Snorkel on North Shore Oahu

5 Best Places To Snorkel In Oahu

Are you looking for the best places to snorkel in Oahu?  Thinking about an Oahu snorkeling adventure? 

Well, guess what?! We made it our mission on our last trip to check out all the best snorkel spots on Oahu!  It was so much fun! We found some of the best beaches for snorkeling in Oahu.  

I love Hawaii so much!  Snorkeling on Oahu was such a blast. There are so many great snorkeling spots on Oahu to keep you busy for days! 

In this post, we will be exploring the best snorkel spots on Oahu: where they are located, what to expect, and why they are the best places to go snorkeling in Oahu.  

I will also share my opinion, of what I thought the best place to snorkel in Oahu was! 

Let's get started, and explore all the best places to snorkel in Oahu! 

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Contents show

What To Bring on Your Oahu Snorkel Adventure

gifts for Beach Lovers - go pro

Before you hit the best snorkel spots on Oahu make sure to pack a good beach bag. If you are wondering what to pack for a Hawaii snorkel adventure I have you covered. The following items are essential for snorkeling.  You can easily click on the link below and get whatever you need for your trip.

Beginner Snorkeling Oahu Questions

Hanauma Bay Snorkeling rental gear

Have you ever been snorkeling? No matter what level you are at beginner, intermediate, or advanced this post is right for you.  Let's answer some basic questions you might have about snorkeling in Oahu. 

Are There Good Places to Snorkel on Oahu?

Yes, Hawaii is paradise and there are great locations full of coral and tropical fish.  I can't wait to tell you all about the best snorkel spots on Oahu!!

Can I Snorkel for Free on Oahu?

Yes, most of the snorkel spots on Oahu I am about to share with you are absolutely free. Most of my list includes the best free snorkeling spots.  Hanauma Bay is the exception.  

Is Snorkeling Hard?

Snorkeling takes a little practice. This beginner guide on snorkeling can help prepare you.  Towards the end of this post, I will give you a few tips to make it easier so that you feel confident about snorkeling in Oahu.  We want you to have the best Oahu Hawaii snorkeling experience. 

Is Snorkeling a Good Activity For Kids?

Maybe. If you practice before your trip, your kids may be able to pick it up.  It is really hard for little kids to master.  Most of the best places for snorkeling in Oahu, require you to be a strong swimmer. 

The Best Places for Snorkeling in Oahu

Oahu with kids - Snorkel

Are you ready to explore the best places to snorkel in Oahu?  The following snorkel spots on Oahu are all popular and no matter where you decide to go you are going to have so much fun! 

Let's get started and explore the best places to snorkel in Oahu! 

1. Sharks Cove Snorkeling

Sharks Cove Oahu Hawaii

Location: Pupukea Beach Park

Address: 59-711 Kamehameha Hwy, Haleiwa, HI

Shark's Cove is the first Oahu snorkeling locations we are going to list. Shark's Cove is part of Pupukea Beach Park and is located on the North Shore of the island.

What We Love About Shark Cove Snorkeling

Snorkeling at Shark's Cove is worth the trip!   I couldn't believe how many fish were in this area.  Pupukea Beach Park is a marine life conservation area so there are so many fish to see!

Shark's Cove is a calm area in the Summer but in the Winter months there are storms that come in hard and snorkeling may not be possible here.

Shark's Cove Snorkel Rental

Snorkeling at Shark's Cove does not have an entrance fee.  We purchased our own snorkeling gear, but if you need to rent snorkel equipment there is a store located across the street where you can.

Safety Tips for Shark's Cove

This is a high theft area (so we have been told).  We actually were really nervous, there was a man that was staring at me and it freaked me out.  It was like he was on drugs and had a very evil eye.

My husband decided to stay on the shore while I went in to make sure he didn't steal anything. We then switched places but it was getting late and we didn't want to be the only ones in the area.

Despite the crazy guy, this makes the list for the best places to snorkel in Oahu!

What to Expect at Shark's Cove Snorkeling Site

Shark's cove snorkeling is not like Hanauma Bay. (which is a paid snorkeling area)  It is more like pulling over on the side of the road and hitting the ocean. Although, there are showers and restroom facilities available at this site.

It is not one of the best Oahu snorkeling beaches, as it is very rocky.  It is what is under the water that makes this one of the best Oahu Hawaii snorkeling spots.

If you are looking for the best North Shore Oahu snorkeling sites, this is one of them! 

