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Best Snorkeling with Turtles on Oahu

Is snorkeling with turtles on Oahu on your vacation bucket list? I don’t blame you if it is – it was on mine too! The first time I saw a sea turtle while snorkeling on Oahu, it made my whole vacation. See a sea turtle. Check!

There are two types of sea turtles on Oahu. The Hawaiian green sea turtle (Honu) and the Hawksbill sea turtle. These magical creatures frequent the waters around some of the popular beaches and can be seen resting on the sand or spotted while snorkeling. They are endangered and protected species on the islands and require respect and space.

>>>Read Next: Oahu 7 Day Itinerary and Oahu 5 Day Itinerary

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Our #1 Top Pick

This Turtle Canyon Snorkel Excursion from Waikiki is the most popular tour for snorkeling with turtles! With thousands of 5 star reviews, you are sure to have an amazing time on this snorkel cruise!

There are several spots around Oahu for snorkeling with turtles, but some of the best can only be accessed by boat. Check out our favorite Oahu snorkel tours below to find the best fit for your group!

Our top three picks for the best Oahu snorkeling with turtles are below. But this whole article breaks down the top 9 tours on the whole island so that you can check them out in detail.

All Oahu Turtle snorkeling tours listed below have practically all 5 star reviews with many happy guests. Choose from North shore Snorkeling tours, private snorkeling tours, tours with transportation included, and tours from Waikiki – but what do they all have in common?

They all will give you the very best chance to make your dream come true so that you can snorkel with turtles on Oahu too!


Our Top 3 Picks:

Best Tours for Snorkeling with Turtles on Oahu

Snorkeling with Hawaiian Sea Turtles off the coast of Oahu

1. Turtle Canyon Snorkel Excursion from Waikiki – TOP #1 PICK

  • 5/5 stars
  • 2300+ Reviews
  • 2 hour tour

This Snorkel Excursion departs from Waikiki and heads by boat out to Turtle Canyon Oahu. This area off the coast is filled with vibrant marine life and Hawaiian sea turtles. During some seasons, you’ll spot spinner dolphins and humpback whales too!

Snorkel gear and fins are provided as well as on-board refreshments. Expect to spend one hour in the water snorkeling. The boat is capped at 40 guests.

>>> Pro Tip: Book the 7am tour for the best snorkeling conditions and less people competing for views of the turtles!

Plan to bring your own towel and $5 for parking.

Your tour guides will lead you to the best place to spot turtles with 99% accuracy – because sometimes nature doesn’t cooperate! But with thousands of 5 star reviews, your chances of seeing the Honu in action is pretty great!


  • Most popular Turtle Canyon snorkel tour on Oahu
  • Snorkel gear provided
  • Early morning tour times available
  • On-board refreshments

2. Kayak, Snorkel, and Surf with Turtles in Honolulu

  • 5/5 stars
  • 40+ Reviews
  • 3 hour tour

This Kayak, Snorkel, and Surf Adventure is one of a kind! Two local Hawaiian guides will take your private group on a morning or afternoon to remember. Reviewers rave about their professionalism, safety, and excellent instruction!

Plan to kayak or paddleboard out to sea for 15 minutes and then snorkel at Turtle Canyon to see sea turtles on Oahu, as well as around a shipwreck site filled with colorful, tropical fish.

Part three of your adventure will be an excellent surfing lesson allowing travelers to surf back into the coastline. Previous travelers have been very successful with the professional instruction they received on this tour and some even booked the same tour again for another day!

To wind up your day, these guides are happy to help you out with photographing your adventure and the gorgeous scenery in the background. Take home tangible reminders of your incredible day!


  • 3-in-1 adventure with professional guide
  • Private group; up to 4 people
  • Snorkel a shipwreck site + near Hawaiian sea turtles
  • Transportation provided

View of Waikiki Beach
View of the Waikiki coastline – Turtle Canyon is just a 15 minute boat ride!

3. Turtle Canyon Snorkel (semi-private Oahu snorkeling tour)

  • 5/5 stars
  • 280+ Reviews
  • 1.5 hour tour

This Semi-Private Turtle Snorkel Tour is an excellent way to experience the beauty of the Hawaiian sea turtles without a crowded boat and large group.

