7 Epic Snorkeling Tours in Oahu, Hawaii

Tropical waters and abundant wildlife make snorkeling one of the best things to do in Oahu. Snorkeling tours allow you to explore the diverse marine ecosystems of this Hawaiian island and feel truly connected with the ocean during your trip. 

From the crowded shores of Waikiki Beach to the rough seas up on the North Shore, there are a few experiences that will make your trip to Oahu unforgettable. Tropical fish, turtles, and dolphins can be enjoyed year-round, while humpback whales and tiger sharks make appearances seasonally, leaving you coming back for more after each trip. These are the best snorkeling tours in Oahu for adventurers looking to be fully immersed in the natural beauty of the Hawaiian waters.

Oahu Travel

When To Visit

  • High season is mid-December to March (whale season!) and June to August
  • Weather is warm and pleasant year-round, and low season means less crowds and lower prices!

Where To Stay

Top Experiences

How Much Does it Cost to Go Snorkeling in Hawaii?

Snorkeling in this tropical paradise can easily become pricy, but I’ve included a range of prices to suit every traveler’s budget. Here’s a table with some price and tour-length comparisons for some of the top-ranked snorkeling tours in Oahu:

Wild Dolphin Watching & Snorkel Safari$1943 hours
Cage-Free Shark Diving$1612 hours
Hanauma Bay Snorkeling Tour$566 hours
Jet Snorkeling Tour$892-3 hours
Oahu Catamaran Cruise$1694 hours
Turtle Canyons Snorkel Excursion$852 hours
Mokolua Islands Kayaking & Snorkeling$1105 hours

Certain tours will offer Kama’aina (Hawaiian local) and military discounts on their tours, and you can read more about the details of each trip to decide which is the best for you!

1. Wild Dolphin Watching & Snorkel Safari

Set off from the Waianae Harbor to explore Oahu’s west side in search of marine life! With knowledgeable guides and a friendly crew that are experts at spotting marine life, this is my top choice for snorkeling in Oahu. 

This 3-hour tour include sailing the west coast looking for dolphins (which can be seen in Hawaii year-round) and snorkeling at a beautiful reef along the coast. This tour is especially good for ethical animal experiences because they operate all of their tours with respect for the wildlife being top priority, and only bring out small groups on their RIB boat. 

Dolphins seen swimming below in Hawaiian waters
Seeing Hawaii’s marine life is something you should not miss in Oahu

During the winter, humpback whales migrate to the waters of Oahu and are often spotted on one of these wildlife safaris! I’ve seen dozens of whales out on one of these trips and can definitely recommend them for whale-watching. 

They have wetsuits available for $10 and Go Pro rental for $40, where you can use their underwater cameras and keep the SD card to capture your Oahu snorkel trip! After you’ve been amazed by the marine life of Hawaii, a hot or cold lunch is included in the tour.

2. Cage-Free Shark Diving

Shark lovers and thrill-seekers, this one is for you. Hawaii Adventure Diving offers a cage-free snorkeling tour with the resident sharks of the North Shore, and this MUST be added to your Oahu bucket list!

Contrary to similar shark tours in Oahu, this group is my favorite to go out with because they limit their tours to a maximum of 6 divers per tour, and allow full freedom to free dive and move about with the sharks during the tour. Since the water can get pretty choppy, they offer a line to hold onto to stay close to the boat, but more advanced swimmers and freedivers can explore the waters as they please. 

The shark handlers from Hawaii Adventure Diving are some of the best in Hawaii and in the world, so you know you’re in good hands. Don’t forget to bring your underwater camera to capture these beautiful creatures as you admire them in their natural habitat- but if you forget it, they have professional underwater photo packages available for purchase!

A shark swimming below
Marvel at the beauty of Oahu’s sharks!

3. Hanauma Bay Snorkeling Tour

This designated snorkeling spot and protected nature preserve is one of the best snorkeling spots in Oahu. Due to this, there are several regulations put in place for those wishing to visit Hanauma Bay. You’re required to make a reservation, which sell out very quickly, and finding parking at the preserve is another challenge you’ll face when trying to plan the excursion yourself.

That’s why a snorkel tour to Hanauma Bay will let you take in all of the natural beauty of this spot without the stress of reservations and parking. These trips set off early at 6 am and last about 6 hours, giving you plenty of time to enjoy the pristine snorkeling conditions of the calm bay. 

The stunning waters of Hanauma Bay in Oahu
This super popular snorkel spot is essential for your Oahu trip!

