Best Snorkeling on Oahu

person snorkeling

It isn't difficult to see why the beautiful Hawaiian island of Oahu is a premier travel destination. Oahu boasts unparalleled natural beauty and offers countless activities for visitors. One of our favorite Oahu activities is snorkeling!

Best Places to Snorkel on Oahu

Snorkeling allows you to get up close and personal with the marine wildlife in Oahu. Whether you want to swim with turtles or see a wide array of eye-catching tropical fish, these snorkeling spots have it all.

Read on to learn about our favorite snorkeling spots in Oahu, conveniently located close to our villas!

Best Time of Year to Snorkel

The best time of year to snorkel is summertime—the waves aren’t so high this time of year, making the water less choppy and rough. May to September are widely regarded as the best snorkeling months.

As with any activity, make sure you check weather forecasts ahead of time. Extreme wind or rain will definitely put a damper on your snorkeling trip, and a tropical storm could make conditions quite dangerous. It's also essential to choose reef-safe sunscreen to protect both your skin and the marine environment.

Kuilima Cove

Level: Beginner

Kuilima Cove is located on the North shore of Oahu, very close to our Turtle Bay Villas. This spot is widely known as the best place for beginners to snorkel on Oahu as the rocks surrounding the cove keep it protected from large currents.

Wade into the clear, calm water at Kuilima Cove—it only goes about neck deep, so it's a perfect beginner destination to take kids. The water is so clear here it almost feels like you’re snorkeling in an aquarium!

You can catch a glimpse of a variety of fish here, including the Butterfly fish, parrot fish, trigger fish, goat fish and even the famous former Hawaii state fish, the humuhumunukunukuapuaa. No gear? No problem! You can rent snorkeling gear from a local company like Active Oahu Tours.

Ko Olina Lagoons

ko alina lagoon

Level: Beginner

The Ko-Olina Lagoons are 4 lagoons right near our properties on SouthEast Oahu. The distance from lagoon 1 to lagoon 4 is only about a mile and a half, so you can stop in at each of them to see which one you like best! Our favorite is Lagoon #2, Honu Lagoon. Located right next to rentals like Beach Tower 209 at Ko Olina, it offers the best snorkeling in the area!

The lack of current and 4-5-foot-deep water make Ko Olina another great place to take kids for their first snorkeling experience. Join along as your kiddos witness breathtaking sea creatures like the goatfish, butterfly fish, Moorish idol, and more. You can also take a Ko Olina Snorkel Tour to learn the ropes from a professional!

Kahe Point – “Electric Beach”

Level: Intermediate

Kahe Point Beach is not quite so beginner-friendly. Currents can sweep through the area as it’s not as protected as the other coves we have on our list. Take caution and check conditions before you head out here, and if you’re traveling with kids you’ll likely want to go to one of the other 3 spots we’ve listed!

The “Electric Beach” namesake comes from a nearby electric power plant—two pipes from the plant discharge warm water into the ocean, which attracts vibrant sea life including reef fish, sea turtles, eagle rays and occasional pods of spinner dolphins to the area. Not as many visitors know about electric beach, making it a bit of a hidden gem! 

Waimea Bay

school of fish in waimea

Level: Beginnner

Kick back and relax at Waimea Bay! With its gorgeous white sounds, towering cliffs, and lush vegetation, it’s the perfect respite.

Spend your morning swimming with the dolphins and endless schools of tropical fish that frequent here throughout the day. You can see diverse plants growing on the coral reefs in these shallow lagoons and spot other sea creatures like sea stars and urchins. You may even get lucky and see a green sea turtle near the shore!

Book Your Next Oahu Vacation With Oceanfront Vacation Villas

Now that you know all the best snorkeling spots on Oahu, it’s time to book your vacation. Whether you’re wanting to explore the North shore in one of our Turtle Bay Rentals or snorkel in and around the Ko Olina Lagoons at one of our Ko Olina Villas, we have several vacation rentals that are close to everything you’ll need. Explore our variety of Oahu vacation rentals and book your trip directly for the best rates. We often have rental specials as well!