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 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
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.
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.
They lay a red rope around the turtle, the "No-Go Zone" giving the turtles space.
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.
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 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.
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.
- 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 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
Location and Tips
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.
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.
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.
- 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.
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.