The North Shore Turtle Tour

For our last attempt to find Sea Turtles in Hawaii, we jumped on the North Shore Turtle Tour. What could go wrong? The word turtle was in the name of the tour, surely that meant we were going to see some turtles! The North Shore Turtle Tour offers a tour of the East and North Coasts of Oahu, doing a big circle up the East Coast, across the North Shore and back down the middle to Waikiki. It was a full day of exploring some of Oahu’s most beautiful features that we never would have found on our own! The Turtle Tour includes 12 different stops all around Oahu, including many of Oahu’s hidden secrets, that you never would have found solo.

The first stop was Diamond Head and beautiful views of the Ocean. Unfortunately our day started off rather cloudy and a little gloomy, so our pictures are quite grey. However, even through the clouds you can still see the beauty that lies at Diamond Head.

Stop two was the Halona Blowhole, a rock formation at Halona Point. On windy days when the tide is high, the ocean breeze sends the waves rolling onto the shore where the rock formation then shoots the sea spray high into the air through the cave. The tide wasn’t too high while we were there, but we were still able to see the blowhole in full swing! In winter Halona Point is a great place to see the Humpback Whales leaving the North Pacific, and sometimes even Green Sea Turtles swimming around.

Makapu’u was our next stop. On the extreme eastern end of the island, Makapu’u includes the remnant of a ride that rises 197m above the sea! The main reason for stopping here is the beautiful views that you can see from the viewing point.

A secret beach was the next stop. I couldn’t even tell you the actual location of this one. It was at the end of a windy residential street, with no signs, no indications of the beauty that was hiding. With houses sitting right on the sand, and views of the mountains behind them, the secret beach really had everything.

Our next stop was Tropical Farms – the Macadamia Nut Farm. A beautiful family owned Oahu Tropical Farm, that specializes in Macadamia nuts, but also include a whole range of other items, including other nuts and coffee beans. With a lovely tranquil courtyard and the mountains looming overhead, Tropical Farms feels like a peaceful retreat.

Chinaman’s Hut, or Mokoli’i, was the next point of interest on the tour. A small pointy island of the coast of Oahu, Mokoli’i translates from Hawaiian as “little lizard”. According to Hawaiian mythology, the island is the remains of a giant lizard or dragon’s tail, that was chopped off and tossed into the ocean by the goddess Hi’iaka. Whether you believe the myths or not, it was still something to be admired!

The Chinaman’s Hat was followed by Laie Point, yet another wonderfully hidden spot, with 360 degree views of the ocean, and cliff jumping for the thrill seekers. Laie Point was beautiful, and a favourite of many locals in the area. It’s also known for starring in the movie Forgetting Sarah Marshall, when Mila Kunis and Jason Segal jumped into the ocean. We didn’t have enough time to jump off, and our tour guide didn’t want to be responsible for us if we got hurt, so sadly we had to keep moving, it would have been amazing to jump off!

We had gotten to about midday. The clouds were starting to move away, and we were see blue skies and feel the sun heating us up. We stopped for lunch at a Shrimp Truck. Traditional in Hawaii, you can find Shrimp trucks everywhere! We had a quick bite to eat before loading back into the mini bus, excited for the next stop.

The next stop was Turtle Bay Resort, and we were back on the hunt for turtles! Turtle Bay Resort has a private beach for which has a reef and is renowned for seeing Sea Turtles. Before we got there we were told there had already been a sighting today, so I was super excited to get in that water and swim near a giant turtle. But by the time we got there, he had clearly had enough of people being near him, and was nowhere to be found. I was starting to think I would never see a swimming sea turtle! Snorkelling at Turtle Bay was still great fun, even in the absence of turtles! The beach is so small and private, and includes a lovely bar at the top of the sand. Turtle Bay Resort is also featured in the movie Forgetting Sarah Marshall, with most of the movie being shot around the hotels grounds.

We had another stop at the Banzai Pipeline and although they weren’t 6 foot, we did see some slightly bigger waves!

Our second last stop was Turtle Beach, what our tour guide claimed was THE BEST PLACE on Oahu to see turtles. And finally we had some success! There beautiful green sea turtles were everywhere. Sleeping and walking on the sand and swimming in the ocean, and just generally enjoying life. I was disappointed that this was only a quick stop and we couldn’t get right in and swim with them, apparently we didn’t have time. But seeing them swimming around in their natural environment was just beautiful. They are really graceful creatures, and it was so good to just watch them swim leisurely through the water.

That last photo isn’t the best, but they only came up to breathe for a split second and I kept missing them! After all the excitement of Turtle Beach, the North Shore Turtle Tour ends with a quick stop at the Dole Pineapple Plantation, so I happily grabbed another Pineapple Whip before we headed back into Waikiki, exhausted by such a great day of exploring a different side of Oahu.

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Emma Shaw

Emma is a travel photographer and blogger, living in Melbourne, Australia with her husband Thom in between adventures. She started A Make Believe World to share her experiences, travel tips and destination advice, and to inspire others to travel the world and their own backyard whenever they can.

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