One thing I learned about myself upon visiting (and now living in) Hawai’i is that I really like sea turtles. Luckily, the island of Oahu, where I now reside, has no shortage of accessible places where non-divers like me can see wild sea turtles from a close distance.
Sea turtles are calm, friendly, and majestic creatures, and there’s nothing more that I like than being in their presence while in the ocean. It’s a precious experience every time, and I never get less excited when it happens, usually while I am snorkeling. I am sure if I were to learn how to dive, it’d be even more wonderful.
Typically I’d refrain from using the word magical to describe anything, but in this case I have to make an exception. Moments right before seeing a sea turtle, the water feels inexplicably different, as if it is telling me to swim a certain path that I am familiar with even though nothing of it is. Then I would look at one mysterious coral area that somehow I know I am supposed to look at, and soon enough the shape of the turtle will slowly appear in the distance.
From then on, I float in peace for a timeless period with a wise, gliding creature that could be a century old. It is an amazing feeling. Here’s a shaky video of my first encounter with one back in 2009 at Hanauma Bay — just look at how cute it looks while nibbling away at some delicious coral.
I’m not sure if other people enjoy being in the presence of sea turtles as much as I do, but if you’ve never had the chance to, I highly recommend putting in the effort so that you can. Who knows, you might end up loving it too!
And if you’re ever in the island of Oahu, here are some great spots to try your luck at chancing upon the mystical honu (the word for sea turtles in Hawaiian):
- Hanauma Bay at the southeastern part of the island, an all-around terrific spot for snorkeling and beach day
- Laniekea Beach, a.k.a. Turtle Beach, at North Shore, the area most famous for monstrous big waves in winter time
- Mokuleia Beach Park, which may not necessarily be famous for sea turtles, but last time I was there I saw a couple sea turtles hanging out for at least 30 minutes just several feet away from the beach!
There may be more spots where sea turtle encounters happen, but I am only in my third month of residing in Oahu so this is all the spots that I know for now. If you know of others, please share them with us!