🤿 The 5 Best Oahu Snorkeling Tours [2024 Reviews]

Hawaii is world renowned for snorkeling and for good reason. It is home for many coral reefs and has the world famous Hanauma Bay. The bay is an extinct, sunken volcano caldera and because of its natural layout is protected from waves and currents.

Hawaii is a outdoor person’s paradise, whether its snorkeling, scuba diving, kayaking, paddle boarding or biking you will find it in Oahu.

Some of the best snorkel spots can be accessed from the beach but for the best experience and access to all that Oahu’s coral reefs have to offer, a professionally guided snorkel tour is a good idea. All of the tours are unique and offer something for everyone.

Be sure to see our other reviews of Sunset Dinner Cruises, Pearl Harbor Tours and Whale Watching Tours.

Best Oahu & Hanauma Bay Snorkeling Tours

Oahu Morning Snorkel Sail along Waikiki BeachPrivate Catamaran Cruise and Snorkeling Tour in HonoluluWaikiki: Turtle Canyons Snorkel Excursion

Best Morning Tour

Best Private Tour

Best Value Tour

editors choice
Oahu: Morning Snorkel Sail along Waikiki Beach Waikiki: Turtle Canyons Snorkel Excursion
Departure:Kewalo Basin Harbor1125 Ala Moana Blvd, HonoluluKewalo Basin Boat Harbor, Slip B-1
Start:8:00 AM 9:30 AM, 11:45 AM, 2:00 PM7:00 AM, 9:30 AM, 12:30 PM, 3:00 PM
Duration:2 hours2 hours2 hours
Includes:Bar snacks, Unlimited non-alcoholic drinks, fins and swim vest, snorkeling gear Private tour, snacks, non-alcoholic beverages, snorkeling equipment Light Snacks and non-alcoholic beverages, snorkeling equipment

Tour Information & Booking

Tour Information & Booking

Tour Information & Booking

Quick Answer: The 5 Best Rated Oahu Snorkel Tours For 2024

  1. Best Morning Tour: Oahu Morning Snorkel Sail along Waikiki Beach
  2. Best Value Tour: Waikiki Turtle Canyons Snorkel Excursion
  3. Best Combination Tour: Oahu Dolphin Watching & Snorkel Excursion in Waianae
  4. Best Private Tour: Private Catamaran Cruise and Snorkeling Tour in Honolulu
  5. Best Small Group Tour: Oahu North Shore Snorkeling Tour from Haleiwa

If you would like some ideas of other things to do, please see our list of the Top 15 Things To Do In Oahu.

Oahu Snorkel Tour Reviews

1. Oahu Morning Snorkel Sail along Waikiki Beach

Oahu: Morning Snorkel Sail along Waikiki Beach

The green sea turtle or “Honu” as the locals call them are one of Hawaii’s most popular things to see. These beautiful turtles are unlike anything you have ever seen, personally I think they look like aliens.

If seeing the Honu is on your list of things to see in Oahu, (and it should be) then the Turtle Canyon Snorkel Cruise may be the best way to see them.

Once you board the 53 foot powered  ‘Honi Olani’ catamaran you will be taken to Turtle Canyon for your adventure. It’s a short 15 minute cruise where you can enjoy viewing Diamond Head, the Ko’olau Mountains and Waikiki from the ocean.

If your lucky you will see the “turtle cleaning station”, this is where the turtles line up to be cleaned by the fish. Turtles accumulate parasites on their shell and the fish eat them off the shell. Be sure to bring a waterproof camera for some awesome pictures!

It’s a win win, and something to see! This turtle canyon snorkeling tour is a guided so they will take you to the best spots and you won’t be left to fend for yourself.

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sailing to a snorkeling spot in Oahu

You will have between 60 and 90 minutes with the turtles depending on how many people are on the cruise and how long it takes for everyone to get in the water.

When your done snorkeling, you can shower off and change into dry clothes for the cruise back.

The morning tour is 2 hours while the mid-day tour is 3 hours and includes snacks, unlimited beverages and two alcoholic drinks. If your lucky you will get to see spinner dolphins and if you happen to be on the cruise from Dec to April you may even get to see migrating whales.

If your looking to see Hawaii’s famous green sea turtle, this catamaran snorkeling oahu tour is your best bet.


More Information & Tour Booking

100% refund for cancellations within 24 hours of tour experience

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2. Waikiki Turtle Canyons Snorkel Excursion

Waikiki: Turtle Canyons Snorkel Excursion

Turtle Canyons is perhaps Hawaii’s most well-known and famous snorkeling spots and for good reason. It’s perhaps the best spot to see the “Honu” or sea turtles.

When you arrive you will be asked to watch a video about the bay. After which you will don your snorkel gear and start your snorkel adventure.

If you are a beginner snorkeler or not comfortable in the water, you don’t have to worry as your snorkeling guide is always close by.

There are schools of tropical fish that are used to people and will come right up to you. This is an ideal tour for complete beginners or young children as the inner reef is very shallow and calm.

