Best Snorkeling In Oahu, Hawaii

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Out of all of the Hawaiian Islands, Oahu is undoubtedly the most popular, receiving almost double the number of visitors each year compared to its neighboring islands. The island of Oahu’s beauty is truly unmatched, and this is especially true when exploring life beneath its exquisite waters while on a snorkeling adventure. 

Snorkeling is unquestionably one of the best ways to explore the beauties of the Hawaiian Island of Oahu. This top vacation destination promises an unforgettable underwater experience with some of the most stunning marine life. Popular spots include Hanauma Bay and Sharks Cove, to name a few.

Thanks to the seemingly endless amounts of activities to enjoy, Oahu is one of Hawaii’s top vacation destinations, and by the end of this post, you will understand why. If you are passionate about underwater adventure and creating treasured memories, then look no further than the island of Oahu. Discover why Oahu should be your next snorkeling destination.

Snorkeling In Oahu

The stunning island of Oahu is home to well over a hundred miles of coastline, which means that when it comes to snorkeling, both locals and tourists will be spoiled for choice with several diverse snorkeling locations. Whether as an individual, couple, or a group of family or friends, Oahu undoubtedly has the perfect snorkeling experience for everyone. 

Except for Hanauma Bay, Oahu’s snorkeling spots are free to explore, which is fantastic because there are no time restrictions or any schedules that you will need to follow. You will have the priceless freedom to explore the scenic underwater world of Oahu at your convenience.

Perhaps the only potential downside to consider when planning a snorkeling trip to Oahu is how densely populated the island is, especially when compared to its neighboring islands. For example, Maui’s population counts just over 150,000 people, while Oahu has recorded over 980,000. You might experience crowding at popular snorkeling spots, particularly during peak vacation seasons.

However, do not let that fact stop you from experiencing the beauty that Oahu has to offer. Snorkeling on this exquisite Hawaiian Island is an underwater adventure that you will not regret, and the experience should not be missed.

When To Go Snorkeling In Oahu

As is the case with most other outdoor activities, a significant value to remember is that timing is everything. If you want to ensure that you have the best possible snorkeling experience, planning your adventure effectively is vital. 

One of the best parts about Oahu – and Hawaii in general – is that, in theory, you could go snorkeling any time of the year. However, this will not guarantee the best possible experience. Oahu is no different from its neighboring Hawaiian Islands in that the best season for snorkeling is during the months of summer.

The conditions during summer – May to September – are perfect for the best possible snorkeling adventure. The weather and the ocean water are warm, the underwater visibility is at an all-time high, and the waves are at their most tranquil state. 

The good news about this is that May to September – the best time to snorkel in Oahu – is not considered to be one of Hawaii’s peak tourist seasons. While you can still expect a fair amount of people on this highly populated island, it probably won’t be as busy as what it could get, which is excellent news for your snorkeling trip. 

Marine Life In Oahu

Most people really only go snorkeling for one major reason: to have the opportunity to see a wide range of sea life in their natural habitat. There is truly nothing like coming into contact with creatures like sea turtles or vibrantly colored fish species while exploring the world beneath the ocean’s surface. 

Oahu is undoubtedly the perfect place to enjoy an experience like this since it boasts a diverse range of marine life that promises to provide some truly unforgettable memories. 

Here are just a few of the different kinds of marine life that you can expect to see while snorkeling in Oahu:

Sea Turtles

Sea turtles are guaranteed to be at the top of almost everybody’s list of sea creatures that you would love to see while snorkeling. Thankfully, Oahu is like an oasis for sea turtles, meaning that the chance of you being able to see one while underwater is highly likely. 

In fact, multiple snorkeling tours guarantee that you will be able to swim with sea turtles while out on a snorkeling excursion. 

These exquisite creatures are known for having a somewhat curious nature about them, so it is highly unlikely for them to try to swim away from you when they see you. On the contrary, sea turtles might want to swim near you to have a closer look at what you are all about. Fingers crossed for a sea turtle sighting!


Another fascinating creature that you might get the chance to see while snorkeling in Oahu is various species of rays. In fact, there are three particular types of rays that can be found in Hawaii, including eagle rays, manta rays, and stingrays. 

These elegant creatures are a breathtaking sight to witness in the waters of Oahu, and while sightings are not always expected, they are far from unlikely. 

Coral Reef

Oahu is arguably home to many of the most exquisite coral reefs to witness in all of Hawaii. These underwater paradises are typically vibrant in color and are responsible for supporting a wide range of sea creatures. Snorkeling around Oahu’s coral reefs almost guarantees the chance of seeing creatures like octopus, eels, and many colorful species of fish that have made their homes here.

Always remember to respect these underwater havens. Coral reefs are beautiful to observe but can be highly sensitive even to the slightest touch. Tourism can typically have a negative impact on coral reefs, so be sure to do your part in keeping them healthy and protected.


Believe it or not, that was not just a strange typo but is actually the state fish of Hawaii. Aside from the fun that you are sure to have while trying to pronounce the name of this Hawaiian fish, you are sure to have just as much fun witnessing its bright orange color while on a snorkeling adventure. 

