Kuilima Cove Snorkeling

Oahu Snorkeling

Kuilima Cove Snorkeling

Kuilima Cove is the most sheltered and serene snorkeling spot on Oahu! Definitely one of the best places for beginner snorkeling in the islands.  This gorgeous white sand beach is tucked beside the eastern edge of the Turtle Bay Hilton on Oahu’s famous North Shore.  The surrounding area belongs to the hotel so it is very well kept.  Kuilima is one of the lesser known beaches so there's plenty of room for your beach blanket.

The cove is enclosed by a natural rock barrier, protecting it from the waves.  If the waves are large on the North Shore this spot is a great choice.  The water clarity is excellent and the average depth is only about neck deep.  The bottom is primarily coral flats scattered with large rocks.  Fish abound. It’s so calm and clear you’re going to swear you’re swimming in an aquarium.  With all of these great conditions, Kuilima Cove snorkeling is ideal for kids.

You’re really going to love laying out on the warm white sand after your swim.  If lazily snorkeling in crystal clear water and basking on a wonderful white sand beach appeals to you, put Kuilima Cove snorkeling on your Oahu to do list!

By the way, speaking of your vacation to-do list, I highly recommend you checking out this amazing snorkel tour. They snorkel locations typical only locals access and know about. It's honestly unforgetable.

Here’s just some of the marine life I’ve seen at Kuilima Cove: Butterfly fish, parrot fish, damsel fish, surgeon fish, unicorn fish, moorish idol, tang, wrasse, box fish, big eye, perch, trigger fish, goat fish, porcupine fish, jacks, needle fish, crustaceans, and invertebrates.  This beach also has quite a few humuhumunukunukuapuaa, the famous former Hawaii state fish.  Keep your eyes open!

The parking lot is located on the grounds of the Turtle Bay Resort.  Just drive in through the main gates and continue straight ahead toward the hotel.  The Kuilima Cove parking lot will be on the right-hand side near the tennis courts.  Be sure you’re at the beach on the right-hand (east) side of the hotel.  The beach on the left-hand side of the hotel is the actual Turtle Bay, but it’s not very good swimming or snorkeling.

There’s lots of parking at all times of the day so take your time driving and enjoy the scenic North Shore.  There is a beach bar and grill provided by the hotel right there on the sand at Kuilima Cove so you can sip on a Mai Tai or munch on a burger in the sun.  There is no lifeguard on duty.  There are both showers and restrooms available.

Insider Tip:  Forgot your mask defog?  Growing right on the sand is a plant called naupaka (see the picture above).  Just mash up a couple of leaves in your hand and thoroughly rub them around on the inside of your mask making sure to completely coat the inside of the lens well.  When your ready to snorkel, very briefly swish your mask around in the water to remove the extra pieces of leaves and viola! No more fog.  Works just as well as any store bought stuff.

Kuilima Cove Map
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Driving time to Kuilima Cove from Honolulu Airport is approximately 1 hour and 10 minutes.

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"After riding every snorkel tour on Oahu, I recommend The Dolphin and Whale Snorkel Sail as the best way to snorkel Hawaii's reefs."

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Snorkel Wisely
I know… I know… but it has to be said. The Hawaii snorkeling information contained within these pages is meant only as a general guide as to what to expect when visiting the Hawaiian Islands. As beautiful and mild as Hawaii usually is, weather is always unpredictable. Know your swimming ability. Be prudent and take into consideration the weather and environmental conditions when planning your beach activities. Obey warning signs, they are there to protect you. “Those waves don’t look that bad” are famous last words. I want you to enjoy all that our beautiful islands have to offer. Just use common sense, ok.

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