Honu is the Hawaiian term for these magical, ancient creatures—the green sea turtle. You will find the honu on the beaches or relaxing and resting on the lava rocks while they sun themselves. They are also active in the water as you snorkel near the shore. They are indigenous to Hawaii and are viewed as a symbol of peace and good luck. They are fortunate to live in some of the most beautiful waters in the world.
These creatures need our help to survive and thrive. The green sea turtles are protected under the Endangered Species Act. Many people and nonprofit organizations have worked diligently over the years to protect the turtles. It is critically important that you do not disturb, touch or bother them. They almost seem to sense that they have this protection as they do not seem afraid of humans and will swim nearby when you are snorkeling. It’s okay to admire, but under no circumstances should you disturb or touch them.
Apparently the honu lifespan is similar to that of humans and they often live to be 80 years or older.
In March of this year, we were walking on a fairly quiet part of the beach on the Kohala Coast. We weren’t expecting to run into a turtle, but there it was half asleep, resting and oblivious to us humans. We quietly admired for a few moments and then moved on. They are amazing.
For the past 24 years, the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel and Bungalows on the Big Island’s Kohala Coast has held a Turtle Independence Day on July 4. For two to three years, the baby honu are raised in the ancient fish ponds of the Mauna Lani. They are lovingly cared for until they reach an age and size suitable for entering life in the ocean. More than 200 honu have been released in the past quarter century at the Mauna Lani on the Fourth of July—a fitting way to celebrate our nation’s independence.