Laniakea - Turtle Beach Hawaii
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.
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 only, and on the third day two turtles hauled up to the beach while others were feeding on seaweed on the limestone shelf. Walk along the huge limestone and look for “Keoki”. This turtle basks here exclusively. “Hiwahiwa”; the 5th most frequently spotted honu left the beach past sunset on our visit.
Snorkel with Green Sea Turtles
It’s fairly easy to spot the honu while snorkeling during summer due to a gentle surf. But be aware, strong currents and a hazardous surf occur here especially from October to April. Do not enter the water in rough conditions. Just look don't touch the honu. Leave enough space that the honu doesn't get scared.
Crowds and Traffic Jam
Tour buses circle the island and make a stop here so do the rental cars. It’s almost impossible to avoid the masses of tourists except when it’s raining.
You may get stuck in a traffic jam a couple of miles before the beach on the Kamehameha Hwy especially during midday and weekends. The flow of the traffic is impacted by many cars searching for a parking lot. It’s a nightmare for the residents. Only the morning and evening are less busy.
Limited parking on a gravel area on the opposite of 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 heavy trafficked crossing it can be challenging especially with children.
Stay here in the north of Oahu minimum two nights to higher the chance of a sighting. It was just a ten minutes 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 colorful fish.
- Bring enough water and a picnic. There isn’t any good shop nearby and finding a new parking lot is sometimes impossible.
Laniakea 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 depending on the traffic.
The Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle – Honu is endangered and protected under Hawaiian State Law. Each day volunteers are 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. One turtle was basking while another hauled out. This second turtle got blocked and disturbed by tourists. The result she went back to the sea. The volunteers try to do their best, but unfortunately, not all tourists care.
Quick Facts About the Endangered Honu
- These resident turtles form an isolated population around the Hawaiian Islands with a 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
Keep distance while snorkeling or when they are basking; 6 feet minimum! Don’t touch these ancient creatures.