Northeast of Honolulu and southeast of Kailua, the Lanikai Beach is known for good snorkeling amongst the small coral patches. It is a perfect place for beginners to check out the small fish in usually calm water. While snorkeling Lanikai, you may encounter parrotfish, butterflyfish, surgeon fish, sergeant majors, tangs and wrasse in waters ranging from 3 to 6 feet deep.
While it is known for poor visibility, the snorkeling at Lanikai Beach is best in the morning since the afternoon trade wind kicks up the surf.
The reefs extend over 500 feet offshore. About 3,000 feet offshore, there are the twin islands, Na Mokulua, which are quite scenic with excellent coral formations for snorkeling. The Moks are protected seabird sanctuaries with the right Moku Iki completely off-limits while the left Moku Nui allows beach landings. They are best approached by sea kayak on calm, windless mornings with a guide. While snorkeling Na Mokulua, you may encounter turtles, dolphins and tiger sharks.
To reach the Lanikai Beach snorkeling from Waikiki, head west on H-1 to Highway 61 into Kailua to Kuulei Road. Turn right on Kawailoa Road and veer left on Mokulua Drive. Use the public beach access on Mokulua Drive near Mokumanu Drive. The best snorkeling is just off this access point. 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. 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, Lanikai Beach is the 5th most popular snorkel dive spot of all 23 snorkeling dives in Oahu.