ALOHA!

 

So you want to go to snorkeling as part of your time on Oahu!

Which are the best beaches on Oahu for snorkeling?!

 

Best snorkeling beach spots in Oahu. Best things to do on Oahu. Best places to visit on Oahu. Backpacking Hawaii travel blog

Best snorkeling in Oahu: Best snorkeling spots in Oahu without a tour first time including shallow swimming. Best Oahu snorkeling beaches. Best things to do on Oahu. Best places to visit on Oahu. Waikiki, Honolulu, windward east Oahu, North Shore, Pupukea. marine life conservation districts. Backpacking Hawaii travel blog

 

First, the quick list of the top 3 beaches on Oahu to know about when you want to go snorkeling on Oahu.

Then, a bit more about each of the Oahu beaches, including some nearby places you might want to go when you’re in the area… aka how to make it a perfect day on Oahu with hiking in the morning and snorkeling in the afternoon!

And then, a note on snorkeling alone on Oahu and a quick list of what to pack for snorkeling on Oahu.

 

 

Best snorkeling beach spots in Oahu. Best things to do on Oahu. Best places to visit on Oahu. Backpacking Hawaii travel blog

 

There are affiliate links on this page. I may earn a commission from this.

 

 

So now…

 

3 best snorkeling spots in Oahu

…listed in order of convenience if you’ll be staying in Waikiki!

 

1. Queen’s Beach

Best snorkeling spots on Oahu. Waikiki Beach, Queens Beach - best snorkeling beaches in Oahu. Hawaii travel blog
Go here for possibly the best snorkeling spot in Waikiki.

 

 

2. Hanauma Bay

Best snorkeling spots on Oahu. Hanauma Bay - best snorkeling beaches in Oahu. Hawaii travel blog
Go here for possibly the most popular snorkeling spot on Oahu.

 

 

3. Shark’s Cove

Best snorkeling spots on Oahu. North Shore, Shark's Cove, Pupukea - best snorkeling beaches in Oahu. Hawaii travel blog
Go here for possibly the best snorkeling spot on the North Shore.

 

 

So what makes these beaches among the top snorkeling spots on Oahu?!

 

Best snorkeling beach spots in Oahu. Best things to do on Oahu. Best places to visit on Oahu. Backpacking Hawaii travel blog

 

Marine life conservation districts on Oahu

In Hawaii, there are what’s called marine life conservation districts.

This means that these areas just off the coast are more protected for marine life.

This can make them good snorkeling spots.

The Hawaiian islands of Oahu, Maui, Lanai, and the Big Island have these conservation districts.

 

On Oahu, there are 3 marine life conservation districts:

 

Within these districts are the beaches of Queen’s Beach (Waikiki), Hanauma Bay, and Shark’s Cove (Pupukea), all of which can make a good base for snorkeling.

 

But these 3 beaches aren’t the only snorkeling spots on Oahu.

But when you need to narrow down your list of choices, it’s a good way to pick your beaches when snorkeling is on the list of things to do when you’re on Oahu! A bit more on each of the snorkeling spots and surrounding areas below.

 

 

Oahu snorkeling tour or snorkel Oahu on your own?!

There are many snorkeling spots in Oahu that you can access on your own from shore. So it’s possible to snorkel off the beach in Oahu. (Including the snorkeling beaches that were mentioned!)

So, if you want to go snorkeling in Oahu, you don’t NEED to go on a snorkeling tour to do so.

Aside from snorkeling, a snorkeling tour can also be about being able to get a Hawaii experience to remember with a day out on the water sailing the ocean! There are many snorkeling tours that will take you by boat to a prime snorkeling spot off the shores of Oahu. Also it’s important to note for any snorkeling tour you choose, check for whether or not snorkeling gear is included.

 

Best Oahu snorkeling tours

Have a look at some of the best snorkeling tours on Oahu, and be sure to see the reviews:

 

 

More below about snorkeling in Oahu on your own!

 

 

🌴

 
More photos/info below, but first...
Side note!
Here's some info on Hawaii trip prep!




PLUS... Oahu tour, or on your own: Can you visit Pearl Harbor without a tour?

 

 

Now…

A little more about the top Oahu snorkeling spots from the beach!

…aka the best things to do on Oahu!

 

 

1. Queen’s Beach

Waikiki marine life conservation district

Best snorkeling spots on Oahu. Waikiki Beach, Queens Beach, Waikiki marine conversation district - best snorkeling beaches in Oahu. Hawaii travel blog

 

If you’re staying in Waikiki and don’t want to go far, then the Queen’s Beach area can be a good place to go for snorkeling.