Only 6 people are allowed on each tour and you have the added benefit of riding a 36 foot high-speed, inflatable boat called a Zodiac. Because the boat is fast and the group is small, this tour is a bit shorter than some other larger group tours to Turtle Canyon, but your time in the water snorkeling is the same.

After a short cruise up the coastline, expect a magical time snorkeling with many colorful fish and turtles with your provided equipment. A professional snorkel guide will help you lead you to the best spots to see them. Juice and water are provided to quench your thirst on board as you take in the scenic views.

What happens if you don’t see any turtles?! It’s rare, but it does happen every now and then. But this tour will take you out for another FREE tour if the turtles are hiding on your first tour. Check their rates below to take advantage of their Turtle Guarantee!


  • Professional snorkel guide
  • 6 people maximum capacity
  • High speed zodiac boat
  • Guarantee Turtle Sighting or Free 2nd Ride

>>>Read Next: How to Visit Oahu’s Jurassic Valley<<<

4. Private Adventure Boat Charter with Snorkeling (with turtles on Oahu)

  • 5/5 stars
  • 70+ Reviews
  • 2 hour private tour

This Private Snorkeling Tour is an incredible way to experience the ocean with only your group!

The captain will coordinate this boat charter with you for your private ride for up to 6 people. The captain will design the trip to help accomplish whatever is most important to your group. Spend more time riding the waves or more time in the water – it is up to you!

Expect stunning ocean views as you ride along the coastline and incredible sea life experiences. Depending on the season, you’ll see turtles, fish, dolphins, rays, and whales in winter. If Oahu snorkeling with turtles is your top priority, they’ll do their best to make that happen for you!

This boat charter is the fastest boat out on the water and travelers are sure to enjoy this 2 hour private cruise along Oahu’s south shore.


  • Private Tour for 1-6 people
  • Personally crafted tour based on requests
  • Thrilling boat ride, beautiful views + snorkeling with turtles + rays
  • Not recommended for pregnant women or those with heart, back, or other medical conditions

5. North Shore Circle Island Tour + Oahu Turtle Snorkeling

  • 5/5 stars
  • 2800+ Reviews
  • 8-10 hour tour

If you would like to combine two Oahu bucket list items, check out this North Shore Circle Island + Snorkel Tour that includes snorkeling with turtles on the North Shore!

Take a mini bus tour around the island with a maximum of 20 people. Check out Dole Plantation, Diamond Head, Macadamia Nut Farm, Macadamia Nut Farm, and snorkel with sea turtles!


  • Professional guide offering entertainment and local history + culture
  • See several amazing spots around the island
  • Small air-conditioned bus
  • Hotel pickup and drop-off at some hotels
  • Bring water shoes ad the beach is rocky

Sea Turtle on Oahu

6. Maunalua Bay Turtle Snorkeling Tour on Oahu

  • 5/5 stars
  • 50+ Reviews
  • 2.5 hours

This Maunalua Bay Turtle Snorkeling Tour is located on the south shore but it away from the hustle and bustle of Waikiki. Cruise down the beautiful coastline to the clear waters of Maunalua Bay.

The reef here has both deep and shallow areas giving travelers many opportunities to explore all different varieties of sea life. The sea turtles here travel down to the reef and then back to the surface for air allowing you to watch them in their native habitat.

Snorkel gear is provided along with flotation devices.


  • Snorkel gear provided
  • Uncrowded Snorkel experience; 24 people max
  • Minimum age of 5 to get in the water
  • Unique snorkel area to explore

7. North Shore Oahu Snorkeling Tour

  • 4.5/5 Stars
  • 45+ Reviews
  • 2 hour tour

There are many Oahu snorkel tours from Waikiki, but this North Shore Snorkeling Tour will show you sea turtles on other parts of the island. Reviewers love the fun crew, small group size, and exciting boat ride.

