ALOHA!

 

So you want to go to snorkeling as part of your time at Waikiki Beach!

Waikiki Beach is not generally known for the best snorkeling on Oahu.

But, there is a Hawaii marine life conservation district in Waikiki, and that means that you do have a good chance to see lots of fish… if you go snorkeling at the Waikiki beach where fish are more likely to be swimming around!

 

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So if you are a beginner snorkeler and/or it’s not every day (or month, or year!) that you go swimming with fishies, then there are snorkeling spots in Waikiki that can get you excited!

 

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Is snorkeling free in Waikiki?

Yes, snorkeling in Waikiki is FREE!

Waikiki Beach is free to the public, which means that snorkeling at Waikiki Beach is free.

Snorkeling at Waikiki Beach is one of the free things to do in Waikiki!

Although you need to pay if you want to go on a Waikiki snorkeling tour and be guaranteed to see turtles!

 

🐠 Read the reviews for the best Waikiki snorkeling tour at getyourguide.

 

 

 

And so…

You can snorkel in Waikiki!

Yes, you can snorkel off the beach in Waikiki!

There is one beach in Waikiki that is widely known to be the best snorkeling beach in Waikiki. This is where you should go if snorkeling in Waikiki is your goal!

Then there is the beach near the Hilton Hawaiian Village that you may be happy with snorkeling at.

And then, there is another beach in Waikiki directly in front of a beach resort where you have a good chance to go swimming with turtles! (Emphasis on CHANCE!)

And then finally, there is another popular beach in Waikiki that is not considered a good snorkeling beach, but it’s a popular beach in Waikiki otherwise. If it’s your chosen beach in Waikiki, you can likely still see some cute little fish… if you look in the right spot!

 

You want to go snorkeling when there’s minimal surf in Waikiki

You can check the local weather forecast to see if there will be ideal snorkeling conditions before you go.

Specifically, you’ll want to look for the surf forecast.

As a snorkeler, ideally you will want the least amount of surf as possible, which means 0 ft waves is best!

But otherwise, even 1 to 3 ft waves could be doable for snorkeling.

Although keep in mind that any amount of waves can decrease visibility since the waves can stir up sand.

This means you may not be able to see underwater to be able to look for the fish as well.

The bigger the waves are, the worse it is for snorkeling not only because of visibility, but because of safety.

You might get caught off guard with a wave coming right at you right as you lift your head out of the water. That could turn bad!

Bigger waves also mean that you will likely be bobbing up and down in the water as you’re looking down too with the rolling water. That might be fun if you’re on a float, but maybe not so fun if you’re trying to snorkel! (You can buy floats at an ABC Store in Waikiki, by the way!)

You can check local weather at KITV weather for example. The surf conditions are provided with every major weather forecast. (Watch the video!)

Since Waikiki is on the south side of Oahu, you’ll look for the surf conditions on the southern shores of Oahu.

 

 

So now…

5 Waikiki Beach snorkeling spots

 

 

1. Queens Beach snorkeling (Waikiki Marine Life Conservation District)

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The beach in Waikiki that is widely known to be the best snorkeling spot in Waikiki is Queens Beach.

Queens Beach is where you should go if snorkeling in Waikiki is your goal!

 

Marine life conservation district in Waikiki

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.

 

There are 3 marine life conservation districts on Oahu:

 

And so, the marine life conservation district in Waikiki is the best snorkeling spot in Waikiki!

 

Where to snorkel in the Waikiki Marine Life Conservation District

Once at Queens Beach, look for lifeguard station 2F and snorkel to the right of the Queens Walkway. (That’s the pier that’s sticking out into the ocean.)

You’ll likely see a bunch of fish if you look directly along the walkway.

 

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Then, you can also go swimming around the more open part of the ocean.

Look for little rocky areas and holes where fish might be swimming in and out of!

 

 

You can also set up your beach camp at lifeguard station 2E and start swimming around from there.

 

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Depending on the surf, it could be better to stick to the middle or left side (as you’re facing the ocean from the beach), as the waves tend to be higher off towards the right. That’s where you’ll find most of the boogie boarders. (You can buy boogie boards at ABC Store too.)

After you go snorkeling, you can go to Barefoot Beach Cafe for FOOD! (menu + reviews)

Barefoot Beach Cafe is near Queens Beach, and it’s also a spot you can watch the Waikiki fireworks!

 

 

Queens Beach is the best snorkeling in Waikiki. If you want to go snorkeling in Waikiki, you want to go to Queens Beach. Kaimana Beach is also frequently referenced as one of the best snorkeling spots in Waikiki. As you are facing the ocean, this is to the further left of Waikiki, away from the main part of Waikiki.

So to be clear, you want to go to Queens Beach or Kaimana Beach if you want the best snorkeling in Waikiki!

 

 

 

2. Duke Kahanamoku Beach snorkeling

If you are staying at the Hilton Hawaiian Village or nearby, then the Duke Kahanamoku Beach is your beach!

And, there is a chance that you can be happy with snorkeling at the Duke Kahanamoku Beach near the Hilton Hawaiian Village!

To increase your chances of seeing little fishies, you’ll want to be sure to go out swimming in the spots where the fishies are more likely to be.

Where is that?!

When you’re standing on the beach, if you look out towards the ocean, you’ll see a darker area further out. That’s where you want to go.

That’s where you’ll find a “line” of rocky area and reef.

You can start off entering the water toward the Hilton pier side and make your way out to the snorkeling spot.

From there, you can continue swimming to the “right” (as it was when you were facing the ocean on the beach) to look around for more fishies!