This is located at the far south end of Waikiki.

It’s also right near Sans Souci park which is a nice grassy area that you can set up your base too.

 

Snorkeling spots on Oahu in Waikiki. Sans souci state park. Hawaii travel blog

Snorkeling spots on Oahu in Waikiki. Sans souci state park. Hawaii travel blog

 

There are beach facilities around here with bathrooms and showers so that can make it convenient too.

There’s also a small snack bar nearby.

For reference, you can look for the lifeguard stand 2F, and try snorkeling somewhere around there.

 

Snorkeling spots on Oahu in Waikiki. lifeguard near queen's beach. Sans souci state park. Hawaii travel blog

 

All beaches in Waikiki are free, so there’s no fee for snorkeling at Queen’s Beach.

 

Snorkeling spots on Oahu, Waikiki. Queen's Beach with Waikiki Beach skyline. Hawaii travel blog

Snorkeling spots on Oahu, Waikiki. Queen's Beach with Waikiki Beach skyline. Hawaii travel blog

Snorkeling spots on Oahu, Waikiki. Queen's Beach near pier. Hawaii travel blog

Snorkeling spots on Oahu, Waikiki. Queen's Beach with Diamond Head crater view. Hawaii travel blog

 

Read more from the state of Hawaii about the Waikiki marine life conservation district.

 

 

Hiking near Queen’s Beach

Make it an amazing day on Oahu by doing a hike in the morning that will keep you pretty near Waikiki.

Then, after you’ve gotten in a good workout that comes with some amazing views, you can go for a recovery swim that includes some snorkeling in Waikiki!

 

Diamond Head Hike

Snorkeling spots on Oahu in Waikiki. Things to do near Queen's Beach Waikiki - Diamond head hike, crater trail. Hawaii travel blog

Do this hike for the famous views of Waikiki and Honolulu.

 

 

2. Hanauma Bay

Hanauma Bay marine life conservation district

Best snorkeling spots on Oahu. Hanauma Bay marine conservation district - best snorkeling beaches in Oahu. Hawaii travel blog

 

Hanauma Bay is a short 20 minute or so drive from Waikiki.

Or it’s an easy bus ride from Waikiki to Hanauma Bay as well. Google Maps is a reliable way for taking the bus around Oahu. Just look for the public transportation option.

See more about taking the bus on Oahu.

 

As a proper beach park, Hanauma Bay has convenient beach facilities.

There’s also a lifeguard on duty here too.

 

Snorkeling spots on Oahu. Hanauma Bay lifeguard. Hawaii travel blog

Snorkeling spots on Oahu. Hanauma Bay current safety. Hawaii travel blog

 

There is a fee to enter Hanauma Bay, and… IMPORTANT!!! The cost to visit Hanauma Bay has gone up recently so be sure you are getting the most accurate cost info before you go. Check current entry fees from the County of Honolulu.

Starting July 2021, the Hanauma Bay entry fee is $25 per person, age 13 and older.

Alternative to Hanauma Bay: If you are will to pay for snorkeling (because it’s HAWAII and you’re willing to pay for amazing experiences!), then also consider going for one of the best Oahu snorkeling tours from Waikiki! That will get you a boat ride on the ocean too!

And if you’re staying in Waikiki, you don’t have to think much about how to get there if you book a tour that starts in Waikiki. You can make it a beach walk with ocean views to get to your tour! (With Hanauma Bay, you need to take the Oahu bus, you need a car, or you need to book a shuttle.)

Have a look at Oahu snorkeling tours.

 

Snorkeling spots on Oahu. Hanauma Bay coral reef. Hawaii travel blog

Snorkeling spots on Oahu. Hanauma Bay coral reef. Hawaii travel blog

Snorkeling spots on Oahu. Hanauma Bay snorkeling for beginners. Hawaii travel blog

Snorkeling spots on Oahu. Hanauma Bay coral reef. Hawaii travel blog

 

Read more from the state of Hawaii about the Hanauma Bay marine life conservation district.

 

 

Hiking near Hanauma Bay

Make it an amazing day on the east side of Oahu by doing a hike in the morning near Hanauma Bay.

Then, after you’ve gotten in a good workout that comes with some amazing views, you can go for a recovery swim that includes some snorkeling at Hanauma Bay!

