The Best Snorkeling Spots in Oahu
By far the most popular island, Oahu (known as "The Gathering Place") is the third-largest of the eight Hawaiian Islands. With crystal clear waters and average surface water temperatures of 75-80°F, it is no doubt that snorkeling is among one of the most popular activities to do in Oahu. The abundance of sea life is teeming with colorful fish, tropical sea turtles, and other exotic ocean creatures. Best of all, you will never need a wet suit to enjoy the beautiful underwater adventure.
Before you get antsy and dive straight into the waters it is always important to know your surroundings and to pay attention to the lifeguards. Ocean tides can frequently change, and venturing too far alone can also lead to potential dangers. Worst case scenario, if you're unsure if you should be in the waters then simply ask the lifeguard, ask some local Hawaiians, or use your common sense. With that said, we bring you our top 5 locations to snorkel in Oahu.
Hanauma Bay is a protected marine life conservation area managed by the State of Hawaii. Home to over 400 different species of fish, including its abundance of Green sea turtles, you can find this beach on the southeast side of Oahu. There is a $7.50 entrance fee for visitors (proceeds goes towards the conservation); however it is free for residents, military personnel, and children under 12. Hanauma Bay is a very popular tourist spot so we suggest you arrive earlier than later to avoid peek hours. There are plenty of snorkeling equipment rentals as well as lockers so you can keep your belongings safe. If you can, we recommend you bring your own snorkeling equipment so that you won't have to share or worry about spending some extra money. If you're a beginner snorkeler then this spot is perfect for you, as there are plenty of fish to see without having to venture out too far into the ocean. Keep an eye out for the state fish -- humuhumunukunukuapua'a -- as well as sea turtles, parrot fishes, and more.
Most likely the most popular spot on the North shore, Shark's Cove was rated by Scuba Diving Magazine as one of the "Top Twelve Shore Dives in the World". Snorkelers come from around the world and give praise to its great shore snorkeling. With visible, calm waters and just as much marine life as Hanauma Bay, snorkeling at Sharks' Cove is best during the summer. This is because it can get a bit crowded during the fall and spring season when surfing is popular. During surf season, the currents are stronger and can dangerous for beginner snorkelers, so if you are new to snorkeling then summer is the perfect time for you. Also despite the name, you won't have to worry about seeing any dangerous shark's at this wonderful cove.
Similar to Hanauma Bay, this spot is ideal for beginner snorkelers or those with little experience. The name comes from the table-like coral formations right at the front of the beach, which is where you will be snorkeling! There's not much protection at this bay so be careful of big waves and surge. Some common fish you may see are coris yellowstripe, sergeant, eel, brighteye, and plenty more. This location is fairly close to Shark's Cove, so if you're looking to switch up the snorkeling spot then simply drive half a mile northeast on Hwy 83 to Shark's Cove.
Queens Beach / Sans Souci Beach
Relatively safe, easy access, and in town, Sans Souci Beach is the perfect place to find some beautiful tropical fish. In terms of snorkeling, this area will be less crowded than Hanauma Bay, and during high tide you can even swim over the shallow flat reef to explore the corals and small fish. However, if it is high tide we advise you to go someplace else, as it may be a bit difficult to observe sea life. Conveniently enough this beach is also located near other Waikiki attractions, such as the Honolulu Zoo, Waikiki Aquarium, as well as the city itself.
Kahe Point Beach Park
The perfect spot for both snorkeling and diving, Kahe Point Beach Park (also known as "Electric Beach" because of the nearby power plant) is suited for more intermediate to advanced swimmers. Located on the west side of Oahu, the currents tend to be stronger than usual and there are no lifeguards on duty, so if you do plan to go here make sure you are comfortable in waters. Here you will see many turtles, small sharks, fish, and even dolphins, which is why this spot is so popular for scuba diving as well as spearfishing.
- Justin Yang