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Your guide to Turtle Bay
All About Turtle Bay
Turtle Bay is located along the north shore of the Hawaiian island of Oahu, serving as the starting point for a string of magnificent beaches on both sides, including the tranquil, tree-lined shore at Kawela. Named after the green turtles that once fed in the bay, the area is an undeveloped stretch of pristine sand and rock formations that is a well-known surfing destination. You can watch as surfers paddle their way out to catch the next big wave and look out for seals frolicking in the crystal-clear water.
The bay is also the gateway to Oahu’s rugged North Shore, where just-caught seafood is a firm fixture on menus, whether it’s at a roadside shrimp truck or in fish tacos at a beachfront eatery. World-renowned Waimea Bay is just a 15-minute drive away, famous as a winter playground for big wave surfers. During the summer, small boats bob offshore and calmer waters make it a perfect spot for swimming and paddleboarding, while sunset brings cotton candy skies and balmy ocean breezes — perfect for savoring shaved ice, a Hawaiian staple.
The best time to stay in a vacation rental in Turtle Bay
The summer months are a popular time to visit Turtle Bay with sunny days and high temperatures. Water-based activities are plentiful, from stand-up paddleboarding to kayaking and diving. During the autumn, the waves are calm and there’s more room to roam along the area’s scenic beaches. Tropical storms and hurricanes are rare, but the season runs from June to November, so bear this in mind when planning your trip. Winter brings pleasant temperatures and short, sharp rainstorms. O’ahu’s North Shore is a major surfing destination and, from late December until early April, a whole host of competitions see the pros pit themselves against enormous waves. In March, a three-day festival brings together Hawaiian, Pacific, and Asian traditions through music, dance, and art.
Top things to do in Turtle Bay
This legendary seven-mile stretch of beaches along the north coast of Oahu has been attracting surfers and spectators during the winter for decades with its soaring, 30-feet-tall waves and professional surfing competitions. During the summer, the waves flatten and the area transforms into a tranquil swimming spot. The shoreline is largely undeveloped, with pristine natural beauty sitting alongside the food trucks and craft stores in Haleiwa.
Kawela Bay Beach Park
As one of Oahu’s most secluded beaches, Kawela Bay is the perfect place to relax on the beach or paddle in the calm water. The bay is one of the most protected areas along the North Shore, making it a safe spot for swimming during the winter. The surrounding parkland features a World War II pillbox and a spectacular banyan tree that has formed the backdrop for a host of Hollywood movies and TV shows.
As part of the Pūpūkea Marine Life Conservation District, Sharks Cove is one of the best diving spots on the North Shore. The area has a fascinating underwater topography, with vertical lava tubes descending directly into underwater caverns and swim-throughs, and there is a rich array of marine life, including spotted eagle rays, unicorn fish, turtles, and octopuses. This is a great spot for beginners, but keep in mind that diving is only possible during the summer as winter waves make it too dangerous.