Snorkel Tours Oahu – The Ultimate Underwater Experience

Oahu is one of the most exotic islands to visit in Hawaii. In addition to the crystal-clear water, the hypnotic marine life surrounding the island makes Oahu a perfect destination for snorkeling.

With 1200 miles of coral reef, people come from all over the world to enjoy the unique Oahu snorkeling experience. The best thing is that the water is calm rendering it beginner-friendly.

If you love adventures, you can explore the underwater world of Oahu on your own. That said, many snorkeling tours are available and will help you get the most authentic snorkeling experience in Oahu.

In today’s article, we have a complete guide on Oahu snorkeling, the most beautiful places to visit, and the best tours you can join. You’ll be able to witness the magical world that lies beneath the waters of Oahu.

Let’s dive right in!

Top 3 Oahu Snorkeling Spots

Oahu is full of mesmerizing spots for snorkeling. Here’s a list of our top spots.

1.    Electric Beach

Electric beach, originally known as Kahe Point beach park, is one of the best, if not the greatest, snorkeling spots on Oahu. It’s located on the West Coast of Oahu, just a 40-minute drive from Honolulu.

The beach is next to an electric plant, hence the name. This plant outflows clean, warm water through two cooling pipes. These pipes run out and into the ocean, making this area slightly warmer than normal. This phenomenon attracts a vast amount of sea life to the area.

Additionally, Electric beach is a safe place for snorkeling. However, it’s not suitable for beginners, due to some dangerous currents that can occur. 

Moreover, getting into the ocean through Electric beach can be tricky. You reach the water through a tiny beach, and you must swim out a small channel to reach the open ocean. While this won’t be a problem for an experienced swimmer, it can be challenging for any beginner.

The only other downside to this magical place is the lack of bathrooms and places to eat. So, make sure to bring some snacks, food, and water with you.

What to Expect

Getting into the ocean is worth the effort! The abundance of sea life under crystal clear, warm water is breathtaking.  Once you make it past the small channel, you’ll be able to witness a lot of sea turtles.

You can also expect to see various types of fish, like Parrot fish, Damselfish, and Angelfish. If you’re lucky enough, you may even witness some spinner dolphins.

The abundance of coral at the bottom of the ocean makes the view remarkable everywhere you look as well. It’s like a piece of art, and the coral life is a marvelous background.

1.    Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve

Unlike Electric beach, Hanauma bay is perfect for kids and beginners. The water is calm and shallow, which makes it easy for safe snorkeling. Additionally, Hanauma beach is regulated by the city and Honolulu County, and you can always find lifeguards around the beach.

To make your experience even safer, all visitors have to watch a nine-minute video that educates them on proper snorkeling techniques and reef safety.

The one downside to this amazing spot is that it tends to be a little crowded. You can avoid the busy hours and enjoy your snorkeling in peace if you get there early enough, though. The Hanauma bay park opens at 6:45 am and closes at 4:00 pm.

The best thing about the bay is that there are plenty of bathrooms and a snack bar found on the upper level of the park.

What to Expect

The beach of Hanauma bay is sandy and peaceful. So, you can relax on the sunny beach and get a tan after snorkeling. It’s a perfect place for families as well.

When it comes to snorkeling at Hanauma bay, you don’t need to be an experienced swimmer either. The water is pretty calm, and you can start spotting marvelous marine life just offshore.

The Bay is home to incredible marine creatures, like the Threadfin Butterflyfish, the Blackside Hawkfish, and the famous Moorish Idol.

1.    Shark’s Cove

Fun fact: Shark’s Cove gets its name from the reef’s close resemblance to a shark. The name doesn’t mean you have to worry about encountering sharks during snorkeling.

With that in mind, Shark’s Cove’s shore is rocky, and some of these rocks can hurt your feet. So, it’s best if you bring water shoes or fins with you.

You should always check the weather before heading to Shark’s cove too. On windy days, it can be tough to enjoy the water, as the waves and currents will be strong.