2.Turtle Bay Snorkeling (Kuilima Cove)

Turtle Bay Oahu Hawaii

Location: Turtle Bay Resort

Address: 57-091 Kamehameha Hwy, Kahuku, HI 96731

Turtle Bay is another one of the best North Shore Oahu snorkeling sites. 

Snorkeling at Turtle Bay is amazing! Turtle Bay is a resort on the Northshore of Oahu.  This enormous resort will not disappoint!

One thing some people do not know is that there is a public beach located right next to the property.  This cove is named Kuilima Cove.  Snorkeling at Kuilima Cove is a great place for beginner snorkeling in Oahu because it is protected from incoming waves.  

This is one of the best beaches for snorkeling in Oahu.  It is small but well-kept.  My kids even found a star-fish right on the beach.  So cool! Snorkeling in Turtle Bay will not disappoint! 

What We Love About Kuilima Cove 

There are schools and more schools of fish. Most likely you will see a sea turtle or even an ell.  We were able to see hundreds of fish. Summer months may be better as the north shore has more waves coming in the winter. The beach itself is small but it is very lovely.

We were able to go in the early morning and have the whole place to ourselves! Kuilima Cove snorkeling was one of our favorite places to snorkel in Oahu. 

Renting Snorkeling Equipment at Turtle Bay

If you are staying at the resort snorkeling equipment is free.  We bought our own gear before getting to Hawaii which we thought was well worth the investment.  Not only did we snorkel at Turtle Bay but many more snorkeling spots in Oahu.

If you have your equipment Turtle Bay Oahu snorkeling is a great area if you are looking for the best free snorkeling in Oahu. 

The closest place to rent snorkeling equipment may be at Shark's Cove.  Maybe you could hit two spots in one day if you decide to rent your snorkeling equipment!

How Much Time Should I Spend Snorkeling at Turtle Bay?

We spent about  1-2 hours here.  I would allocate at least that amount of time to this area.  If you are staying at Turtle Bay then you could spend a lot more time.  Relaxing on the beach and snorkeling could consume your whole day if you wanted it to!

Parking at Turtle Bay

There are a few free public parking spaces dedicated to Kuilima Cove.  We went very early in the morning and were able to get a spot but by the time we left the majority of the spots were full.  I would arrive early to secure your spot.

Snorkeling in Oahu does have some challenges and parking is one of them.  We found that if we went early in the morning or later in the afternoon we were able to easily get a spot.

Snorkeling in Turtle Bay is one of the best snorkel spots in Oahu.  

North Shore Oahu Snorkeling Discounts

The Go Oahu Pass includes free snorkel rental on the North Shore.  This will hopefully save you some money. 

3. Hanauma Bay Snorkeling

Hanauma Bay Snorkeling in Oahu Hawaii

Location: Near Honolulu and Waikiki 

Address: 7455 Kalanianaole Hwy, Honolulu, Hawaii

Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve is located in, Honolulu, Hawaii.  It is about 10 miles from the famous Waikiki Beach. It is the best place for snorkeling in Honolulu Hawaii!

Hanauma Bay is a volcanic crater that has been formed into a natural pool. Snorkeling at Hanauma Bay is one of the best places to snorkel on Oahu.  The water really is as blue as the picture (no filter).

Over three thousand people each day get the opportunity to swim with the marine life in the bay. This area is protected and educates participants on preserving wildlife to all those that will enter Hanauma Bay. 

Entry Fee at Hanauma Bay

Hanauma Bay has an entry fee of $25 per person and $3.00 to park. The area is very safe and has lockers available to rent.

Snorkel Gear and Gift Shop at Hanauma Bay 

There is snorkel gear available to rent onsite.  Also, you will find a gift shop that has souvenirs and items you may have forgotten (for example, sunscreen).  After you enter and pay, you are guided to a room to watch a video on the history of Hanauma Bay and how to protect the coral and fishes that call it home.

What We Love About Snorkeling at Hanauma Bay

I highly recommend adding Hanauma Bay to your Hawaii itinerary.  You will not regret it!  We really loved it! This was one of our favorite places for snorkeling in Oahu!  There are 400 species of fish in the bay.  The water is so blue it is breathtaking!

Hanauma Bay has one of the best beaches for snorkeling in Oahu.  It is nice when you need a break from the water. 

One thing that I wasn't a fan of was that the water is very shallow.  You have to be super careful not to touch it.  But despite that, I would still consider it the best snorkeling in Honolulu. 

