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SWIMMING WITH SEA TURTLES ON OAHU, HAWAII

SWIMMING WITH SEA TURTLES ON OAHU, HAWAII

You have landed on the island of Oahu in Hawaii, and now it’s time to meet the locals. It’s time to meet the Hawaiian Sea Turtles you have dreamt of swimming with ever since you booked your flights! Don’t worry, I have you covered with all of the best beaches where you might be lucky enough to spot a turtle. I’ve also included some of the top snorkeling tours that take you to the best spots for snorkeling where you can have an eco-friendly encounter with turtles and dolphins.

swim with hawaiian sea turtle

BEST TOURS FOR SNORKELING WITH TURTLES

Oahu Best Oahu Turtle Snorkeling Tours

RATESDURATION
Turtle Canyon Snorkel Cruise by Catamaran $804 hours
Hidden Gems of Oahu with North Shore Turtle Snorkeling $948 hours
Oahu Snorkel Cruise: Swim with Turtles in the Wild$1004 hours
Catamaran Sail and Snorkel on Oahu $1473 hours
Hanauma Bay Snorkeling (Transportation to and from)$454 hours

Best Turtle Snorkeling Tours

Turtle Canyon Snorkel Cruise by Catamaran 

Have you ever dreamt of snorkeling with green turtles in Oahu? Then it’s time to do it! Let Catamaran Cruise take care of getting you there with everything you need for a lovely day of snorkeling and cruising. For $97, you will get pretty much everything you need from pick-up and drop-off, snorkeling and SCUBA equipment, lunch and snacks, complimentary alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, and an expert guide. There are two tour options; a 2-hour morning tour and a 3-hour midday tour. It is impossible not to spot green turtles during the tour but if you don’t see any on your tour, you can book another tour for free. As a photo lover, I like the chill on the deck of the boat and taking photos of Waikiki’s insane scenery. Definitely worth the time and the money for this one!

Click Here to check the rates and availability of this tour on the booking website.

Hidden Gems of Oahu with North Shore Turtle Snorkeling 

This whole-day tour is a combination of land and water excursion and will show you Oahu’s famous spots and hidden gems with sea turtle snorkeling on Oahu. The tour picks you up at 7:15 in the morning at selected Waikiki hotels and the itinerary includes Diamond Head Lookout, Tropical Hawaiian Coffee, and Macadamia Nut Farms, ChinaMan’s Hat, North Shore Shrimp Trucks, North Shore Fruit Stand, the legendary Sunset Beach, Turtle Snorkeling, and Dole Pineapple Plantation. The highlight of the trip is the snorkeling in Hanauma Bay where it’s quite famous for swimming with lots of tropical fish and sea turtles. Don’t worry about the gear as the tour guide will provide you with snorkel gear like goggles and masks. This tour is perfect for visitors who stay in Oahu for a short time but still want to see what Oahu has to offer.

Click Here to check the rates and availability of this tour on the booking website.

Oahu Snorkel Cruise: Swim with Turtles in Waikiki

If you want to experience the majesty and magic of snorkeling and swimming with wild dolphins, then Oahu Snorkel Cruise have you covered! The unique combination of swimming closely with the dolphins and turtles, various options of delicious food, and learning about Hawaiian history and culture has made it a top pick amongst animal enthusiasts and history buffs alike.

This 4-hour morning tour provides comfortable hotel transport from Waikiki and Ko Olina to Waianae Harbor. All the gears you need from snorkel, masks, fins, and life jackets are provided to help you get the most of your day in the water. Alternatively, you should try some exciting water sports like kayaking, paddleboarding, and hopping on a 20-foot waterslide. After the snorkeling, you’ll definitely love the Hawaiian traditional Hula dance and delicious Hawaiian cheeseburger on taro bread and pineapple for lunch. This is a family-friendly tour and it’s value for money.