If you are a more advanced snorkeler you can venture to the outer part of the reef in deeper water and even more variety of fish.

If you are really lucky like I was you may even see an octopus or eels, but you are guaranteed to see an incredible variety of fish. You may even get to see the resident spinner dolphins or migrating Humpback whales.



More Information & Tour Booking

100% refund for cancellations within 24 hours of tour experience

3. Oahu 3-Hour Dolphin Watching & Snorkel Excursion in Waianae

Oahu: 3-Hour Dolphin Watching & Snorkel Excursion in Waianae

This all day cruise will have you swimming with spinner dolphins and the famous Hawaiian green sea turtles. This cruise is much more than a snorkel tour however.

There are 2 tours offered daily 7:00 or 10:30am, if you’re on the more active side, you can enjoy swimming with the dolphins. Seeing dolphins is guaranteed, if you don’t, the price of the tour is refunded.

Honu turtle sighting on a Oahu snorkeling tour

Its pretty cool getting a close up of the dolphins, you can really appreciate their acrobatics up close. After your dolphin encounter, the captain will take you to your next part of the adventure to a location with plenty of colorful tropical fish and the green sea turtles.

Here you will put on your snorkel gear and get in the water to enjoy the scenery. It’s not guided so you can go where the fish and turtles are gathered. Or if you choose you can observe them while swimming. While you are enjoying your time in the water, the crew will grill up lunch.

More Information & Tour Booking

100% refund for cancellations within 24 hours of tour experience

4. Private Catamaran Cruise and Snorkeling Tour in Honolulu

Private Catamaran Cruise and Snorkeling Tour in Honolulu

This private 2 hour tour is a great option if you are looking for a great combination of snorkeling, and sightseeing along Waikiki beach without the crowds!

When you board the 41 foot catamaran you will then be taken along Oahu’s pristine eastern shore where you have a good chance of seeing dolphins and depending on the time of year, whales. If you’re lucky enough to spot them, the captain will stop the boat so you can observe them.

As you cruise to the snorkeling destination on the luxury catamaran with only your group, the captain and crew will give you the history of Oahu and legends of the Ko Olina.

pod of dolphins while snorkeling in Oahu

When you arrive at the snorkeling destination the crew will give you a brief instruction in snorkeling if you have never snorkeled before.

Then you will put on your snorkel gear go swimming with the colorful tropical fish. Afterward you can shower and change into dry clothes. You will not want this tour to end!

More Information & Tour Booking

100% refund for cancellations within 24 hours of tour experience

5. Oahu North Shore Snorkeling Tour from Haleiwa

North Shore and Hanauma Bay Adventure from Waikiki Oahu

If your up for a little more adventure, the Kayak, Hike and Snorkel tour should be on your list of things to do. On this full day tour you will start with a leisurely hike through the beautiful Hakipuu Valley and the Koolau Mountain ridge.

This area is what you think of when picturing Hawaii, lush foliage and tall rugged mountains in the background. Once you arrive at your destination, Kaneohe Bay you will receive instructions and a brief safety talk on kayaking.

Then you launch your kayak (tandem and solo are available) into Kaneohe Bay which is a protected area, then paddle past Mokoli’i island to your snorkel destination.

Dolphin while snorkeling in Oahu

This is a leisurely paddle for people of all abilities. While paddling, your guide will give you an information packed tour about the area where you are free to ask all the questions you want.

Here you have the option of snorkeling in the crystal clear waters and observe the tropical fish and coral reef or continue paddling around the area.

You will then enjoy a picnic lunch while enjoying the beautiful scenery then paddle back to where you started.

More Information & Tour Booking

100% refund for cancellations within 24 hours of tour experience

Your Guide For Hanauma Bay & Oahu Snorkeling Tours

Hawaii and Oahu in particular consist of coral reefs that go around the entire island. The coral reefs of Oahu have a variety of marine life that include; fish, dolphins, sharks and turtles. Most of the reefs in Oahu are less than 15 feet deep.

This makes for ideal snorkeling conditions, you will never be very far away from the marine life and coupled with the water visibility makes for the almost perfect conditions for the snorkeler.

The one thing that may people don’t realize about the waters around Hawaii is that the water is not that warm. Typically in the mid to high 70’s the warm will feel cold when entering. For this reason it is recommend to wear a thin wetsuit to keep you warm.

The high season for tourism in Oahu is spring and winter but this is not the best time for snorkeling. The summer is the best time, the water is warmer and calmer. Winter brings sea swells and they can be quite high. In fact the North Shore of Oahu is famous for its huge swells that are so popular with surfers.

Going in the summer brings some other advantages; namely better availability and cheaper prices. The snorkel tours also tend to be smaller giving you a more personal experience.

Oahu Snorkeling For Beginners

Snorkeling is something just about anyone can do whether or not you are in “shape”. You really don’t even need to know how to swim to enjoy snorkeling as you are really not swimming, but floating on the water and moving yourself through the water with your fins.

