Rocky shoreline of Three Tables Beach in Oahu.

Diving and Snorkeling O’ahu’s North Shore

During the summer, from May to September, when the ocean is flat, O’ahu’s North Shore beaches are an amazing place to snorkel. With a mix of rocks, reef, sand, calm waters, and favorable winds, just about anywhere you jump in the water will have some interesting underwater topography, coral, and marine life. For the best snorkeling and diving experience, try these locations and outfitters.

Rocks jut out of the sand at Hanalei Bay on Kauai's northern shore.

Best Beaches in Hanalei, Kaua‘i

The best beaches in Hanalei are along Hanalei Bay & Waikoko Beach, all excellent for sun, sand, and surf. Hanalei Bay is big, popular, and full of conveniences, while Waikoko is smaller and less-crowded but still located close to Hanalei’s amenities.

Aerial view of Molokini Crater off the coast of Maui.

Snorkeling Molokini Crater

Nowhere else in Hawaii can you find waters as clear as those in Molokini Crater, a half-submerged volcanic caldera that rises from 300 feet of water. Snorkeling at Molokini is such a popular activity that if you want as much water to yourself as possible, you had best plan ahead to get there as early as possible on one of the smaller available charters.

View of an interpretive sign at the edge of Kealakekua Bay.

Beaches in the Big Island’s Captain Cook Area

Beaches near Big Island’s Captain Cook Monument are all excellent for various water sports, including rental kayaking, and two have great amenities for a full day at the beach with a packed picnic lunch. All are fairly busy beaches, even the harder-to-reach ones, so plan ahead if you’re looking for solitude.

Aerial view of the islet of Moku Ho‘oniki off Molokai.

Moloka‘i Dive Sites and Snorkeling

The only reason you haven’t heard about the amazing diving and snorkeling in Moloka’i is because—with the exception of a few protected areas—the majority of dive and snorkel spots are best accessed from a dive boat or charter. Use these outfitters to explore Moku Ho‘oniki and other areas.

The wreck of the HMS Vixen. Photo © Gary Parker/123rf.

Bermuda Shipwreck Dive Sites

Bermuda is known as the shipwreck capital of the Atlantic. Most of these unfortunate vessels, from treasure-laden galleons to U.S. Civil War-era steamers, lie less than 60 feet deep, making accessibility a breeze.

Keawakapu is one of Kihei’s most popular beaches.

South Maui Beaches: Kihei and Ma‘alaea

When it comes to beach weather in dry South Maui, the wind and clouds can greatly affect the comfort level. The morning hours are the best time to hit any beach. In the afternoon, the pocket of beaches in south Kihei and Wailea have the best chance of being sunny and calm.

A speckled tropical fish in the reef at Honolua Bay.

Snorkeling West Maui: Kapalau, Napili, and Honolua

Snorkeling is the most popular activity in West Maui. Hundreds of people ply the waters of the island’s western shoreline, but there’s always room to find your own section of reef. Mornings are the best time of day for snorkeling, and remember: different times of year also mean different snorkeling conditions.