Click Here to check the rates and availability of this tour on the booking website.

swim with hawaiian sea turtle

WHERE TO SWIM WITH SEA TURTLES ON OAHU

Those tours are great fun and will all but guarantee they can help you have an awesome experience snorkeling with a turtle. However, you can also just head out to the beach and see if you are lucky enough to have an encounter by yourself. In my experience, turtles generally head away from the shore when there is a big swell. The calmer the day, the more likely you are to have a turtle encounter. I have personally snorkeled with turtles at all of these beaches multiple times. So here they are:

ELECTRIC BEACH

This is the pick of the bunch. It is a solid drive to the western side of the island but if you have a car this is your spot. After the 30 minute drive from Waikiki, you will be treated with clear water and an abundance of wildlife.

Electric Beach or “Electrics” is a 40-minute drive from Waikiki. The official name of this location is Kahe Point Beach Park but locals know this spot by its nickname first. It is called Electric Beach because there is a power plant beside this narrow enclave. The warm water from the power plant attracts an abundance of sea life, making it one of the best places to snorkel on Oahu. 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.

Have your eyes open from the first moment you submerge. I have seen Hawaiian Sea Turtles in waist-deep water here but also out in the depths of the ocean. Large schools of Angel Fish are also my other favorite at “Electrics.” Unless your goggles fog up it is impossible not to see an amazing array of wildlife here.

Read my full blog post: SNORKELING AT ELECTRIC BEACH ON OAHU, HAWAII

Kahe Point Seascape and Fisherman
Kahe Power Plant, Oahu

WAIKIKI BEACH

You are probably thinking: “Yeah right like there would be turtles swimming so close to thousands of people in Waikiki?” You better believe it. I have seen turtles from many of the rock piers and also swam with one right in front of the Hilton Hotel, just twenty yards from the shore. It might not be the best snorkel spot on the island but if you are feeling lucky, put your snorkel on and swim out just past the pack of tourists and you just might come across a Hawaiian Sea Turtle.

swim with hawaiian sea turtle

Hanauma Bay Snorkel Tour

Hanauma Bay is the top snorkeling spot on Oahu for a reason. It’s nice and shallow, easy for beginners, and has lots of beautiful reefs, fish, and even turtles if you are lucky. On this Oahu snorkel tour, you will b picked up and dropped off at Hanauma Bay to enjoy snorkeling on your own before being dropped back at Waikiki hours later.

Click Here to check the rates and availability of this tour on the booking website.

MAKUA BEACH

Even further than Electric Beach, almost as far west as you can go is a beach most tourists have no idea exists. It will take almost an hour from Waikiki but this beach is worth every minute of the drive. The water at Makua Beach is as clear as it gets. I don’t even have a way to describe the clarity of the water except for writing 100% clear. Hawaiian Sea Turtles and schools of fish are very common within 100 yards of the shore.

The backdrop of Makua Valley and the mountains are breathtaking if you take your eyes off the sea life and look back towards the beach. This is a hotspot for dolphins, especially in the morning. It’s another great spot to try and swim out and hang with a pod of frolicking Spinner Dolphins.

Read my full blog post: MAKUA BEACH ON OAHU, HAWAII

Makua (Tunnels) Beach
swim with hawaiian sea turtle

COCKROACH COVE

Next to the popular Halona Blowhole is a small picturesque cove that is a cool spot to hang out for half a day of swimming and rock jumping. The water is often a little wavy here but on some flat days, it is quite still. From the lookout, you can often spot the Hawaiian Sea Turtles, which are usually very close to the shore.

Halona Beach Cove on Oahu
swim with hawaiian sea turtle

HALEIWA

North Shore has no shortage of Hawaiian Sea Turtles, but Haleiwa beach definitely has a solid population. There they can often be found in the channel and the little coves along the coastline. Water clarity here is pretty good too. This beach is close to Old Haleiwa Town, which is convenient for a post-beach session smoothie or acai bowl at Haleiwa Bowls our favorite spot on the North Shore.

Haleiwa Beach Park.
swim with hawaiian sea turtle

LANIAKEA BEACH

If all else fails this is the backup, as it’s full of tourists. There are often turtles resting on the sand which is amazing to see them out of the water. Often the beach is patrolled by a volunteer to make sure everyone is giving the turtles space. I have swum with turtles on many occasions at this beach and not many people get in the water here, so it is still a really cool experience.

