in mind and allow plenty of time for your journey and parking.
How to Avoid the Crowds at Laniakea Beach
To avoid the crowds at Laniakea Beach, try to arrive at 10 am in the morning. Most visitors arrive between 11 am and 1 pm, making it the most crowded time to witness the turtles. If you plan to arrive at 10 am, you’ll be in position for when the turtles make their way onto the shore within the next hour. The parking is very limited here and gets full quite quickly during peak hours, so make sure you arrive early to get your spot.
Crowds During the Different Seasons: The beach is bustling almost every day during the summer months, but if you do want to have the best chance of seeing the turtles, you will likely need to accept this and visit in the middle of the day or at sunset.
Sunset is slightly quieter than midday and can be a good option if you are looking to avoid the hotter weather. Fall and spring can be a great time to try and witness the turtles, but you’ll find your viewing isn’t guaranteed due to the choppier waters.
How Long to Stay at Laniakea Beach for the Turtles
At Laniakea Beach, plan to stay for between one to two hours to see the turtles. There are limited facilities here, which make staying any longer impossible. With no restrooms onsite and no water for sale, you’ll need to make sure you are prepared in advance for your visit.
It can be very warm during the middle of the day, so if you are visiting with young children, an hour will be enough time to spend here. It’s not a good beach for swimming, so you will likely just stop here to see the turtles. However, it’s 100% worth it to come for the turtles only and sometimes for the surfers.
Hawaii – Oahu North Shore Turtle Snorkeling
Another way to watch the magnificent green sea turtles of Hawaii is on a snorkeling tour. We would say that this is even better than just visiting Laniakea Beach. You’ll be at the North Shore watching the turtles via this tour and do many other memorable things. The guides are fantastic! Check the details by clicking on the banner above or here: Hidden Gems of Oahu Tour with North Shore Turtle Snorkeling
If you’re feeling more adventurous, then you should at least once swim, snorkel, or dive with manta rays in the night in Kona, Hawaii. This is a must-do in Hawaii and a once-in-lifetime experience!
Watching the Turtles from a Glass Bottom Boat
The other best way to watch the sea turtles, as well as dolphins and more amazing sea life, is from a glass-bottom boat. Here’s the kicker: It departs from Waikiki (Departure Location), which makes it very easy and comfortable as you’re probably staying there anyway. Oahu: Afternoon Glass Bottom Boat Tour in Waikiki – Sea Turtles and Dolphins
Swimming and Surfing at Laniakea Beach
Swimming: Laniakea Beach is not a good beach for swimming due to the rocks and strong tides. Even when walking or standing at the water, tall adults may find themselves knocked over, so young children will always need to be supervised.
If you are planning to walk into the water, make sure you are wearing water shoes to protect your feet. Sea urchins can also be commonly found in the water, so be sure to stay away from them to avoid an injury.
Surfing: The beach is a known spot for experienced surfers as well. If there are no turtles around, it’s always worth it to watch the surfers for at least a while until the turtles appear. A visitor once said, that she really enjoyed watching those surfers, but also that heart stopped each time when she saw one go under.
Other beaches: One other must-visit beach in Oahu, is Lanikai Beach. It is known as the most beautiful beach in Hawaii!
Other Places to See Green Sea Turtles in Hawaii
- Waikiki, Oahu – Keep your eyes peeled in Waikiki near the beach and in the ocean, as visitors are sometimes lucky enough to see turtles here.
- Sea Life Park, Oahu – For a guaranteed sighting of the turtles, the Sea Life Park has green sea turtles in their displays.
- South Shore, Kauai – On the south shore of Kauai, green sea turtles are often witnessed. The best locations in the area for turtle viewings are Brennecke’s Beach and near the Whaler’s Cove outlook.
- Black Rock, Kaanapali Beach, Maui – This popular snorkeling spot is a great location for viewing green sea turtles up close.
- Turtle Town, Maui – Located near Maluaka Beach in the Makena area of Maui, you’ll find a great spot to take a snorkeling tour and witness the turtles. You’ll need to be a strong swimmer to explore this area due to the unpredictable patterns of the ocean.
- Maui Ocean Center, Maui – Several young green sea turtles reside here, so you can enjoy another guaranteed encounter.
- Kohala Coast, Big Island – Undoubtedly one of the best spots in Hawaii to view the turtles, you can see them from both in the water and from above at the resorts.
- Mauna Lani Bay Hotel, Big Island – The saltwater lagoons here look after young honu, which can easily be observed from the hotel.
- Puuhonau O Honaunau, Big Island – This is a place of refuge for green sea turtles, and they are often witnessed here and in the bay nearby.
- Punalu’u, Big Island – On the black sand beach here, honu are often seen resting throughout the day.
Keeping the Turtles Safe in Oahu, Hawaii
When visiting Hawaii, it’s illegal to touch or feed the turtles in the ocean or on land. At Laniakea Beach, a rope is placed to signal a 10ft distance that visitors must remain from the turtles. At the beach, there are turtle volunteers present who will alert you if you get too close to the animals. When you enter the area, you’ll see signs with the rules for the area, which you must follow during your visit. If you happen to come across turtles on the beach, make sure you remain 10 ft from them at all times so as not to disturb them during your visit.
Stunning Oahu Tours We Highly Recommend
North shore snorkeling, shark dive, or helicopter flights with doors on or off, we got you covered. Click the banner above to learn more. The tours are being offered via GetYourGuide, with an excellent customer server, and easily done with printed or mobile (on your phone) vouchers.