With Oahu known for having clear water and coral reefs teaming with all kinds of marine life, the island has quite a few popular snorkeling locations. Here are three of the best spots:
Hanauma Bay is probably the most popular snorkeling spot not just on Oahu, but in the entire state of Hawaii. About a million people come here every year. Located on the southeastern shore of Oahu, the bay has crystal clear waters and a coral reef that is home to numerous fish, many of which are endemic to Hawaii (found nowhere else in the world). The fish at Hanauma Bay are quite tame, meaning that they aren’t shy around humans. So you’ll be able to swim right next to them and watch them feed on the reef. Especially the parrotfish are fun to watch as they scratch algae off the reef (you can literally hear them chew!). The nice thing at Hanauma Bay is that you don’t have to swim out far to see the fish. You can literally stand in chest-deep water, put your head below the surface and see the fish. Venturing out into the deeper waters of the bay is recommended for advanced snorkelers only.
Located on Oahu’s leeward (west) coast near the Ko Olina resort area, Kahe Point is a snorkeling destination unlike any other on the island. A power plant across the beach uses seawater as a coolant and then discards this water through a pipe out into the ocean. Since this water is warm, it attracts a wide variety of fish as well as turtles. No need to worry that the discarded water is dirty. It is just used as a coolant and is clean. You’ll also see boats anchor here. These are tour companies that offer cruises along Oahu’s leeward coast and many of them stop at Kahe Point as this is one of the best snorkeling spots along this coast. Keep an eye out for boat traffic if you plan to snorkel here.
This bay on Oahu’s North Shore is a great snorkeling spot, but only in the summer months. In winter the surf is up on Oahu’s North Shore and this is when the ocean is too rough for snorkeling. When the ocean is calm you can see many colorful tropical fish here. It’s a good idea to wear fins or reef shoes as the cove has a reef and is surrounded by sharp rocks. And no need to worry. You’re not likely to encounter any sharks inside the bay. Shark’s Cove got its name from a popular story that says that the outline of a reef outside the cove looks like a shark when seen from above.