Updated: Jun 12
You might be wondering what are the best places to snorkel in Oahu? The truth is, it depends!
When people ask what are the best places to snorkel in Oahu, It depends on the weather, time of year, currents, your swimming ability and your experience in the ocean.
To ensure an enjoyable and safe experience here are a few recommendations for the best places to snorkel in Oahu.
Time of Year
When are you visiting? In general, on Oahu, the North and West coasts tend to have decent condition in the summer and can be downright deadly in the winter. The opposite is true on the South and East shores that typically have better conditions in the winter and large waves in the summer. This will give you a better idea when you arrive so you can narrow down your search once you arrive. A great resource for current conditions is https://hawaiibeachsafety.com/oahu as the best places to snorkel in Oahu can vary.
Check the weather
Heavy rains tends to wash river and canal water into the ocean around the island. This can result in poor visibility, increased chance on infections and a higher likelihood of sharks cruising in the murky water. Off shore winds can also cause problems for people on paddle boards or floats. Once you are too far from shore, the wind can make getting back to land very difficult. You can check out current weather conditions at: www.weather.com or www.hawaiinewsnow.com.
Check the Surf
Big waves make for great surfing but can make for bad swimming and snorkeling. A few good sources include www.surfline.com and www.weather.gov/hfo/SRF. They all vary a bit so it’s best to look at them all in addition to the site above.
Talk to the lifeguards
I always recommend you go to a beach with a lifeguard present. If something does happen to you or another, you at least have someone there that can try and help you. The lifeguards can also provide you some guidance on the current condition and where it is and isn’t safe to be in the water. They would much rather give you guidance on the beach than rescue you from the water.
Observe the conditions
When you arrive at the beach it is always exciting to jump right in the ocean. However, ocean waves come in sets. Although it may look calm right this minute, you may have arrived between sets and the big waves are about to arrive. It’s not fun being in the surf break zone when a big set of waves comes through that you weren’t expecting. Spend at least 10-15 minutes observing the ocean before you jump in. You can learn a lot and will likely observe some people that didn’t heed this advice.!
Learn about the wildlife
Hawaii has sharks, monk seals, turtles, jellyfish, poisonous shells and prickly sea urchins. It’s important to spend a little time learning the rules and regulations surrounding each and how to prevent a negative encounter with them. https://dlnr.hawaii.gov/dobor/protecting-marine-species/
Because Hanauma Bay has lifeguards, I recommend snorkeling there. You will need reservations and the fee is $25 per adult to snorkel there. More information can be found at https://hanaumabaystatepark.com/.
I also recommend these snorkel excursions here.
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