 

Koko Head Hike

Snorkeling spots on Oahu on windward east Oahu. Things to do near Hanauma Bay - Koko Head hike, crater trail. Hawaii travel blog

Do this hike for a strenuous workout that’s right across the street from Hanauma Bay.

 

 

Makapuu Point Lighthouse Trail

Snorkeling spots on Oahu on windward east Oahu. Things to do near Hanauma Bay - Makapuu point lighthouse trail hike. Hawaii travel blog

Do this hike for a slightly easier workout on a paved trail. It would be more convenient if you have a car, but there is also a bus that runs to near Makapuu Lighthouse Trail. The nearest bus stop is a 15 minute walk, and it does require walking on a busy road.

 

 

Beaches near Hanauma Bay

Snorkeling spots on Oahu. Things to do near Hanauma Bay - beaches on windward east Oahu. Hawaii travel blog

 

Or, if you want to make it a beach hopping kind of day, see more of the best beaches on the east side of Oahu.

 

 

3. Shark’s Cove

Pupukea marine life conservation district

Best snorkeling spots on Oahu. North Shore, Shark's Cove, Pupukea marine conservation district - best snorkeling beaches in Oahu. Hawaii travel blog

 

Shark’s Cove is located on the North Shore.

Because the North Shore is a bit of a distance from Waikiki, you can make this a day trip from Waikiki by adding in some more things to do on the North Shore along with the snorkeling.

It will be about a 1 hour drive.

It’s also possible to take the bus to the North Shore from Waikiki, as long as you have time and patience! The bus might take 2 hours one way and also might require a transfer. Once again, you can consult Google Maps!

 

Snorkeling spots on Oahu, North Shore. Sharks Cove. Hawaii travel blog

Snorkeling spots on Oahu, North Shore. Sharks Cove snorkeling for beginners, kids. Hawaii travel blog

Snorkeling spots on Oahu, North Shore. Sharks Cove snorkeling for beginners, adults. Hawaii travel blog

Snorkeling spots on Oahu, North Shore. Sharks Cove. Hawaii travel blog

 

Read more from the state of Hawaii about the Pupukea marine life conservation district.

 

This may not make such a great snorkeling spot in winter though.

In winter, the North Shore waves can be rough. Bad for snorkeling, but this can be good for surfing! The North Shore is internationally known as one of the best surfing spots in the world. If you will be on Oahu in winter, you might test your luck to see if you can check out a surf competition.

For a snorkeling spot on the North Shore in winter as an alternative, you might check the conditions at Kuilima Cove. This is another beginner-friendly snorkeling spot on Oahu.

 

 

Hiking near Shark’s Cove

Make it an amazing day on the North Shore of Oahu by doing a hike in the morning on the North Shore.

Then, after you’ve gotten in a good workout that comes with some amazing views, you can go for a recovery swim that includes some snorkeling at Shark’s Cove!

 

Ehukai Pillbox Hike

Snorkeling spots on Oahu on North Shore. Things to do near Sharks Cove, North Shore - Ehukai pillbox hike trail. Hawaii travel blog

Do this hike for amazing views of the North Shore coast. 

 

 

Beaches near Shark’s Cove

Snorkeling spots on Oahu. Things to do near Shark's Cove - beaches on North Shore Oahu. Hawaii travel blog

 

Or, if you want to make it a beach hopping kind of day, see more of the best beaches on the North Shore of Oahu… including a beach where you might be able to see turtles!

 

Snorkeling spots on Oahu. Things to do near Shark's Cove - beaches on North Shore Oahu to see turtles. Hawaii travel blog

 

 

And there you have it!
Some of the best snorkeling spots on Oahu to consider making a part of your trip to Hawaii!

 

 

Snorkeling alone in Oahu

While it is best to not snorkel alone on Oahu (or anywhere), if you are traveling to Hawaii alone, these listed snorkeling spots I would generally say would be fine if you are a solo snorkeler on Oahu, for the reason that there will likely be many people around.

This at least gives you more of a chance that someone sees you if you get into trouble in the water.

There are also lifeguards near Queen’s Beach and at Hanauma Bay. There is no lifeguard at Shark’s Cove.

Whether you are snorkeling alone or you have a snorkeling buddy, be sure that you take care when snorkeling, always! The ocean is beautiful, but it’s also powerful and can be dangerous!

