SNORKELING AT ELECTRIC BEACH ON OAHU
Rent a car, throw your snorkel and fins in the trunk and break free from the tourist traps, let’s talk about a beach I call the “Turtle Guarantee Beach”.
TEXT BY JACKSON GROVES // IMAGES BY JACKSON GROVES, JOHN SCHELLING, & JESSICA BLACKMUN
Electric Beach or “Electrics” is a 40 minute drive from Waikiki at Kahe Point. It doesn’t have postcard palms or a mile-long stretch of sand, but you don’t come here for landscapes. The real action is under the water.
WHY IS IT CALLED ELECTRIC BEACH?
The beach is next to the Hawaiian Electric Plant, which outflows clean warm water through two large cooling pipes. The pipes run out into the ocean and at the opening the water temperature is several degrees warmer than normal, which attracts a variety of sea life.
Not only is there an abundance of sea life, the water clarity is as good as it gets on Oahu. This beach provides a perfect combination of clear water and tons to see.
There is a small channel that you need to swim out of before you reach the open ocean. This can be a little turbulent so keep your eyes open until you get through the channel. Turtles are sometimes in the channel but it isn’t the best place to stop and look as the current is strong.
WHAT WILL YOU SEE?
Once you are through the channel, keep your eyes open as you are now in Hawaiian Sea Turtle territory. I have snorkeled here more than 15 times and have seen at least one turtle on every swim.
Schools of Angelfish will float by as well as Butterfly fish, Parrot fish, Damsel fish, Surgeon fish. An abundance of coral on the sea floor is home to the vast array of fish, eels, and hundreds of different species of sea creatures.
Before you know it, you will be in depths of more than 40 feet. There is old machinery and other cool things to dive down to and check out. In water this deep, the atmosphere is truly amazing, it feels like you are on another planet, it’s truly beautiful.
DID YOU SAY DOLPHINS?
In the distance you will see a lot of charter boats. They are doing dolphin excursions and turtle excursions. Basically, people are paying $140 per person to have a similar experience to you.
Put your head under water and if you hear the squealing noises of dolphins you can swim out further and hopefully swim with a pod of Spinner Dolphins. Sometimes you can see them from the beach too.
I swam with dolphins at this beach and was less than 400 yards from shore, which isn’t a huge swim with fins on. I have also heard whale noises while underwater at this beach but am yet to swim with a whale.
Respect the sea life by not touching, chasing, or harassing them. Turtles will often hang around you if you are calm, but they won’t hesitate to swim away if you get too close to them. It is a privilege to witness wildlife in their natural habitat, be sure to respect all of the creatures you encounter and the nature that surrounds you.
For more great snorkel spots, check out 11 Reasons Why Waimea Bay is our Favorite Beach on Oahu!