Top Snorkeling and Scuba Diving in Oahu

The ‘Gathering Place’ is the most developed and populous island of Hawai’i. Aside from world-renowned landmarks such as Diamond Head, Waikiki Beach, and Pearl Harbor, Oahu offers magnificent beaches affording a multitude of snorkeling and diving opportunities.
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Shark's Cove

Oahu, Hawaiian Islands

intermediate
(77)
Shark's Cove at Kalalua Point is another must-dive site for Oahu. The entry is easy, and it's just a short kick to get outside the reef. Kids and snorkelers will find the cove perfect for their activities. Rocky coastal area & tidal pools teeming with small fish for snorkeling, plus showers & restrooms. Off Kamehameha Highway on the North Shore in the Waimea area. Why is it called Shark's Cove? Because the outline of the reef from above looks like a shark.
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Lana'i Lookout (Scenic Lookout)

Oahu, Hawaiian Islands

advanced
(17)
Lana'i Lookout is not for the faint of heart. It is for 'extreme divers' only. Fortunately, not too many novices find their way to this extremely challenging spot. You will make your entry by giant stride to the left of the lookout, and exit to a small rocky patch to the right. Again, an experienced guide is a must! Ask your local dive shop to talk you out of it, and if they can't, ask them to guide you through it. The sights are well worth it. For further discussion on diving this coast, see the Halona Blow Hole description. Lana'i Lookout, on the South Eastern shore, is at the only parking lot South of the Halona Blow Hole and North of Hanauma Bay.
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Hanauma Bay

Oahu, Hawaiian Islands

beginner
(43)
What is there that hasn't already been said about Hanauma Bay? Divers' paradise, excellent diving, friendly marine life, etc. Unfortunately, the overcrowding of this popular site has caused major environmental impact and has necessitated the implementation of many conservation measures. As crowded as this place is, it now has only one-third the attendance it used to have before restrictions were passed in 1990. Parking, and access to the beach is controlled, and volunteer docents try to educate the visitors so additional damage is avoided. One of our greatest concerns is the trampling of the reef. Although numerous signs are posted, it still constantly occurs. Although there's not too much live coral inside of the reef, other living organisms inhabit the zone, and it is basic diver etiquette to avoid touching any reef. Take Kalanianaole Highway (72) East to Koko Head. At the top of the hill, turn right into Hanauma Bay.
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Turtle Heaven

Oahu, Hawaiian Islands

intermediate
(2)
This site is half the distance from Turtle Street and is inshore. The reef peaks at 10 feet below the surface and, because of seismic activity during its formation, has a valley below it that drops to a depth of 100 feet. The wall is on a vertical drop and it has a partner another 100 yards inshore. The main focus of the site is along a 200 yard section of the seaward side of the wall and its top has a wide variety of fish, corals, overhangs and arches. Small pukas are found through the side of the wall leading to Turtle Street. The characteristic valley is called the Haleiwa Trench. Another attraction is a substantial coral mound, 20 yards off the wall, which seems to be a remnant of the original structure. The pinnacle of this mound is 100 feet wide and stops 35 feet below the surface. About a dozen turtles sit on the mound and are at ease with visiting divers.
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Police Beach

Oahu, Hawaiian Islands

Not ranked yet
(2)
Police Beach is a remote beach on Oahu's North Shore, even though it lies between other popular surfing beaches. It is not remote in terms of distance, but rather in terms of accessibility. The beach encompasses a large stretch of shoreline, all the way from Papa'iloa Beach to Pua'ena Point. To get to Police Beach, one either has to walk along the shoreline from Papa'iloa Beach or Pua'ena Point Beach Park because the backshore of Police Beach is private property. Episodes of the popular TV series LOST were filmed on Police Beach. The beach is sandy, but many areas on the water's edge are covered by a lava rock shelf. The ocean bottom offshore is rocky too, so swimming isn't possible here (also because of strong rip currents, especially when the surf is up). Several surf spots are located offshore. Also, local fishermen come here for shoreline fishing.
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Three Tables Beach

Oahu, Hawaiian Islands

beginner
(27)
Three Tables is great as long as you use some caution. It is a small but beautiful sandy beach with access to the best coral on the north shore. Like every spot on the north shore, this is best snorkeled in the summertime when the water is calm. Three Tables beach offers good scenery for the diver: outcropping of lava, a wall, and lava tubes.Off Kamehameha Highway on the North Shore in the Waimea area, just South of Shark's Cove.
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Makaha Beach Park (Caverns)

Oahu, Hawaiian Islands

beginner
(31)
Makaha Beach Park offers shore access to a site regularly visited by dive boats: Makaha Caverns. Be prepared to kick out about 150 yards, but the sights are worth it! Facilities are located across the road. On the Farrington Highway on the West Shore.
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Fire House

