Laniakea Turtle Beach on Oahu - Hawaii

Laniakea Turtle Beach on Oahu - Hawaii

United States
United States

When Is the Best Time

Laniakea Beach is famous for the Hawaiian Honu, the green sea turtle. It’s not guaranteed to spot basking turtles, but if they come ashore, it’s one of the most memorable experiences. There isn’t any specific time for the honu to haul up onto the beach to sunbathe and rest. Some come year-round, while others prefer the spring and summer. Several already appear in the morning; some prefer the afternoon sun like “Kekoa”, a 20-year-old male.

A green sea turtle is crawling to the Laniakea Beach for basking

A couple of them like to stay on the beach past sunset, like “Kuhili”, a 40 years old male. Also, Olivia Dawn, the 4th most frequently basking honu, stays past sunset. Overall you get a higher chance to spot turtles sunbathing during summer (May-September). Usually, they prefer a calmer sea and perfect conditions to come ashore. 

No turtles - no crowds on Laniakea
No turtles - no crowds

We came to the beach three times; on the first day, we didn’t spot any and watched the sunset. On the second day, we spotted a few in the sea while snorkelling, and on the third day, three turtles hauled up to the beach while others were feeding on seaweed on the limestone shelf. Walk along the huge limestone rocks at the beach and look for “Keoki”. This turtle basks here exclusively. “Hiwahiwa”, the 5th most frequently spotted honu, left the beach past sunset on our visit.

Turtle feeding on seaweed on the huge limestone at Laniakea

Why do I know these names? One volunteer is always patrolling the beach. If turtles come up, she is giving the others a call. Of course, everybody is curious about seeing these elusive animals close. The reason several volunteers give you tons of information about the turtles and how to behave. They protect the turtles from disturbance by marking a boundary with ropes.

A volunteer marked the boundary with a red rope to protect the honu
They lay a red rope around the turtle, the "No-Go Zone" giving the turtles space.

Snorkel with Green Sea Turtles

Watching a young sea turtle while snorkeling

It’s fairly easy to spot the honu while snorkelling during summer due to a gentle surf. But be aware, strong currents and hazardous surf occur here, especially from October to April. Do not enter the water in rough conditions. Just look, don't touch the turtles. watch them from the distance that the honu doesn't get scared. However, some turtles came up close to me. It was challenging having distance, but I never touched them.

Crowds and Traffic Jam

Crowds on Laniakea Beach

It is a popular beach because of the basking turtles and the passing daytrippers travelling around Oahu. Tour buses circle the island and make a stop here so do the rental cars. The beach is overrun when the turtles arrive; otherwise, crowds are bearable. There is limited parking only, and next to the beach is a residential area. It is less crowded during the rain.

Sign at the car park what is prohibited
Sign at the car park - What is not allowed to do here

You may get stuck in a traffic jam a couple of miles before the beach on the Kamehameha Hwy, especially during midday and weekends; too many cars searching for a parking lot. It’s a nightmare for the residents. It is quiet in the morning and evening only.

Peaceful Laniakea Beach in the evening

Parking

Limited parking on a gravel area opposite the beach. It’s pretty busy and fills up around midday and during weekends. Don’t leave any valuables in the car. The road is heavily trafficked crossing can be challenging, especially with children. 

Top Tips
  • Stay here in the north of Oahu at least for two nights to increase the chance of a sighting. It was just a ten-minute drive for us, and we always had a quick look to check if turtles are present. The other advantage; there is too much traffic roughly from 11 am onwards coming from Honolulu. Often the parking lot is full. Weekends are super crazy. We recommend the private Pipe Beach House, just 10 minutes drive north of Laniakea Beach. Another excellent choice on the north shore is the Turtle Bay Resort, in a spectacular location. Nearby is the famous snorkel spot Sharks Cove with lots of colourful fish.

    Sharks Cove Famous Snorkel Spot
    Sharks Cove a famous spot for snorkelling and diving.
     
  • Carry plenty of water and a picnic. There isn’t any good shop nearby and finding a new parking lot is sometimes impossible.

Best Months to Visit

Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec

Location and Tips

Hawaii, Oah'u
United States
United States

Laniakea, the turtle beach of Oahu, is a long but rather small beach where turtles can frequently be seen. It’s just an hour drive from Honolulu to the north shore of Oahu if there isn't much traffic.

People standing around a turtle at Laniakea Beach

The Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle – Honu is endangered and protected under Hawaiian State Law. Each day volunteers are present at the beach to protect the turtles. If turtles crawl to the beach for basking, they rope up a “No Go Zone”. The volunteers try to identify the turtles, put up signs with information and the turtles given name. They know roughly 30 turtles very well.

Several turtles came up close to the beach
All these spots in the water are turtles.

One turtle was basking while another hauled out. This second turtle got blocked and disturbed by tourists. As a result, she went back to the sea. The volunteers try to do their best, but unfortunately, not all people care.

Endangered Honu Facts

Green sea turtle hauling to the beach

  • These resident turtles form an isolated population around the Hawaiian Islands with low genetic diversity.
  • Less than 4.000 females migrate 1000 miles for mating and nesting in the French Frigate Shoals every 2 – 7+ years.
  • They weigh on average 250 lbs / 113 kg but can grow up to more than 500 lbs / 227 kg.
  • The green sea turtles mainly feed on algae and seaweed.
  • They can get roughly 70 to 80 years old.
  • A turtle can dive pretty deep, more than 560 feet / 170 meters.
  • It is estimated that usually, only 1 of 5000 hatchlings reach adulthood.
  • The population of the green sea turtle is declining around the world except in Hawaii.
Essential Rules to Protect the Honu 

Green sea turtle in the sea
I spotted this turtle while snorkelling, It looks close, but my waterproof camera has a zoom.

  • Keep distance while snorkelling or when they are basking; 6 feet minimum!
  • Please, don’t touch these ancient creatures.
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Created by
Micha Herber-Bleich
Micha Herber-Bleich
I love adventurous trips and my husband…