Talking Story about Turtles

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large green sea turtle swimming underwater along a coral reef

Today’s post is all about turtles! Seeing sea turtles while visiting Hawaii is about one of the coolest experiences you can have. Hawaiian sea turtles are graceful, mellow creatures who inhabit the Pacific Ocean. They swim along the warm coastal shores munching on algae and seaweed, and nest in Hawaii as well. When you visit our islands, you’re quite likely to see a turtle cruising around Hawaii’s beaches or popping their heads up for air.


There are 7 different species of sea turtle:

  • Green
  • Leatherback
  • Loggerhead
  • Olive Ridley
  • Flatback
  • Kemp’s Ridley
  • Hawksbill


The green sea turtle is one of the only ones to commonly come up on shore and bask. They are one of the largest species, weighing up to 500 pounds. Green sea turtles are herbivores who love to munch on underwater seagrass. Because they eat so many greens, it turns the fat on their bodies a greenish hue. The green color of their fat is what gives them the name.

Hawksbill Sea Turtles

Hawksbill sea turtles have sharper, pointed beaks, as their name suggests. This species likes to snack on jellyfish, sea anemone, and sea sponges. Because plastic bags and plastic trash look so much like jellyfish in the water, picking up your trash is an important step you can take to protect these creatures.

a green sea turtle is about to break the surface of the water for a breath of air
a sea turtle in shallow water above sand is about to pop up for air

Loggerhead Sea Turtles

Loggerhead sea turtles can weigh between 200 to 400 pounds, making them a smaller species of sea turtle. These turtles are found in many parts of the world, second only to Loggerheads in spread.

More Turtle Facts and Figures

Although it varies between species, sea turtles of all species can hold their breath for up to 3 hours—the longest record clocks in at about five hours! They can hold their breath for a long time thanks to having large lungs. Sea turtles can also slow down their heart rates to conserve oxygen while underwater.

Sea turtles have been around for between 40-50 million years, according to scientists. They spend about 90% of their lives in the ocean, and they can live anywhere from 60 to 100 years.

Endangered Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles

Green sea turtle populations are slowly rising but there are still only about 4,000 nesting females. In 1973 it was a scary low number—only about 35—but habit restoration and protections have allowed the population to slowly grow over the last 50 years.

Sea Turtles and Hawaiian Culture

Green sea turtles were considered sacred food and only eaten by ali’i, or chiefs, in Ancient Hawaiian culture. Turtles also show up in Hawaiian stories like the legend of Kauila. It says she was a giant turtle goddess who could transform into a girl. In her human form, the goddess Kauila would protect children playing on the shore of Punalu’u, on the Big Island. Many locals consider the sea turtle to be their ’aumakua (ancestral spirit). Sea turtles in Hawaiian culture are symbols of protection, peace, good luck, and safety.

Read to Experience Hawaiian Honu?

Real Hawaii Tours offers two tour options for visitors and locals alike who want to see these beautiful creatures. Our snorkeling tours offer up close experiences swimming with turtles.

Book Your Turtle Experience Today