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Turtle Town

Turtle Town is an amazing snorkeling destination off the south coast of Maui.

Here, sea turtles spend time resting, feeding, and gliding through turquoise waters. You are almost guaranteed to see at least one of these fascinating creatures while snorkeling through Turtle Town.

Five types of sea turtles live around Maui. The one you’re most likely to encounter while snorkeling is the Hawaiian green sea turtle. If you ever happen to see a hawksbill – the second most abundant, and an endangered species, you are extremely lucky. Make sure to tell your boat crew—it’s a big deal!

Green sea turtles hang out all around Turtle Town, which is located in a beautiful patch of ocean near Makena. The healthy and expansive coral reef there is a perfect place for the turtles to graze. They can also find all kinds of places to rest on the bottom. Be sure to consider the shape of a turtle as you float above the reef. Sometimes you will see just one back flipper sticking out from under the coral, and it can look like a large leaf.

Turtles accumulate algae on their shells throughout their lives. If you see a turtle with a very clean shell, it is likely one that frequents cleaning stations. A cleaning station is a specific spot that is set up by certain fish. Turtles and other animals like manta rays visit the cleaning station and hold unusually still in a position that makes their bodies accessible. The fish working there pick off algae and dead skin.  This cleans the turtle and feeds the fish, a relationship that works beautifully for both parties. See if you can find any cleaning stations at Turtle Town!

As you watch all the incredible turtles at Turtle Town, it may be tempting to reach out and touch them, but please be so kind as to not do so. Not only will your kindness respect the turtles’ space and need to breathe at the surface, but it will avoid your being fined for harassing a threatened species. Do make sure to bring an underwater camera, however.  You’ll be able to take some of your amazing Turtle Town memories home with you!

a turtle swimming under water
a turtle swimming under water