The 8 Best Snorkeling Tours in Oahu

Hey there, fellow ocean adventurers!

You know what? I’ve always been a sucker for the incredible underwater world, and that’s why I can’t resist exploring Oahu’s magnificent aquatic treasures. Every time my boyfriend and I visit this beautiful island, we make sure to embark on a new snorkeling adventure – it’s our favorite thing to do together!

Now listen up:

I’ve spent countless hours researching, swimming with amazing sea creatures (like green sea turtles and dolphins), and experiencing the best snorkeling tours in Oahu. If you’re anything like me, you crave an unforgettable journey beneath the waves where your troubles simply float away. Lucky for you, I’m here to share my insights so you can avoid any disappointments or mishaps.

Heads up, fellow snorkelers:

As someone who has tried various snorkeling tours in Oahu alongside my better half, let me tell ya – not all tours are created equal! That’s why I’ve gathered some first-hand knowledge from our numerous escapades to give you nothing but the best recommendations.

Warning: Once you start exploring these fantastic spots for underwater sightseeing, be prepared to find yourself daydreaming about them at work or begging your pals for another weekend getaway!

So grab your fins and mask because it’s high time you and I dive headfirst into the remarkable world of Oahu’s best snorkeling tours. Just imagine: swimming gracefully alongside awe-inspiring marine life, mesmerized by vibrant coral gardens, and making memories that will last a lifetime. Ready for some spectacular underwater magic? Let’s go!

Turtle Canyons Snorkel Excursion from Waikiki

If you’re looking for an adventure in the middle of the ocean, take the Turtle Canyons Snorkel Excursion. This tour takes guests to Turtle Canyons, a marine life hotspot in Waikiki that attracts an abundance of green sea turtles and tropical fish from the gigantic coral below.

You’ll spend 2 hours with a team of experienced guides who will take you to Turtle Canyons and help each passenger safely enter the water. Once you’re in, swim alongside huge sea turtles, and spot various fish, octopuses, and eels whizzing around the coral. 

In addition, the beautiful fish and extended valleys and hills formed by the reefs are breathtaking sights, which feel like a mysterious underwater city. The wildlife sightings above the water include spinner dolphins, flying fish, and whales during winter. 

We took this tour on our last trip to Oahu and were amazed by the terrific underwater display. So don’t miss it the next time you visit, as it’s the best snorkeling tour in Oahu.

  • The staff are great and help everyone feel comfortable swimming in the ocean.
  • The tour provides all necessary snorkeling gear. 
  • You get complimentary refreshments and snacks on arriving at the base.

Catamaran Snorkel Cruise to Turtle Canyon

Want to enjoy all the fun of snorkeling without being crowded with strangers? Well, you’re in luck because this snorkel tour takes a catamaran cruise ship out to Turtle Canyon with only 20 passengers and a crew on board. On this terrific cruise, you can enjoy two to three hours in Waikiki’s best snorkeling hotspot, which guarantees turtle sightings (otherwise, you get a free second trip!)

The luxury cruise takes passengers on the best route to Turtle Canyon, with views of the Waikiki shoreline and Diamond Head volcano on the way. Once there, you can swim alongside green sea turtles, snorkel to the water’s depths, or stay on deck and enjoy the sun and island breeze.

In addition, if your trip falls between December to April, there will be spinner dolphins and whales breaking the shore alongside your ship. After the tour, you can use the cruise facilities to wash off and enjoy views of the distant Ko’olau Mountains on the way back. 

This cruise is terrific for those seeking a private excursion and is also one of the best snorkeling tours in Oahu.

  • The midday tour lasts three hours and includes a deli sandwich buffet for lunch.
  • Passengers receive unlimited non-alcoholic and two alcoholic drinks.
  • The staff is terrific and gives a thorough safety briefing before you snorkel.

Waianae Dolphin Watching & Snorkel Excursion 

Most famous marine life hubs in Oahu don’t have a lot of dolphins, which is why you should take this tour which combines snorkeling with dolphin watching for hours of underwater fun. The tour includes a 45-minute drive to Waianae coast from Waikiki, where passengers board a boat.