 

 

What to pack for snorkeling on Oahu

 

1. Waterproof phone case

Snorkeling spots on Oahu. Best waterproof phone case to take underwater photos. What to pack for snorkeling in Oahu packing list. What to wear snorkeling in Oahu. Waikiki, Honolulu, Hanauma Bay, North Shore. Hawaii travel blog

 

 

Pack a waterproof phone pouch for snorkeling for a CHEAP way to waterproof your phone so you can capture some underwater memories!

 

Snorkeling spots on Oahu. Waterproof phone case to take best underwater photos. What to pack for snorkeling in Oahu packing list. What to wear snorkeling in Oahu. Waikiki, Honolulu, Hanauma Bay, North Shore. Hawaii travel blog

 

 

2. Water shoes

Snorkeling spots on Oahu. Beach water shoes. What to pack for snorkeling in Oahu packing list. What to wear snorkeling in Oahu. Waikiki, Honolulu, Hanauma Bay, North Shore. Hawaii travel blog

 

Pack this if you won’t be wearing fins when you snorkel.

Water shoes can help to protect your feet from hidden rocks on the beach and if you accidentally hit coral reef.

Coral reef is sharp!

I was swimming at Hanauma Bay barefoot and accidentally kicked the reef below me. It didn’t really hurt, but when I got out of the water, I noticed my foot was bleeding! And then started freaking out the rest of the day about a possible coral reef infection. 😉 Better to not go snorkeling on Oahu barefoot!

 

 

3. Sunscreen that’s not a part of the Hawaii sunscreen ban

Snorkeling spots on Oahu. Reef-safe sunscreen for Hawaii sunscreen ban. What to pack for snorkeling in Oahu packing list. What to wear snorkeling in Oahu. Waikiki, Honolulu, Hanauma Bay, North Shore. Hawaii travel blog

 

The type of sunscreen that you wear is kind of a big deal for locals in Hawaii.

There is now a ban in sales in Hawaii of sunscreen that contain certain chemicals.

Now, you could buy any sunscreen you like back home and then bring it to Hawaii.

But… it would likely be very appreciated if you wear a type of reef-safe sunscreen that locals prefer!

Best sunscreen for Oahu: See more about how to know if your sunscreen is the good type for snorkeling on Oahu.

 

 

4. Snorkeling set

Snorkeling spots on Oahu. Snorkeling gear for beginners - rent or buy. What to pack for snorkeling in Oahu packing list. What to wear snorkeling in Oahu. Waikiki, Honolulu, Hanauma Bay, North Shore. Hawaii travel blog

 

Pack this to have your own snorkeling gear for your future snorkeling trips too!

It is possible to rent snorkeling gear on Oahu, and you can also find some basic snorkel sets sold in convenience stores in Waikiki too.

But it can be convenient to not have to spend time shopping for this when you don’t have a lot of time during your Hawaii vacation!

 

 

See more of snorkeling essentials for Hawaii, including why to wear a rash guard when snorkeling!

 

Also see more of the best Oahu beaches.

 

Headed to another island in Hawaii? See more snorkeling spots on other Hawaiian islands!

 

And plan more of your trip to Oahu!

 

HAPPY SNORKELING ON OAHU!

 

Best snorkeling beach spots in Oahu. Best things to do on Oahu. Best places to visit on Oahu. Backpacking Hawaii travel blog

 

 

There are affiliate links on this page. Among other partners, as an Amazon Associate, I may earn a commission from this.

Top things to pack for your Hawaii vacation!

The ultimate beach towel for travel?!
Turkish towels are considered to be more absorbent and lightweight than your average beach towel. Be sure to check out turkish towels like these!
Possibly among the best Oahu maps for tourists!
The Franko maps of Hawaii have a high level of detail for activities and it's beachproof aka waterproof. There's an "adventure" guide map and a "snorkel/dive" guide map. Plus a wall map for home to get you excited for your upcoming trip to Honolulu!
The cheapo way to waterproof your phone
You can take underwater pictures with a simple waterproof phone case like this. Touch screen may not work well underwater - try the volume button to snap the pic instead!
Get your suitcase more organized!
Packing cubes can make it so you're spending less time on your vacation looking for things! They are basically a form of drawers in your suitcase. Take a look at these packing cubes.
Wear less sunscreen by wearing a UPF swim shirt!
Wearing a swim shirt means less skin that's exposed to the sun which means less sunscreen you need to apply! See about wearing swim shirts with UV protection like these when you're snorkeling.

PLUS...
Be sure to take a look at the reviews of these amazing tours on the Oahu:


ALOHA!