Some even consider Shark’s Cove to be a summer-only snorkeling spot. That makes Shark’s cove suitable for intermediate swimmers.

What to Expect

After walking down into the cove, you’ll find yourself surrounded by arrays of colorful fish.

The marvelous thing about Shark’s Cove is that it’s deep. As such, it contains a huge variety of fish, especially larger types that you don’t usually see in shallow areas.

You’ll also get a chance to see turtles, dolphins, octopuses, and a wide variety of fish that’s hard to spot elsewhere. The exotic marine life and the rock formations that you’ll witness underneath the water are out of this world.

The 3 Best Oahu Snorkeling Tours to Consider

There are hidden snorkeling gems that are hard to reach without a boat. That’s why you should consider going on a snorkeling tour.

Here are our top three picks for the best Oahu snorkeling tours:

1.    Ko’Olina Sunset Snorkel Cruise

The Ko’olina tour provides a unique snorkeling experience. You’ll enjoy the Waianae Coast on a boat during sunset. The chief part of the tour is snorkeling and watching the exotic marine life in that area.

You might even spot a whale during your trip. Whales and dolphins are common in those waters—especially during winter.

Finally, you’ll get to enjoy a delicious meal while relaxing and watching the sunset. The tour includes transportation from and back to the Waikiki hotels as well.

2. Turtle Canyon Catamaran Snorkel Cruise

The Turtle Canyon tour will let you experience snorkeling alongside green sea turtles in the crystal waters of Turtle Canyon. The tour stops at different spots to let you snorkel with the turtles.

You also get to sail along the Oahu coast and enjoy the splendid view. The tour usually takes around two to three hours.

Alternatively, you can choose to rent a private tour if you prefer the extra privacy. You’ll get to pick the stops you want and how long you stay in each spot too. You can even play whatever music you like on the boat.

3. Dolphin Watch and Snorkeling with Hula and Water Activities

The ideal thing about this tour is that it provides tons of activities, making it perfect for families and kids.

The tour takes around three and a half hours. First, the scenic tour will take you where you can see spinner dolphins. Then, they’ll provide you with snorkeling gear, kayaks, paddle boards, and everything you need to enjoy your favorite water activities.

Finally, you slide on a giant water slide into the ocean and enjoy the crystal-clear water. On your way back, the crew members will entertain you with a special hula performance.

The Oahu Snorkeling Essentials

Before you head out on your snorkeling adventures, there are some essentials you need to bring along with you first.

Snorkeling Gear

Oahu is an extremely popular destination for snorkeling. As such, you’ll find various places that rent snorkeling gear. Most of them are affordable too.

However, if you’re planning to enjoy more than one snorkeling trip, it’s recommended that you buy snorkeling gear from any local shop. This will save the hassle of looking for a rental place and going back there to return the gear after your trip.

Check out our reviews on:

Prescription Snorkel Masks
Snorkel Sets For Kids

Reef-Safe Sunscreen

Reef Safe Sunscreens are an essential part of any trip. Sadly, most sunscreens contain chemicals that will dissolve into the ocean and harm reefs as well as other marine creatures.

As a result, the Hawaiian government has banned the use of any sunscreen that can cause harm to marine life.

The problem is that you won’t find a sunscreen brand with the term “reef-friendly” labeled on it, as the term isn’t regulated. So, you’ll need to check the active ingredients for specifically harmful materials, including:

  • Oxybenzone
  • Octinoxate
  • Octocrylene
  • Homosalate

Final Say

So, what are the best Oahu snorkeling spots? Electric beach should be the first on your list. It’s a must-visit for anyone who loves snorkeling. The abundance of marine life in that area is out of this world.

Hanauma Bay is another good option, especially if you’re looking for a place with calm water. It’s perfect for kids and beginners. If you’re looking for something more adventurous, you should visit Shark’s Cove, though.

The snorkeling tours in Oahu are just as magical too. You’ll get to swim with dolphins and sea turtles. We hope you enjoy your Oahu snorkeling adventures!

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