So when you’re in search of the best snorkeling spots in Oahu, a good place to look is to the marine life conservation districts!
These kinds of districts are designated by the state of Hawaii, and the marine life of these waters are in a protected area.
These conservation districts are located on 3 of the Hawaiian islands, one of which includes Oahu.
And on Oahu, there are 3 conservation districts. They are located on different parts of Oahu which means that by visiting each of these 3 snorkeling beaches, you can explore a different part of the island.
So, where are these best snorkeling spots in Oahu?
- Queen’s Beach for Waikiki snorkeling
- Hanauma Bay for the most popular snorkeling in Oahu
- Shark’s Cove for North Shore snorkeling
- Hiking: Best things to wear hiking + NOT
- Water sports: Best things to wear snorkeling + NOT
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Map of Oahu snorkeling spots
To get a visual of where on Oahu these snorkeling beaches are located, explore the Oahu snorkeling map below!
1. Snorkeling in Waikiki: Queen’s Beach
The protected area of Waikiki is located on the far end of Waikiki. This means that it can be a little less crowded than other areas of Waikiki Beach.
How to get there: If you’re staying in central Waikiki kind of near the Duke Kahanamoku Statue, it will be about a 15-20 minute walk. Otherwise, if you don’t want to walk with all of your snorkeling gear or you’re staying at the far opposite end near the Hilton Hawaiian Village, there are frequent buses that makes it an easy bus ride too.
Nearby: Not too far away is the Diamond Head Crater. This is where you will find the most famous hiking trail on Oahu with sweeping views of Waikiki and Honolulu from the trail summit. A perfect day can be Diamond Head in the morning, and Waikiki snorkeling in the afternoon!
2. Snorkeling at Hanauma Bay, the most popular snorkeling spot on Oahu
This is the most famous snorkeling spot in Oahu.
Nearby: Koko Head is right nearby, and it’s even possible to see it when you’re snorkeling! This is a strenuous hike though, so only do this if you want to get some serious exercise in! And if you do, the perfect post-workout activity would be some Oahu snorkeling at Hanauma Bay!
3. Snorkeling on the North Shore: Shark’s Cove
This area has an enclosed lagoon which can make for more ideal snorkeling conditions on the North Shore. But during the winter months when there’s high surf, the waves may come crashing over the barrier, eliminating the possibility of snorkeling.
How to get there: It is possible to get to the North Shore by bus from Waikiki, but it will take you a little bit of time and patience. With a rental car, driving up to the North Shore is much more convenient and time-efficient… as long as you’re not there during a major surfing competition that have the roads completely backed up!
Nearby: There is tons for you to explore on the North Shore! Another famous beach is Waimea Bay which can be another good snorkeling spot on Oahu to explore during the summer months or outside of surfing season in the winter. (Summer months bring calmer waves.) Right across the street from Shark’s Cove are some North Shore food trucks too.
Explore more of the marine life conservation districts in Oahu
For the Waikiki snorkeling and North Shore snorkeling, the conservation districts extend further than Queen’s Beach and Shark’s Cove. To see more of the beaches that are covered in the districts, have a look here.
Things to pack for your Oahu snorkeling trip
Now, here are some things you just may want to consider adding to your Hawaii packing list so you’re ready for the sun when you’re snorkeling in Oahu!
- A standard snorkel set like this one or a full face snorkeling mask like this one
- This type of case so you can take pristine underwater pictures with your phone. (It’s cheap!)
- This type of pouch so you can take your valuables with you in the water!
- These types of UV protection shirts to wear so you don’t burn under the strong tropical sun rays when you’re in the water! If you’re on a desktop, use the far left column to filter by women, men, girls, or boys! Look at these types of swim shorts too!
- For more beach outfits, have a look at:
For a more in-depth look at what to bring snorkeling in Oahu, have a look at what to wear snorkeling!
HAPPY OAHU SNORKELING!
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- Walking: These types of hiking sandals. For walking in hot weather, they are more breathable than shoes, while still giving you necessary traction on the trails. Also see these travel sandals.
- Beach: These types of beach shoes. For beach walking, wading in the water, and rocky shorelines, they can prevent cuts from hidden rocks or when bumping into coral reef.
see more: what to wear hiking - what to wear snorkeling - what to wear on a cruise formal night
Best things to pack for active travel- First-time snorkelers love full-face snorkeling masks.
- These UV protection shirts are a hit so you don't have to keep re-applying sunscreen and don't have to worry as much about getting sunburn!
- These types of small backpacks are perfect for a day out so you can carry essentials... and snacks!
- And these popular packing cubes can be a life-saver when you're traveling!
Don't get your valuables stolen when you travel- On city excursions: This neck pouch that tons of people love. It makes it harder for money to be stolen, and RFID-blocking feature stops thieves from scanning your credit card info when they are close to you.
- At the beach: This type of pouch that you can easily take your wallet in the water with you, instead of leaving on the beach.