Have you ever seen wild sea turtles so close you could touch them (please don’t)? Well, at the secret place I discovered, you can. I like to call it Turtle Town Maui, a place on Maui where you can see plenty of sea turtles and never have to be in more knee-deep water.
How Most Maui Tourists Try to See Sea Turtles [The wrong place]
One of my favorite things in the world are Hawaiian green sea turtles. Years ago when my husband proposed to me, we were on Kona Island and every day at the resort two turtles would come ashore and hang out with the bathers. I immediately fell in love with these adorable creatures. And since I hadn’t been to Hawaii much at the time, I just thought, oh that’s something that happens when you go to Hawaii.
Since then I’ve had the good fortune to travel to Hawaii, mostly Maui, almost every year for the past 15 years since my husband’s parents lived in Maui. On almost every visit I would do what most tourists do and have him take me on a snorkeling cruise through “Turtle Town” in search of sea turtles and marine life.
The snorkeling in Maui was always good but usually we didn’t see any turtles, sometimes we might see one but for the most part it was a rare occurrence and probably not worth the price.
My husband had a running joke, “Let’s go visit Turtle Town, population 1”
How I Found Maui’s Secret Turtle Town
Luckily for me, my turtle prayers were answered and Maui Turtle Town came to me, but not just one or two turtles, lots of turtles. The best part is there is no snorkeling, no scuba diving, no long drive to Hana to the black sand beach, no need to even swim and you can capture amazing videos like I did just walking through water.
By the way, I had no idea there would be turtles, so I just risked my iPhone being waterproof and through the water because I was so excited to see the turtles.
So how did I find this place? Well, let me tell you something. I’m looking for turtles. On Oahu, for several years on Thanksgiving, we visit Lanikai Beach, which is known to have visiting sea turtles. After crossing traffic, you sometimes see turtles on the sand or in the water.
Unfortunately, for the past three years, I have been unlucky. Like I said in Maui, the turtles seem to have found me. You see, my stepfather has lived in Kihei for over 20 years now and although we have always seen whales from his balcony, the beach was pretty much a seaweed covered mess that we have never been to.
King Kamehameha Fish Pond
However, in recent years the Maui Fishpond Association has decided to restore the old fish pond in front of his propertythe prized property of King Kamehameha III located in South Maui. In addition, the association cleaned up the seaweed to provide a safe and clean beach for small children.
So on our last day of vacation we stopped at my stepdad’s condo and while I was doing laundry my husband said he was going to find some crabs in the rocks at the fish pond with the boys.
A few minutes later, I start receiving text messages that I have to write right away because I wouldn’t believe it. Of course, there were at least five turtles swimming around this little creek created by the fish pond.
The sea turtles were the most amazingly gentle creatures as they swam right up to you (by the way you can’t touch sea turtles in Hawaii that’s a really big fine) The water is warm and maxed out at the waist but most of the time it was up to the knees.
It was just amazing. We watched the turtles swim for probably 90 minutes, one even stopped and took a nap on the rocks. After our adventure I asked my step dad if he knew turtles come there, he said “oh yeah they are there all the time” Thanks for letting us know, father.
How to Get to Turtle Town Maui + Some Tips
Turtle Town Maui is located in Kihei at Kalepolepo Beach Park. It’s pretty simple to get there. About 15 minutes from the airport and about 20 minutes from Lahaina. It is located on South Kihei Rd. on the north side of Kihei. The address is 726 S Kihei Rd. Kihei, Hi, 96753.
Tip #1 – This is a great beach for small children. There are no waves (or very small ones) due to the fish pond and there is a nice lawn before the beach if you wish to have a picnic
Tip #2- Don’t touch the turtles – Hawaiian sea turtles are an endangered species, so whether you see them on the reef at Turtle Town or at one of your favorite dive sites, don’t touch them. There is a hefty fine if you do.
Tip n°3 – Leave early before the trade winds arrive – The sunsets are magnificent on this side of the island, especially from April to January because the sunsets directly on the ocean, however the trade winds rise, which makes it more difficult to see the turtles.
You will, however, capture a beautiful sunset. That night I did my time lapse was actually one of the worst sunsets we have seen from there and you will always see how stunning it is.
Hawaiian sunset over Maui from Globalmunchkins on Vimeo.
Tip #4 – Discover Kite Surfers – Just north of the beach is a spot where you will see many kitesurfers practicing their skills. It’s quite entertaining to watch some of the kitesurfers look serious.
Map to get to Turtle Town Maui
Where to grab a bite to eat before or after your visit
There are some great places to grab a bite to eat in Kihei, so before or after watching the turtles, here are some places to dine.
- Breakfast – Three’s Bar & Grill – Simply put, their banana macadamia nut pancakes are amazing. You don’t need to have anything else in my opinion, although my husband swears by the tropical French toast. They also serve lunch and dinner, but I haven’t had a chance to try it yet.
- Lunch – Coconut’s Fish Cafe – This place probably has the most delicious fish tacos I’ve had in my entire life. They are big and a bit messy. My sons love the coconut shrimp. They have two locations in Kihei, one near Maluaka Beach and one near the fish pond.
- Dinner – Indian monsoon – Indian food in Hawaii? In fact, yes! Amazing Indian food (I love their Chicken Tikka Masala) and the view from the restaurant is stunning. This restaurant is literally steps from Maui’s turtle town, so it’s definitely worth a visit.
More great things to do in Maui
Looking for a good Luau? My favorite luau is located in Maui – Check out my review of the Old Lahaina Luau
Looking for a great place to stay on Maui? Check out my article on why our family loves the Grand Wailea
Pin for Later – Turtle Town Maui – Best and Easiest Place to Find Sea Turtles