Turtle Town in Maui: Bucket List Item for Sea Turtle Lovers


Turtle Town in Maui, Hawaii, is one of the top recommended snorkeling destinations to spot sea turtles. With crystal clear waters and a wide variety of marine life, it’s no wonder why so many people love it!

Turtle sightings are almost 100% guaranteed here, and you can get up close to these stunning creatures as they swim around you. It’s an experience you’ll never forget and will want to do again.

Read on to find out more about this must-visit spot!

What Is Turtle Town?

Turtle town
Diving at turtle town

Turtle Town, Maui, is a common name used for Maluaka Beach, a stretch of coastline in Makena. However, when many people say “Turtle Town, Maui,” they are specifically referring to a popular snorkeling spot off the coast of Maluaka Beach. 

This site has unique underwater lava formations that developed a long time ago as a result of submarine volcano eruptions. Nowadays, the coral reef here has abundant numbers of the protected Hawaiian green sea turtle. 

Where Is Turtle Town in Maui?

Turtle town in maui
Turtle town in maui

Turtle Town is located in the southern district of Makena between Nahuna Point and Black Sand Beach. It’s in Kihei at Kalepolepo Beach Park in south Maui, Hawaii. 

Fun Facts about Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles

The Hawaiian green sea turtle is native to the island. Its scientific name is Chelonia mydas, but locals call it ‘honu.’ Honu holds special significance to the native population. In the past, they were considered the property of chiefs or ali’i or even regarded as family deities.  

It’s one of the seven sea turtle species and the most common in Hawaiian waters. Unfortunately, they are endangered species, and there are fewer than 200,000 mature female green sea turtles today. Honu are protected by federal law, which has increased their numbers. 

Brown and green turtle
Brown and green turtle

Sea turtles are rather slow swimmers and only reach speeds of 2.8 to 10 km/h in the water. Their eyesight is excellent in the water, but they are nearsighted when they are out.

A sea turtle can stay underwater for more than two hours. However, it usually pops out of the water every few minutes due to the turtle’s tendency to surface for air.   

While this protected species is called the green sea turtle, the animals aren’t green. Their shells can be of brown, orange, or yellowish tints and have swirls and other irregular patterns on them.

Why green, then? Marine biologists have determined that it’s the color of their body fat. It turns green from the abundance of seaweed they eat. Seaweed, along with algae, is their primary food source.  

Turtle nesting season runs from April to September but may also extend to December. This is when turtles come out of the water to lay eggs. Surprisingly though, it takes 35 to 40 years for the turtles to reach sexual maturity. 

You may be lucky to spot turtles sunning on the sand of the beautiful Hawaiian beaches. This is how turtles regulate their body temperature. 

What Other Marine Life Can You See at Turtle Town, Maui?

This stunning location isn’t just about turtles – far from it! If you look closely enough, you can spot an array of other species that are alongside the friendly sea turtles. It’s like an underwater zoo that features bright parrotfish, sleek barracuda, octopuses, majestic manta rays, and much more. 

Can You Snorkel at Turtle Town in Maui?

Absolutely! It’s a real paradise for snorkelers! The manta rays, Hawaiian green sea turtles, and sparkling coral reefs provide an incredible experience for those eager to take a dip. 

The crystalline waters are so clear that you won’t need to worry about finding the colorful fish and coral; they’ll find you!

Sea turtle snorkeling
Sea turtle snorkeling

Is Turtle Town Good for Snorkeling?

Without a doubt! It’s one of the best places to see Hawaiian green sea turtles in their natural marine environment. 

The sea turtles here are tame and friendly, and their sightings are virtually guaranteed. Though you have to keep your eyes open at all times to make sure you don’t miss them. 

You can spot them in deeper waters getting turtle car wash. It’s when they are having their shells cleaned by surgeon fish. 

You can also witness them in shallow waters or on the beach. Turtles can eat seaweed in only a few inches of water or sunbathe at the beach. It’s easy to mistake them for rocks, though, because of the color of their shells. 

So, if you’re planning on going to Maui, make sure you add Turtle Town to your itinerary! It can easily become the highlight of your trip.

Is Turtle Town Free?

Yes, Turtle Town is admission free. Nonetheless, many prefer booking a Maui snorkeling tour to access the location because it can take them directly to the spot where they can see turtles.  

Can You Go to Turtle Town on Your Own?

You can enjoy this amazing place on a budget and get there on your own by car. Keep in mind, though, that finding the location can be tricky because there are no markings indicating it.

Can I Swim Out to Turtle Town? 

The Turtle Town snorkeling spot is about 200 yards away from the shore. While it can be accessible to more advanced swimmers, swimming out there is not a good idea for everyone. 

Swimming out to the spot is also not recommended because you risk damaging the delicate coral on the way. 

In addition to that, because of the popularity of the location, parking can be challenging. Therefore, many prefer to skip the headache and enjoy a tour instead.

How Can You Get to the Maui Turtle Town Snorkeling Spot from the Shore?

Head toward the south end of Makena Beach. You can enter the water from the golden sand beach and swim along the bar of black rocks located on your left. Make sure you are careful and do not damage the coral reef on your way. 

