The gateway to most Hawaii adventures, the island of Oahu combines a stunning setting with some superb water sports opportunities. Indeed the island is known by many as the birthplace of surf, with a statue of the sport’s founding father perched permanently on Waikiki’s Kuhio Beach. Meanwhile head inland and you’ll find plenty of other things to see and do, including tranquil nature reserves and the island’s bustling capital of Honolulu.
Among the most popular water sports to enjoy in Oahu and Honolulu is snorkeling. Visitors are welcome to embark on their own snorkeling expeditions, or they can join an organised tour instead if they prefer. For those favouring the latter, we’ve picked out five of the best snorkeling tours the island and its famous capital have to offer.
From $91 per person
This full-day tour incorporates stop-offs at all of Oahu’s major points of interest along with a chance to go snorkelling with the area’s famously large green sea turtles. Accompanied the whole day by an experienced local guide who will regale you with tales and facts about the area, you’ll visit popular local sights including Chinaman’s Hat, Sunset Beach, Diamond Head and Hanauma Bay. You’ll also get the chance to sample freshly caught shrimp served up by authentic shrimp trucks. The cost of the trip includes snorkelling gear and round-trip transportation to and from Waikiki.
From $203 per person
Head to Kane’ohe Bay at He’eia State Park aboard an exhilarating Hobie Cat catamaran before delving into the ocean for a memorable snorkelling adventure on this 3-hour tour. During the trip you’ll visit at least one renowned snorkeling site where you’ll have the chance to seek out tropical fish, Hawaiian green sea turtles, manta rays, and other exotic marine life that resides among Oahu’s coral reef. Later you’ll return to He’eia State Park to tuck into a BBQ lunch overlooking the bay before being driven back to your Waikiki hotel.
From $109 per person
Combine a magical kayak and snorkelling adventure with a mouth-watering Hawaiian BBQ lunch on this self-guided package tour. Starting with a mid-morning pick-up from your Waikiki hotel, you’ll get to explore Kane’ohe Bay on your own, at your own pace, following a full briefing by knowledgeable staff. You’ll be given a waterproof map and plenty of tips about how to get the most out of the experience. If you’re in luck you’ll see such exotic marine life as sea turtles, rays, and plenty more, all amid one of the region’s most beautiful coral reefs. This tour is child-friendly thanks to the safe paddling conditions of the bay. The price includes return transport, all kayak and snorkelling equipment, a map, and lunch. There’s also the option to upgrade to a fully guided tour too.
From $69 per person
Of all Oahu’s stunning natural attractions, the marine preserve of Hanauma Bay is one of the jewels in its crown. Formed within a volcanic cone, the site is home to a pristine marine ecosystem that presents visitors with an amazing place to snorkel throughout the year. One of the most reputable companies that runs snorkeling tours here is Pure Aloha Adventures. Throughout the week (except Tuesdays) they host 2.5-hour small-group tours that invites guests to explore this magical place. Customised so that’s it’s both child and adult-friendly, and for seasoned snorkelers and beginners alike, you’ll be accompanied the whole time by expert guides as you navigate the waters on the lookout for some 400 exotic species of marine life including green sea turtles, Hawaiian reef fish and the elusive Hawaiian Monk Seals. All gear is provided as well as an underwater cameras so you can capture amazing memories to take home and cherish. Groups are restricted to a maximum of five people.
From $38.50 per person
Spot a diverse variety of marine life on this half-day snorkelling adventure at Oahu’s Hanauma Bay. After pickup from your hotel, you’ll be driven to the stunning natural crescent beach in the sunken caldera of an extinct volcano known as Hanauma Bay. Here, you’ll get to watch a short film about the area’s history before donning your snorkelling gear and slipping into the crystal clear waters of the bay. All snorkeling gear and return transport are both included.