Are you looking for the ultimate guide to Lanikea Beach, a.k.a. Turtle Beach? This guide from a Hawaii local has everything that you need to know!
Laniakea Beach, also known as “Turtle Beach,” is the most popular place to see turtles on Oahu – and one of the most consistent too. With all of these beautiful creatures lounging around on any equally stunning beach, it should come as no surprise to find out that it’s one of the best things to do on Oahu.
To get the most out of your time at this sea turtle beach, here is everything you need to know about Laniakea Beach.
*Note: do not get Laniakea Beach (a.k.a. “Turtle Beach”) confused with Turtle Bay. There are rarely turtles at Turtle Bay.
What Should I Know Before Going to Laniakea Beach?
The species of turtle that you will encounter at Laniakea Beach and pretty much throughout all of the Hawaiian Islands is the green sea turtle (locally known as honu). The green sea turtle is actually an endangered species, so please keep that in mind! To help the turtles out, please make sure that you follow these rules:
Do Not Touch the Turtles!
Stay five to ten feet away from them. Because they’re an endangered species, we want to make sure that they have their space at all times. All it’ll take is a slightly stronger current to shove you into them (which we don’t want, because it might hurt the turtles).
Do Not Chase the Turtles!
You don’t like to be stressed out, so the turtles don’t like to be stressed out. Don’t chase them and stress them out please.
Do Not Feed the Turtles!
By feeding the turtles foods that would not be part of their typical diet, you could actually hurt their digestive system.
Plus, by feeding them, you are training them to get their food from humans, which could become an issue when humans stop feeding them. They will be out of practice when they have to go back to searching for food on their own in the Pacific Ocean.
One final tip! I feel like this one should go without saying, but I’ll be explicit just in case:
Do Not Ride the Turtles!
This might sound kind of absurd, but people have done so. Even our signs telling you to keep your distance tell you to not ride the turtles. How would you like it if you were sat on by a 170-pound human and had to swim to keep yourself afloat? Not a fun time at all.
Bottom line: be nice to the turtles and respect their space bubbles.
Where is Laniakea Beach?
Laniakea Beach Parking
In 2022, Laniakea Beach finally got it’s own designated parking! Woo! While before, you had to park in a makeshift area and jaywalk across the street, things have improved quite a bit.
Now, there’s an unpaved parking lot that’s double or triple the size of the old makeshift parking lot area. That means you can pretty much always find parking there. (I went on a day where there were 30+ turtles hanging out, and I STILL found parking, despite all of the people wanting to see the turtles too.)
In addition to the parking lot, there are also two crosswalks to cross the street at either end of the parking lot. So no unsafe road crossings for us anymore!
How Can I Get to Laniakea Beach?
You can get to Laniakea Beach by car or by bus. Now that there’s a designated parking lot, getting to Laniakea Beach by car is pretty straightforward, especially with Google Maps or Apple Maps.
That said, you can only turn into the Laniakea Beach parking lot when you’re driving east (away from Haleiwa). When you’re coming from the other direction, there are poles that block you from making a left turn into the parking lot. (You’ll have to make a U-turn somewhere, like in Haleiwa.)
If you do choose to take the bus, you’ll want to get off at the Kamehameha Highway and Papailoa Road stop. From there, it’s just a five-minute walk to the turtle-filled beach.
How Accessible Is Laniakea Beach?
Laniakea Beach isn’t the most accessible spot out there. As a matter of fact, most Hawaii beaches aren’t all that accessible (Ko Olina may be the main exception). That said, there are some work arounds, if you’re still semi-mobile.
First, we have to describe the layout a little bit more. There are two crosswalks at the Laniakea Beach parking lot: one near where the cars enter and one near where the cars exit. One option is better than the other for accessibility purposes.
If you cross the crosswalk where the cars exit, things might get a little tricky, accessibility-wise. You’ll have to take a very short, yet steep path around sharp rocks and over tree roots, without any sort of railing or hand-holds. Plus, there are often people who like to sit or stand in the shade in this area, which just gives you another obstacle to maneuver around.
That’s why I’d recommend the other crosswalk, the one where the cars enter. If you walk a little further left after crossing here, you’ll find an opening between the plants. From there, you’ll find a slightly sloped sandy walk to the ocean and the turtles handing out nearby.
What is the Best Time to Go to Laniakea Beach?
There isn’t a specific “turtle season” as there is a whale season, as turtles don’t migrate like whales do. However, we do know that these honu don’t like to be on shore when there are big waves. That means that during the winter months on Oahu’s North Shore, when the waves are huge, you’ll be less likely to see turtles at Laniakea Beach.
