Best Spots for Snorkeling in Honolulu

With an ocean bestowing you with mesmeric vistas of its colorful waters, Honolulu is Hawaii’s favorite hot spot for myriad reasons. Especially given how much quieter it is than the much touristy Waikiki, Honolulu is a perfect beach escapade. While the city boasts of some quaint attractions throwing light on its history and diverse terrains, it is the water sports here that give Honolulu an edge over its Hawaiian counterparts. Snorkeling is one such watersport, that celebrates this vibrant Polynesian capital like no other. What's more? A surface water temperature of around 77-83F all through the year amplifies the fact that you can come, snorkel here, any time of the year!

Tempted much? Check out these 12 best spots for snorkeling in Honolulu that will keep you wanting for more!

1. Snorkeling Oahu Hanauma Bay

Image Source: Flickr.com

One of Hawaii’s most striking marine embayment, the Oahu Hanauma Bay will sweep you off your feet! It is the island’s biggest crowd puller owing to a rich variety of marine life. Recognizing this, the Hanauma Bay State Park came into existence from a tourism perspective. There are 3000-odd visitors that flock to this state park every day. Acquainting a plethora of marine life and fish this is one of the best spots for snorkeling in Honolulu. Snorkeling at the Hanauma Bay is one of the best things to do in honolulu.

How to reach:
  • Drive on your way, parking fee of USD 1; limited parking slots that get full by 7-7:30 am
  • Daily 3 round-trip Waikiki shuttle service by the Hanauma Bay State Park

Suitable for: Beginners

Tip: Carry your own towel and other essentials. Tips to drivers appreciated.


2. Kahe Point Snorkeling

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Also known as the Electric Beach, there is a very interesting fact attached to this spot’s name. This is one of the best beaches for snorkeling in Honolulu, because of an electric pipe in the vicinity that gushes out warm water, drawing a lot of marine life, given the warm temperature. You will not find many lifeguards here, so those who are not too good at swimming must not venture too far in the waters. Expect to see a mesmerizing variety of corals, turtles, monk seal, and even dolphins sometimes.

How to reach: Drive down H1 from Honolulu

Suitable for: Experts

Tip: Avoid swimming around the mouth of the electric pipes as they gush water with a very strong current.

3. Baby Makapu'u, Waimanalo

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

A place that will satiate your quench for an adventure like no other, the Makapu`u Beach is one of the best spots for snorkeling, for all the right reasons. First being, its diverse range of water sports; from diving, surfing, to leisurely swims and of course, snorkeling, followed by some more reasons. This is your chance to swim with turtles in the sparkling, transparent waters, the region has. If you wish to skip snorkeling, you can enjoy the serenity of this place, strolling the beaches. You can collect some irresistible shells here, but beware as they usually have some tiny creature in it that may prick you with their poison.

How to reach: It lies at a distance of half an hour from Honolulu, off the Kalanianaole Highway

Suitable for: Beginners

Tip: Be careful, as the region is subject to unpredictive strong currents

4. Kaena Snorkeling

Image Source: Daniel Ramirez/flickr.com

A blissful experience, compared to other snorkeling sites, the Kaena beach is a breath of fresh air from the crowded beaches on all of the Oahu snorkeling tours! This place draws snorkelers seeking a calm snorkel. You may also find a rich marine life here, but if you wish to enjoy a leisurely snorkeling experience, then, this is a brilliant option. Follow-up your snorkel with a soothing walk at this powdery-soft-sanded beach of this Kaena Point State Park.

How to reach: Take the Farrington Highway from Honolulu

Suitable for: Beginners

Tip: Carry lots of eatables, as there is no restaurant or food store at this park

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5. Kuilima Cove Snorkeling

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Time and again, winning the title of one of the best spots for snorkeling in Honolulu, the Kuilima Cove boasts of leisurely snorkels. Drawing visitors by it pristine waters and shallow shore, that make for brilliant snorkels, this place is ideal for beginners. Given the clarity of the water, you are likely to spot a good amount of marine life here. You can check into the few resorts surrounding this region, to make the most of this easy, beginner-friendly snorkeling cover! The place is also familiar as Turtle Bay.

How to reach: From Honolulu take the HI-83 E/Kamehameha Highway

Suitable for: Beginners

Tip: Despite being a cove, this place sometimes gushes strong currents

6. Makaha Beach Park, Oahu

Image Source: Pixabay.com

Hosting some of the best surfs in winter, the Makaha Beach Park also has some of the best snorkeling in the Honolulu region. Embracing visitors with a very relaxing vibe, you can enjoy some of the most leisurely snorkels, stroll and other beach activities like surfing, here. Turtles and live corals are what you can look forward to on you snorkel here. However, this region is not the best for first-timers, given the sudden steepness of the beach. Thus, the waves and currents too are pretty strong. This further renders to the fact that, to see more marine life, you may have to swim farther into the sea, where the waves are more stable.