If you want a relaxing and hassle-free experience, book a tour with a trusted operator who can take you straight to the spot. 

How Far is Turtle Town from the Shore?

Turtle town in maui

The area is approximately 200 yards from the shore. Strong swimmers can reach it from the beach, though it’s not recommended for everyone. 

Tips and Recommendations for Snorkeling at Turtle Town

If you’re planning on snorkeling, there are a few things to keep in mind.

1.  Don’t Touch the Turtles

It may be tempting to reach out and touch Hawaiian green sea turtles when you see them swimming around, but it’s important to resist the urge. In fact, it’s recommended to stay about 10 feet away from them.  

Turtles are wild animals and should not be touched. Additionally, touching the turtles can remove the protective slime layer on their skin, which can make them more susceptible to disease.

2.  Don’t Chase the Turtles

Hawaiian green sea turtles are naturally curious creatures. Don’t be surprised when turtles swim toward you to check you out. 

However, it’s important not to chase after them or swim too close, as this can stress them out. Not to mention it is prohibited to get too close to them or ever touch them! Fines can be as much as $10,000 USD for touching a sea turtle. 

3.  Don’t Stand on Coral

You’ll likely see a lot of beautiful coral. It’s important not to stand on the coral, as this can damage it. Coral is a living creature that is essential to the health of the ocean ecosystem.

4.  Use Reef-safe Sunscreen

While it’s important to wear sunscreen when spending time in the sun, you should avoid most store-bought sunscreen. 

Most commercially available sunscreen contains harmful chemicals and can damage coral and other marine species. Instead, choose a reef-safe variety that doesn’t contain chemicals harmful to marine life.

5.  Don’t Touch Anything Else

In addition to not touching any Hawaiian green sea turtle or standing on coral, you should also avoid touching anything else when you’re in the water. This includes colorful tropical fish (trumpet fish, butterfly fish, and other fish species), octopuses, shells, and other marine species. 

Touching these creatures can disturb them, damage their delicate bodies, and remove protective slime layers.

Turtle snorkeling
Turtle snorkeling

6.  Wear a Life Jacket

Even if you’re a strong swimmer, it’s always a good idea to wear a life jacket. This will help you stay afloat if you get tired and will also provide some protection if you happen to bump into something while swimming around.

7.  Enjoy Yourself!

Turtle Town is a great place to get up close to some of the amazing creatures that live in the ocean around the Hawaiian islands. So, make the most of your time here. 

By following these tips, you can ensure that your experience is safe and enjoyable.

Can You Scuba Dive at Turtle Town Maui?

While the area is popular with snorkelers, scuba diving is possible here too. It’s a shallow dive that allows you to see an abundance of green sea turtles, fish, and much more. Turtle Town is also next to the popular “5 Caves” (aka 5 Graves) dive site featuring several caves, including the famous “bubble cave.”

What Else Can You Do at Turtle Town in Maui? 

The sandy beach is located behind Mount Haleakala, which guards it from trade winds. Due to that, the area has calm water suitable for a wide range of activities.  

Not only can you snorkel or scuba dive with Hawaiian green sea turtles and colorful fish, but you can also go kayaking and canoeing. 

In addition to that, you can also enjoy beach activities such as swimming and playing volleyball or simply have a picnic. Since the waters are calm, the area is great for families with children. There’s also a golf course overlooking Mount Haleakala.

There are plenty of food and lodging options here. The Market is a great place for breakfast options, and you can get lunch or dinner at restaurants such as Monkeypod Kitchen, Tommy Bahama, or KAPA Bar and Grill. Places like Ganno’s have Happy Hour options, too.   

What Amenities Are There Nearby?

There are grassy park areas and bathrooms nearby, as well as snorkel gear rentals on site. There’s no lifeguard on site, though. So, make sure you are careful and if you travel with children, keep an eye on them while they are in the water.

There is ample parking; however, be sure NOT to park in areas marked “Do Not Park,” as you will be towed. There are also showers and restrooms at Turtle Town.

Maluaka beach maui hawaii

How Can You Get to Maluaka Beach and Turtle Town in Maui?

Maluaka Beach is a 10-minute drive away from Wailea in South Maui. Head south along Makena Alanui Road. Once you reach Honoiki Street, turn right and then, take a left turn on Makena Road. 

The entrance is off the main street, and there are no markings for either Turtle Town or Makena Beach. It can be easy to miss. So, don’t get surprised if you need to drive around to reach it.  

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Are you ready to explore Maui like you’ve never seen it before? Look no further than WildVoice! We can make your next trip to Hawaii an unforgettable experience. 

With WildVoice, you can unlock the secrets of Maui without ever compromising its sustainable future. We are an eco-tourism company passionate about curating unforgettable trips that show visitors how to appreciate nature in all its forms without damaging the environment. 

We not only guide seasoned ecotourism experts, but we also make sure every tour is educational, enjoyable, and respectful to the planet.

Book a tour with WildVoice today and discover the enchantment of Maui captivatingly and sustainably!

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