As for the best time of day, I’ve found that there tend to be one or two turtles on the shores of Laniakea Beach during all hours of the day in the summer. However, one of the volunteers at the beach mentioned that sunset is actually prime time to see turtles. These volunteers have reported there being up to eight turtles at once at Laniakea Beach during sunset!
So, to round it all out, the best time to see turtles at Laniakea Beach is during a summer sunset.
What Can I Do at Laniakea Beach?
As you might expect, it’s all about the turtles!
Spot Turtles at Laniakea Beach
Obviously, with all this preparatory talk about turtles, everything to do at Laniakea Beach has to do with turtles. The easiest thing to do at this secret turtle beach is spot turtles. They will literally just be chilling on the rocks or sand. Maybe you’ll see them trying to swim up to chill on the rocks or sand.
As a tip for spotting turtles in the water, it’s easiest to spot them when they get pulled up in a little wave, rather than in the flat portions of the water.
Learn About Turtles
At this Oahu turtle beach in particular, there are always volunteers, who are there both to protect the turtles and to answer your questions. You’ll notice that they’ll put a little rope in front of or around each turtle to indicate how much space you should give the turtle. Plus, if you have any questions, they’ll be happy to answer them!
For example, I’ve heard people ask, “What kind of food do the turtles eat?” They actually eat the green algae that grows on the rocks. So be sure not to step on that when you’re wandering around on the beach! Not only is it slippery, but you’re killing the turtles’ food supply! Sticking to the sand is a very good choice.
Other questions for you to ask are:
“How many turtles come to this beach?”
“Why are there numbers on their shells?”
“When is the best time to spot turtles?”
“Have you ever seen baby turtles or turtle eggs on this beach?”
Or just use your imagination or natural curiosity to come up with more! These volunteers probably have the answer to all of your turtle-related questions.
Swim and Snorkel with Turtles
On the right side of Laniakea Beach, there is a small, rocky area where you can snorkel and try to see a few turtles. In my experience, this is much less successful than spotting turtles on the sand. But if you really want to see turtles swimming in the water, this isn’t a bad place to do that.
To sum it all up, everything you can do at Laniakea Beach has to do with the lovely turtles who come to visit.
Are There Any Hotels Near Laniakea Beach?
In short, no. Laniakea Beach is a rather small beach, and while it does attract many turtles, it’s not really an ideal spot to lay out in the sun or swim for long periods of time. For those reasons (and probably due to the laws preserving the turtles as well), no hotels have decided to break ground near Laniakea Beach. Instead, use Airbnb!
There are a handful of Airbnbs within walking distance of Laniakea Beach. (And, as an extra bonus, a couple of them are actually run by Superhosts!)
Airbnb rental rates range from $220 per night to $1,050 per night, depending on the property.
Need help picking the perfect Airbnb for your needs? Here are a bunch of Airbnb tips for you!
How Can I Help the Turtles at Laniakea Beach?
Like I mentioned at the start of this article, the turtles at Laniakea Beach are Hawaiian green sea turtles, an endangered species. It’s important to protect them and help them thrive. While keeping your distance and respecting their habitat certainly helps the turtles, there are also a few other non-profits that aim to aid them even more.
Malama Na Honu
Malama Na Honu, which means “Protect the Turtles,” may be the largest turtle-specific conservation non-profit in Hawaii. Whenever you see a turtle on the beach in Hawaii, you’ll likely see a turtle conservation volunteer next to them. They’re probably from Malama Na Honu.
If you’d like to help Malama Na Honu continue to do their great work, you can volunteer, symbolically adopt a turtle, or donate.
Hawaii Wildlife Fund
The Hawaii Wildlife Fund aims to protect wildlife native to Hawaii, including the Hawaiian green sea turtle. They also have loads of ways for people to help out, including volunteering, interning, donating, and even adopting an animal (not to take home with you, but it’s still pretty cool)!
To be clear, Fahlo is not Hawaii-based and does not limit its conservation to Hawaii-based sea turtles. But I’ve added this non-profit onto this list, because they have a couple of features that none of the above options do.
First, Fahlo makes it easy to help the sea turtles. All you have to do is buy one of their sea turtle bracelets! But to make things even better, Fahlo then allows you to track your very own turtle! In other words, you can see where in the world your marine friend has traveled to. Sounds pretty cool, right?
Use the code BORDERS20 to get 20% off your purchase on the Fahlo website.
While Laniakea Beach is by far the most popular place to see turtles on Oahu, there are many other places to see turtles on Oahu (and all of them are less crowded).
Have you ever been to Laniakea Beach? Or have you seen turtles on other parts of Oahu? Let me know in the comments!
Want to see the Laniakea Beach turtles on your trip to Hawaii? Pin this post for later!
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