Maui snorkeling will never be the same again once you have visited Turtle Town in Maui. This beautiful snorkel location is found along the southern coast, in the general area between Nahuna Point and Black Sand Beach. Turtle Town is a unique series of underwater lava formations developed long ago by the eruptions of submarine volcanoes. Today, the coral reef at Turtle Town is abundant with the protected Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle. This network of coral reefs at Turtle Town is also home to a wide variety of colorful tropical fish and other unique marine animals. As a sanctuary for the Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle, Turtle Town is a wonderful Maui snorkeling experience.
You will not soon forget the gentle and graceful Sea Turtles at Turtle Town. Curious by nature, these wonderful marine animals will gently approach a slowly moving Maui snorkeler, providing outstanding underwater photo opportunities. The sea turtles are a protected species. This is why Maui snorkel and scuba divers are reminded to respect their space. The law prohibits touching, chasing or riding the turtles. Calmly observing and allowing the turtles to swim close, makes your Maui snorkeling adventure at Turtle Town truly unforgettable. Luckily, at Turtle Town, the close encounters with these beautiful animals are usually initiated by the turtles, as they gently approach within 10 or so feet to get a closer look at you. It is also you’re best chance to take a close look at the world’s largest hard-shelled turtle.
A close look will reveal that the Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle is not green at all. The majority of these turtles have dark-brown hard shells or carapaces. The younger ones, called hatchlings, will have black hard shells. Then, as they grow, orange and yellowish tints appear. Sometimes, they develop olive, gold, and reddish brown shades, or swirls and other irregular patterns. While snorkeling at Maui Turtle Town you may see a wide variety of patterns and shades of the carapaces of these turtles.
The Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles (scientific name: Chelonia mydas) are actually named after the color of their body fat. The body fat is actually green. Numerous studies by marine biologists at Maui Turtle Town and other sanctuaries around the world, indicate that the green color is due to the algae that the animals eat. The alga, which is called “limu” (Hawaiian), is abundant in and around Maui’s coral reefs at turtle town. Although the younger turtles will eat jellyfish and other small marine invertebrates, the adults eventually become vegetarians and feed solely on the limu.
One sea turtle expert has identified at least nine different species of algae that were the favorites of the Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles. There is also a special sea grass that these turtles like to eat. The abundance of food is not the only reason why the Sea Turtles have called Maui Turtle Town their home. The other reason is the unique habit of turtles to return to the beaches where they were born. There is no scientific evidence for this observation, but the Sea Turtles, according to marine biologists, have shown a “strong site-fidelity”. This means that if they found lots of food in a certain area, they will go back to that area again and again, particularly if the food source is established in their area of origin or birth.
The turtles at Turtle Town are in many cases local residents of Turtle Town which tend to remain close to the sanctuary at Turtle Town. This is another reason why sightings of turtles are so abundant and why Turtle Town has become world re-known. Maui Turtle Town has been established as an area where food is abundant. This is the primary reason scientists believe the Green Sea Turtles, called “honu” in Hawaiian, have made Maui Turtle Town their home.
The intriguing part is these turtles don’t immediately swim away from humans. They appear to trust the presence of people. This is why, many decades ago, they ended up in soup pots and other dishes. And this is also why there is an existing Hawaiian legend about these turtles.
The story of Kauila, an enchanted sea turtle who transforms into a girl to guard the children who are playing on the beach. And when the children became thirsty, Kauila will lead them to an area where fresh water flows freely.The Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles will at times, swim to the shore, crawl towards the beach, and bask under the sun. Scientists explain this sunbathing behavior as the turtles’ way to regulate their body temperature.
Although they can stay underwater for more than two hours, the turtle’s tendency is to go to the surface to breathe air every few minutes. This might be the reason why some ancient legends claimed that the Sea Turtles led the first people to discover the Hawaiian Islands.
A Maui Turtle Town adventure aboard the Pride of Maui provides an opportunity to view and photograph these amazing sea turtles in their natural environment, with close observation and photo opportunities. Touching, chasing, riding or harassing the turtles is strictly prohibited. As stewards of the turtles and marine environment, the Captain and crew aboard the Pride of Maui protect and preserve this unique opportunity to interact with the turtles. We know that you too will do your part, by respecting the sea turtles and giving them the space and comfort they need in order to carry on with their daily routine.
No Hawaiian vacation is complete without fantastic Maui turtle watch snorkel adventure. Imagine a snorkel at Turtle Town, observing these beautiful animals in their natural environment where they can reach up to 400 pounds. Maui snorkeling and visiting the Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles at Maui Turtle Town is a memory that you will cherish forever.
Please note: All our Maui snorkeling destinations are weather dependent. For your safety and comfort, the Captain may select alternate locations for your adventure. Mother Nature delightfully cooperates about 90% of our trips.