Oahu, Hawaiian Islands

Not ranked yet
(5)
See my review below. -- Stephen Porter From h-1 west travel to H-2 north, On H-2 north to Mililani/Wahiawa take exit 8 (right) to Wahiawa/Kamehameha highway (approx 12 miles to Pupukea Beach park/Fire House)<br><br>Comments for Pictures below:<br>pic#1 At this light turn left<br>pic#2 Across the street from food land<br>pic#3 Pupukea park (before the fire house (station)<br>pic#4 Park here, Try to arrive early. On the far end of the parking lot there are bathrooms, but no shower. There is a spigot to rinse gear. The closest showers are at Shark's Cove.<br>
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Pukano Point

Oahu, Hawaiian Islands

intermediate
(5)
Pukano Point is just south of Yokohama Bay. There is excellent coast line to explore here for the intermediate diver. At the Northern most end of the Farrington Highway on the West Shore.
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Makua Beach

Oahu, Hawaiian Islands

Not ranked yet
(8)
Makua Beach offers an easy beach access to an interesting shoreline. There are no facilities at many sites on this stretch, so take plenty of water with you. At the North end of the Farrington Highway on the West Shore.
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Kahala Barge

Oahu, Hawaiian Islands

intermediate
(1)
This dive site features the wreck of a barge that was sunk for use as an artificial reef in roughly 90 feet of water, 250 yards off the Kahala Hilton. The wreck, a 200 foot Matson Barge, lies upright and intact with a pilothouse one can penetrate, this makes for amazing photos. Visibility is great due to the currents cleaning the water, but one should take care not to get swept up in them. Overall, one should have some underwater experience before attempting this dive.
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Hale'iwa Ali'i Beach

Oahu, Hawaiian Islands

beginner
(16)
Hale'iwa Ali'i Beach Park is just to the West of the harbor. It is an alternate entry site for Hale'iwa shore dive. Enter at the right of the trench (looking makai) and swim to trench and descend to avoid stepping on the coral. Off Kamehameha Highway on the North Shore in the Hale'iwa area.
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Halona Blow Hole

Oahu, Hawaiian Islands

advanced
(24)
At first glance, Halona Blow Hole appears to be an easy, protected site for both snorkelers and divers. However, a list of SCUBA fatalities since 1971 shows that more fatalities by far occur at Halona Blow Hole than any other dive site in the state. First off, the sea cliffs that make this stretch of shoreline so great for diving also precludes any easy exit sites. This, coupled with the strong current, slippery rocks, waves on the ledges, and lack of lifeguards makes this coast one of the most hazardous on the island. Be especially careful on this stretch of coast! The nearest facilities are at Sandy Beach to the North, so take plenty of water. Halona Blow Hole, on the South Eastern shore, can be found at a large touristy turn out between Hanauma Bay and Sandy Beach Park.
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Kea'au Beach

Oahu, Hawaiian Islands

advanced
(5)
Kea'au Beach is for advanced divers only because of the difficult entry along the lava ledge. This dive should only be attempted in the calmest seas. Consult your local dive shop to get the current conditions. On the Farrington Highway on the West Shore.
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Point Panic

Oahu, Hawaiian Islands

beginner
(3)
This is a popular dive training site located on the south shore, near the Kewalo Marine Laboratory. Once you enter from the staircase, you'll swim south, parallel to the boat channel. Remember that the area between the red and green buoys is a boat channel, so stay to the west! Once you swim south of the 2nd green buoy, you can drop down and choose which spot to visit. To the northwest is Horseshoe Reef (named for the shape of the reef). To the west is the Kewalo pipeline, which you can follow south to pipe discharge. To the north/northeast is Secrets Reef. Be aware that there is a lot of boat traffic going in and out of this area with charters. If you have to approach the surface for any reason, deploy a surface marker or come up near your dive flag buoy. Right next to Magic Island, and Makai Pier near Makapu'u
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Koko Kai Park

Oahu, Hawaiian Islands

intermediate
(11)
Koko Kai Park is mostly used as an entry for the previous site, Koke'e Park. It has a natural ledge that you may step on -- to do your giant stride on the next incoming swell. Exit is not easy at this site, which is why most will wait until the incoming tide, and then drift/swim to Koke'e Park beach. We recommend a guide to assist you with the first dive at this site. Take Kalanianaole Highway (72) East toward Koko Head. Before heading up the side of Koko Head, turn right on Nawiliwili Street. After .3 miles turn left onto Poipu Drive. Bear right. After .6 miles turn right onto Hanapepe Loop. Bear Left. After .25 miles turn right into the park area.
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Ko' Olina Resort

Oahu, Hawaiian Islands

beginner
(9)
Ko'Olina is a series of four protected coves that are really only suited for snorkeling. The currents are too strong just outside the breakers. The sites include well-groomed parks with all the facilities -- a great place to take the family! On the South West corner of the Farrington Highway on the West Shore. Turn off on the exit for Ko'Olina Resort.
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Turtle Bay