Departing from beautiful Hale’iwa, this tour lasts for about 2 hours and explores a variety of reefs to help travelers see as much marine life as possible. Tropical fish, sea turtles, rays. native reef fish, and whales in the winter frequent the area.


  • Small group tour; max of 10
  • Snorkel gear provided
  • Restroom onboard
  • Personalized snorkel tour

Oahu Snorkeling with Turtles: Three Tables Snorkel Spot | Island + Alpine
North Shore Oahu Snorkeling

8. 9am Turtle Canyon Snorkel Tour

  • 5/5 stars
  • 125+ Reviews
  • 2.5 hour tour

This 9am Snorkel Turtle Canyon Tour made our list due to the fact that after snorkeling with the green Hawaiian Sea Turtles in Turtle Canyon, they take travelers sailing around Diamond Head to look for spinner dolphins and take in the incredible views. In winter, they will also search for humpback whales!

The morning start time takes advantage of beautiful morning conditions and ensures that travelers have the best chance of enjoying the turtles. A professional guide will help you spot the turtles while swimming. Expect tropical fish in the hundreds and sometimes even octopus too!

Park for free at Embassy Suites with their validation. If you forget your sea sickness medication or reef safe sunscreen, they’ll help you out with that too!


  • Complimentary Snacks on board
  • Diamond Head sail
  • Validation for free 8 hour parking at Embassy Suites
  • Boat is not crowded

9. Turtle Canyon Snorkel Adventure

  • 5/5 stars
  • 270+ Reviews
  • 2 hour tour

This Turtle Canyon Snorkel Tour offers guests new high end snorkel gear and floatation devices for added safety and comfort. Your snorkel guides will be certified divers and lifeguards who will assist you with spotting the turtles as well as ensuring your safety.

Non-swimmers are still welcome to enjoy this tour by sitting on the swim step with their feet in the water and seeking out the marine life from above. where you can sit and put your feet in the water.

After snorkeling, warm up in the sun by sunbathing on the floating platforms. Snacks, juice and water are provided. They are a BYOB vessel.


  • Sunbathe on the floating platforms
  • Swim step for non-swimmers
  • Snorkel gear provided
  • Refreshments provided


Snorkeling with sea turtles on Oahu
Stay a minimum of 10-15 feet away from all sea turtles. It is illegal to approach or touch them.

Can you snorkel with sea turtles on Oahu?

You can snorkel with sea turtles as long as you remain at least 10-15 feet from the turtles and do not harass them in any way. Choose one of the fantastic turtle snorkeling tours on Oahu to see the turtles at Turtle Canyon or try your luck at seeing them on your own at Laniakea Beach (we recommend around 11am-3pm when the sun is warmest).

Can you swim with sea turtles on Oahu?

Hawaiian green sea turtles are on endangered species on Oahu and they are protected by law. You may see them on the beach, you can watch them swim, and you can see them while snorkeling underwater. However, you are not allowed to follow them, swim along with them, or touch them. It is important to keep at least 10-15 feet of distance between you.

What time of day is the best time to see sea turtles on Oahu?

Early morning hours are best when snorkeling due to crowds in the popular spots. On land, the warmest hours of the day are best time to see sea turtles. Aim for between 11am-3pm to find them napping on the beach.

Where is the best place to snorkel with turtles on Oahu?

The expert tour operators are your best bet for snorkeling with turtles. Turtle Canyon, Laniakea Beach, Shark’s Cove, and Maunalua Bay are some popular spots.

Can you touch sea turtles while snorkeling?

Absolutely not. Hawaiian green sea turtles are endangered and protected. You may watch them from a distance, photograph them, and enjoy them, but may not approach them.

Can you swim to Turtle Canyon?

Turtle Canyon is only accessible by boat. Choose from large catamaran tours, speedy zodiacs, paddle boards, or kayaks to get to Turtle Canyon.

Can you snorkel at Turtle Canyon?

Turtle Canyon is one of the best spots to snorkel on Oahu. The reef here is filled with tropical fish and other marine life. The turtles love to gather here above the reef to clean their shells, and it is the perfect spot to see them while snorkeling or up above from the boat.

Thank you for sharing!

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