Turtle Town, Maui: Snorkel to the Green Sea

Published on:
July 18, 2023

Turtle Town, Maui, a haven for green sea turtles and snorkeling enthusiasts alike, is among the most captivating destinations on Hawaii. Turtle Town's allure lies in its abundant sea turtles, vibrant coral reefs, and remarkable snorkeling opportunities.

In this blog, we'll dive into the points of interest at Turtle Town and provide information on its location, accessibility, tours, and more.

Is Turtle Town Worth Visiting?

Is Turtle Town Worth Visiting?
A green sea turtle showcasing its shell, flippers, and the distinctive patterns on its skin, characteristic of the green sea turtle species in Maui, Hawaii. Photo by Jonathan Ikemura.

Absolutely! Nestled along Maui's coast, near the scenic Honolua Bay and accessible via Honoiki Street, Turtle Town is undoubtedly worth a visit, especially for those who appreciate marine life and underwater exploration. The calm water of Maui's south coast serves as a haven for a diverse array of fascinating creatures of the deep waters, including the delightful green turtles, which are a common sight.  

With its stunning coral reef views, unique topography, and reputation as one of Maui's most popular snorkeling spots, Turtle Town offers an unforgettable experience that showcases the beauty of Maui's underwater world. It's an excellent spot for both snorkeling veterans and newcomers to witness the natural splendor of Hawaii's aquatic ecosystems.


Is Turtle Town Free?

Turtle Town itself is a natural area, and there are no entrance fees associated with visiting. However, if you choose to take a guided tour or rent equipment, there may be associated costs. Additionally, it's important to consider any parking fees or equipment rental charges if you decide to visit by yourself.

Why is Turtle Town called Turtle Town?

Turtle Town is called so because it is known for its abundant population of green sea turtles, also known as “honu.” These magnificent creatures frequent the waters and shores of Turtle Town, making it a prime location for encounters with these gentle giants. The large number of sea turtles in the area and their regular presence has led to the name "Turtle Town" as a nod to the prominence of these beloved marine creatures.

Honu in Traditional Maui Culture

Honu, the Hawaiian word for green sea turtle, holds a significant place in the rich cultural heritage of Maui. For centuries, these graceful creatures have been revered by the people of Maui, embodying wisdom, strength, and longevity. The honu's presence is deeply intertwined with local folklore and traditions, symbolizing good luck, protection, and a spiritual connection to the ocean.  

Maui's residents and visitors alike hold great respect for these ancient creatures, which can often be spotted gracefully gliding through the turquoise waters surrounding the island. The honu's presence serves as a reminder of the importance of preserving and protecting the delicate marine ecosystems that sustain both wildlife and human life in Maui.


Turtle Town: Points of Interests and Beautiful Marine Life

Green Sea Turtles Galore: Turtle Town lives up to its name by hosting a thriving population of green sea turtles. These magnificent creatures can often be spotted gracefully gliding through the crystal-clear blue water. Snorkelers and divers are in for a treat as they observe these gentle giants in their natural habitat.

Lush Coral Reefs: Beneath the surface, Turtle Town reveals a kaleidoscope of vibrant coral reefs. These living formations serve as vital habitats for an array of marine species, including colorful tropical fish, eels, octopuses, and even reef sharks. As you explore the reefs, be sure to admire the intricate beauty and delicate balance of this underwater ecosystem.

Fascinating Underwater Topography: One of the unique aspects of Turtle Town is its fascinating underwater topography. The volcanic formations create captivating lava tubes, arches, and ledges that add an extra dimension to your snorkeling or diving experience. Exploring these geological wonders will leave you in awe of the natural forces that shaped the island.

Are There Sharks in Turtle Town?

While Turtle Town is home to various marine species, including reef sharks, encounters with sharks are rare and pose minimal risk to snorkelers and divers. Reef sharks are typically shy and tend to avoid human interaction. Rest assured that snorkeling and diving activities at Turtle Town are generally considered safe.

Where is Turtle Town Located?

Turtle Town is located along the southern coastline of Maui, between the towns of Kihei and Makena. It encompasses a stretch of shoreline that includes several bays and coves. The exact entry points may vary, but popular access areas include Maluaka Beach and Makena Landing.

