Oahu Snorkel Tours

Millions of people from around the world visit Oahu every year.

Visitors are drawn to the island for its white sand beaches, clear blue water, and lush green mountains.

One thing many of these visitors have in common is a popular bucket list item: to swim with dolphins and sea turtles.

The best way to check that off of your bucket list is on one of the many available snorkel tours.

Go on a snorkel tour to swim with wild dolphins and sea turtles
Snorkel tours are the best way to see Hawaii’s marine life

Oahu’s waters are full of spinner dolphins and Hawaiian green sea turtles.

You can see both from almost any beach on the island. If you don’t see any turtles sunbathing on the beach, you’re likely to see them in the water with the dolphins.

A popular activity on the island is to snorkel where these fascinating creatures frequent for a chance to see them up close.

It's amazing to watch spinner dolphins propel themselves out of the water
See dolphins and other marine life on one of Oahu’s snorkel tours

Whether you’re staying in Waikiki, the North Shore, Kaneohe, or Ko Olina, there are numerous snorkel tours to choose from.

Here’s our list of the top snorkel tours on Oahu by location.

Turtle Canyon Snorkel Tours

There are numerous snorkel locations on Oahu where you can see and swim with the marine life.

One such location is the reef known as Turtle Canyon off the coast of Waikiki.

Sea turtles gather at this reef because it serves as a cleaning station.

The multitude of small tropical fish at this reef clean the sea turtles by eating the algae off their shells, creating a beautiful symbiotic relationship.

So not only do you get to see the turtles, but you might also spot the state fish of Hawaii, Humuhumunukunukuapua’a (try saying that three times fast!).

Hawaii's state fish has a vibrant contrast of colors
If you’re lucky you might get to see a Humuhumunukunkuapua’a

10. Mana Kai – Most Affordable Waikiki Snorkel Cruise

The Mana Kai is perfect for visitors staying in Waikiki. It’s not only the most affordable snorkel tour on this list, it’s also one of the easiest to access.

You can catch the Mana Kai right on Waikiki Beach, at the shoreline behind the famous Duke Kahanamoku statue.

Once everyone has boarded, the crew will set sail and take you on a leisurely cruise toward Diamond Head.

This cruise is BYOB so sip on your drink of choice as you take in the magnificent view of Oahu’s most iconic landmark.

During the cruise your knowledgeable crew will tell you all about Hawaii and the marine life you’re about to see.

The captain will then change course and you’ll head to the main destination, Turtle Canyon.

Turtle Canyon in Waikiki is known as a favorite sea turtle spot
At Turtle Canyon you’ll see tropical fish, sea urchins, and sea turtles

This reef is home to numerous species of colorful fish and receives frequent visits from sea turtles.

You’ll have approximately one hour to explore the coral reef or you can also spend your time sunbathing on the boat.

After the cruise you’ll disembark at the same location on the beach.

You can remain on the beach to continue swimming and sunbathing, or hit the Waikiki shopping strip for shave ice and souvenirs.

9. Pink Sails – Waikiki’s Beginner Friendly Snorkeling

Sail away with Pink Sails and enjoy up to an hour of snorkel time and an hour of sailing with an experienced crew.

Take in the views of Diamond Head and Honolulu as you depart from Ala Wai Boat Harbor on the west end of Waikiki.

The Pink Sails crew specialize in working with first time snorkelers, including children.

The calm waters of Waikiki are perfect for first time snorkelers

Whether it’s your first time snorkeling or just your first time snorkeling in Hawaii, the crew will help you get the most out of your time at Turtle Canyon.

They will familiarize you with all the snorkel gear, and they can tell you all about the marine wildlife you’ll encounter.

Although the Ala Wai Boat Harbor is close to several Waikiki hotels, Pink Sails offers free round-trip transportation. From pick-up to drop-off, it’s smooth sailing.

8. Spirit of Aloha – Snorkel Cruise with Booze

Another easily accessible cruise for Waikiki visitors, Spirit of Aloha departs from Hilton Pier behind the Hilton Hawaiian Village.

Because Hilton Pier is so close to Turtle Canyon, you’ll spend less time sailing and more time snorkeling and sunbathing.

First timers and experienced snorkelers alike will benefit from the crew’s vast knowledge of Hawaiian culture and the local marine life.

Swim beneath the blue water and discover a plethora of tropical fish
See Oahu’s vibrant marine life on a Waikiki snorkel tour

You can choose from two different departure times, 10:00 AM or 1:30 PM, but the morning cruise includes a delicious buffet lunch and two complimentary alcoholic beverages.

But if you prefer sleeping in on your vacation, the afternoon cruise includes snacks and two alcoholic beverages as well.

Whichever one you choose, this snorkel tour is sure to be the highlight of your vacation.

7. Waikiki Marine Sports – Snorkel & Water Activities Galore

If you want to spend an afternoon on the water and do more than snorkeling, Waikiki Marine Sports is the snorkel tour for you.

Set out on E Sea Rider, a custom built sport vessel designed as an ultimate water activity boat.

This snorkel cruise includes an ocean trampoline, a water slide, inflatable kayaks, stand-up-paddle boards, and of course snorkeling.

All the additional water activities make this Waikiki snorkel cruise extra family friendly.

You may have a young child who’s not comfortable with snorkeling, but they can try the other activity options with parental assistance. This cruise is sure to be fun for the whole family.

Whether you decide to spend the whole time snorkeling or trying all of the different activities, the friendly crew will be there to assist you.

Take your kid for a ride on the stand up paddle board
Waikiki Marine Sports is a snorkel tour offering numerous water activities

The boat departs from Kewalo Basin Harbor, 2-3 miles west of Waikiki. Round-trip transportation is included, making this option just as accessible as the other Waikiki snorkel tours.

