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Oahu Snorkeling – The 5 Best Spots You Should Never Miss


Modified: January 3, 2024

by Anjali Patodi

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Oahu, Hawaii, is a part of the long island chain and home to the state capital, Honolulu. It is one of the most populous Hawaiian Islands and serves as a cultural and financial capital.


With the best nightlife, amazing hikes, water activities, world-class boutiques and a number of things that we can go on naming, it has a certain charm that pulls tourist to it. 


Being as populous as it is and with a swarm of tourists flocking in, it is aptly nicknamed as ‘The gathering place.’ Not just all of this, but Oahu, Hawaii is also up to date with new cuisines and provides one with a variety of delicacies! 


From white sand beaches to some really cool beach towns, tourists can find the best beaches in Oahu.


Not just beaches, but there are two mountain ranges- the Hoolau Range and the Waianae Range that make Oahu, Hawaii, a wholesome place to visit. The island offers exciting activity both under and over the surface of the water.


Surfing and snorkeling are two of the most sought out activities by people who visit. Oahu snorkeling spots are some of the best ones in the world!


Oahu Snorkeling - www.touristsecrets.com

Photo Credits: www.naorir.ga


Oahu Snorkeling

A relaxing vacation on the best beaches in Oahu paired with the warm waters of the ocean, it is a perfect paradise for snorkelers! 


A plethora of marine life including green sea turtles, octopuses, reef trigger fish, humpback whales, and such majestic creatures are a delight to watch in Oahu, Hawaii.


Not just marine life, but there are unique snorkeling locations that make you marvel at coral and rock formations underwater! 


What makes Oahu snorkeling more attractive is the fact that most locations allow you to snorkel free of cost, at your own time, without any hassle.


Although you can snorkel in a few locations in winter too, summers are better suited to the north shore locations.


About half the beaches in Oahu, Hawaii, are exposed to open ocean currents, while the others are exposed partially. If you do choose to experience Oahu snorkeling, you will have to be well versed with how the currents work!


Here’s narrowing down a large number of options for snorkeling, to a list of top 5 best beaches in Oahu for the same!



Turtle Beach, Oahu


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Laniakea Beach, popularly known as Turtle Beach, Oahu among its residents, takes up a major part of the north shore. Laniakea Beach translates to “wide sky” and it truly stands for its meaning as the sky stretches across in a limitless manner beyond the sea. Summer months draw in a lot of snorkelers.


As the name Turtle Beach suggests, it is home to giant green sea turtles that are a delightful sight! The rocky Kuilima cove covered with palm trees cannot be missed! The cove is ideal for beginners with average water depth. The water is crystal clear. There is a 3-hour long snorkeling tour that is available.


Butterflyfish, Damselfish, Surgeonfish, Parrotfish, Moorish idol, Unicornfish, tang, wrasse, big eye, boxfish, perch are among a few fish species you might spot at Turtle Beach!


All of these features make Turtle Beach, one of the best beaches in Oahu.



Makua Beach

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Makua Beach is located on the extreme west side of Oahu, Hawaii. It is a part of the breath-taking Makua valley. It is a sought out location for overnight camping. A swim with a dolphin shouldn’t be a surprise when it comes to Makua Beach. The beach is also called Tunnels beach.


It is secluded and no visitor buses even reach this hidden gem. Dolphins and Humpback whales are in abundance here. You could also spot Hawaiian turtles as you snorkel near a particular spot.


The waves swell up easily and hence one must ensure the conditions are fit enough to snorkel. There is a reef on the edge, shaped like a horseshoe. It provides quite a satisfactory Oahu snorkeling experience, wherein one can witness coral formations. The larger reef is for advanced snorkelers only. 



Hanauma Bay

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Hanauma Bay State Park, one of the most popular Oahu snorkeling spots, is a protected wildlife park. It is more of a marine preserve than a beach. It is in the east direction, near Koko Head. There are over 300 species in this place, which pretty much shows why to consider this location as the best snorkeling point in Hawaii. One can find the tamest and friendliest fish here!


The place is so well maintained and only 3000 visitors are allowed per day into this snorkeling paradise. There are various packages for snorkelers that make it easy. Hanauma Bay has also been featured on various films including Blue Hawaii and the John Wayne film, Donovan’s Reef.



Shark’s Cove

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Here’s another one located on the North shore between the Banzai Pipeline and Waimea Bay. What sets it apart is that it not just provides a look into the gorgeous marine species, but also gives snorkelers a glimpse of underwater rock formations! Again, Shark’s Cove is a well-known tourist destination in Oahu, Hawaii. Summer, as usual, is the preferable time to go there.


There is an existence of high waves from October to April. So, those would be months to not visit this place. Contrary to what its name suggests, one will not really encounter sharks when they visit this Oahu snorkeling point!



Three Tables

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A part of the Pupukea Marine Life Conservation District is Three Table, which is yet one more on the list of best beaches in Oahu. It is very close to Shark’s Cove. You can clearly see three coral lining formation that looks like tables, hence the name. You get the best views if you stick to these linings.


However, this Oahu snorkeling area is not very beginner-friendly. Do not venture into it if you do not have prior practice or experience. The swimming conditions are calmer and safer in the summer months of the year. The area receives some of the strongest waves and surges during other periods of the year.