Safety Precautions For Snorkel Safely With Sea Turtles In Maui


Snorkeling with sea turtles in Maui is one of the best ocean activities to do in Maui. An important part about participating in any activity while in Maui is to learn the safe and respectful way to be a part of it!

Learning to snorkel safely with sea turtles in Maui is an important topic to cover! When engaging in any ocean activity we want to make sure you are following guidelines to keep yourself safe and also respect the marine animals you encounter!


1.) Understand the Ocean!

When you are comfortable in the ocean, it keeps you and others around you safe! Learn about the ocean’s currents, how to safely snorkel in waves, enter and exit the ocean if there is shore break, avoid snorkeling when the water is murky and other ocean variables! You don’t need to know all of this information off the top of your head, it’s ok to ask and research! Snorkel shops and snorkel companies are just a phone call away to ask their expert opinion on the ocean’s conditions for snorkeling! If it is your first time snorkeling, go with a tour group! They have snorkel instruction and snorkel guides that teach you about the ocean, the correct snorkel gear to use and how to swim respectfully with sea turtles!

2.) Know Animal Protection Laws

A good question to ask is “Is it OK to swim with turtles?”. The answer is yes, but there are laws that protect Maui’s green sea turtles that you should know about! When scientists first began studying the Hawaiian Green Sea turtle in the 1970’s, the turtle population was very depleted.

Since being protected by the US Endangered Species Act, the Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle population is showing positive signs of recovery thanks to protection laws. The current greatest threats to the sea turtle population are disease and fishing line/net entanglement.

Since the 1990’s more than 1000 sea turtles have been rescued and released thanks to the island’s community and tourists working together to report sick or injured turtles. Under the protection laws, it is illegal to touch or harass a green sea turtle. Harassing sea turtles includes approaching them or encountering them in any way that alters their natural behavior patterns.

Aside from the obvious reasons why touching a sea turtle would negatively affect their behavior, they can also become susceptible to harmful bacteria through contact with humans. Giving Maui’s sea turtles space and observing them from a distance isn’t just safer for the turtle, it’s safer for you too! Sea turtles are gentle in nature, but they also have the ability to bite with their sharp beaks they use for eating algae off the reef, sea urchins, fish, squid and jellyfish!

The safest way to snorkel with sea turtles in Maui is to swim slowly and calmly in the water. Keep your distance and observe the turtle. They need to come to the surface to breathe, make sure you are not too close that you make them uncomfortable to catch a breath. Consider how the sea turtle may feel if being approached by larger swimming species. Act in a way that would make them relaxed and calm and keep you both safe!

How to Snorkel Safely With Sea Turtles in Maui

3. Choose the Best Maui Snorkel Spots

Choosing the best places to swim with turtles in Maui will set you up for a safe and enjoyable turtle encounter. When you select a snorkel spot in Maui, you can choose a location where sea turtles are comfortable and relaxed around snorkelers and the water is clean and clear, giving you and the turtle visibility so no one is surprised at the others’ presence, helping you keep a safe distance.

You can see turtles along much of Maui’s coastline, but the best places for snorkeling with turtles in Maui are along the West and South shores of Maui and the island of Lanai!

On the south side of Maui (this includes Makena, Wailea, and Kihei), Turtle Town is a popular spot to Snorkel safely with Sea Turtles . This spot is just a broad term for the coast along that area that is home to many sea turtles!

Makena’s Marine Reserve, La Perouse Bay, Big Beach, Black Sand Beach, Keawakapu, and Maalea are a few of the best places to see sea turtles and snorkel safely with sea turtles in south Maui!

Along the west coast of Maui, we have a giant stretch of the reef called Olowalu. This reef is one of the largest and oldest in Hawaii and home to many green sea turtles. This is a fun spot to snorkel as there are a variety of reef formations and turtle cleaning stations. You can snorkel this spot from shore, but the best snorkeling is going to be on the outer reef which is most easily accessible by boat.

Mala is also one of the best places for snorkel safely with sea turtles in Maui. This artificial reef was formed when the old pier collapsed into the water after a hurricane many years ago. Nature began to grow coral on the underwater pier and now it is home to dozens of green sea turtles, octopus, tropical fish, and even reef sharks! This spot is accessible from shore and also by boat!

Snorkeling Lanai is one of our best snorkel tours in Maui. The island of Lanai has very little coastal development and lots of snorkeling spots, making it a great snorkel tour adventure. Located about 8 miles from Maui, Lanai hosts multiple reef systems, tropical fish, and of course green sea turtles!

Club Lanai is one of our favorite spots to snorkel with green sea turtles as the water is often crystal clear, making it easy to spot our hone friends.

Tips for Snorkel Safely With Sea Turtles

When you are ready to snorkel with turtles, just remember these 3 Tips for Snorkel Safely with Sea Turtles in Maui!
1. Understand the ocean
2. Know animal protection laws
3. Choose the best Maui snorkel spots!

We hope these tips increase your chances of encountering our sea turtles friends and help make your Maui snorkeling a safe and fun experience!

If you would like to book a snorkel tour with our snorkel experts, click here for more tour info!