Best Snorkeling Spots in Honolulu

by CaliCase Team on April 02, 2023

Best Snorkeling in Honolulu

Aloha! If you're planning a trip to Honolulu, you're in for a real treat! Not only does this vibrant city offer incredible food, music, and culture, but it's also home to some of the most amazing snorkeling spots in the world. From swimming with sea turtles to spotting colorful fish and coral reefs, there's so much to explore and discover in the crystal-clear waters of Honolulu. But when is the best time to go snorkeling, and which spots should you visit? We've got you covered! Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about snorkeling in Honolulu.

And don't forget to check out our Best Snorkeling Places in Hawaii.


Best Time of the Year to Snorkel at Honolulu


The best time to go snorkeling in Honolulu is during the spring (March through May) or fall (September through November), when the water is calm and there are fewer crowds. These months tend to have milder weather and fewer tourists, which means you'll have more space to enjoy the beach and the incredible snorkeling opportunities that Honolulu has to offer.

That being said, there are a few things to keep in mind. The winter months (December through February) can bring bigger waves and choppier water, which can make snorkeling more difficult. However, this can also be a great time to see migrating humpback whales from a boat tour, which is a truly unforgettable experience.

The summer months (June through August) tend to have calmer water, which makes snorkeling a bit easier. However, this is also the peak tourist season, which means that the beaches and snorkeling spots can be quite crowded.


Marine Life at Honolulu

 Spinner Dolphins Kahe Point Beach Park

Source: Adam U. NOAA Fisheries

There are so many amazing types of marine life that you can see while snorkeling in Honolulu! Here are just a few of the most common ones:

  • Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles: These gentle giants are a favorite among snorkelers and divers in Hawaii. They can often be spotted basking in the sun on the beach or swimming gracefully in the water.
  • Colorful Fish: There are so many different types of fish that you can see while snorkeling in Honolulu, from the bright yellow tang to the silvery barracuda. You might even spot a school of tiny, glittering baitfish or a giant trevally swimming by!
  • Octopuses: These clever creatures are masters of disguise, and they can be quite difficult to spot while snorkeling. But if you keep your eyes peeled, you might be lucky enough to see one hiding in a rocky crevice or swimming along the ocean floor.
  • Moray Eels: These toothy predators might look a bit intimidating, but they're actually quite shy and won't bother you if you keep your distance. You might see them peeking out from their hiding spots in the coral reef.
  • Sea Cucumbers: These weird and wonderful creatures might not be the prettiest things in the ocean, but they're fascinating to watch as they crawl along the ocean floor, filtering out sand and debris as they go.
  • Coral Reefs: The coral reefs around Honolulu are absolutely stunning, with an incredible variety of colors and shapes. The reefs are home to all kinds of marine life, from tiny shrimp to schools of vibrant fish.

There's one more incredible type of marine life that you might be lucky enough to see while snorkeling in Honolulu: spinner dolphins! These amazing creatures are known for their acrobatic leaps and spins out of the water, and they're always a joy to watch and they've been most seen Kahe Point Beach Park.


Snorkeling at Hanauma Bay

 Hanauma Bay

Hanauma Bay is an absolute paradise for snorkelers! There are a few reasons why it's such a great spot for snorkeling, so let's break it down.

Firstly, the water at Hanauma Bay is crystal clear, which makes it perfect for snorkeling. You can see all the way to the bottom, which is particularly amazing because the bottom is home to all kinds of colorful fish and coral.

Speaking of which, the coral reefs at Hanauma Bay are absolutely stunning. They're teeming with life, from schools of colorful fish to sea turtles and even the occasional octopus. It's like swimming in an aquarium!

Another reason why Hanauma Bay is so great for snorkeling is that the water is calm and relatively shallow. That makes it perfect for beginners, as well as anyone who isn't the strongest swimmer. Plus, the beach is easy to access and there are plenty of facilities like showers and restrooms nearby.

Finally, Hanauma Bay is a protected marine life conservation area, which means that the ecosystem is well-preserved and thriving. It's really amazing to be able to witness all of the different types of marine life in their natural habitat. Learn more about Hanauma Bay on our Snorkeling at Hanauma Bay: Everything you Need to Know.


Snorkeling at Kuilima Cove

 Kuilima Cove

Kuilima Cove is home to an incredible variety of marine life that you can see there. There are all kinds of fish, from colorful parrotfish to schools of tiny, glittering baitfish. You might even spot a sea turtle or two if you're lucky!

Another reason why Kuilima Cove is such a great place to snorkel is that the cove itself is protected from the ocean swells by a natural breakwater. That means that the water is almost always calm and flat, which is great for snorkeling. Plus, the cove is quite small, so you won't have to swim very far to see all the amazing marine life.

Finally, Kuilima Cove is located within the grounds of the Turtle Bay Resort, which means that there are plenty of facilities nearby. You can rent snorkeling gear, grab a bite to eat, or just relax on the beach after a long day of snorkeling.


Snorkeling at Lanikai Beach

 Lanikai Beach

Lanikai Beach is located on the windward side of Oahu and is widely considered to be one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. The water is crystal clear, and the beach is surrounded by lush green mountains, which makes for an amazing view.

The coral reefs just offshore are absolutely stunning. They're home to all kinds of marine life, from tiny shrimp to schools of vibrant fish, like parrotfish, butterflyfish, and angelfish. You might even spot some turtles or rays if you're lucky!

There's even a hidden snorkeling spot at the end of Lanikai Beach that's definitely worth checking out. To get there, just walk to the end of the beach and follow the path that leads to the rocks. Once you reach the rocks, you can snorkel in the area between the rocks and the shore. It's an amazing spot to see all kinds of fish and marine life up close.


Snorkeling at Waimea Bay

 Waimea Bay

While Waimea Bay on Oahu's North Shore is known for its incredible surfing waves, it's not necessarily the best spot for snorkeling. The water at Waimea Bay can be quite rough and choppy, especially during the winter months when the big waves roll in. This can make it difficult to see any marine life, and the currents can be dangerous for inexperienced snorkelers.

That being said, if you're an experienced snorkeler and the conditions are just right, there are a few spots at Waimea Bay that are worth checking out. The water can be clearer in the summer months when the waves are smaller, and there are a few spots along the rocky edges of the bay where you might be able to see some fish and marine life.


Snorkeling at Kahe Point Beach Park


The water at Kahe Point Beach Park, also known as Electric Beach, is incredibly clear and calm, which makes it perfect for snorkeling. You can easily spot an abundance of marine life, including colorful fish and sea turtles.

One of the most exciting things about snorkeling at Electric Beach is the chance to see Hawaiian spinner dolphins! These playful creatures often frequent the area, and it's a truly incredible experience to watch them spin and play in the water.

The coral reefs in the area are also not to be missed. They are absolutely stunning and provide a home to a wide variety of marine life, from tiny crustaceans to massive schools of fish.

Additionally, Electric Beach is very accessible, and there are plenty of amenities nearby. You can park in the lot, rent snorkeling gear, and clean up after a fun day in the water.