Snorkeling Sunset Beach is from a wide beach with silky white sand. In the summer the waters in front of this two mile long beach can be calm enough for some okay snorkeling. But, in the winter Sunset Beach Park is very popular for surfing with large waves. These large waves create the characteristic steepness of the beach this time of year.
Anytime of year there can be strong currents at Sunset Beach, so ask the lifeguard if there are any currents to be concerned about when you are here.
It is a great place to watch the sunset anytime of the year. And it couldn't be easier to find; the beach is right on Hwy 83.
You should be able to enter in bare feet and slip your fins on once you are in deep enough water. Even in the summer this beach can get steep and drop off quite quickly from the beach, so watch for this.
There are two areas close to shore where snorkeling Sunset Beach can be decent. Always watch for currents.
For the first one, head straight down to the water from the lifeguard station in the center of the park, just offshore there are some interesting rock formations with some coral and fish. This area extends a little ways either direction.
On the right end of the beach, there is a surf break most of the time. The second area for snorkeling Sunset Beach is just to the left of the break. Don't go too far right because the waves are not good for snorkelers and neither is a surfboard running you over. You can see where the underwater rock topography starts from higher up on the beach. Again you don't have to swim very far out to explore some interesting flat rock and coral formations with some fish.
In these areas the visibility varies with how calm it is. The depths over the rock and coral are about 8-15 feet.
Our Hawaii Snorkeling Guide eBook has complete Oahu information including rankings and maps, but also has guides to the Big Island, Maui and Kauai.
1. You can choose to drive up the east side of the island or up the middle of the island to reach the north shore. To reach Hwy 83 on the east side heading north, you need to get on Hwy H-1 westbound then take one of the highways that crosses the Ko’olau Mountains, Hwy 61 (Pali Hwy), Hwy 63 (Likelike Hwy), or Hwy H-3. When you come to the intersection with Hwy 83 (Kahekili Hwy), turn left, heading north.
2. Alternately, to reach Hwy H-2 that leads to Hwy 99 up through the middle of the island, get on Hwy H-1 heading westbound until you reach the intersection with Hwy H-2 and head north. Hwy H-2 will turn into Hwy 99 that you follow until it comes to Hwy 83 again near Hale’iwa.
3. Sunset Beach Park is right next to the road on Hwy 83, southwest of Waiale’e Beach Park about 2 miles. It is northeast of Shark’s Cove by just over two miles. The parking is along the beach side of the highway. If it is full try the lot mentioned in the facilities below.
The facilities and more parking for the beach are across the road from the beach on the northeast end. There are restrooms and showers. The beach has some shade from trees near the road.