The best place for beginner snorkeling on Oahu
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 Resort on Oahu’s famous North Shore. The surrounding area is part of the hotel property 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, as is often the case during the winter months, 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 Oahu snorkel tour. They snorkel locations typically only locals access and know about. It’s honestly unforgettable.
Kuilima Cove marine life
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!
Forgot your mask defog? Growing right on the sand is a plant called naupaka (see the picture below). 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.
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.
Kuilima Cove facilities and beach amenities
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. Both showers and restrooms are available.
How do I get to Kuilima Cove?
Driving time to Kuilima Cove from Honolulu Airport is approximately 1 hour and 10 minutes.