Best Oahu Snorkeling Beaches

I would say the 2 best Oahu snorkeling beaches are Hanauma Bay and Shark's Cove. Even though my favorite way to go snorkeling is by boat I realize that this is not for everybody or can be too expensive. Therefore here are some of the best Oahu snorkeling beaches in my opinion. It can also be easier with young kids.

Hanauma Bay

hanauma bay oahu lookout

I'm going to qualify this recommendation by saying that it is good if you go at the right time. Translation: before 7am. During the summer they open at 6.

I've heard that if you go early that they might not even make you watch the movie that is required once a year. It's about respecting the reef in Hawaii which unfortunately a lot of people do not.

hanauma bay snorkeling

Anyways go earlier if you can. The sun comes up at 5:30-6am during the summer. Many locals who live nearby will go early, swim and then get on with their day.

Parking is easy, conditions are ideal and THERE ARE NO CROWDS!!! The last part is key and is a big reason why I don't like Hanauma Bay 90% of the time.

hanauma bay oahu reef

If you go early you avoid this. I get asked about Hanauma Bay almost as much as I get asked about Pearl Harbor, the #1 attraction on the island so imagine the crowds there.

hanauma bay oahu helicopter

Getting there is easy. Hanauma Bay shuttles will drop you off this early if you don't have a car. The bus (#22) is not running efficiently that early in that direction that time of morning. It'll also take the better part of an hour to get there later in the day. If driving you don't have to worry about the parking lot being shut down due to lack of parking.

Driving directions: Take H1 Expressway eastbound from Waikiki until it runs out and becomes Kalanianaole Hwy. It's about 10-15 minutes on this Hwy until you see the small sign on the right hand side. The total trip is about 25 minutes east of Waikiki.



The Go Oahu Card includes the free shuttle and snorkel gear



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Shark's Cove

sharks cove oahu

Shark's Cove on the north shore is great. Don't let the name scare you. It's protected by an almost circular semi-wall of reef.

The snorkeling is world-class and is popular with scuba divers too. Snorkel here during the SUMMER ONLY!!!

The wintertime is too dangerous because of large, crashing surf. It would be like trying to jump into a washing machine. The months of mid-May, June, July through mid-August are generally good. If it looks like a lake it's ok.

sharks cove oahu turtle

As far as getting here you'll need a car. Snorkel gear is available for rental across the street. Shark's Cove is located to the right of the firestation located about a block from Waimea Bay if heading toward Turtle Bay resort.

It is about 100 yds from the traffic light on the corner. See this map video I did about the north shore for more specifics.


The Go Oahu Card includes free north shore snorkel gear AND a Jeep for a day with at least a 3 day pass




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