We arrive at Polihua beach after a long dirty off-roading drive. We get out of the jeep, slam the creaky door, dust ourselves off, and step out from the scruffy trees that we parked near. Immediately the wind catches me and blows me back catching me off guard and unstable rocking in the sand. Polihua beach is like a temptress – a gorgeous wide secluded beach that seems to go on forever. But the ferocious wind, waves, and undertow makes it something that mere humans can simply look at and not ‘touch’. We weren’t here to swim though; we were here to see the honu (green sea turtles in Hawaiian).
I had a quest to experience the natural, rugged beauty of Lana’i with my new ‘Inspired by nature’ Samsung Galaxy SIII phone - and that included exploring the animals too. It was way too windy and dusty to take my big SLR and change lenses, so instead I grabbed my phone out of the Jeep in order to capture any turtle sightings. As Michaela and I walked along the beach fighting the wind we were disappointed to not see a single turtle. All of the guide books had said that Polihua (meaning egg nest in Hawaiian) beach was the place to see the large sea turtle population –it’s where they came ashore and rested or nested their eggs. But clearly we weren’t going to spot any turtles today so we hopped back in the jeep defeated.
I decided to call upon the help of a local, Steve Gelakoski who owns and runs Island Adventure Fitness. He’s lived on the island for 20+ years and has held various positions in conservation and has run a number of projects on Lana’i centered around sustaining the landscape and wildlife of the island. He now is a personal guide leading a variety of tours around the island including hunting, kayaking, hiking, and other adventurous activities. He felt that he could lead us to the turtles on another part of the island near Lopa Beach. No guidebook had mentioned Lopa beach or that side of the island as a place to view turtles – but I’m a big believer in trusting the locals and taking their advice. He mentioned that in the kayaks we could most likely see them in the water. Since I like to kayak – I decided that is would be a great way to have the opportunity to see some turtles but also get on the water and get some exercise.
Later that night Michaela and I shared drinks with some locals in Lana’i City and they asked about our plans on the island. I explained my quest to see the turtles that were so prevalent around Lana’i and my failure at it thus far. When I told them that Steve was going to take us kayaking near Lopa beach in hopes of seeing turtles one of them exclaimed, “Ohhhh – it’s like turtle soup down there. You’ll see a whole bunch in the water popping their heads out!”
Turtle soup – perfect I thought.
Steve picked us up early the next morning in a truck that reminded me of my grandpa and his farm. The kayaks were in the back and we took off to the Southeastern side of the island. Steve entertained us with stories and history of Lana’i and would stop and point out various plants, trees, and deers along the way – he was a wealth of information when it came to the natural habitat of the island. Since I was planning on kayaking – I once again brought my Galaxy SIII phone as I was too scared to take my big slr in the kayak. Plus the phone takes great video and I wanted to capture the turtles in motion.
We bumped up and down on the sandy ‘road’ out to Lopa beach stopping at a few cool old sites that were being restored. It was a very windy day as I would get glimpses of the water occasionally and see big white caps – making me slightly nervous about kayaking.
After an hour we finally arrived to the deserted beach and were greeted with this:
Crashing waves and wind – definitely not calm kayaking ‘turtle soup’ weather. Plus – it was high tide and that made kayaking even more challenging for a couple of beginners who just wanted to see turtles. I thought about it for a while as I watched the waves pound in and decided that it was best to abort our turtle mission. We hung out at the beach for a while and then started to head back to town.
Steve stopped about halfway back and said – let’s just see what the water is like here. We pulled over and he got out his binoculars and we walked out to the shore to check out the water. And there they were…3 giant turtles resting and sunning themselves on the beach! They weren’t even in the water – but Steve informed us that during high tide they will often come up on the beach to escape preditors. We grabbed our cameras and went down the beach to get a closer look. To our surprise – we then noticed two more giant turtles – but they weren’t sunning themselves – instead they were ‘gettin’ it on’.
I came to see turtles swimming around my kayak and ended up with turtle porn! The three of us sat on the back on the beach completely silent and watched the whole process – and yes, it was s-l-o-w. We were turtle mating voyeurs!
I found the whole process fascinating – and funny at the same time. After they mated, the male slowly came up on the beach and lied next to the female. They just hung out right next to each other for a long time. Even turtles like to cuddle after sex I guess. Then the female just turned around and slowly took off and swam away – she apparently had enough.
Thanks to my little phone I was able to capture the whole thing on video.
Granted – I am no expert on turtle reproduction – but here’s a site if you’d like to learn more. Seaworld.org - Turtle Reproduction
I didn’t get to see ‘turtle soup’ swimming around next to my kayak, but I did get to capture something better – sex on the beach! And – my new Galaxy phone proved perfect for the ‘job’.
Thanks to Samsung for sponsoring a few of my activities on Lana’i and gifting me a Samsung Galaxy SIII. All views expressed here are my own honest opinions, and do not reflect the views of Samsung.