10 Incredible Oahu Snorkeling Tours

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Oahu is the most popular Hawaiian island to visit—and for good reason! It has epic mountains, some of the best beaches in Hawaii, and an impossibly vibrant underwater world. While Oahu offers incredible snorkeling opportunities straight from its beaches, you’ll have the best chance of seeing untouched nature and wildlife offshore.

So if you’re looking for an underwater adventure, here’s 10 of the best Oahu snorkeling tours to experience Hawaii’s colorful coral reefs and abundant marine life. 

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Woman snorkeling in a coral reef in Oahu
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1. Guided Snorkeling Tour for Beginners

  • Duration: 1 hour and 30 minutes
  • Pickup offered? No
  • Departing from: Honolulu
  • Includes: snorkeling equipment rental

On this small group tour (limited to just 10 guests), a patient instructor will show you exactly how to use the gear and will take you around an extremely calm and gentle coral reef. Along the way, you’ll see plenty of tropical fish, like puffer fish, and other wildlife, like sea cucumbers. 

Man snorkeling underwater in Oahu

The purpose of this tour is to get more comfortable with snorkeling, so, in full transparency, it’s highly unlikely you’ll see any epic wildlife, like turtles or dolphins, here. However, if you’re new to snorkeling and looking for help getting the hang of it (it’s WEIRD not to breathe through your nose, y’all!), this is definitely an excellent option for getting your feet wet—literally!

2. Swim With Dolphins Tour on the West Coastline of Oahu

  • Duration: 4 hours
  • Pickup offered? Yes
  • Departing from: Waianae
  • Includes: lunch, snacks, drinks, snorkeling equipment rental

If I had to pick only one of the Oahu snorkeling tours, it would probably be this locally-owned and operated option, given the friendly crew’s aptitude for finding incredible wildlife, like turtles, dolphins, and even whales for guests to swim with! 

Spinner dolphins jumping out of the water in Hawaii

You’ll board a decently sized double-hulled catamaran, which makes riding in the boat feel more stable, even in choppy water. Plus, despite the boat’s impressive size, the tour is limited to just 25 people. 

Over the course of the four hour tour, the knowledgeable crew will take you out in the catamaran, sharing information about Hawaiian culture and history and, of course, the wildlife in the water around you. They really do everything they can to make sure you have the trip of your life, all while still being conscientious of giving wildlife their space and respectfully observing at a distance. 

3. Kaneohe Sandbar Snorkeling Tour

  • Duration: 2 hours and 45 minutes
  • Pickup offered? No
  • Departing from: Kaneohe
  • Includes: snacks, drinks, paddle board and snorkeling equipment rental

This is one of the most unique Oahu snorkeling tours, where you’ll sail to the Kaneohe Sandbar in Kaneohe Bay along the island’s western coastline. Here, you’ll have two hours to swim, snorkel, paddle board, relax, or simply soak up the sun. Sea turtles live on one end of the sandbar, so you have a really solid chance of getting to snorkel with them! 

Unlike some snorkeling spots in Oahu (I’m looking at you, Turtle Canyon), the Kaneohe Sandbar is uncrowded—you’re actually likely to be the only tour group there! This generally means you’ll also have better luck seeing lots of tropical fish while you’re snorkeling (no one else there to scare ‘em away!).

Yellow tang seen underwater while snorkeling in Oahu

Additionally, the water is calm and quite shallow, making this the perfect excursion for beginners who might be a bit nervous about snorkeling.

4. Turtle Canyon Snorkeling Excursion

Duration: 2 hours

Pickup offered? No

Departing from: Honolulu

Includes: snacks, drinks, snorkeling equipment rental

Okay, okay. I know I just talked trash about how busy Turtle Canyon is—but it’s busy for a reason!

Turtle Canyon offers some of the best snorkeling in Oahu, given that it’s conveniently located directly offshore of Honolulu and that you have a SUPER good chance of seeing multiple sea turtles there.

Sea turtle diving in Hawaii

It’s actually considered a “turtle cleaning station”, given that the turtles have identified this particular spot as being a spot where algae-loving fish, like wrasse, angelfish, or butterfly fish, hang out and can clean off the algae that grows on the turtles’ shells. So it’s kind of a twofer—you’ll get to see a ton of beautiful tropical fish AND honu!

We actually made a whole post all about the best Turtle Canyon tours in Oahu, but if we were just going to pick our very favorites, this option would lead the pack. 

The crew with this tour company are incredibly friendly and patient, making sure that snorkelers of all skill levels feel confident getting in the water. They truly go out of their way to do everything they can to ensure you see turtles—and, sometimes even larger wildlife, like dolphins or whales! 

Spinner dolphins jumping out of water in Hawaii

Plus both the boat and the provided gear is much higher quality than some of the other operators offering tours here—there’s nothing more annoying than swallowing a bunch of seawater because you’re using crappy snorkeling gear.

5. Semi-Private Tour to Turtle Canyon

  • Duration: 1 hour and 30 minutes
  • Pickup offered? No
  • Departing from: Honolulu
  • Includes: snacks, drinks, snorkeling equipment rental

Most tours to Turtle Canyon, including the one recommended above, can have up to 35 (or more!) snorkelers.  Not on this small group tour, though! 

This tour has a MAXIMUM of just six guests, providing you a much more intimate experience. For example, you’ll get hands-on interaction with the staff, who can point out wildlife, like octopuses or sea stars, that you’d almost certainly otherwise miss, or keep a watchful eye on you if you’re a bit nervous about snorkeling. 

