When snorkeling Turtle Bay Resort, you are actually exploring Kuilima Cove. The cove has a small beautiful beach to the right or east of the hotel. The snorkeling is decent here with fish, a small amount of coral and possibly a turtle to see. The Turtle Bay Resort is way up on the north shore. It is away from the hustle and bustle of Waikiki on well kept beautiful grounds.
Being on the north shore, there is a chance that snorkeling Kuilima Cove will not be possible in the winter because the waves are too big. This area is also very exposed to the trade-winds which can cause waves and low visibility anytime of year. So, be sure to check conditions before entering.
The cove has a floating barrier that is meant to keep folks out of the left side of the bay. When the waves come over the rocks around the bay, the water needs to leave the cove and it does so in the channel on the left side. The currents here can be very strong, so please respect the boundary when snorkeling Turtle Bay Resort.
If you are not staying at Turtle Bay Resort or in any of the condos in the area, you will likely be charged for parking to use the beach. And they limit the number of public access parking spaces, so arriving early will ensure you get a spot.
For snorkeling Turtle Bay Resort, you can enter the water in bare feet from the sandy area on the right half of the beach. Slip your fins on once the water is deep enough to swim.
Snorkeling Turtle Bay Resort takes place in a small area, especially when the tide is low. There is a patch of rock that sticks out of the water in front of the sandy area of the beach. You can snorkel around this looking for fish, though the visibility will probably be low because of the sand at the beach getting kicked up. Look for fish in the area behind the rock until it gets too shallow, but don't cross the floating barrier.
And there is a channel you can swim in to the right side along the rock breakwater. The bottom topography is pretty flat with a small amount of coral and rocks. It is slightly more interesting exploring along the rock wall to the right.
The visibility varies greatly here, from good to miserable. While snorkeling Kuilima Cove, the depths are no more than 6 feet.
Get guides to all four main islands in our Hawaii Snorkeling Guide eBook, including Oahu.
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. Kuilima Cove is nearly on the most northern point of the island, in Turtle Bay Resort. You can’t miss the sign for the resort. Signs lead to the parking.
There are some outdoor showers and restrooms available, as well as some shade on the beach.