Call Surf Report, (808) 973-4383, for snorkel and boogie conditions.
- WAIKIKI is not the best for snorkeling; no coral, rocks or seaweed. Waikiki is mostly flat sandy bottom with no habitat or fish. Poor sewage control and poison runoff (pesticide and fertilizer) have wreaked havoc on this beach. TO TOP
- SANS SOUCI BEACH is just beyond Waikiki, out Kalakaua toward Diamond Head (east), across from Kapiolani Park. Just past the Waikiki Aquarium is the Natatorium, and Sans Souci stretches south from there to the New Otani Hotel. The beach here is also called Kaimana or Dig Me Beach, because of the gem and gold festooned bodies rolled in Mazola. This beach is the start for the Labor Day Weekend Roughwater Swim, 2.6 miles to the Hilton Hawaiian Village. But it's not rough near the beach, and there are moderate fish populations. TO TOP
- KAHALA, behind the Kahala Hilton east of Diamond Head, is nice, calm, clear, wide and sandy. The little island off the beach was built in the sixties along with the hotel. Park at Waialae Beach Park, 4925 Kahala, and walk down the beach to the hotel. Kahala is pleasantly deserted during the week. TO TOP
- HANAUMA BAY is a wonder of nature. Once a volcanic crater, it is now a vast deep-water bay with a shallow reef 100 yards out. It has been a marine preserve since 1967, so you can?t hook, spear, capture, alter or take any seashells, animal life, sand or geological features. Inside the reef is habitat for myriad little fish; it is sheltered from currents and big surf.
There are up to 80 species of fish, but Hanauma is no longer a natural ecosystem--there are no live coral and the fish are small; the only size fish that can survive on handouts. Giant tour buses offload all day except early morning, so if you must go, go in the morning.
Travel east on Interstate H1 until it becomes Rte 72. There is a snack bar and restroom. Park entrance is $3 per person, 13 and up, and $1 to park. TO TOP
- KAILUA BEACH PARK is 30 acres of excellent snorkeling, but keep an eye out for the windsurfers. Next to the park is mile-long Lanikai Beach, a good spot for swimming and/or fish watching. This is also a good place to rent Kayaks. TO TOP
- KUALOA REGIONAL PARK is northwest of Kaneohe, 9.8 miles off Rte 83 going north. It's a popular regional park with bathrooms, picnic tables and camping. This long, sandy beach is good for swimming, but the water is sometimes murky. The little island off the beach is Chinaman's Hat. It's on the National Register of Historical Places because it's so important to Hawaiian culture.
Beside the park is Kualoa Sugar Mill Beach. You'll scrape your hull in the rocky shallows unless it's high tide. Once beyond the shallows you'll see lots of fish and octopus. TO TOP
- KAAAWA BEACH PARK is better than Swanzy, with picnic tables and a lifeguard, but look out for surf. TO TOP
- SWANZY BEACH PARK is a narrow, rocky beach usually underwater at high tide and home to many octopus. Beware the outrushing sand-slough at Swanzy--stay inside the reef and out of this little channel. TO TOP
- KAHANA BAY BEACH PARK is on Rte 83, 15.4 miles past Rte 63 going north and is only good with no breeze, no murk and flat water. TO TOP
- HAUULA BEACH PARK and PUNALUU BEACH PARK are connected by a beach and reef. The water inside the reef is nice, but tumultuous, deep and tricky outside. Big surf breaks over the reef sometimes in winter. Avoid the Portuguese Man-of-Wars as well. TO TOP
- SHARK'S COVE, on the north shore near Waimea, is on the northeast end of Pupukea Beach Park. This could be the second most popular snorkel spot on Oahu (see Hanauma Bay). It?s also part of Pupakea Marine Life Conservation District. Only Hanauma Bay on Oahu is similarly classified. Beware October through April, when killer surf and bad currents are common. The cove and tidal pools form a beautiful stretch of the north shore. It's a scuba hot spot in summer, with flat water and easy access. TO TOP
- Also at the Waimea end of the beach park is THREE TABLES, a reef in three sections. In the middle, between Three Tables and Shark's Cove, is a big tidal pool (Kapoo) that is too shallow for snorkeling. This spot should only be snorkeled in summer. TO TOP
- WAIMEA BAY BEACH PARK, across from Waimea Falls Park, is best visited May through September when it's flat. This is a world famous surf spot, with the biggest ridable waves in Hawaii--20 to 30 feet sometimes. However, on the Haleiwa side of this vast and epic bay is a high islet called the Rock. Beneath the Rock is a big tunnel, which is good for snorkel exploration if you are an expert in the water.
Waimea Bay could be one of the best at Waimea. Pupukea Marine Life Conservation District is the only such classified water off Oahu besides Hanauma Bay. The old quarry in the center is deep, coming up shallow on the side where you can get up close and personal with the fish. This place is five star, but only in summer with flat water! TO TOP
LEEWARD OAHU (Note: Trade winds blow from the northeast, sometimes blowing out windward snorkel spots. The west (leeward) coast is sheltered from trades by the Waianae Mountains, but you must watch for the wicked northwest swell on leeward shores. Check on conditions before the trip (about 1.5 hours west from Wakiwaki).
- YOKOHAMA BAY at Kaena State Park is past Makaha at the end of the paved road. No snack bar or lifeguards here. This reef parallels the coast for miles. Beware big surf. When it's calm, it's very good. TO TOP
- PAPAONEONE BEACH near Lahilahi Point is west on U.S. Interstate H1 past the Barber's Point Naval Air Station where the federal road changes to state Rte 93. Go north through Waianae toward Makaha. Look for two beachfront condos just past Makaha Valley Road. Access is between them; snorkel the left shoreline out to the point. TO TOP
- MAKAHA BEACH is famous for surfing. If the surf is down, it's good for snorkeling. TO TOP
- ELECTRIC BEACH (KAHE POINT) is an excellent site, with a 30-foot reef wall along the side of the point. It is across from the power plant (take H1 through Ebba Beach and Makaha). TO TOP