Guidelines for Swimming with Turtles in Maui: Do’s and Don’ts

green sea turtles

Guidelines for Swimming with Turtles in Maui: Do’s and Don’ts

Swimming with turtles in the crystal-clear waters of Maui can be an awe-inspiring experience. These magnificent creatures, known as honu in Hawaiian, are an integral part of Maui’s marine ecosystem. However, it is essential to approach these encounters responsibly to ensure the well-being of both humans and turtles. These are some guidelines outlining the do’s and don’ts of swimming with turtles in Maui.


  1. Observe from a respectful distance: When encountering turtles while swimming, maintain a respectful distance to avoid causing stress or disturbing their natural behavior. Admire them from a distance of at least ten feet, allowing them to swim and forage without feeling threatened.
  2. Practice passive observation: Avoid chasing or pursuing the turtles. Instead, let them approach you if they feel comfortable. Be patient and enjoy the privilege of observing these incredible creatures in their natural habitat.
  3. Maintain a calm and relaxed demeanor: Make gentle movements and refrain from sudden or loud noises. Calm behavior helps turtles feel at ease and allows for more natural interaction. Remember, you are a guest in their environment.
  4. Use reef-friendly sunscreen: Before entering the water, apply sunscreen that is safe for coral reefs and marine life. Chemicals present in certain sunscreens can harm turtles and their habitat. Look for products labeled “reef-safe” or “oxybenzone-free” to minimize your impact.
  5. Leave no trace: Respect the environment by refraining from touching or removing any coral, rocks, or marine life. Preserve the integrity of the marine ecosystem for future generations to enjoy.


  1. Touch or ride the turtles: Never attempt to touch, grab, ride, or ride on the back of a turtle. These are wild animals, and physical contact can cause stress, injury, or the spread of harmful bacteria or diseases.
  2. Feed the turtles: Feeding turtles disrupts their natural diet and can lead to dependency on human food. It also alters their behavior and may harm their health. Enjoy the turtles’ presence without introducing food or artificial substances into their habitat.
  3. Crowd or surround the turtles: Resist the urge to gather in large groups around a single turtle. Surrounding them can make them feel threatened, causing distress and altering their behavior. Allow others to appreciate these creatures by giving them their space.

Swimming with turtles in Maui can be an unforgettable experience, as long as it is conducted responsibly and with respect for these magnificent creatures. By following the dos and don’ts, you can ensure the well-being of both the turtles and the marine environment. Let us cherish these encounters as a reminder of the importance of conservation and our role in preserving the natural wonders of our world.


snorkeling with green sea turtles

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