Snorkeling in Honolulu – Discount

You may want to consider getting the Go Oahu Card as snorkel rental near Hanauma Bay s is included in the price.

4. Kahe Point (Beach Park) Snorkeling

Hanauma Bay Snorkeling

Location: Westside of Oahu

Address: 92-301 Farrington Hwy, Kapolei, HI 96707

Kahe Point is located on the west side of Oahu.  It is also known as electric beach because it is near a powerplant.  The power plant releases clean warm water into the ocean which attracts an immense amount of sea life.

Snorkeling at Kahe Point

Snorkeling at Kahe Point is an intermediate to advanced level Oahu snorkeling location.  You will have to swim out pretty far to avoid the crashing of the waves. 

Once you are out you will not be disappointed.  Head to the opening of the pipes and that is where your adventure begins.

If you are a beginner snorkeler don't be discouraged there are snorkel tour groups for Kahe Point.

What to Expect When Snorkeling at Electric Beach

The water is going to be so clear that you can see everything.  You will see lots of sea life around the pipes.

Another thing that makes Kahe Point amazing is that spinner dolphins love the warmer temperatures from the power plant and spend their days feeding their young in this area.

There will be many charter boats nearby looking at the dolphins.  You will be able to see them and hear them up close and personal!

Parking at Kahe Point

There is a parking lot across the street.  You should be able to find a parking spot so no need to stress!  This is a free park with no admission fee, making it one of the best free snorkeling in Oahu picks. 

Snorkeling at Kahe Point should be on your snorkel Oahu list no matter what your snorkeling ability.

5. Snorkeling at Kaena Point State Park

Hanauma Bay Snorkeling

Location: Westside of Oahu

Address: 2.7-mile hike from the Kaena Point Trail

Kaena Point State Park is located on the westernmost tip of the island. A  hike (2.7 miles)  is required to access the park.  The park itself has many activities such as fishing, tide pool observing, hiking, and of course snorkeling. It has one of the best beaches for snorkeling in Oahu. 

What to Expect While Snorkeling at Kaena Point

Please check the park website before you set out on this adventure.  Swimming in this area can be rough on certain days and the website will tell you if it is safe.

If you do have the chance to get to this area you will be surprised at the lack of people.  There are miles of beautiful beaches with limited amounts of people. The main reason is that there are no roads that connect to this area.

The water is clear but you may not see as many fish in this area as some of the other snorkeling spots on Oahu.  

Dolphins have been spotted around Kaena Point so be on the lookout!  Overall, the limited crowds make this one of the best places to snorkel. Plus, there are lots of other enjoyable activities to do as well.

Kaena Point is a hidden gem.  It is an Oahu snorkeling spot that you will want to check out. 

Best Places to Snorkel in Oahu

Best places to snorkel in Oahu

Snorkeling in Oahu made our vacation so amazing! There are so many amazing snorkel spots on Oahu! One thing I love about snorkeling is that going to the best beaches in Oahu for snorkeling is a free activity that is fun.  

There are so many Oahu snorkeling beaches to choose from.  Each of these Oahu snorkeling locations can be found on different parts of the island.  Snorkeling in Oahu is AMAZING!

The Best Place to Snorkel in Oahu (My Opinion)

Out of all of the snorkeling spots on Oahu we hit, my favorite was Turtle Bay.  We were able to see the most fish and creatures in this area.  My Turtle Bay Oahu snorkeling experience was incredible! 

It actually made me want to stay at Turtle Bay the next time we visit.  Snorkeling in Oahu should make your Oahu bucket list for sure!

Snorkeling on Oahu Tips

Best places to snorkel in Oahu

I have a few snorkeling on Oahu tips to help your prepare for your Oahu snorkeling adventure. 

Invest in Snorkel Gear

I honestly think it is worth purchasing your own snorkel gear before you head to Hawaii.  It may take up more room in your luggage but it will save you money and time if you are planning on snorkeling in Oahu more than one time.

North Shore Oahu Snorkeling Tip

The summer is the best time to snorkel on the North Shore.  The water is calm and clear.  In the winter months, the waves get bigger as storms hit this side of the island.

South Shore Oahu Snorkeling Tip

This area is a great place to snorkel in Oahu all year round.  The South Shore includes all of the Honolulu snorkeling spots. 

Best Time of Day to Snorkel in Oahu

Morning is the best time of day to snorkel in Oahu.  The waters are calmer and there is less wind.  

