On our recent snorkeling trip to Kauai, Hawaii, we decided to be more adventurous than we have in the past. Sealodge Beach was a location we had not snorkeled before because the access is challenging in a couple of ways. (We give more detail on this in our Kauai Snorkeling Guide eBook.) We understood that an extremely calm ocean is a must here and we had that at least.
The first time we tried to snorkel Sealodge was disconcertingly unsuccessful. The beach is fronted by a very shallow reef that has a few channels of water through it. We looked it over from the trail that you hike to it from and decided to snorkel out the channel on the right side of the beach to where the water gets deeper. This did not work at all. We made a point to be here at high tide based on a recommendation that we read, so it was as deep as it gets and it was still too shallow to swim over the reef to the deep water. We turned back and gave up discouraged.
Later that night, we remembered that a site visitor left a story from this location including how he accessed it and his experience. We read it again and decided to give it another try the next day.
This time it was low tide, so we got to see how shallow the reef really was and realized our previous mistake. Looking at the beach we discovered that his instructions were a bit confusing as well, but we were determined to get in and try to see what he had seen. We went to the far left of the shoreline past the beach along the rocks and noticed a channel that had an exit to the deeper water. In a high tide you may be able to swim this channel from the beach, but we had to walk a good distance out over rock before we entered the water. The tide was just beginning to come in and there was a rainstorm coming our way, so we quickly chose our route, got on our gear and headed out for an adventure.
The channel was tight and the incoming tide and wave surge made it necessary for us to time our exit into deeper water carefully. We kicked forcefully through a narrow opening in the reef edge. Once outside the shallow barrier reef, in more exposed water, the ocean bottom was mostly large boulders without much else to see. We swam toward the right and out away from the shore. Not very far out the reef was more alive and we saw our first turtle.
As we kept swimming, we could not believe our eyes. There were more turtles floating in the water here than we have ever seen in one spot.
In this video, I moved the camera slowly around me capturing each turtle only once. We count 14 separate turtles in it. There were more than that though, at least 20.
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I found out while writing this that a group of turtles is called a bale, so this is the largest bale of turtles we have ever seen. Some were getting their shells cleaned by fish, as you can see in the video.
The clouds had arrived so there was not much light on the scene and the turtles in the distance could not be seen on camera. The wind was picking up and we could see a wall of rain coming, so Galen said we should head back. I really didn't want to, but relented because the weather was getting intense. Just about then the sky opened up and it was POURING rain! The drops were so big and numerous that they hurt when they hit our heads and bottoms. Then of course the thunder started, which means that lightning is around, which meant it was dumb to still be in the water.
After I got this comical picture of Galen in the rain, we swam as quick as we could back to the channel. On the swim back we were able to see better where we were going with our heads in the water than we could with them out, a whole new experience. It was so bizarre. Getting back into the channel was a challenge to say the least. This is clearly the outflow for the whole beach, the area you DO NOT want to be in when the waves are big because you will get sucked out to sea.
We did get back safely to find our bag on the rocks soaked from the rain. This was an experience of a lifetime if only for the turtles. But when you add in the exciting entry and exit and the thunderstorm, it was also an adventure we will not soon forget.
A Compact Snorkeling Camera