The tour takes you far into the ocean, where tons of spinner dolphins break the shore. You can swim alongside them or stay on deck and take pictures as guides provide useful information about the dolphins’ natural habitat. In addition, if your tour falls during winter, there will also be humpback whale sightings.

The tour also takes you to two spots for snorkeling, where passengers spend thirty minutes swimming alongside turtles, colorful fish, and a vast coral reef. The guides also take great pictures of you with the marine life without disturbing their environment. 

You’ll love this tour for its secluded feeling and the terrific crew onboard, as it’s one of the best snorkeling tours in Oahu.

  • The tour takes a few passengers per trip to keep the experience personalized. 
  • They provide all the necessary snorkeling gear. 
  • You can purchase a GoPro on the spot for $40 and film while snorkeling.

Dolphin Watching and Snorkeling Tour with Hula & Water Activities

Those wanting to make the best of their trip out to the ocean should take this tour, which includes several activities like dolphin watching, snorkeling, a live hula show on board, and water activities like stand-up paddle boarding. The tour lasts two hours, setting off from Waianae Harbor, and takes guests aboard a luxury cruise to areas with abundant sea life.

Passengers can spot dolphins, swim alongside them, and go snorkeling in the coral reef, which attracts tons of tropical fish and sea turtles. Snorkeling lasts 45 minutes, allowing you to swim far from the boat and beside sea life. 

In addition, there’s a fun way to descend into the water via a 20-ft water slide attached to the cruise. However, we enjoyed the water activities on this tour the most, like kayaking and paddle boarding, for which the crew provides equipment. 

You shouldn’t miss this tour if you’re in Oahu for the various enjoyments it provides, and it’s also one of the best snorkeling tours in Oahu.

  • There’s a complimentary lunch with seafood and vegetarian options. 
  • You can get transport to and from the departure point.
  • The crew is terrific and keeps passengers safe and entertained. 

Hanauma Bay Snorkeling

An unmissable snorkeling spot in Oahu is Hanauma Bay on the North Shore, which is a sunken volcanic crater and a protected marine life conservation area. The Hanauma Bay Snorkeling Tour takes guests to the sanctuary, where they can swim alongside tropical fish and coral reefs. 

In addition, as Hanauma Bay often fills up with tourists, this tour is a perfect way to go snorkeling in the water without getting stuck in the crowds.

Once you reach the crater and nearby conservatory, pack on snorkel gear provided by the tour and dive into the calm turquoise waters. Here you can swim with sea turtles and nearly 450 species of island fish and moray eels, which crowd around the magnificent coral reef. 

The tour provides the best snorkeling from their early morning tour when the waters are clear, starting at 6 am with pickups from your hotels to the Bay. However, remember to get your tickets 48 hours before, as they sell out soon.

We loved this North shore snorkeling venture, and it’s an unmissable trip if you’re looking for snorkeling in undisturbed waters.

  • The crew is terrific and facilitates guests in preparing for the tour. 
  • Their tour guide provides interesting information about the island and Bay.
  • The tour includes all equipment necessary for the excursion.

Oahu Catamaran Cruise: Wildlife, Snorkeling, and a Hawaiian Meal

With all the major marine life hubs in Oahu getting crowded with tourists, you’ll want a spot to snorkel with some privacy. That’s where this Catamaran Cruise comes in, which takes guests to the undisturbed West shore and provides the best snorkeling tour in Oahu. You’ll set off from Ko Olina on a gorgeous cruise ship towards Oahu’s Western shore for a relaxed 3.5-hour snorkeling tour.

As the rough waves on the West side of the island keep tourists away, you’ll glide through the unspoiled waters in search of dolphins and whales. Then, dive into the cool waters for snorkeling in a hidden local spot rich with sea turtles, tropical sea creatures, and flying fish.

In addition, the crew and captain provide informative commentary about Hawaii’s natural history. After snorkeling, guests can enjoy a Hawaiian lunch buffet with various drinks. 

