Turtle Bay (Kuilima Cove)

The Kuilima Cove spot, a small, shallow bay, sheltered from the waves, is ideal for beginners. Although the sea bed is not very interesting (sand, rock and a little isolated coral), it is relatively easy to see green turtles and a good variety of fish in a few feet of water.
How to get there

Kuilima Cove is on the northern coast of the island of Oahu, the famous "North Shore", internationally famous for its surfing spots. Access is free from the beach of the Turtle Bay Resort, a large hotel complex with two golf courses, among other things. From Honolulu international airport, it takes a little over an hour (40mi/60km) to reach the spot by taking the H1 west, the H2, and then the Kamehameha Highway, following the signs to Haleiwa/North Shore. After reaching the coast at Haleiwa, continue east, pass Pupukea and carry on for about 6 miles (10km) as far as the Turtle Bay Resort entrance on your left. The hotel has free parking and public access for visitors (follow the signs). Arrive early, since it fills up quickly. From there, it's a minute's walk to the beach, which is to the right of the main building.

Water entrance

You enter the water from the sandy beach of the hotel. You should opt for the area to the right as you are looking out to sea, near the bar of black rocks, where the water is calmest. Watch out for the many sea urchins living in the rock crevices.

Aerial view


The snorkeling area covers the interior of the small cove facing you (↕3-10ft/1-3m). It is bordered to the right by a bar of black rocks and to the left by a line of red buoys, setting off the area of relatively strong currents. From the beach, you are less than 150 yards from the end of the cove, where the waves break against the partially emerged rocks.

In the rocky areas (↕2-5ft/0.5-1.5m), particularly along the bar of rocks to your right, you will come across several species of butterflyfish, parrotfish and fantail filefish swimming through the groups of coral. In the deepest and sandiest areas, at the centre of the cove (↕7-10ft/2-3m), you should have no trouble seeing the large green sea turtles.

When the sea is turbulent, visibility can be relatively poor due to swirling particles, but does not affect safety (keep your distance from the line of buoys).

Several signs have been set up on the beach with safety instructions. Make sure you read them before entering the water. Although the beach is partly occupied by the hotel complex, it is not lifeguarded.

Restaurants & accommodation

Kuilima Cove is part of the Turtle Bay Resort hotel complex, with high-priced restaurants and accommodation facilities. The area to explore is quite small, so we don't recommend staying the whole day on the site. An hour or two is enough.

Spot’s weather forecasts (°C)

Spot tips

  • Type of spot
  • Level of difficulty
  • Maximum depth
    8ft (2.5m)
  • Water entrance
    Easy, from a sandy beach
  • Potential Dangers
    Usual precautions
  • Lifeguard
  • Visitor numbers
  • Access costs
  • Restaurants nearby
    Yes, moderately expensive
  • Public toilets & showers

Spot map

Spot photos

Underwater spot photos

Species you may spot while snorkeling Turtle Bay (Kuilima Cove)

Common name Scientific name Abundance Fishbase Wikipedia
Green sea turtle
Chelonia mydas
Convict surgeonfish
Acanthurus triostegus
Yellow tang
Zebrasoma flavescens
Fourspot butterflyfish
Chaetodon quadrimaculatus
Millet butterflyfish
Chaetodon miliaris
Bluestripe butterflyfish
Chaetodon fremblii
Bluefin trevally
Caranx melampygus
Saddle wrasse
Thalassoma duperrey
Moorish idol
Zanclus cornutus
Barred filefish
Cantherhines dumerilii
Fantail filefish
Pervagor spilosoma
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You encountered a specie at this spot that is not listed here?