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Sealife Encounters in Oahu

Sealife Encounters in Oahu

Imagine coming face-to-face with a wild, Hawaiian green sea turtle, feeling firsthand the awesome power of a breaching humpback whale, snorkeling with dolphins... or is that shark?! Here are some of the best ways to encounter sea life on Oahu.

Snorkeling

Whether it’s swimming in Hanauma Bay amid schools of colorful reef fish or searching for honu, Hawaiian for green sea turtle, on a catamaran cruise off the coast, snorkeling is one of the easiest ways to experience Oahu’s sea life. Choose from guided North Shore snorkel trips to kayaking off Kaneohe, where you can beach your boat and explore the underwater world.

Scuba Diving

Beat the snorkeling crowds by strapping on a tank, jumping in the water, and going deeper than everyone else. If you’re a certified scuba diver, you can explore shipwrecks and underwater caves, and search for nudibranchs, garden eels, and sharks that frequent the tropical deep. If you’ve never gone diving but want to try, sign up for introductory dives, where a professional instructor is right by your side to teach you basic scuba skills.

Whale Watching and Dolphin Cruises

It’s possible to encounter dolphins or whales on a sailing or snorkeling trip, but you can far increase your chances by going on a boat tour that focuses on finding these creatures. From December to April, Oahu’s waters are teeming with migrating humpback whales, which swim from Alaska to Hawaii to mate and give birth just offshore. Spinner dolphins, on the other hand, are local Hawaii residents, as are bottlenose dolphins. Dolphin and whale-watching cruises depart from various spots across the island.

Shark Diving

As death-defying and scary as it sounds, shark diving off Oahu’s North Shore is actually one of the island’s most popular and unforgettable activities. From inside a safe, underwater cage, watch as Galapagos, hammerhead, and gray reef sharks emerge from the blue depths and swim curiously around your cage with a powerful sense of grace. You’ll also likely hear whales in the winter months—and because it’s out in the big blue, there’s really no telling what you might see once your cage slips under the surface.

Submarine Adventures

If you want to experience the underwater world without getting your hair wet, consider a submarine ride off Oahu’s southern coast. These adventures are perfect for families with young kids or those who aren’t strong swimmers, as you can view reef fish and corals right from your porthole window. Though a bit counterintuitive, it’s also the perfect water activity when it’s too rainy to go snorkeling or diving.

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10 Tours and Activities

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Turtle Canyon Catamaran Snorkel Cruise
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Turtle Canyon Catamaran Snorkel Cruise

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1036
Snorkel with green sea turtles in Oahu's Turtle Canyon on this 2- to 3-hour tour departing from Waikiki. Board a power catamaran and sail along the shore of Oahu towards the island's best place to spot the resident turtles. Turtle sightings are guaranteed; if a turtle is not sighted, you will be given a free second cruise. After snorkeling, enjoy lunch (if option selected ) and two provided drinks while you keep your eyes peeled for passing marine life like dolphins and migrating whales.
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  • 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$96.75
From
$96.75

Waikiki Atlantis Submarine Adventure

Waikiki Atlantis Submarine Adventure

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543
Explore Oahu's waters on this submarine-style glass-bottom boat ride aboard the Atlantis Submarine. During this family-friendly adventure, learn about the local fish, coral and other animals in this marine habitat through your guide's informative commentary. Please be aware all passengers must be 36" or taller to ride. Descend 100 feet (30 meters) under the surface of the water without getting wet. 
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  • 2 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$163.16
From
$163.16

Snorkel with Dolphins and Turtles in the Wild and experience Hawaiian Culture
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Snorkel with Dolphins and Turtles in the Wild and experience Hawaiian Culture

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584
Swim within safe viewing distance to dolphins and green sea turtles on this popular Oahu snorkel cruise from Honolulu. Sail into waters home to spinner dolphins, and then glide alongside colorful fish. Snorkel gear, kayaks, and paddle boards are available onboard to help you get the most of this outing. Hotel transport included.
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  • 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$179.00
From
$179.00

Oahu Submarine Scooter Adventure
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Oahu Submarine Scooter Adventure

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922
Ride a personal, self-propelled, electric underwater scooter through Oahu's underwater world. During this 2-hour tour, cruise past Diamond Head Crater through Maunalua Bay on a power catamaran, then dive under the surface on your scooter to see green sea turtles, schools of tropical fish and other native marine life. No experience is necessary for this guided tour; all equipment is provided.
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  • 2 hours
From
$130.89
From
$130.89

Oahu Whale-Watching Excursion

Oahu Whale-Watching Excursion

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215
Go whale-watching off the coast of Oahu on this excursion from Waikiki or Ko Olina. During the months from December to May, pods of humpback whales migrate through Hawaii's warm waters, and this tour guarantees whale sightings. With a small group of people, watch the gentle giants swim, feed, breach and play around your boat. In the rare event that you don't see any whales, you will be allowed to do the tour again for free. Snacks are included.
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  • 2 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$75.01
From
$75.01

Oahu Shark Dive

Oahu Shark Dive

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1186
Set out from Oahu’s scenic North Shore to the depths of the big blue Pacific, where you have the chance to observe wild sharks from inside an underwater shark cage. Thanks to your professional, experienced crew, the Oahu shark dive is completely safe as they know the predators’ behavior, and the underwater cage provides proven safety against all different species of sharks. Whether you’re in the cage with sharks right in front of you or watching from up in the boat, Oahu shark diving is a Hawaii activity you’ll definitely never forget.
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  • 2 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$109.26
From
$109.26

Oahu Catamaran Cruise: Wildlife, Snorkeling and a Hawaiian Meal

Oahu Catamaran Cruise: Wildlife, Snorkeling and a Hawaiian Meal

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507
Sail on a catamaran down Oahu's western coast during this cruise from Ko Olina. Glide through the unspoiled waters on this side of the island in search of dolphins and whales, then dive in for a snorkeling experience in a hidden local spot rich with marine life. Enjoy a Hawaiian buffet, including alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, before heading back to shore. Choose from three daily departure times.
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  • 3 hours 30 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
From
$134.00
From
$134.00

Waianae Coast Snorkel Cruise with Dolphin and Seasonal Whale Watching from Oahu
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Waianae Coast Snorkel Cruise with Dolphin and Seasonal Whale Watching from Oahu

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Snorkel and swim with spinner dolphins off the west shore of Oahu during this full-day excursion. Sail up the Waianae Coast, then hop in the water to commune with green sea turtles, schools of tropical fish and dolphins. From January to March, you may get an up-close look at the migrating humpback whales. All necessary snorkel gear, lunch after the cruise and round-trip hotel transportation from Waikiki hotels are provided.
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  • 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$193.88
From
$193.88

Leeward Coast Dolphin and Snorkel Sail

Leeward Coast Dolphin and Snorkel Sail

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211
Sail along the Leeward Coast of Oahu on this morning cruise. Snorkel with an expert guide and watch for spinner dolphins on this family-friendly adventure off the scenic southwestern coast of the island. This excursion, complete with spectacular scenery and fun water activities includes breakfast and lunch
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  • 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$140.24
From
$140.24

Half Day Oahu Combo Adventure: Bike, Sail and Snorkel
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Half Day Oahu Combo Adventure: Bike, Sail and Snorkel

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On this exciting Oahu combo tour, start the day with a downhill bike ride with epic views of the coastline, before boarding a comfortable catamaran for a two-hour snorkeling adventure.  On this Oahu biking and sailing tour, all the necessary equipment is provided along with professional guides, as is round trip transportation and a deli-style lunch.
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  • 5 hours 30 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
From
$170.67
From
$170.67