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As an Oahu native, I’ve spent years enjoying all the Honolulu water activities that our beautiful island has to offer. Today, I want to share with you some of the activities that have become a part of my lifestyle here in this special place.
I learned to surf at Duke’s in Waikiki with my dad, a popular spot known for its consistent waves. Snorkeling in Laie introduced me to an underwater world full of color and life. And let’s not forget the exhilarating bodyboarding sessions at Pounders and Sherwoods in Waimanalo.
These experiences have more than just entertainment value; they’ve taught me life lessons and instilled a deep respect for the ocean. They are an integral part of what it means to grow up on this island, and I wouldn’t trade them for anything.
So, whether you’re an adventure-seeker or a tranquility-lover, I hope you’ll join me in exploring these 10 must-try water activities in Honolulu. Let’s dive in, shall we?
If you are looking for a wider variety of things to do on Oahu I got you covered for that as well.
Snorkel In Pristine Waters At Hanauma Bay
A snorkeling trip to the picturesque Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve should top any visitor’s list when deciding on Honolulu water activities. This protected marine life conservation area offers crystal-clear turquoise waters and a stunning array of vibrant marine life, including the Hawaiian green sea turtle and about 400 species of fish. It’s a great activity for families and first-time snorkelers due to its calm and shallow waters.
If you are an out-of-state visitor you will need to make a reservation in order to access the park.
For accommodation, the Kahala Hotel & Resort is a popular luxury option, just a short drive from the Bay.
Tip: To beat the crowds, it’s advisable to arrive early at Hanauma Bay, especially during the peak tourist season.
If you’ve been looking for a good snorkeling tour then you need to book with this 5-star company with over 2,000 reviews.
Surf Rolling Blue Waves At Waikiki
If you’re a budding surfer or someone looking to dip your toes into the world of surfing, Waikiki Beach is your go-to place. It’s renowned for its friendly, gentle waves that are perfect for beginners. Here, you won’t find the towering winter swells of the North Shore’s Banzai Pipeline, but rather a welcoming environment to learn and enjoy the sport.
Conveniently situated nearby is the Moana Surfrider, offering fantastic oceanfront views and comfortable beachfront rooms.
Tip: Always respect the ocean; if you’re new to surfing, consider taking lessons from local instructors who understand the sea conditions better.
Scuba Dive To Beautiful Coral Reefs
The YO-257/San Pedro double shipwreck off the coast of Waikiki is one of Oahu’s unique underwater attractions. Divers get the chance to explore two sunken ships, which have become thriving artificial reefs home to turtles, eagle rays, and a diverse range of tropical fish.
Stay at the nearby Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort for easy access to local dive shops.
Tip: Regardless of your diving experience, always check with local dive operators about current conditions.
If scuba diving is too intimidating, consider this awesome alternative. An underwater scooter adventure that boasts high ratings, book now.
Experience Magnificent Creatures On A Whale Watching Tour
The winter months in Oahu, from December through April, provide an extraordinary opportunity for whale watching. During this period, humpback whales migrate from Alaska to Hawaii to breed and nurse their young. Embarking on a whale-watching tour from Honolulu Harbor guarantees awe-inspiring sightings.
For convenient access to the harbor, consider staying at the Prince Waikiki Hotel.
Tip: Be sure to bring your camera and binoculars for the best viewing experience.
Sail These Hawaiian Waters
The trade winds that blow across Oahu make it a spectacular destination for sailing. Explore the island’s coastline from a different perspective, and you’ll discover hidden gems like secluded beaches and breathtaking sea cliffs. From Waikiki, numerous companies offer catamaran charters, sunset cruises, and sailing lessons.
The nearby Moana Surfrider, A Westin Resort & Spa offers an elegant stay just a stone’s throw from the beach.
Tip: Don’t forget your sunscreen and hat for protection from the Hawaiian sun while on deck.
Book this 5-star sunset sailing tour of Waikiki Coast. Grab your tickets now.
Give Your Arms A Workout With A Kayaking Tour
Kayaking is a fantastic way to explore Oahu’s clear blue waters and diverse marine life at your own pace. Popular kayaking spots include the calm waters of Kailua Bay and the Mokulua Islands, where you might spot sea turtles and tropical fish.
If you are new to kayaking you can give it a “test drive” in the lagoon by the Hilton Hawaiian Village, rentals are on site.
The New Otani Kaimana Beach Hotel, located near Kailua Bay, offers comfortable rooms with spectacular views.
Tip: Book a guided tour if you’re less experienced; local guides will ensure your safety and enrich your experience.
Experience Oahu at night with this kayaking and paddleboarding tour, book now.
Catch Your Dinner On A Fishing Charter
Oahu is renowned for its deep-sea fishing opportunities. Charter a fishing boat from Haleiwa on the North Shore, and you could catch marlin, tuna, mahi-mahi, and more. Many charters provide all the necessary gear and guidance, perfect for both seasoned anglers and novices.
Stay at the Courtyard by Marriott Oahu North Shore for quick access to the Haleiwa Harbor.
Tip: Even if you’re experienced, take advantage of the knowledge of local crews. Their tips can help you land the catch of the day.
Witness The Grace And Fun Of Dolphins
One of the most magical experiences Oahu offers is the chance to view dolphins in their natural habitat. Companies like Dolphins and You offer guided tours from Waianae Harbor to areas known for dolphin activity. These respectful, conservation-minded outings can make your trip unforgettable.
The nearby Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina provides luxury accommodations with a range of amenities.
Tip: Always follow the instructions of your guide to ensure a respectful encounter with these intelligent marine creatures.
Boasting 5 stars and a Badge of Excellence means you need to book with this dolphin swimming tour provider.
Face Your Fears On A Shark Cage Swimming Tour
For thrill-seekers, swimming with sharks is an extraordinary adventure. Companies like North Shore Shark Adventures offer cage diving experiences off the coast of Haleiwa, where you can safely observe Galapagos and Sandbar sharks in their natural environment.
Learn more about shark cage diving on Oahu and whether it is safe or not.
For close access to Haleiwa Harbor, consider staying at the Turtle Bay Resort on the North Shore.
Tip: Remember, these are wild animals. Always adhere to the safety instructions given by your guide to ensure a safe and memorable experience.
Get up close and personal with these magnificent creatures of the sea with this highly-rated shark swimming tour.
See Oahu From Up Above On A Parasailing Adventure
Another thrilling activity that should not be missed on your Oahu itinerary is parasailing. This high-flying adventure gives you an unmatched bird’s eye view of the island’s stunning landscapes – from the deep blue Pacific Ocean to the lush green mountain ranges. Hawaii Water Sports Center, located in Koko Marina, offers exciting parasailing experiences, allowing you to soar up to 500 feet in the air. It’s an exhilarating way to appreciate Oahu’s beauty, and it’s safe for the whole family, including kids.
For accommodation, the nearby Kahala Hotel & Resort offers a luxurious stay with beautiful views of the island.
Tip: Don’t forget to wear a swimsuit and bring a waterproof camera if you have one – you might get wet during your thrilling ascent or descent!
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Whether you’re a seasoned water sports enthusiast or someone just starting your ocean adventures, I hope this glimpse into the world of Honolulu water activities has inspired you. These aren’t just sports or hobbies; they are a way of life here, and you should approach each one with enthusiasm and respect. Enjoy.