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One of the most amazing things that you can do when in Oahu is discovering Hawaii’s beautiful marine life. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced underwater explorer, you will want to take a few hours at the best beaches in Oahu for snorkeling to experience swimming among colorful reef fish and friendly sea turtles!
Kailua Beach Park
Kailua is one of the most beautiful beach areas on the island, and with 2.5 miles long silvery sand and magnificently clear waters, it is also one of the best beaches in Oahu for snorkeling.
There is a natural rock wall that extends out into the ocean about 300 feet. This wall helps keep the waves low and calm offering safe conditions for snorkeling. The natural rocks also make a great home to a lot of marine life.
Kailua Beach Park is also a great place to spend the day. The parking here is free, there are restrooms and showers available, picnic areas and BBQ grills. Also, there is a lifeguard on duty. This is truly a place where you want to come early and stay as late as possible because it is such a perfect spot to visit on your beach holiday in Hawaii!
Ko Olina Lagoons
Ko Olina Lagoons, a group of four lagoons on the west side of the island are among the best kid-friendly Oahu beaches where you and your children can enjoy the day swimming or snorkeling. This is mainly a resort area giving home to some of the best hotels of Oahu like the Four Seasons Ko Olina And Marriott’s Ko Olina Club, but allows public guests to enjoy this beautiful coastline. There is free parking for the lagoon areas, the entrances are open between sunrise and sunset.
The lagoons present a unique opportunity for snorkeling in Oahu allowing you to see the marine life in protected waters such as reef fish and occasionally turtles. Since this is a privately owned area, there are no lifeguards, and keep in mind that you cannot bring any watercraft, alcoholic beverage, cigarettes, pets, or have a fire in the area at any time, but snorkel gear rental is available at the hotel kiosks (although we recommend bringing your own equipment due to hygienic reasons).
When it comes to the question where to snorkel in Oahu, Hanauma Bay, which is the most popular state park on the island- must be on your list. This beautiful curved bay is actually a volcanic cone where water is very clear in summer and there is an array of aquatic life.
Hanauma is one of the most popular Oahu snorkeling spots because it is a nature preserve where hundreds of unique reef fish and sea turtles live. There is a small admission fee to enter the bay and you will be asked to watch an educational video about the location.
Kuilima Cove is one of those Oahu snorkeling beaches that we recommend both for beginners and advanced snorkelers. The beach area is very clan, has restrooms and since it is near the Turtle Bay Resort it is easy to grab something to eat during the day.
The cove is enclosed by a natural volcanic rock barrier, limiting the number of waves in the area and increasing the amount of marine life. It is a great place to see turtles in the shallow water and also on the shore as well as many kinds of Hawaiian reef fish including the state fish Humuhumunukunukuapuaʻa.
Kaiona Beach Park
Kaiona is a beautiful beach area located on Waimanalo Bay. It is one of those Hawaii beaches that offers you everything that you could desire from a Hawaiian beach area – white sandy shore, clear turquoise water, and a mountain backdrop all in one place.
The waters are very calm at Kaiona beach, ranking it as one of the best beaches in Oahu for snorkeling especially if you love sea turtles that love to hang out in the waters here.
The beach does not have a lifeguard. However, it does have restrooms and a picnic area. Parking is free. Be warned – this is a very popular spot with the locals, and it can get crowded on Saturday and Sunday.
Shark’s Cove is perhaps one of the most famous spots to go snorkeling in Oahu because of the calm waters and abundance of marine life. But don’t worry, there are no sharks here – the place was named Shark’s Cove because the reef located here has the shape of a shark.
The best time to visit this beach is during the summer months. During the winter months, the waves can be an issue for anyone trying to snorkel. However, don’t forget to check out the tidepool areas if you do go during the winter months. You can find amazing sea creatures in these shallow pools.
Kahe Point Beach Park
Kahe Point Beach, is a lesser-known spot but definitely one of the best beaches for snorkeling if you want to see fantastic corals, schools of fish, turtles gathering, and if you are lucky, even dolphins.
The beach area is located near a major power plant that’s why it is often called Electric Beach, and the warm waters created by the plant attract so much marine life that you will see things you never imagined when snorkeling.
The beach is beautiful and has a picnic area and restrooms, and showers. There is not a lifeguard on duty. Currents can get a little strong, so this spot is recommended for good swimmers and medium to advanced snorkel enthusiasts not for beginners.
There is free parking near the beach. However, there are no nearby stores or restaurants. So make sure that you pack a cooler with drinks and snacks for your day at the beach.
Kaimana is a small beach area located near Waikiki, in front of the Kaimana Beach Hotel. It is one of those Oahu snorkeling spots near Waikiki that have free parking, making it a great place to spend the day at the beach, but arrive early to secure your spot.
The waters are warm and so clear it almost looks like a swimming pool. There is a natural rock barrier in the ocean at Kaimana Beach that started forming a reef area and has attracted many reef fish and animals like turtles, and sometimes even monk seals visit this place.
The currents can be moderate, sometimes strong at this beach, especially during high tide. There is a lifeguard on duty, but if you do not feel comfortable in strong currents, you may want to only swim here during low tide times.
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