Best Place to Find Sea Life

As you are snorkeling in Oahu and wondering where to swim, remember that fish love the coral.  Where there is coral there will be fish!  

Snorkeling Oahu Safety Tips

  • Check Weather and Surf Conditions
  • Snorkel with a friend (buddy system)
  • Don't touch the Coral
  • Wear Reef Safe Sun-Screen

Oahu Snorkel Tours

Snorkeling in Oahu boat tour

The Oahu snorkel spots listed above are all spots that are accessible from the beach. If you want to go deep into the ocean a tour is your best bet.  

Oahu Snorkeling Tours

These are some of the best Oahu snorkeling tours.


Are you Ready for you Oahu Snorkel Adventure?

Hawaii Gifts and Souvenirs

Hopefully, this post has helped you know where the best places to snorkel in Oahu are.  I know you will have so much fun! 

I know you will enjoy the best beaches on Oahu for snorkeling.  Let us know which are your favorite in the Facebook Group. 

Plan for Hawaii

Do you need a little more help planning your Hawaii trip? I have put together a One Week in Oahu Itinerary as well as some of the best family resorts on Oahu

I highly recommend going to the North Shore.  There are so many fun things including the Dole Pineapple Plantation, Polynesian Cultural Center, and the Jurassic Adventure tour.  These are all great things to do on Oahu with kids. 

I also recommend hitting Pearl Harbor and going on some of the best hikes on Oahu.  

We also island-hopped to Maui for a Day. We had a blowhole road of death adventure if you are interested in visiting that island.

Don't forget to get your Hawaiian souvenirs

Facebook Group

If you have any more questions be sure to join my Facebook Travel Community   This great community can help answer any questions you may have about your upcoming trips. Plus, I try to add any great deals or promotions that companies send me!

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  1. Oh, my husband would LOVE this. He goes snorkeling at our local beaches, so being able to see clearly all these different things would be a dream come true for him.

  2. We love snorkeling too! Thank you for sharing the different locations. Before we visit we read about the best snorkeling spots.

  3. I miss Turtle Bay and it’s been great living vicariously through these pics. Brings back fond memories and reminds me of how long it’s been!

  4. This is such a comprehensive guide. I’m going to pin it in for when we make it out that way. I’m sorry about the creeper ?. Thanks for sharing!

  5. I’ve never been to Hawaii or snorkeling, and it looks like I’ve been missing out! This looks so cool. I’d love to see a sea turtle. I like how the coves have such cool names, too. Hawaii is definitely on my must-see list for someday!

    1. Just came back from Oahu, Hanauma Bay is now $25/person and you must have a reservation. The parking may be more now as well. Sharks Cove was amazing I could have been there all day. We felt like people were constantly going in and out through the parking area, that we felt safe to leave our car. Never had an unsafe feeling about the area.

  6. You’re first two questions had me hooked! Yes, I’m going to Hawaii and Yes, we plan on snorkeling!! Love this! Pinned it, plan on coming back to this post to plan our snorkeling excursions.

  7. Wow…I can’t believe how clear and beautiful the water is – especially love the turtle shot! Stunning photos! Wish I were in Hawaii right now.

  8. I want to go! Only been snorkeling once in St. Thomas and it wasn’t the best experience but I definitely want to try it again.

  9. Ahhh.. I am dreaming of warm beaches. These look like amazing spots to hit. A great list to save for later for sure.

  10. I’m going to have to make a trip back. It’s so beautiful and so much to do. Thanks for sharing your recommendations and adventures.

  11. Great list! Each place definitely has its pros and cons. Good job being smart and taking turns getting into the water when you were sketched out by that guy. Better safe than sorry!

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  18. I can’t wait to reschedule our trip to Hawaii… possibly for next year! We had at least 3 snorkeling excursions booked… and it would have been the kids’ first time. Thanks for the great suggestions! The list will definitely come in handy!

  19. Snorkeling always makes me nervous at first, and then I end up loving it! Oahu looks like a perfect destination for snorkeling!

  20. I did a SUP yoga class in Kuilima Cove when we stayed at Turtle Bay. It’s a beautiful part of Hawaii, the north shore is one of my favorites actually. These are great suggestions for snorkeling on Oahu!

  21. Snorkeling in Oahu?! Sounds amazing!! Good to know you can rent quality equipment at many places – packing it takes a lot of room.

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