This trip offers pickup from most hotels in Waikiki, or you can meet at the Queen Kapi’Olani Hotel. Snorkeling equipment is included in the tour, allowing you to avoid the costs and long lines for renting snorkel gear at Hanauma Bay. With everything taken care of for you, this tour is a hassle-free way to see one of Oahu’s best snorkeling spots. Booking in advance is recommended as there are limited passes to the reserve daily:

4. Jet Snorkeling Tour

This snorkeling tour puts a unique spin on the stunning snorkeling of Oahu with the addition of underwater dive scooters. Trust me when I say that once you get in with these scooters, you will NEVER want to get off! 

Each tour sets off from Honolulu (with pickup available) and heads to one of the many pristine dive sites of the area for a quick scooter tutorial. After getting acquainted with these devices, you’ll be all set to shoot through the water and explore the Hawaiian waters in an exhilarating way. You’ll have the potential to see all of the diverse wildlife of the Pacific on this adventurous underwater tour over two to three hours.

5. Oahu Catamaran Cruise

A catamaran cruise along Oahu’s west coast is the ultimate way to experience the island’s breathtaking ocean life and connect to Hawaiian culture. Each cruise lasts four hours and sets off from the Ko Olina Marina (with the opportunity for pickup from Honolulu for $35 per person). 

You’ll start off by gliding north along the west coast while learning more about the rich Hawaiian history, followed by a stop at Electric Beach for snorkeling. This is one of the best snorkeling spots in Oahu due to the warm water produced by the power plant that sits across the road from the beach, and this tour is the only company that will stop at this iconic spot.

A drone shot of Electric Beach with the power plant behind
Snorkel at the iconic Electric Beach on one of the catamaran cruises

After the snorkeling, a buffet with traditional Hawaiian delicacies is served, with up to four drinks included in the cruise. The traditional foods and historic anecdotes allow you to delve deeper into the fascinating culture of Hawaii. They also provide you with reef-safe sunscreen on the tour, an eco-friendly travel essential that will keep Hawaii’s reefs flourishing for years to come.

You can choose a tour in the morning or afternoon, but if you visit during the summer, the sunset cruises are the way to go. Available from April 1st to September 30th, a West Coast sunset is essential for your Oahu itinerary. 

6. Turtle Canyons Snorkel Excursion

Visit a top snorkel site in Waikiki on this Turtle Canyon tour! Meeting and leaving right from Kewalo Harbor, this 2-hour tour is perfect for those staying in Honolulu and looking for a quick trip out to this iconic spot with complimentary refreshments. 

Tropical fish and colorful reef are some of the highlights of Turtle Canyon, and of course, sea turtles! While sightings can’t be guaranteed and turtles are a marine protected species in Hawaii, they are not afraid of snorkelers and are actually prone to swimming right up to humans in the water. This spot is a natural turtle cleaning station and the ideal tour for beginner snorkelers in Oahu. 

7. Mokolua Islands Kayaking & Snorkeling

Set off on an eco-adventure to a less-visited snorkeling spot on the Mokolua Islands! Seen just off Kailua Bay, the Mokes are two islands that can only be accessed via paddleboard or kayak. On these islands, you’ll be thrilled to explore:

  • A natural bird sanctuary 
  • A pristine white sand beach
  • Hidden coves of the island
  • Queen’s Bath- a freshwater pool in a lava tube!

These islands, along with the warm waters of Lanikai Beach, provide immaculate snorkeling conditions along some of Oahu’s best beaches. This 5-hour tour includes island landing permits (required to visit the Mokes), kayak and snorkel gear, and lunch. You can choose to head out to the islands with a guide for an extra charge, or brave the waters of east Oahu yourself on a 45-minute kayak ride from Kailua Beach. 

View over Kailua with Mokolua Islands in distance
Paddle out to the Mokes for the ultimate adventure

Oahu Snorkeling Essentials

  • Reef-safe sunscreen: An ethical choice for keeping your skin and the environment safe while exploring Oahu’s waters
  • Travel snorkel kit: Avoid the stress of rentals and own your own gear
  • LOTS of swimsuits: Check out The Someday Co. for sustainable activewear, swimwear, and surf gear to bring on your Oahu snorkeling tour
  • Sunglasses: The sun in Oahu is unavoidable when hopping on a boat, pack some sunnies to protect your eyes
  • Towels: A quick-drying beach towel is always necessary when taking a snorkel tour to dry off after your experience- these are cute and convenient!
  • Go Pro: Capture those unforgettable moments to remember your trip with an underwater camera, and don’t forget to pack a floating hand grip to keep track of your camera
Laynie wearing a swimsuit made from recycled plastic
One of my favorite swimsuits is eco-friendly and made from recycled plastic

After discovering all about the types of snorkeling tours offered in Oahu, you should be ready to book the tour that’s perfect for you! Get hyped to pack your bags and explore this island’s stunning marine life.

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