How to Get to Turtle Town, Maui, from the Hale Pau Hana

Boat Tours: Embark on a boat tour from the Maalaea Harbor, located approximately 9 miles north of the Hale Pau Hana. Many tour operators offer guided snorkeling and diving trips specifically tailored to Turtle Town. Sit back, relax, and enjoy a scenic boat ride along the coastline before arriving at the destination. These tours often provide equipment, transportation, and knowledgeable guides to enhance your experience.

Shore Entry: For those who prefer shore access, Turtle Town can be reached by a picturesque walk along the coastline. From the Hale Pau Hana, head south on South Kihei Road until you reach Makena Road. Turn right onto Makena Road and continue until you reach Maluaka Beach or Makena Landing. Both spots offer convenient entry points into Turtle Town's underwater wonders. Remember to check with locals or consult a map for specific directions and parking information.

Popular Turtle Town Snorkeling Tours:  

Maui Snorkel Tours: They provide expert guides, quality equipment, and small-group tours for close-knit incredible experiences at the popular snorkeling destination.

Trilogy Excursions: Known for their eco-friendly approach, Trilogy offers snorkeling tours that visit Turtle Town and other spectacular sites along the Maui coastline.

Pride of Maui: With spacious catamarans and knowledgeable crew members, Pride of Maui offers snorkeling trips that explore Turtle Town's underwater wonders.

For more information:


Can You Swim to Turtle Town?

Swimming to Turtle Town from the shore is not recommended due to the distance and potential currents. It is safer and more convenient to reach Turtle Town by boat or by using the recommended entry points mentioned earlier. Taking a guided tour or utilizing shore access options will ensure a more enjoyable and secure experience.

Tips for Exploring Turtle Town Safely and Responsibly:

  • Respect Wildlife: When encountering sea turtles, maintain a respectful distance and resist the urge to touch or chase them. Observe these incredible creatures from a distance, allowing them to go about their natural behaviors undisturbed.
  • Use Reef-Safe Sunscreen: Protect the fragile coral reefs by using reef-safe sunscreen that doesn't contain harmful chemicals. This small step goes a long way in preserving the underwater ecosystem.
  • Practice Good Snorkeling/Diving Etiquette: Assess your swimming abilities and comfort in open water. Consider taking a guided tour or seeking instruction if you're a beginner. Be mindful of other snorkelers and divers in the area, and avoid touching or damaging the coral reefs. Take nothing but memories and leave nothing but bubbles.  
  • Weather and Ocean Conditions: Check the forecast and ocean conditions before your visit. Avoid snorkeling or diving in unfavorable weather or rough waters.
  • Safety Equipment: Ensure you have proper snorkeling or diving gear. Use a well-fitting mask, snorkel, fins, and a buoyancy aid (life jacket or snorkel vest).

Turtle Town, Maui: A Day of Snorkeling, Picnics, and Unforgettable Adventures

Turtle Town in South Maui is a marine sanctuary that promises an unforgettable snorkeling experience, especially for those passionate about sea turtles. Maui's southern coast's blue waters offer unparalleled visibility, allowing for up-close encounters with a wide variety of marine animals, including different turtle species such as the beloved Hawaiian sea turtles and spinner dolphins. The underwater lava formations, set a dramatic stage for these graceful creatures.

At Turtle Town, one can also enjoy a lovely picnic lunch. Spread across the area are multiple picnic tables, perfect for a relaxing lunch after an exciting morning of snorkeling. Furthermore, there are a variety of food options nearby, catering to all tastes.

Besides sea turtles, other attractions in South Maui's Turtle Town include vibrant coral formations, captivating underwater topography, and, on rare occasions, black sand beach sightings. For the more adventurous, a snorkeling trip to the Molokini Crater or the Olowalu Reef is highly recommended. Further exploration could lead you to the less explored Nahuna Point and Makena Beach, both providing excellent snorkeling spots. Another must-visit is the picturesque Lanai, located just a boat ride away. These destinations, each with its own charm, make a day at Turtle Town a truly Hawaiian experience.

Planning your Turtle Town, Maui, adventure? Look no further for the perfect accommodation than The Hale Pau Hana in Kihei. Experience the ultimate blend of comfort and convenience with our stunning resort location for hotels in South Maui, just moments away from the captivating marine life of Turtle Town. Book your stay today and secure your unforgettable Maui experience!

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