The Humuhumunukunukuapua’a can be quite a common sighting in the waters of Oahu, so you can expect to see many of them while exploring Oahu’s underwater world. 

The Best Snorkeling Spots In Oahu

Alright, now that you are a little more familiar with Oahu’s overall snorkeling experience, along with some of the marine life that you can expect to see, let us go ahead and dive into some of the best snorkeling spots in Oahu.

Hanauma Bay

First on our list is Hanauma Bay, one of Oahu’s snorkeling spots that you do not want to miss out on. Thanks to the abundance of sea life dwelling here, Hanauma Bay is by far one of the most vibrant snorkeling locations in all of Oahu. Even if you are not snorkeling, the beach here is beautiful and promises to be a relaxing experience. 

Well over 300 species of fish can be seen in Hanauma Bay. Combine that with some exquisite scenery from the volcanic crater, and this snorkeling spot promises to provide an unforgettable experience. 

Hanauma Bay is unfortunately not free to explore. A small fee of roughly $7.50 will be required for entry, which is thankfully not enough to break the bank.

Sharks Cove

You can rest assured knowing that this snorkeling spot is not named after a swarm of sharks that live here. Instead, Sharks Cove got its name from one of its nearby reefs that many people say looks like the shape of a shark. The bottom line is that you will be safe while snorkeling here.

Beneath the surface of the water, the breathtaking rock formations found at Sharks Cove, and the rich diversity of marine life make this one of Oahu’s highly favored snorkeling spots. Sharks Cove promises to be one of the unique snorkeling experiences that you can have in Oahu.

Kaena Point State Park

One of the best parts about Kaena Point State Park is that it is your best chance at having a secluded snorkeling experience. Kaena Point State Park could be considered as Oahu’s hidden gem, as this picture-perfect spot does not experience a lot of overcrowding and promises to be nothing short of an incredible experience. 

Kaena Point State Park might not be able to offer an abundance of marine life in comparison with some of the other popular spots in Oahu. However, there are “plenty of fish in the sea.”

While snorkeling, you can expect to see various crustaceans, turtles, parrotfish, and butterflyfish, to name a few. And while you are not actively snorkeling, the beach at Kaena Point State Park is absolutely stunning, so you can enjoy lying on the white sand and soak up the incredible view. 

Kuilima Cove

As a final addition to our “best of” list – though by no means the last that Oahu has to offer – Kuilima Cove is a great spot to enjoy one of the most tranquil snorkeling experiences in all of Oahu. Kuilima Cove is sheltered by a rock barrier that prevents waves from coming through, making the waters here still and calm and some of the clearest in Hawaii. 

The calm nature of Kuilima Cove makes it the perfect place for children to experience their first snorkeling adventure. The entire family can enjoy a wonderful, relaxing day in the water and witness the abundant marine life here, including porcupine fish, butterflyfish, surgeonfish, and the wonderful Humuhumunukunukuapua’a to name a few. 

All in all, snorkeling at Kuilima Cove is an experience not to be missed.

Snorkeling Tours In Oahu

Even if you are a highly experienced snorkeler, opting to go on a snorkeling tour is undoubtedly the best way to enjoy the best possible snorkeling experience in Oahu. Having a guide with you to take you to all of the best spots and hidden gems is an experience that you do not want to miss out on.

Aside from exploring Oahu’s exciting snorkeling spots, snorkeling tours often have a luxury feel to them since you will oftentimes be traveling by boat and get to enjoy a variety of other “extras.”

Since Oahu is such a hotspot destination for snorkeling, there are several snorkeling tours to choose from to suit the experience that you are after and, just as importantly, your budget. To help you plan your Oahu snorkeling adventure, here are a few snorkeling tour options to get you started:

Hawaii Tours

Hawaii Tours is an exciting company that offers snorkeling tours on a few of Hawaii’s famous islands, including Maui, Big Island, and of course, Oahu. They offer a variety of exciting snorkeling tour opportunities that will undoubtedly provide you with an unforgettable experience.

One of Hawaii Tours snorkeling tour options that we will highlight is their “Snorkel with Turtles” package, which comes with a guarantee of being able to see at least one sea turtle while snorkeling, which in itself is probably more than enough for many people to book this tour immediately. 

This snorkeling sail tour will cost you $144 per adult – anyone 13 years old and up – and $104 for children aged four to twelve. Included in that price is a three-hour snorkel sail tour, all of your snorkeling equipment, lunch, snacks, and the central selling point, a guaranteed chance to snorkel with sea turtles at Turtle Canyon.

Other packages offered by Hawaii Tours include a sunset snorkel cruise and a snorkeling tour with dolphin watching. They unquestionably offer something for everyone, and a snorkeling opportunity like the ones on offer is certain to create many unforgettable memories. To Book with Hawaii Tours and to see their tour options, follow this link


By now, we are confident that your bags have already been packed, your airplane tickets booked, and your credit cards ready to book one (or more) of the snorkeling tours options. Oahu promises to provide an unforgettable snorkeling experience for anyone that is ready for an adventure in paradise.