North Shore Snorkel Tours

The North Shore of Oahu is most famous for its beaches, more specifically the waves.

Winter brings the towering waves that attract surfers from around the world to participate in famous surfing competitions. At the season’s peak, these waves can reach up to 50 feet but the average is 16 feet.

Because of the rough ocean conditions in the winter, North Shore snorkel cruises are only available in the summer.

Towering North Shore waves attract surfers from around the world
The North Shore of Oahu is a mecca for surfers

6. Nani Kai – Snorkel on the Famous North Shore

Depart from Hale`iwa Harbor in a lightening power catamaran, built for speed and ocean stability.

As you leave the harbor you’ll have stunning views from mauka to makai, mountain to ocean.

From Waialua Bay you’ll be able to see Mount Ka`ala, Oahu’s tallest peak, rising 4,025 feet above sea level.

With the mountains towering over the coastline, dive into the clear blue water to explore the vibrant aquatic world.

On this North Shore snorkel cruise you’ll also get to see famous North Shore locations including Waimea Bay, Banzai Pipeline, Sunset Beach, and Ka`ena Point.

The snorkel location is subject to change depending on weather and ocean conditions, but the hospitality of the crew and the beauty of Hawaii are guaranteed.

Windward Oahu Snorkel Tours

East Oahu is known as the windward side because of the strong winds that come in from the ocean.

Due to the wind’s erosion, the Ko`olau Mountains on the windward side appear to be taller and more jagged than anywhere else on the island. These lush green mountains create a breathtaking backdrop for snorkel tours.

The most popular snorkel spots on the east side are the Kaneohe Bay Sandbar and the Mokulua islets.

5. Captain Bob’s – Sandbar, Snorkel, & Lunch

Captain Bob’s is one of the most popular snorkel tours on the island.

This three hour adventure begins with a cruise out to the Kaneohe Bay Sandbar. At the sandbar you can snorkel, play volleyball, sunbathe, and enjoy a delicious Hawaiian style BBQ lunch.

After fun, food, and games at the sandbar, you’ll cruise to a coral reef in the bay for more snorkeling.

4. Kailua Ocean Adventures – Canoe Voyage & Snorkel Tour

Voyage beyond the reef and sail to the Mokulua islets (locally known as the Mokes) for an ocean adventure unlike any other.

You’ll set sail from Kailua Beach in an authentic Hawaiian sailing canoe. If you’ve seen Disney’s Moana then you’re familiar with this type of canoe.

Once you reach Moku Nui, the larger of the two islands, you’ll have time to snorkel, explore the island, and swim in the tide pools.

Sail out to the Mokes for a unique snorkel experience
The Mokes are visible from the east coast of Oahu

Visiting the Mokes is also an educational adventure as your local guides will tell you all about Hawaii and its wildlife.

The Mokulua islets are part of the Hawaii State Seabird Sanctuary providing a safe habitat for various species of shore birds.

Your guides will explain the conservation project and lead you to the accessible parts of the small and rugged island.

Snorkel Tours on the Leeward Side

One of the less crowded areas of Oahu, the leeward (west) side is more laid back and boasts incredible views of the Waianae Mountains.

Because the leeward side has fewer visitors, the reefs are healthier and the waters are abundant with marine life.

In addition to the sea turtles and tropical fish, you’re likely to see spinner dolphins, humpback whales (in the winter), and possibly monk seals.

3. Trident Adventures – West Oahu Snorkel Tour

Head out to Oahu’s remote and rugged west side with Trident Adventures. Trident caters to the more experienced snorkel and diving crowd, but all skill levels are welcome.

If you’ve snorkeled before and want to take it to the next level, trade in your life vest for a dive propulsion vehicle (DPV). A DPV is a handheld underwater scooter made to enhance your snorkel or skin diving experience.

2. Dolphins and You – Snorkel Tour with Lunch and More

Dolphins and You is Hawaii’s original swim with wild dolphins tour, specializing in sustainable wild life tours.

Cruise out to the west side with an expert crew who are happy to tell you about Hawaiian culture and wild life.

The tour is complete with round-trip transportation, lunch, and live entertainment.

In addition to snorkeling, you can also try your hand at kayaking, stand-up-paddle boarding, or a 20-foot waterslide!

After enjoying the water activities and exploring the reef, sit back and relax on the boat with a delicious lunch and live entertainment. The multi-talented crew double as your on-board entertainment performing hula, ukulele, and singing.

1. Ocean Joy – Snorkel Cruise with Hawaiian Buffet

As the only snorkel tour that goes all the way to Kaena Point, the western most tip of the island, with Ocean Joy you get to see the entire west coast of Oahu.

Sit back and relax on the 61 foot, luxury power catamaran, and take in the breathtaking views.

On your way to the snorkel spot, watch for the appearance of spinner dolphins or sea turtles, or even humpback whales in the winter. Then dive into the clear water and see what creatures await you at a pristine coral reef.

As you cruise back to the marina, enjoy a Hawaiian buffet lunch complete with Hawaiian teriyaki chicken, Kalua pork, fresh salad, and four complimentary alcoholic beverages.

Snorkeling with tropical fish, spectacular landscapes, and a buffet lunch with 4 drink tickets… Ocean Joy has it all.

See Hawaiian green sea turtles on a snorkel cruise
Snorkel tours provide safe encounters with marine life

Which of These Snorkel Tours is Right For You?

Now you’ve seen our choices for the top Oahu snorkel tours, from the most affordable to the most adventurous.

Maybe you’ve already tried one of these snorkel tours and you’re looking to do something different on your next trip to Hawaii.

Or perhaps you’ve never been to Hawaii and you’re planning your first Hawaiian vacation.

Whatever the case may be, you can’t go wrong with a snorkel tour on Oahu.