Frequently, guests who come to Kauai want to know where they can find the Hawaiian green sea turtle which has the Hawaiian name of “Honu.” Whether viewing from a cliff, snorkeling at certain beaches, or walking on the sand, there is a good chance you will come across one at some point during your stay on the Garden Island.
The Hawaiian green sea turtle is one of the oldest living animals in the world and Hawaii is one of the only places on earth where divers and swimmers have the unique experience of viewing them in the wild. To the Hawaiian people, sea turtles or “Honu” are sacred creatures and should be respected. They embody patience, wisdom, endurance, good luck and long life.
Fortunately for the species, Hawaiian green sea turtles are fully protected by the Federal Endangered Species Act of 1973. Therefore, feeding or touching turtles in any way, including shining a light on them, is considered a disturbance and is illegal. Federal penalties include jail time and fines up to $15,000 for each offense.
There are several beaches around Kauai where sea turtles abound, either in the water or resting on the sand. They are reptiles and therefore breath air. They can stay underwater for 30 minutes or more and will take short naps underwater along the reefs. They feed on limu (seaweed) which grows on the reef. When they get sleepy or want to dry off their shell, they will crawl up on a sandy beach to rest.
The reef beaches along the north shore (Tunnels, Hideaways, SeaLodge Beach, Anini Beach) and south shore ( Brennecke’s Beach, Whalers Cove and Lawa’i Beach) are the best places to find these amazing creatures. Recently my family was on island and several turtles were hanging out just offshore at Anini Beach. Keep in mind that if you do encounter a sea turtle, whether in the water or on the sand, give them LOTS of space. Please do not touch or harass them in any way. If they swim off it is probably because you got too close. Generally they are so used to humans that they will simply ignore you while you admire them in their natural environment.
Sea turtles are a long-lived species and do not reach sexual maturity until about 20 – 30 years of age. They can live to be approximately 80 years old. Their main predator is the tiger shark and high speed boats that run over them and crack their shell. The female turtle has a flat shell on the bottom and a short tail. The male turtle has a long tail and a concave bottom shell.
Sea turtles lay eggs every 2 to 7 years. They generally lay between 1 to 5 clutches per nesting season (May to Oct). Each clutch averages 180 eggs. It is unlikely that you will see young turtles on Kauai because most swim 1,000 miles away to the Northwest Hawaiian Islands just to find the perfect beach to lay their eggs. For the first five years the young sea turtles live way offshore in the open ocean and eat jellyfish. It is only after they are 18 to 20 inches long that they make their way back to shore to feed on seaweed like the adults.
Although the Hawaiian green sea turtle is the most common sea turtle around the Hawaiian Island chain, the rare hawksbill sea turtle can sometimes be seen. This species is one of the smaller sea turtles. Its head is narrow and it has 2 pairs of prefrontal scales (scales in front of its eyes). The hawksbill is a Critically Endangered sea turtle. The Sea Turtle Conservancy estimates that there are between 20,000 and 23,000 nesting females worldwide.
So, be on the lookout. Hawaiian green sea turtles are just one of the many reasons to visit the lush and beautiful island of Kauai, Hawaii.
For those guests staying at Honu Point, our vacation rental on the north shore of Kauai, you will undoubtedly see the large discs of the sea turtles swimming up to the reef directly below our ocean bluff property. If it is a beautiful blue-sky day and the tide is low, look down at the ocean and check along the reef line. Watch for bobbing heads.
For more of my blogs, go to the category list on the right-hand side of this page (full screen computers). For more information about Honu Point, go to any other page of this website. We would love for you to follow us on Instagram, @honupoint. Mahalo