What Does the Turtle Symbolize in the Hawaiian Culture?

The Hawaiian green sea turtle, also known as the honu, symbolizes good luck, endurance and long life. Green sea turtles are seen as navigators who can always find their way home.

Because of the sacred status of turtles in ancient Hawaii, only members of the royal family were allowed to eat them. According to many Hawaiian legends, a green sea turtle led the first Polynesian settlers to Hawaii. The green sea turtle is also considered a guardian spirit, or “aumakua,” who can change shape at will. The Hawaiian god of the sea, Kanaloa, commonly assumed the shape of a sea turtle.