Maui, an island paradise in Hawaii, offers a plethora of aquatic adventures, and among the most sought-after is snorkeling with turtles. These majestic sea creatures, with their calm demeanor and graceful movement, have become a top attraction for those embarking on Maui snorkeling tours. Whether you are a first-time snorkeler or a seasoned pro, diving into the blue alongside these gentle animals is an experience you won't soon forget.

Understanding the Turtles of Maui

Hawaii is home to the green sea turtle, known locally as "honu." Revered in Hawaiian culture as a symbol of longevity and good luck, these turtles have become an iconic part of Maui's marine ecosystem. Unlike their fast-moving counterparts on land, honu are tranquil swimmers, often seen gliding effortlessly through the water, munching on seagrass, or resting at the ocean's floor. Like many sea turtles, Maui’s Hawaiian Green Sea turtles are protected under the Endangered Species Act, it is not legal to touch or harass them, so understanding how to observe them safely while snorkeling is key.

Tips for the Best Snorkeling Experience

To truly enjoy the magic of snorkeling with turtles, there are a few key tips to keep in mind. Firstly, choose your snorkeling spot wisely. While turtles can be found in many parts of Maui, areas like Turtle Town (referring to much of the reef on the south and west parts of Maui)  and Olowalu are known hotspots. Booking a guided tour, such as the popular Lanai snorkel & dolphin watch, can increase your chances of a turtle sighting, as the guides know exactly where to find them and how to observe them safely.

Another critical tip is to maintain a safe distance. Always remember, turtles are wild animals and protected federally, and it's essential to respect their space. This not only ensures their safety but yours as well. When snorkeling, always use anti-fog for your mask for a clear view, and if you're not a strong swimmer, consider wearing a flotation device like a float belt or pool noodle  to help you stay afloat and relaxed.

Etiquette While Interacting with Turtles

While it might be tempting to swim up close and personal with these beautiful creatures, it's crucial to adhere to rules set in the Endangered Species Act when snorkeling with turtles. These guidelines exist to protect both the turtles and the snorkelers.

  • No Touching: As serene as they may seem, it's essential never to touch or chase after a turtle. This can stress them out, leading them to change their behavior or even flee, which uses up vital energy resources. It's also illegal to harass sea turtles in any way, with hefty fines for violators.
  • Maintain Your Distance: It's a good practice to stay at least 10 feet away from the turtles. This gives them enough room to move around without feeling threatened or cornered. Turtles have to come to the surface to breathe. If your presence is causing them stress it can interfere with them coming to the surface to breathe.
  • Avoid Using Flash Photography: Bright flashes can startle and disorient turtles. If you plan to take photos, ensure your flash is off and try to capture the turtles in their natural state without disturbing them. Have a good zoom on your camera, this will help capture those photos while maintaining a safe distance.

Dive into the Adventure

Snorkeling with turtles in Maui is undoubtedly a bucket-list experience. As you float in the crystal-clear waters, watching these gentle creatures go about their day, you'll be reminded of the sheer beauty and wonder the natural world has to offer. By following the tips and etiquette mentioned above, not only will you have a memorable adventure, but you'll also ensure that these magnificent creatures continue to thrive for generations to come.