The 8 Best Snorkeling Tours in Hawaii

Aloha, fellow ocean explorers!

As an avid snorkeler, I’ve been visiting the gorgeous shores of Hawaii with my boyfriend for years. We just can’t get enough of exploring its crystal-clear waters, brimming with vibrant marine life and breathtaking coral reefs. It’s no wonder that people from all around the globe flock to Hawaii every year for a chance to experience these underwater wonders!

I totally understand how overwhelming it can be to sift through countless snorkeling tour options in search of that perfect experience. Trust me, I’ve been there – feeling doubtful and afraid of missing out on some incredible Hawaiian sea creatures. But worry not! I’ve spent countless hours researching and diving deep into the world of Hawaiian snorkeling tours so you don’t have to.

In this article, I’ll share our personal experiences of trying out various snorkeling adventures across Maui, Lanai island, Oahu, and more. My goal is to provide you with expert insights into what each tour offers so that you can make an educated decision on where your curiosity (and flippers) should take you next.

Let’s dive into the essential aspects of choosing the right snorkeling tour for you. From understanding your own preferences and expectations to knowing what kind of marine life awaits in different locations, I’ll help you navigate through this exciting underwater journey.

Grab your snorkel gear and let’s embark on this adventure together!

Turtle Canyon Snorkeling from Waikiki

Your first snorkeling adventure in Hawaii will take you to Waikiki’s stunning shoreline, where the Turtle Canyon houses a ton of Hawaiian green sea turtles. There’s a huge coral reef below the Canyon, which attracts turtles and colorful tropical fish, and you can swim alongside them. 

The snorkeling tour takes passengers from a boat out to the ocean on a 2-hour long excursion with experienced guides. Here you can dive in the waters, swim with huge sea turtles, and explore the vast coral reef that spreads into breathtaking miniature hills and valleys. 

My boyfriend and I loved taking this trip, and we even spotted an octopus and moray eels while snorkeling. The guides were also super helpful as they gave instructions for snorkeling before the tour began and maintained passenger safety. 

If you’re in Oahu, take advantage of this trip, as it’s one of the best snorkeling tours in Hawaii. 

  • You can also spot spinner dolphins and whales breaking the shore in winter. 
  • The tour provides all the snorkeling gear you’ll need. 
  • There are complimentary refreshments, and snacks included.

Catamaran Snorkel Cruise to Turtle Canyon from Waikiki

Snorkeling tours can get pretty crowded in marine life hubs like Turtle Canyon, as everyone wants to join in on them. So those looking for seclusion while snorkeling with Hawaii’s native sea life should take this cruise on a catamaran, which goes out to Turtle Canyon and nearby hotspots, with only 20 passengers on board.

The cruise ship picks passengers up from Waikiki and sails to the Canyon while giving stunning views of the Waikiki beach and Diamond Head volcano. It’s perfect for families with younger children, as guides help kids and let them get comfortable in the water. 

You can swim with the honu (sea turtles), capture the tropical fish with your adventure cameras, and spot eels and octopuses around the vast coral. In addition, if you take this tour during the winter, there will be spinner dolphins and humpback whales breaching the shore. 

We highly recommend it to anyone looking for a pleasant cruise in Oahu, as it’s one of the top snorkeling tours in Hawaii. 

  • The tour guarantees turtle sightings or you get a free second trip.
  • You can enjoy the lush Ko’olau Mountain Range views on your journey back.
  • Their midday trip includes lunch and beverages.

Turtle Town Snorkeling from Maui

Your Hawaiian snorkeling tour will take you to the stunning shores of Maui next. Here you can access Turtle Town from the South shore, home to one of the largest populations of Honu or Hawaiian green sea turtles. This tour is one of the best, which only takes a secluded group of 10 or fewer passengers to Turtle Town for an hour of snorkeling alongside the sea creatures. 

You’ll set sail from Kihei on South Maui’s gorgeous waters towards the turtle haven as your experienced guides provide advice and instructions for snorkeling. Once at the destination, you can swim with bales of turtles and tropical fishes, explore the wild reef underground, and have guides snap high-quality pictures and videos of you. 

