Hawaii is renowned for its beautiful beaches – some of which have unusual colors. Although most shores have white sand, a few have red, pink, green, and even black sand.
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Whether you like hiking, surfing, snorkeling, swimming, or sitting by the sea, Hawaii is a must-visit destination.
Oahu is the most popular Hawaiian island since it has many scenic attractions and an excellent transport network.
Moreover, the warm white sand, clear blue water, and an extensive coastline make Oahu the perfect spot for snorkeling.
Here are the top five snorkeling spots on Oahu island.
• Kulima Cove
• Kahe Point Beach Park
• Sharks Cove
• Hanauma Bay
The amount of shelter and serenity in Kulima Cove makes it the ideal snorkeling spot for beginners. This gorgeous beach sits on the eastern side of the Title Bay Hilton on the island’s famous North Shore. Because it is less popular compared to other Hawaiian beaches, Kulima is rarely overcrowded.
A natural rock barrier protects the Kulima Cove from waves. The best time for snorkeling at this location is when large waves hit the North Shore. The water has excellent clarity, and the be bottom mostly consists of coral flats with a few rocks.
Besides, there is plenty of fish, such that swimming in the cove feels like you are in an aquarium. Once you finish swimming, you can relax on the sandy shores.
The Kulima Cove has abundant parking spaces. As you drive to this beach, you can enjoy the scenic route along the North Shore. You can also taste local treats such as Mai Tai while traveling to this destination.
Kahe Point Beach Park
If you love swimming in clear blue waters with a lot of fish, Kahe Beach Park should be your next holiday destination. The snorkeling spot is found on the western side of Oahu, next to Ko Olina resorts.
Kahe Point is also referred to as the Electric Beach as its situated next to an electric power plant that pumps warm water into the sea. Beaches if the warmer temperatures, the beach has several species of fish and other sea life.
The electric beach is ideal for intermediate and advanced snorkelers since it is relatively deep compared to Kulima Cove. However, beginners can familiarise themselves with the waters by taking snorkel tours.
Although the beach is shallow near the shores, it gets deeper as you go inwards. The depth near the drainage pipes is 20 feet, which allows you to see schooling fish. The seafloor is primarily made of white sand and a few coral flats.
When swimming, maintain a safe distance from the drainage pipes. People tend to swim towards the tubes to enjoy the warm water, not knowing the force they produce is enough to drown them.
Ensure that you hold your mask and find as you dive into the water to prevent the breaking waves from removing them. The combination of sand and tides make the water at the shore cloudy, but it gets clearer as you go deeper into the sea.
According to the Scuba Diving Magazine, Sharks Cove is one of the ‘Top 12 Shore Dives in the World.’ Like Kulima Cove, it is located on the famous North Shore.
This small rocky bay is a part of the Pupukea Beach Park and gas clear blue waters and abundant sea life. It’s floor mostly has large boulders and coral heads that serve as shelter for marine life.
Since it is one of Oahu’s best snorkeling spots, Sharks Cove tends to get overcrowded, especially during the holidays. You need to arrive by 9 a.m. to avoid getting caught up in the crowd. If you arrive later, you might even lack parking space.
For the best snorkeling experience, you should visit this destination when the waves are at their peak. This usually occurs during the summer months.
Snorkeling in the Sharks Cove can be tricky because it is located between the famed bug wave surf spots of the Banzai Pipeline and Waimea Bay.
Sometimes, the waves can be too strong such that it is unsafe to surf or swim. It is better to shift to Kulima Cove during such instances, which is fifteen minutes away and has a protected shoreline.
It is not advisable to take kids to the Sharks Cove. This is because, unlike other snorkeling spots, this area has a rocky entrance instead of sandy shores. If you must bring children, ensure they maintain a safe distance. Better yet, they can swim at the nearby swimming pools.
Hanauma Bay draws its popularity from its exceptional features like calm shallow waters, white sand, and a high fish population. Even better, most fish in this area are tame.
Moreover, this bay is a former volcanic crater, meaning that it has natural protection against ocean swells. This makes it perfect for all snorkelers, including children.
Although many consider it a beach park, Hanauma Bay is a natural reserve. The local government has imposed several measures aimed at restoring the area to its original condition.
For instance, the maximum number of daily visitors has been reduced from 10,000 to 3,000 to lower the impact on the ecosystem. Furthermore, all tourists must watch a short video on environmental conservation before entering the bay.
Despite the limit mentioned above, 3,000 is still a significant number of people. For this reason, you need to arrive early to enjoy the bay’s best features.
The shoreline primarily consists of white sand with a little coral. The waters are so calm that you can wade through easily, regardless of your age.
When you swim seawards, you will notice several caves and crevices beyond the coral reefs. You will also encounter much fish that seem unaware of your presence.
It is worth noting that Hanauma Bay remains closed on Tuesdays to minimize the impact on the environment.
The road from the parking lot to the bay is steely, but it offers a fantastic view of the ocean below. If you don’t want to walk, you can board a tram instead.
Kaena Point State Park
Kaena Point is a long stretch of white sandy beaches. It is located on the west end of Oahu island, between the Pacific Ocean and the Waianae Mountains.
The unique thing about this snorkeling spot is that it rarely gets a high number of visitors. Despite having a lot of beautiful beaches, this area doesn’t receive many tourists.
Besides sand, Kaena Point has a fair share of marine life, though it is not as diverse as the other locations mentioned earlier. However, it makes up by having a long stretch of sand where you can relax after snorkeling.
The ocean floor at Kaena Point consists of coral flats and white sand. The farther you go into the sea, the clearer the water gets. This is because of the reduced wave action that stirs up the sand and makes the water murky. The snorkeling depth ranges between eight and fifteen feet.
If you plan to bring kids for swimming, ensure that the weather is calm. Waves tend to enlarge and swell, making it unsafe to stay in the water.
When this happens, you can shift to another destination or sit by the sea and bask in the sun while enjoying the picturesque views.
The designated park area starts at the end of the Farrington Highway. Since this place gets a few visitors, there is ample parking space.
Oahu, Hawaii’s biggest island, has several world-class beaches that have excellent snorkeling spots. If you are planning a visit, try to schedule it for April, May, September, and October, as these are months with the best weather.
November through March are rainy and unfavorable for beach activities. The state tends to experience hurricanes in November. Winter also brings the best waves for surfing, particularly in the North Shore.
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