North of Honolulu and Waimea on Oahu, the snorkeling in Kuilima Cove is ideal for beginners and kids. Kuilima Cove is enclosed by a natural rock formation that protects it from the surf. It is only about 5 feet and has good clarity for observing the unicorn fish, trigger fish, moorish idol and parrot fish. The best Kuilima Cove snorkeling can be found in the middle and righthand sides of the cove, and out next to the protective reef. The visibility at Kuilima Cove is known to be a little cloudy, but the good marine life viewing makes up for it. You can expect to see moorish idols, peacock flounder, wrasse, goatfish, damselfish, butterfly fish, box fish and snowflake moray eels.
To reach the snorkeling at Kuilima Cove from Honolulu, head west on H1 to H2. Head north on H2 to Kamehameha Highway. Continue north on Kamehameha Highway through Waimea and up to Turtle Bay Resort. There is parking for Kuilima Cove in Turtle Bay Resort on the right near the tennis courts. The Kuilima Cove snorkeling is east of the hotel. The best time of year for snorkeling at Kuilima Cove is during the summer months for lowest surf. As long as you are parked, if the surf is calm check out the snorkeling in Turtle Bay just to the south.
To reach the best snorkeling on Oahu by air, you will need to fly into Honolulu International Airport (HNL) which is located just on the west side of Honolulu. There are direct flights into Honolulu from the US, Australia, New Zealand, American Samoa, Tahiti, Japan and Fiji. In addition, there are inter-island flights to all the main Hawaiian Islands. The Kuilima Cove is located about 90 minutes from the Honolulu airport.
There is good snorkeling on Oahu year-round. But, the conditions very around the island depending upon time of year due to winds and currents. The north shore snorkeling dives are best from June through September and are usually closed out the rest of the year due to high surf. The south shore dive sites are best from November through May. The main exception is Hanauma Bay, which tends to be good year-round since it is very protected.
Overall, Kuilima Cove is the 1st most popular snorkel dive spot of all 23 snorkeling dives in Oahu.