There have been at least 2 reviews that I’ve seen where people have seen turtles swimming around here. (I did not see one, though!)

I did see the humuhumunukunukuapuaa, moorish idol (what became my favorite fish in Hawaii! – apparently this is also the character named Gill in Finding Nemo), and the type of Hawaiian pufferfish that can only be found in Hawaii, among other types of fish. I also saw what appeared to look like a striped snake 😱 and after trying to figuring out afterwards what it was, it looks like it was a zebra moray eel?

 

 

I basically swam across from the sea wall on the “right” side to the Hilton pier side. 

I also did start to snorkel along the rocky sea wall on the right side and did see a few fish. That was the first spot I swam to, and the first fish I saw when snorkeling at Duke Kahanamoku Beach was the humuhumunukunukuapuaa!

After seeing a few more fish here and there, I decided to start making my way towards the pier, and there were a bunch of fish along the way.

 

 

The other Waikiki beach snorkeling spots below aren’t necessarily beaches to go to if your mission is snorkeling, but more about where to go snorkeling if you will either be at these beaches anyway, or you just want a different beach that might have a chance to see little fishies… and (big!) turtles!

After you go snorkeling, you can go to Gilligan’s Beach Shack for FOOD!

 

 

 

3. Fort DeRussy Beach

Fort DeRussy Beach is located next to Duke Kahanamoku Beach.

Snorkeling at Fort DeRussy Beach is about finding the rocky areas where the fish are more likely to be swimming around.

You might not go to Fort DeRussy Beach just to go snorkeling, but if you are here anyway, then you can try swimming out and looking around for fishies.

I did a swim across the entire length of the Fort DeRussy Beach, and I did see humuhumunukunukuapuaa and the moorish idol, among other fish.

I got out of the water at the Hilton pier, and then directly on the other side is the Fort DeRussy Beach. So basically, I swam from the Hilton pier to the Outrigger Reef pier. (Significant: Next!)

 

 

 

4. Outrigger Reef beach (Fort DeRussy Beach Park)

A beach in Waikiki that you have a chance to go swimming with turtles is at the beach in front of the Outrigger Reef hotel!

The name of this beach is not the Outrigger Reef Beach but it is an easy landmark for reference. (I am actually not sure of the actual name, or if this specific section of Waikiki Beach even has a name. It is on the far one end of Fort DeRussy Beach Park, so it might even be considered part of Fort DeRussy Beach…?)

Another easy landmark for reference is the beach out in front of Steak Shack. (This area is also a perfect spot to watch the Waikiki fireworks!)

 

 

Even if this is also a part of Fort DeRussy Beach, the Outrigger Reef beach gets a special mention because… TURTLES!

Again, to emphasize that it is a CHANCE to see turtles! But, it does seem like this is an area that turtles frequent!

And once again, the area you want to look is the rocky area!

There is a “pier” out in front of the Outrigger Reef, so you can go snorkeling along the pier to look for turtles.

 

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👆 The Waikiki Beach pier where you have a chance to see turtles in Waikiki! You can get to this pier in front of the Outrigger Reef from Fort DeRussy Beach Park.

 

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👆 They see turtles in Waikiki!

 

You can go and look for turtles in front of the Outrigger Reef even without getting in the water too. You can take a walk on the pier!

So if you can see turtles without getting in the water, there’s a chance you can see them when you are swimming in the water too!

 

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👆 Where to see turtles in Waikiki without snorkeling: Outrigger Reef pier! And then have a meal at the popular Waikiki food spot Steak Shack while you’re at it! (menu + reviews) Also popular food spots here are Banan and Tropical Tribe.

 

 

 

5. Kuhio Beach snorkeling

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A beach in Waikiki that is often considered to be one of the most kid-friendly beaches in Waikiki is Kuhio Beach.

Kuhio Beach isn’t considered a good snorkeling beach, but if you have decided to go swimming at Kuhio Beach because of reasons other than snorkeling and you’re wondering if there is snorkeling at Kuhio Beach…

Yes, you might as well bring your snorkeling gear and try snorkeling at Kuhio Beach too!

What makes the beach kid-friendly is the rocky barrier that can prevent rough waves from coming through.

And it’s along this rocky barrier that you can go in search of little fishies!

 

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Now, don’t expect to see tons of fish, but again, if you’ll be going to Kuhio Beach for other reasons, you can have a look for fishies too!

I went snorkeling at Kuhio Beach in the area with beach access at Liliuokalani Ave. An easy landmark is McDonald’s. (map)

 

 

More below about what to bring snorkeling in Waikiki!

 

 

🌴

 
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Side note!
Here's some info on Oahu trip prep!

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If you can't see the video directly above, save the Oahu video playlist to watch on youtube later!

IMPORTANT!!! If you have plans to do the Diamond Head hike, be sure to check the Hawaii State Parks website before you go. As of May 2022, you must make reservations for Diamond Head.

👇 Explore the Oahu map on google maps!
oahu map. oahu snorkeling map. oahu beaches map. oahu hikes map.

 

 

What to pack for snorkeling in Waikiki

 

1. Waterproof phone case

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

 

2. Water shoes

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 in Waikiki barefoot!

 

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

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 Waikiki: how to know if your sunscreen is the good type for snorkeling in Waikiki

 

4. Snorkeling set or swimming goggles

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

It is possible to rent snorkeling gear in Waikiki, 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 snorkeling spots and the best Oahu beaches.

 

More free things to do in Waikiki:

 

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

 

HAPPY SNORKELING IN WAIKIKI!

 

 

👇 Explore the Waikiki map on google maps!
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More of the best things to do in Hawaii for VIEWS!

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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!
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.

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ALOHA!