The tour also facilitates first-time snorkelers with safety instructions and aids them in the tips and tricks to learn the skill fast. 

You’ll love taking this trip to Maui as it provides a personalized experience and is one of the best snorkeling tours in Hawaii. 

  • You can get the pictures and videos shot by the guides for free after the tour.
  • There’s high-quality snorkeling equipment included in the package.
  • The tour ensures guests stay a safe distance from marine life to not disturb them.

From Maalaea Harbor, Maui: Molokini Snorkeling Adventure 

Maui offers incredible snorkeling opportunities from its coast, like the Molokini Crater, a volcanic caldera rising from the sea, attracting marine animals, and making it a great snorkeling spot. So book a tour with the Calypso cruise ship, which takes you to the Crater on a luxurious trip with terrific snorkeling. 

Located between Maui and Kahoolawe islands, the Molokini Crater is inhabited by 200+ species of fish, manta rays, sea urchins, eels, and even harmless sharks, which you can snorkel with. 

The trip goes from Maalaea Harbor with a stop at Turtle Town for snorkeling with green sea turtles, then to Molokini island. Here you can enjoy taking in the views from the triple-decker cruise and watch beautiful bird species fly over the Crater. In addition, on this tour, you can watch marine life up close without getting into the water from the Calypso’s glass-bottom viewing room. 

This trip is a must-try for anyone in Maui, as it’s one of the best snorkeling tours in Hawaii. 

  • The cruise provides breakfast and lunch on board.
  • You get high-quality snorkeling equipment on tour.
  • The staff is friendly and guides passengers well through the trip.

Night Manta Ray Adventure on the Big Island, Hawaii

If you’re looking for the best snorkeling tours in Hawaii, don’t miss a stop at the Big Island, which provides an incredible night-time snorkeling adventure with manta rays. On the gorgeous Kailua-Kona coast, you’ll board this tour with a local guide, which leads to the manta ray site for a 2-hour trip. 

Before evening, you’ll board a ship, which sails to the manta ray’s hub. Here passengers will enjoy the gorgeous Kona sunset above ground and watch the light fade before diving into the water. The guides provide all necessary snorkeling equipment, including bright lights to see clearly underwater, so you can easily swim alongside the manta rays. 

Seeing giant manta rays up close is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity as they feed and interact with other ocean creatures under the neon lights. We’d never seen manta rays before, and it was incredible watching them gracefully glide in the water. 

Don’t miss this trip if you’re on the Big Island, as it’s one of the best snorkeling tours in Hawaii. Here’s why you’ll agree:

  • If you don’t spot manta rays, the next tour will be free!
  • The tour includes complimentary refreshments and snacks.
  • The guides are experienced and friendly.

West Maui Half Day Snorkel from Ka’anapali Beach

West Maui has incredible snorkeling hotspots, with the best one at Ka’anapali Beach. The beach has an infamous dive spot known as Black Rock, with an 18 ft drop and a large coral reef below. The reef attracts a range of native sea creatures, making it the perfect snorkeling spot. 

A terrific snorkeling tour spanning half a day from Ka’anapali Beach is your best bet to explore the sea life in Maui. Under your captain’s guidance, you’ll travel to the island’s best snorkel locations to see green sea turtles, schools of colorful tropical fish, and even spinner and bottlenose dolphins. Then, depending on the day’s conditions, the captain will stop by Mala Wharf, Oluwalu, Cliff House, or Honolua Bay for the best snorkeling.

In addition, the tour includes sighting humpback whales during the winter months. After snorkeling, you can enjoy a delicious complimentary lunch on the boat with nonalcoholic beverages.  

Those in Maui should definitely try this snorkeling tour, as it’s one of the best in Hawaii. Here’s why you’ll agree:

  • The tour includes breakfast, lunch, and snorkeling equipment.
  • Professional guides help you approach sea creatures and swim comfortably. 
  • You can purchase high-quality pictures and videos of your tour afterward.