Diving turtle underwater in Oahu

Another uniquely cool thing about this tour? It actually offers a turtle sighting guarantee—if you don’t see any turtles on your trip, you can actually rebook and go again for FREE! Accordingly, if you decide to go with this tour company, I’d strongly suggest booking the tour towards the beginning of your trip, so, in the unlikely chance that Turtle Canyon does not live up to its name, you can simply rebook for later on during your trip.                               

6. Swim (Cage-free!) with sharks

  • Duration: 2 hours
  • Pickup offered? No
  • Departing from: Haleiwa
  • Includes: snorkeling equipment rental, free photos and videos of the experience

Want for one of the most adventurous Oahu snorkeling tours?

This small group tour (with a maximum of just 8 guests) departs from the North Shore of Oahu and heads three miles offshore, to depths of over 250 feet! 

Here, you’ll get to jump in the water for half an hour with a variety of wildlife, including sandbar sharks and galapagos sharks. While it may feel a bit scary to be in the water with sharks, these creatures are harmless to humans—plus, you’ll always be under the watchful eye of a safety diver.

Sharks seen while snorkeling in Haleiwa, Oahu

The knowledgeable staff definitely does an awesome job at making you feel at ease—putting your safety first while still maintaining a fun and lighthearted atmosphere. They also are awesome photographers, snapping dozens (if not hundreds!) of you observing the incredible wildlife during the tour.

7. Cage-free Shark Dive Tour 

  • Duration: 2 hours
  • Pickup offered? No
  • Departing from: Haleiwa
  • Includes: snorkeling equipment rental

This is another solid small group option, with a maximum of 12 guests, for swimming with sharks on the North Shore. Similar to the tour above, you’ll be taken three miles offshore to a deep section of the ocean that’s known for galapagos and tiger sharks. 

Sharks seen underwater while snorkeling

The staff are knowledgeable and awesome at helping you see and interact with wildlife—not just different species of sharks, but oftentimes, turtles and even dolphins as well. They also make sure you feel safe and confident while you’re in the water, with watchful guides and safety divers to make sure your tour isn’t TOO eventful. 

To be honest, I’d generally choose the tour above over this one—there’s less people allowed on the tour at a time and, most importantly, the photos are included in the price. But, if you don’t care much about photos, this option is a bit cheaper and, ultimately, might be a better value for you.

8. Catamaran Sail and Snorkel

  • Duration: 3 hours
  • Pickup offered? Yes
  • Departing from: Ko Olina
  • Includes: lunch, cocktails, drinks, and snorkeling equipment rental

If you’re staying on the west side of the island in Ko Olina, like at the popular Aulani Disney Resort, consider joining this awesome tour on a 53-foot catamaran. 

As you cruise from the harbor out to the snorkeling spot, you’ll have plenty of comfy places to lounge onboard to soak up the sun—just make sure you have a good view of the water so you can spot spinner dolphins, who often like to swim alongside the boat! Once you’ve reached the coral reef, you’ll get to enjoy crystal clear water and the abundant wildlife that lives there, including tropical fish and, if you’re lucky, even sea turtles.

Tropical fish seen while snorkeling in Oahu

Everything on this tour feels premium—the catamaran feels new and impeccably maintained, the lunch is surprisingly delicious, and the cocktails (with fun names like the “Dirty Naked Pirate”!) are aflowing and GOOD.

9. Dolphin Watching and Snorkeling Safari Off the Western Coast of Oahu

  • Duration: 3 hours
  • Pickup offered? Yes
  • Departing from: Waianae
  • Includes: snorkeling equipment rental

For a more adventurous option to add to your Oahu itinerary, join this intimate tour, with a maximum of just 16 travelers.

Departing from the west side of the island, you’ll cruise out on a 32-foot U.S. Coast Guard vessel (similar to a Zodiac), A portion of this tour is a wildlife watching cruise—you’ll almost always see seabirds and dolphins and, during the winter in Hawaii, you’ll have an excellent chance of spotting humpback whales as well. The best part of the tour is learning all about the incredible wildlife around you from your knowledgeable marine biologist and naturalist guides—it’s obvious how much they care about the wildlife and their environment.

Tropical fish swimming in coral in Hawaii

Of course, it’s also a snorkeling tour, with plenty of opportunities to swim with colorful tropical fish, sea turtles, and even other types of sea creatures, like pygmy killer whales. And, given how much you learn about the wildlife while on this tour, the underwater world feels that much more magical.

10. Oahu Submarine Scooter Adventure

  • Duration: 2 hours
  • Pickup offered? yes
  • Departing from: Honolulu
  • Includes: snorkeling gear rental (including a SUBMARINE SCOOTER!!!!); wetsuit rental

Okay, this is one of the most unique Oahu snorkeling tours. Much like many of the other Oahu snorkeling tours, you’ll sail from Honolulu, out into Maunalua Bay, on a 50 foot catamaran.

But here’s the super cool part—you’ll get a chance to ride a submarine scooter, where your whole body will submerge underwater about 10 or so feet and get to zoom around and see marine life, like tropical fish, turtles, or even stingrays, up close and personal. Even if you might be a little nervous about the experience at first, the guides are incredibly patient and stay with you the whole time, making you feel super comfortable underwater.

Turtle swimming near a coral reef in Hawaii

When it’s not your turn to ride the submarine scooters, you’ll still get to snorkel through the water and enjoy Oahu’s vibrant wildlife from above. This company typically goes to a dive spot that’s not frequented by other tours so your group will largely get to enjoy the coral and marine life all to yourselves!

I hope you have a better idea of which of the Oahu snorkeling tours makes sense for your trip! Do you have any questions about the options above? Let us know in the comments below!

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