We loved this secluded snorkeling trip on the West shore, which had the best facilities and crew. Here’s why you will too:

  • The crew takes pictures of passengers during the trip, which you can purchase.
  • You can enjoy the cruise’s facilities to wash up or rest after snorkeling.
  •  The tour stops by dolphin and whale pods for an excellent view up close.

Kaneohe Sandbar Turtle Watching & Snorkeling Tour

The Kaneohe Sandbar is one of Oahu’s best snorkeling and sea life hotspots, with a reef housing tons of Hawaiian green sea turtles. However, the Sandbar remains secluded as only boats can reach it. Lucky for you, this snorkeling tour takes passengers to Kaneohe Bay for a snorkeling and turtle-watching tour like no other.

During the ride, guests will enjoy stunning views of the Ko’olau mountains and several small islands behind Kaneohe Bay. Once you reach the turtle reef on the Sandbar’s edge, dive into the waters and swim close to the turtles, or put on your snorkeling gear and explore the water’s depths. 

The reef spreads far underwater and resembles a small turtle island, with a ton of them swimming in and out of the coral. In addition, the tour includes paddle boarding, which is a fun activity once you’ve snorkeled. 

We loved taking this enchanting tour and highly recommend it as one of the best snorkeling tours in Oahu. 

  • There are snacks and beverages for passengers on the trip.
  • The tour is great for families with children, as the crew takes care of them.
  •  Snorkeling and paddle boarding gear are included in the tour.

Swim with Sharks (cage-free) in Haleiwa

Swimming with sharks seems like a risky idea, but this tour on North Shore Oahu will change all your misconceptions about safety while close to sharks. The tour is led by a family native to Haleiwa that’s been providing secluded snorkeling tours with sharks for years.

You’ll head three miles from the Haleiwa shores to a ‘pelagic zone’ 250 ft deep in the ocean. Here you’ll encounter nearly 40 species of sharks in their natural habitat, dolphins, whales, and other aquatic creatures. A guide stays with you throughout the trip, which lasts for the better part of an hour. Since the tour is ‘cage-free’, you can swim freely among the sea creatures with only your snorkel equipment.

The best part about this tour is the small groups going out, which makes the experience feel personalized.

We loved swimming with the sharks in Haleiwa and walked away with a new perspective on these creatures. So don’t miss this tour on your next trip, as it’s the best snorkeling tour in Oahu. 

  • There are multiple tours in the day, so book one that suits your schedule.
  • The guides are amazing and give easy instructions for the trip.
  • The tour guarantees shark sightings and will take you to a different spot if you want to see more. 


What is the best snorkeling tour in Oahu?

There are tons of terrific snorkeling tours in Oahu; the best ones include catamaran cruises going to Turtle Canyon, whale watching and dolphin cruises, and deep-sea tours for snorkeling with sharks. 

How much does it cost to snorkel in Oahu?

Snorkeling tours in Oahu can cost between $50-$200 per person, depending on the tour’s duration, the amenities provided, and the areas covered. 

What is the best time to snorkel in Oahu?

Snorkeling by mid-morning or early afternoon is ideal, as the water is clear and there are lots of sea creatures roaming them. In terms of seasons, the summer months from May to September are generally good for snorkeling, but if you want to spot whales, then try snorkeling in winter from December to April.

Winding Up The Best Snorkeling Tours in Oahu

You can’t miss snorkeling in Oahu, as the island provides direct access to gorgeous coral reefs and a ton of sea creatures in the Pacific Ocean’s depths. In addition, there are great snorkeling tours all over the island, which take passengers to marine life hubs and allow swimming with sea turtles, spinner dolphins, humpback whales, sharks, and other sea creatures. 

Most tours include snorkeling equipment and experienced crews who guide you throughout the trip and give lots of interesting information on the island’s history and sea life. 

So make sure to try out the terrific snorkeling tours in Oahu!

Last Updated on March 28, 2023 by Brigitte