Lanai Dolphin Adventure & 2 Snorkel Sites

You can’t think of snorkeling in Hawaii and miss Lanai, its most secluded and beautiful island, which offers incredible snorkeling from its rustic shores. You can enjoy an intimate boat ride with fewer passengers than most tours, which goes out to Lanai to spot dolphins, and makes stops at snorkeling hotspots on the way. 

The tour is aboard a safe rafting vessel that takes passengers on a 4-hour roundtrip, with an experienced captain and crew providing insightful information about Hawaii’s marine life. Once the ship reaches the snorkeling stops, you can dive in and swim with tropical fish, turtles, octopuses, manta rays, and wild dolphins. 

The tour also includes an on-deck breakfast before departing and snacks and beverages along the way. We loved how friendly the crew was, and they kept us entertained the whole time we were on board. 

Don’t miss this trip if you want to see Lanai and its sea life, as it’s an incredible snorkeling tour in Hawaii.

  • The tour’s fee supports active marine research and Maui’s whale entanglement response.
  • The package includes snorkeling equipment and flotation devices. 
  • The tour is locally owned and operated. 

Kauai’s Ultimate Guided Shore (NO BOAT) Snorkeling Adventure

Last but definitely not the least, your snorkeling hunt takes you to Kauai, Hawaii’s rugged island with beautiful shores and landscapes. This island also provides great snorkeling from its shores, which you can enjoy on this secluded, no-boat tour. The tour takes 6-8 people and a certified instructor to snorkel hotspots on the island while learning about Kauai’s natural wildlife. 

You’ll snorkel from Kauai’s pristine South shore beach and spot sea turtles and Hawaiian monk seals basking in the sun (which you need to maintain a safe distance from.) The guide is an expert and takes you to sea life hubs with various colorful tropical fish, sea urchins, and sea mammals to swim with. 

We liked the no-frills approach of this tour, which focused on snorkeling time without the hassle of a boat ride. You should also try it on your next trip, as it’s a terrific snorkeling tour in Hawaii. 

  • The tour provides complimentary snacks and refreshments. 
  • You’ll learn about the Hawaiian ecosystem and identify tropical fish on the tour.
  • The tour is great for families with younger children as the guide facilitates them.


Which Hawaiian island has the best snorkeling?

As Hawaii is on the Pacific Ocean, all its islands have gorgeous water bodies housing marine life species that you can snorkel with. However, head to Maui for the clearest and calmest water and best snorkeling. 

Do you need a tour to snorkel in Hawaii?

You can easily snorkel without a tour in Hawaii, as most beaches have corals and attract a lot of sea creatures. However, you’ll need to book a tour to see coveted snorkeling locations like Molokini, Lanai, Turtle Town, and Turtle Canyon.

What is the best time of year to snorkel in Hawaii?

May through September, aka summer, is the best time of year to snorkel in Hawaii. However, if your trip falls during the winter, you can find plenty of protected snorkeling spots on the islands.

How much does it cost to go snorkeling in Hawaii?

Snorkeling tours in Hawaii cost between $50-$200 per person, depending on fuel costs, duration of the trip, and facilities provided.

Winding Up: The Best Snorkeling Tours in Hawaii

Hawaii offers some of the best snorkeling in the world from its islands, each with a different charm. You can find tours led by independent companies taking guests to favorite snorkeling locations on each island for hours of guided swimming with marine life.

My boyfriend and I have tried terrific snorkeling from around Hawaii, and it’s a must-visit for those seeking quality time with tropical sea creatures.

Head to Oahu to swim with the turtles in its Turtle Canyon and spot humpback whales in the winter.

Don’t miss Maui for the best year-round snorkeling and access to Molokini Crater.

Try the Big Island for a terrific snorkeling night trip with manta rays.

Take a boat ride to the secluded Lanai to spot dolphins and swim with the island’s native creatures.

Engage in rustic snorkeling without a boat from Kauai’s gorgeous South shore.

The best snorkeling tours in Hawaii have something for everyone!

Last Updated on March 28, 2023 by Brigitte