There’s one place on Oahu that tourist flock to just to get a glimpse of Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles in their natural habitat. That place is Laniakea Beach on the North Shore of Oahu. Since 1999, honu (Hawaiian word for Hawaii green sea turtle) have been regular visitors to Laniakea Beach.
Malama na Honu (Protect the Turtles) was created in 2007 to protect the sea turtles at Laniakea Beach. Since that time, they have helped to harmlessly identify and tag over 20 different turtles. You can even check out the Malama Na Honu website for profiles of each of these turtles. The first turtle that was tagged using a Passive Integrated Transponder (PIT) at Laniakea, is a male, weighs about 166 pounds, is between 35-40 years old, and is named Brutus. Brutus still actively basks ashore at Laniakea.
During a recent visit to Laniakea Beach, we spotted three turtles basking in the sun. However, what was most concerning was the obscene amount of tourists that were there to snap photos of the turtles. This was my first time to Lanikea and I was shocked by the number of tourists there crowding the turtles. There was easily 40-50 tourists crowding the shore. Fortunately, there were a couple of Malama na Honu personnel there to provide a perimeter around the turtles so the humans would not get too close. Although Laniakea provides a beautiful backdrop for the abundant turtles, the experience is a bit hampered by the vehicle traffic in the area and the insane amount of people there trying to snap photos with the turtles.
From the sign above, regarding basking Hawaiian sea turtles:
“Green turtles (honu) are native to Hawaii and can be found in shallow coastal waters of our island. The turtles commonly come close to shore to feed on seaweed (limu) growing on the bottom. During recent years, green sea turtles have begun to crawl out on the sand and rocks to bask and rest, primarily during the daylight hours. This basking is a natural behavior special to Hawaiian green sea turtles. Green turtles are a Threatened Species protected by both state and federal law. It is illegal to disturb them in the ocean or on the beach and fines can be imposed for doing so. If you see a green sea turtle basking or sleeping ashore, please do not walk close. They will crawl back into the water when they are ready. Enjoy the beauty of these wonderful creatures, both above and below water. Malama na honu.”
Explorers: Mark DeBlois, Coty Gonzales, and Joel Sabugo.
Directions: Laniakea Beach is located between Haleiwa and Waimea Bay. If you’re driving towards Waimea Bay then Laniakea Beach will be to your left just beyond the guard railing. You will travel about 1.5 miles from Haleiwa on Kamehameha Highway. Just before Pohaku Loa Way, you will notice an increase in traffic, a ton of tourist and surfers crossing the road, and an abundant amount of cars parked on the dirt lot on the right hand side. Park in the makeshift dirt parking lot on the right.