How to reach: Drive down the Kalakaua Avenue

Suitable for: Experts

Tip: Post a good snorkeling session, grab yourself a scrumptious "plate lunch", a quintessential Hawaiian meal, here.

7. Three Tables

Image Source: Anthony Quintano/flickr.com

One of the best of "snorkeling Oahu North Shore” experience, the Three Tables is a small, rocky strip to sport those glasses and flappers! It is from the formation of the rocks here, that resemble three tables, the place derives its name from. Come here in the months of summers to enjoy a snorkel like no other in the north shore. This is when the waves are really flat, to enjoy a swim with turtles and gorgeous fish! This can indeed be a very rewarding experience.

How to reach: Take the H2 through the Dole Plantation

Suitable for: Beginners

Tip: To enjoy a delightful snorkel amidst endless schools of fish, swim at the coral table section.


8. Sharks Cove Snorkeling

Image Source: Wikipedia.org

Holding a special place in the hearts of seasoned divers and snorkelers, the Sharks Cove is a must on this list. And if its name has you contemplating, rest assured it is anything but scary! There are several lava formations in here, that are home to an exquisite variety of crustaceans. What you should look forward to while snorkeling here, is lots of schools of fish. The white tipped reef shark too, has been occasionally spotted here.

How to reach: it is located right off the Kam Highway

Suitable for: Beginners and experts

Tip: There are a few brilliant tide pools too here, that you must explore.

9. Molokini Crater, Maui

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

What’s not to love about this terrific State Marine Life & Bird Conservation District?! A sweeping atoll engulfed by azure waters and brilliant opportunities to dive and surf, the Molokini Crater is simply gorgeous. With a brilliant visibility of a whopping 150 feet, you will find an attractive variety of fish here. Coming in some of the most unique shapes, colors and sizes the marine life here, is sure to leave you spellbound!

How to reach: You can get to this site only by a boat from Maalaea Harbo

Suitable for: Beginners and experts

Tip: You can also try your hand at ‘Snuba’ here; a combination of snorkeling and scuba diving!

10. Sans Souci Beach, Waikiki

Image Source: Alicia0928/flickr.com

If traveling to a place overwhelms you, yet you can’t let go of your dream of snorkeling in Honolulu, then the Sans Souci Beach is your answer! Perched in the town locales of Waikiki, this place is very safe and easily accessible. The best time to explore this region is during high tide when you will spit of a ton of marine life swaying from one place to other. The beach is a great spot for experiencing a mellow sunset too!

How to reach:
  • Drive down the Kalakaua Avenue, past the Kapiolani Regional Park, if traveling from Honolulu
  • Short walk from Waikiki’s east side

Suitable for: Beginners

Tip: Avoid swimming near the rock wall, as this area receives a very strong current.

11. Ko Olina Lagoons, Kapolei

Image Source: Pixabay.com

Another gem of a place for first-time snorkelers, the three Ko Olina Lagoons, albeit being manmade lagoons, offer a good swim. Though the swim here can be leisurely, you may not really spot a lot of marine life, especially in the form of corals. However, its calm waters attract a lot of schools of fish. This is one reason why the lagoons get pretty crowded. If you get overwhelmed by the crowds, you can skip snorkeling for a blissful walk. But we insist you snorkel for the attractive variety fish-  wrasse, goat, butterfly, tang and even the Moorish idol!

How to reach: Take the H1, keep going till you cross Wet N’ Wild Hawaii on your right

Suitable for: Beginners and experts

Tip: The fourth lagoon is an ideal spot of you crave some naps on beach beds!

12. Anini Beach, Kauai

Image Source: Flickr.com

Owing to its shallow waters, snorkeling at Anini Beach can be a fabulous experience for first-timers. This is the longest and shallowest reef on this quaint island, Kauai. Letting you experience some jaw-dropping underwater crannies and nooks in an alignment of the reef’s edge, this spot is a must on the list of best spots for snorkeling in Honolulu. Winters may prove to be a good time if you want a too-good-to-be-true experience. Picnic tables lacing this beach, are great to unwind with a meal, following your swim.

How to reach: Take the Route 56 towards the northern Kalihiwai Road

Suitable for: Beginners and experts

Tip: Beginners must practice caution, as the outgoing tides may possess strong currents occasionally.

With this list, we hope you have planned your next snorkel!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
SEEMA NANDE SEEMA NANDE

A deep-dyed Piscean, Seema is a dreamer. This extends to the fact that she is seldom in another world of her's or dreaming of the place she would rather be. A wild-child at heart and a keen observer otherwise, Seema's free-spirited psyche is eternally quenching for new experiences. There is no poison for her as restorative as Life, she is the one who will give you the cliched 'I-am-high-on-life', should you offer her a drink. She gets hungover on the feel of a new place, food and conversations with strangers! All this adding to the way she feels and writes!

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