Oahu, Hawaiian Islands

beginner
(7)
Turtle Bay is a nice family beach area with all the facilities. The diving is excellent beyond the barrier reef, but snorkelers can find fish and an occasional turtle in the shallows. Remember not to approach a resting turtle any closer than 20 feet. Off Kamehameha Highway. Northern most bay on Oahu in the Kawela area.
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Devil's Rock

Oahu, Hawaiian Islands

intermediate
(2)
Fifteen minutes from Haleiwa Harbor at the east end of Dillingham Airfield is a finger of the Wailalua Wall which stretches seaward. On that plateau, about half a mile offshore, rests a large wash rock. The position for diving in varied topography is marked by Devil's Rock which rises four to five feet above the surface. The inshore rock drops suddenly to a sandy bottom and a depth of 70 feet. There are frequent turtle sightings at this spot. One can find shells (such as tiger cowries) in the few 5 to 10 vertical cracks, although these hide the resident lobsters. The washrock provides an excellent snorkeling spot and is also coated in healthy corals. On the seaward side the drop falls to 90 feet and is a good spot for dolphins in the summer and whales in the spring.
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Koke'e Park

Oahu, Hawaiian Islands

intermediate
(5)
Koke'e Park is a great public access to a magnificent shelf. This is sometimes used as an exit point from the next dive site, Koko Kai Park. Take Kalanianaole Highway (72) East toward Koko Head. Before heading up the side of Koko Head, turn right on Nawiliwili Street. After .3 miles turn left onto Poipu Drive. Bear right. After .6 miles turn right onto Hanapepe Loop. Take your first right into the public access.
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Turtle Street

Oahu, Hawaiian Islands

beginner
(1)
Located a half-mile off the west end of Kaiaka Bay is a coral reef at depths of 25-30 feet. This site has a variety of overhangs and arches. On top of the shelf there is a large crack that is 60 yards wide by 100 yards long, where a school of 15 to 20 porcupine fish reside. At its center, several formations rise into the arches, tubes and caves. The residents of the formation and the topographical aberration give this site its name, Turtle Street. Six very tame turtles provide an excellent opportunity to photograph these gentle creatures, and the site is nestled with lots of pukas and is good grounds for lobster.
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Turtle Canyon Reef

Oahu, Hawaiian Islands

beginner
(0)
Turtle Canyons is a great scuba dive for both beginners or first time diving and novice divers alike. The reef is approximately 20 to 45 feet deep. The boat ride out to Turtle Canyons takes around 15 minutes depending on your boat and what harbor you depart out of. Turtle Canyons was formed thousands of years ago when volcanic activity was in action here on Oahu. Large lava/rock encrusted fingers point out from the shallow shores of Waikiki in a south eastern direction. In between these "fingers" are mostly small rock boulders , coral heads and sand. If you're really into colorful corals, this dive won't be for you. The area where this dive site is situated leaves no room for fragile corals and soft corals to flourish. Heavy swells roll in from the south east like blazing freight trains only to leave an area that almost resembles a whitish blue desert. So why the heck even bother? Well my friends, this dive is an incredible one if you want to view the Hawaiian green sea turtles in their natural habitat. We get divers with hundreds of dives who really "freak" out when they meet these calm spirited attitude laid back reptiles. You can literally swim right with these rare reptiles without a care in the world. I do want to mention that turtles are on the endangered species list so harassing or harming these beautiful creatures will leave you with a painful fine. So please give these cool marine creatures your utmost respect, after all you are in their "house."
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Kaena Point

Oahu, Hawaiian Islands

beginner
(0)
You guys are missing a very good dive site from your repertoire of Oahu sites. May I suggest Kaena Point on the extreme West side of the island? There is a real entry point that is easy and on a calm day can make this site a beginner to intermediate site, but on rough days or days that have a strong current an advanced site. At the end of Farrington Hwy. there is a small cove in the Kaena Point Beach Park that makes an easy entry point. Navigation in the site is super easy since you follow a trough that loops around making it a ledge dive that lasts about 60min at a slow pace and ends where you began with 500psi. and Max. depth will be around 36ft. with average depth being about 20-30ft. I can almost guarantee a white tipped reef shark to be sleeping under one of the ledges at around 34ft every time you dive this site. I took my dive club here last weekend and we had a blast. Make sure to put this one on your sites list.
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Mole Heaven

Oahu, Hawaiian Islands

advanced
(0)
This is a shore dive from Haleiwa Beach Park and is best accessed by swimming out from Jameson's Restaurant to the green (#3) buoy on the starboard side of the channel. There is a surface layer of poor visibility (2-3 feet) that clears to about 60 feet deeper down. The site is a labyrinth of channels, with walls that run from 25 feet, to within 3 feet of the surface. They are 12 to 15 feet across, and separated by a silt bottom, with the offshore end tapering to a width of one diver. This site is best dived when working in towards the shore. The matrix of pukas is filled with tiny lobster and a number of tiger cowries. Though inaccessible during the day, everything comes out at night for good photography, making this an excellent night dive site. As such, this is an advanced dive site that should be led by a guide.