Most of the tourists are getting out of the car or bus to check out the Hawaiian Sea Turtles on the sand and then head off. In my experience, if there are turtles on the sand, their friends are probably swimming in the small bay.

Laniakea Beach
Laniakea Beach

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT SWIMMING WITH SEA TURTLES ON OAHU

Stay 5 yards from the sea turtles at all times. If you are too close currents can sometimes sweep you into the turtle even if you don’t mean to, so give them extra space in case of the unexpected. Touching a turtle is illegal. So stay at least 5 yards away, which gives you room in case the waves push you towards the turtle.

Don’t touch sea turtles. It is illegal and invasive. Consider yourself lucky enough that these creatures allow us to swim and snorkel with them, don’t push your luck by invading their space.

Don’t chase sea turtles. There is no need to scare a turtle if it isn’t trying to hang out with you. Most of the time if you are chill and relaxed around a turtle it will hang around you for a long time. If you begin to try and get too close and intimate they often swim away. The calmer you and your group are, the longer you will get to spend floating nearby as the turtle does its thing. As soon as you start chasing it, your potential to hang out with a turtle is probably over. I’ve often just floated nearby a turtle for 20-minutes and they will slowly come closer or just go about their feeding. I’ve also seen tourists swim straight towards them with a GoPro and off the turtle quickly goes after getting scared.

THE FOUR MOST POPULAR OAHU TOURS

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WHERE TO STAY ON OAHU

  • Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach Resort (Overall Favorite): In the heart of Waikiki, this high-end resort is right on the beach with a private lagoon.
  • Sheraton Waikiki (Luxury): A luxury resort with the most amazing infinity pool on the island, which overlooks the beach.
  • Ewa Hotel Waikiki: (Value): Ewa Hotel is just one block back from the beach and is just over $150 USD.
  • Waikiki Beachside Hostel (Budget Choice): A budget alternative, which is still in an amazing location.
  • Disney Aulani Resort (Family Choice): This is a resort your kids will never forget. It honestly feels like you are living in a theme park.

MORE OAHU BLOG POSTS

I lived on Oahu for two years and loved adventuring from the beaches to the mountains to the waterfalls! These are my most popular blog post and guides from the beautiful island of Oahu to help you plan your trip!

Lt

Monday 28th of June 2021

Can you please make sure to note on the top of the Page that touching or coming close to green sea turtle is illegal in hawaii.

Julie

Monday 28th of June 2021

You Cannot swim with turtles Anywhere. You can kill them, give them a heart attack, keep them from laying eggs, chase them away from their protected spots - You are doing great harm to these protected creatures just by using these words to entice people to your tours. When you say "swim with the turtles" and show pictures of people doing exactly that, don't try to use the excuse that you will educate them. Many many people will look at your pictures and your words and never buy a tour from you. So yeah, you educated them to think it's ok. But I guess prostituting the turtles so you can make a buck is okay..not really, it's horrendous.

Kula

Monday 28th of June 2021

Please don't advertise where to go to find and or swim with turtles. You are endangering the existence of these turtles. They come here to rest and nest, but your influences don't allow that... which is very important to their existence. It is also against the law to physically handle or touch them. If you're going to continue advertising where to find them, atleast know your laws about the turtles and advertising them for exploitation and profit before doing so. We have too many deaths and cruelty incidents of our sea turtles by visitors, this is why we ask you stop. You can be held LIABLE for that. Hawaii Laws are tricky, but I don't think you know that. Please research for yourself.

Thursday 10th of June 2021

Where is the information that explains the law about staying away from the turtles?

There’s much info here , good stuff , but the information about being a good human and leaving them alone should be front and center.

Mahalo!!

Jackson

Thursday 10th of June 2021

Hi there,

I think it was pretty clear in the article. It is mentioned at the top of the article about the guidelines and then I deliver an in-depth coverage of how to interact with turtles.

Regards,

Jackson

19 top things to do in Oahu for every type of traveler - GetYourGuide

Thursday 4th of March 2021

[…] to keep your distance — never touch them and be sure to respect these beautiful creatures. Read up on the best spots and an overall guide to swimming with sea turtles on […]