If you just cannot wait to see a Green Sea Turtle on your trip to Kauai, you are not alone. Encountering a Green Sea Turtle in its natural environment is an exciting and memorable experience.
On Kauai’s South Shore, there are a number of areas where turtles can be viewed safely from shore. Green Sea Turtles tend to congregate around feeding areas that grow marine algae and sea-grass or provide the turtles with shelter, and the necessary species to set up cleaning stations.
If you are lucky enough to see a turtle up close and personal, just remember that sea turtles are protected by state and federal laws, which prohibit you from harassing them. Here are some responsible viewing guidelines recommended by the National Marine Fisheries Service and the State of Hawaii:
• Always keep a safe distance. Do not chase, approach, swim with, try to touch or ride a turtle.
• Never try to feed or entice a sea turtle.
• Remember that loud noises and abrupt movements can startle a sea turtle.
Best South Shore locations for viewing turtles from shore:
Sea turtles can be easily spotted from shore near Brennecke’s Beach. You can either cross the grass at Poipu Beach Park where you can overlook Brennecke’s beach to the left, or walk along the road past Brennecke’s and look back toward the beach. Either way, you are nearly certain to see turtles.
Turtles can also be viewed from the Whaler’s Cove overlook. From the traffic circle in Poipu, take the leg that exits toward the Sheraton. Just past the gravel road that leads to Koloa Landing on your right, find parking and stand by the cement wall where you can overlook the cove.
In fact, most of the rocky shoreline on the South Shore provides feeding habitat for turtles. So no matter where you are, if you are patient, you are likely to see one. One of these places is just past Lawai Beach on the way to Spouting Horn. Pass the beach and the resort and park along the side of the road. You will see a large rock wall on the ocean side of the road that separates the beachfront homes. This is another great turtle viewing location.
You may also encounter sea turtles while swimming or snorkeling. One note of caution however is that millions of years of evolution have made sea turtles remarkably adapted for life in the ocean. As a resulted, turtles can safely feed in rough surf. However, these areas are extremely dangerous for snorkeling and swimming. Snorkel in areas that are safe and you may still get lucky enough to encounter a turtle.
If you want to see turtles in the water, Lawai Beach is your best bet. Just be careful where you snorkel, following a sea turtle too far out can get you in trouble. For more info about snorkeling at Lawai Beach, check out the Best Place to Snorkel on Kauai’s South Shore.
If you want to learn more about Hawaii’s Sea Turtles, check out the following titles: The Book of Honu by Maui authors Peter Bennett and Ursula Keuper-Bennett, Sea Turtles of Hawaii by Kauai author Patrick Ching or for your Kindle, Hawaii’s Green Sea Turtles by Kauai Author Monika Mira.