Laniakea, Oahu:
Paradise for Turtle Watchers
also known as
Turtle Beach


The information presented here is not current. It is retained here for archival purposes. The Show Turtles Aloha project is no longer operating at Laniakea. Please do not use any contact information from this page in connection with Show Turtles Aloha.

The basking honu at Laniakea have attracted so many admirers that traffic in that area is now often congested. Plan your trip accordingly. Since basking is becoming common throughout the main Islands, consider finding an alternate place to see them.

Laniakea, Oahu, Hawaii, is without question the best place in the world to see marine turtles up close. Hawaiian green turtles crawl ashore almost daily to bask amid crowds of tourists and surfers, providing a unique turtle experience and unmatched photo opportunities.

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Getting there
(click on the map for a larger version)

Map courtesy of Google Maps

In most parts of the world, sea turtles are shy, elusive creatures. This is partly because we humans have a long history of hunting them.

In Hawaii, however, this has been changing for several years now. Hawaiian green turtles have become more and more accustomed to seeing humans who won't harm them. This has led to exciting underwater viewing, as we have documented all over Turtle Trax, but these experiences are limited to SCUBA divers and snorkelers.

Not everyone can engage in these activities, yet anyone visiting Oahu can see a honu! That's because at various places around the Islands, the honu have been coming ashore to bask. Most of their basking beaches have few if any people around, but Lanikea is an exception.

A basking honu is perfectly happy to be the subject of photographs. To ensure that the turtles are not bothered, volunteers at Laniakea use red rope to mark off a "no-go" zone, and place signs to keep visitors informed. The turtle in the foreground doesn't get a red rope because even though it's a pretty good sand sculpture, it didn't fool the volunteers.
Photo courtesy George H. Balazs

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Laniakea has always been pretty busy with crowds of tourists and surfers. The honu don't care, they crawl up onto the beach anyway. Tours busses stop and disgorge literally hundreds of tourists a day, all eager to see the turtles, snap pictures, and record video of their amazing experience. While this has resulted in thousands of thrilled turtle lovers, it is not without its down side.

Most people respect the turtles and admire them from a distance. Some, however, cannot resist getting too close and even touching the honu. People have even been know to sit on the turtles!

The increasing interaction between the honu and humans has prompted George Balazs, Leader of Marine Turtle Research for the NOAA Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center, Protected Species Division, to create a campaign that he's called:

Show Turtles Aloha

Objective of the Show Turtles Aloha campaign: "To enhance public appreciation and conservation of the recovering Hawaiian green turtle (honu) population through respectful wildlife viewing that promotes the Spirit of Aloha to both sea turtles and people."

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Banners in both English and Japanese inform everyone visiting Laniakea Beach about the "Show Turtles Aloha" campaign.
Photo courtesy George H. Balazs

This campaign educates people about the basking honu and how to behave around them. The idea is to maximize the turtle watcher's experience while minimizing the effects on the turtles. Some of the campaign literature is available here in PDF format. (You'll need the free Adobe Reader to view and print these documents.)

Turtle fans demonstrate the perfect way to "Show Turtles Aloha" by admiring from a distance.
Photo courtesy George H. Balazs

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Turtle Guardians

The "Show Turtles Aloha" campaign already has shown great results, but it needs your help. They're looking for volunteers to spend time at Laniakea handing out literature, educating the visitors, and making the Honu experience a positive one for people and turtles alike. Susan Scott, the noted marine science writer, described the program and her intention to volunteer in her Honolulu Star-Bulletin column of December 2, 2005:

"A few North Shore residents already volunteer in the "Show Turtles Aloha" program, but they need more helpers. I will soon be one of them. Please join me.

"I know. I'm busy, too, and it's a long drive to the North Shore. But our dear, gentle honu have learned to trust people now, and it's up to Hawaii residents to safeguard that trust."

If you live on Oahu, please consider giving some of your time to help the honu at Laniakea. If you're planning to visit Oahu, you can still volunteer to spend a day at Laniakea, or as many days as you'd like to spend with the turtles. For detailed information, be sure to read the campaign description.

Related Links

A Laniakea Photo Gallery

Click on any image for a larger version. All images courtesy of George H. Balazs and the "Show Turtles Aloha" campaign.

Basking turtle showing the red rope
Photo courtesy George H. Balazs

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Photographer gets excellent honu photo opportunity
Photo courtesy George H. Balazs

Two baskers sharing the red rope
Photo courtesy George H. Balazs

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Two young honu fans pose with one of the "Show Turtles Aloha" signs
Photo courtesy George H. Balazs

A family posing with two baskers
Photo courtesy George H. Balazs

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Basking honu with informative "Show Turtles Aloha" sign in the foreground
Photo courtesy George H. Balazs

Please take one: Show Turtles Aloha information brochures
Photo courtesy George H. Balazs

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The Laniakea Show Turtles Aloha campaign visitor's log
Photo courtesy George H. Balazs

Some comments from the visitor's log
Photo courtesy George H. Balazs

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More comments from the visitor's log
Photo courtesy George H. Balazs

The MTRP PIFSC Honulani Visitor's Logbook at Laniakea Beach on Oahu's North Shore
359 Days of the "Show Turtles Aloha" Campaign
7 July 2005 - 30 June 2006

These documents are PDF files.

Slides from a Presentation by George Balazs
Explaining the Show Turtles Aloha Campaign
and Correcting Common Misunderstandings

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Campaign description "Show Turtles Aloha" campaign description

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Last modified 13/09/12
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