If you are not a swimmer, I would highly recommend a floatation vest, in fact I would recommend using one for anyone snorkeling. They keep you a little higher in the water and relieve any anxiety about sinking and drowning.

What makes Hawaii idea for snorkeling is water clarity. This is one of the most important factors to the enjoyment of your experience. If you can’t see, it doesn’t matter much what is swimming around you. Hawaii is renowned for its water clarity but also its scenery.

The coral reefs here are among the best in the world. Coral reefs attract marine life, including fish, eels, turtles and shellfish. The coral reef is an entire ecosystem unto itself. Being Hawaii is very isolated, and almost midway between California and Japan there is marine life found here that is completely unique to Hawaii.

Water depth will play a major role in the snorkeling experience. If you are in deep water, the marine life will be too far away to observe. The best conditions for snorkeling are where the visibility is at least 50 feet and in water between 4 and 25 feet.

Much deeper than 25 feet, the marine life will be too far away to be able to see clearly. The very best snorkeling experience will include the following:

  • Coral Reefs
  • Man-made shipwrecks
  • Rocky outcroppings close to shore
  • Offshore rocks and formations that reach above the water

Snorkeling Safely

How to Snorkel, Snorkeling Class for Beginners

Being a good swimmer is a relative term, just because you can swim several laps in a pool doesn’t necessarily make you a good swimmer. Swimming in the open ocean is a much different experience; the wind and waves make snorkeling here more demanding.

For this reason the best time to snorkel is the summer when the water is warmer and waves are smaller. Although even in the winter and spring there are protected snorkeling areas where the wind and waves are almost none existent.

For this reason going with a reputable snorkel tour operator that knows the best places to go is very important.

Also remember to stay within your limits. Never snorkel in water that you don’t feel comfortable in. Keep in mind the water is cool and after a period of time you could start to cramp up. So don’t stray too far from the boat or shore.

A great day of snorkeling should be relaxing and enjoyable. Since most of the marine life in Oahu is just under the surface, you can for the most part just float around without much swimming at all allowing you to see all the marine life without much effort.

Remember many of the places you will snorkel are protected areas. You should NEVER touch the coral or even worse break off a piece for a souvenir. Be respectful of the surroundings and follow the adage of “do no harm”.

FAQs About Oahu Snorkeling Tours

Where should I go snorkeling on Oahu?

It’s hard to go wrong snorkeling on Oahu, but some of the better ones are Hanauma Bay, Turtle Canyon, Electric Beach and Kaena Point. These reefs have a wide variety of fish, colorful coral and crystal clear water. You may also see dolphins, whales and even small sharks.

What do I need to bring to go snorkeling?

Ideally you will have your own snorkel and mask for sanitary reasons, but almost all tour operators will provide them. Some tours also have fins, life jackets and or flotation vests. I highly recommend some type of flotation device, it will make your day much more enjoyable. You should also bring sunscreen, a towel, water and a change of clothes.

Do I need a guided tour to go snorkeling on Oahu?

No, you don’t have to have a guide but for the best experience and safety but I highly recommend a guided tour. You can snorkel on your own at some of the beach-accessible spots but most of the better locations require a boat to get to. A tour will take you to the best locations, pick you up, provide equipment and help you find and identify marine life. A guide will make sure you follow the rules of the snorkeling sites.

How much does a snorkeling tour cost?

The cost of a snorkeling tour on Oahu depends on how many people are on the tour, duration, the location and the season. Most snorkeling tours range from $100 to $150 per person but if you do a private tour expect to pay at least $200 apiece. You may also need to pay an entrance fee to some of the snorkeling sites like Hanauma Bay.

When is the best time to snorkel on Oahu?

You can go snorkeling on Oahu year-round but the summer months have calm and clear water, warm temperatures and more visibility. The winter usually has rougher water, cooler temps, and less visibility but on the upside you have a chance to see whales and dolphins.

Other Adventures

You will never be bored in Oahu. Its not called adventure island no reason! No matter what you like to do outside you will find it here.

If you would like a birdseye view of Oahu’s beauty while enjoying the rush of high speed, consider a ziplining adventure. As you zoom through the trees seeing the birds, flowers and other natural sights you can enjoy an adrenaline rush!

Before you head out on your snorkel tour, you may want to get a look from above. There is no better way to do that, than with a parasailing adventure.

While floating 500 feet up while pulled pulled behind a boat you can get a birdseye view of where you will be snorkeling. Check out the fish and coral from above and locate the best spots when you go into the water!

If you are into horseback riding, Oahu has some spectacular places for you to go. Whether it a romantic beach ride or through a rainforest, Oahu has it all!

I hope this guide was helpful for finding the best Oahu snorkel tours to fit your needs. If you want to comment or recommend a tour I didn’t include, please use my contact form to get in touch. Remember; be safe, and stay within your limits and most of all enjoy your time in Oahu!

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The Oahu Morning Snorkel Sail along Waikiki Beach is our Editor's Choice for the best Oahu snorkel tour with its combination of sites seen, tour guides and value.

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