Snorkeling Hau'ula - Oahu - A Little Known Gem

by Christopher

I'm just wrapping up a month long stay in a friend's house in the "rural" or "country" town of Hau'ula on Oahu. I'm just a block from the water and can see the surf from the back porch, so I've been snorkeling from the beach almost every day, in a variety of weather (which can and does change rapidly, often).

Mostly, I've been going to the area southeast of the actual Hau'ula Beach Park, where Hau'ula Homestead Road is (a road that loops with two connections the Kamehameha Highway). Just a small jag from the southeast most Homestead Road intersection is a tiny "Public Beach Access" walkway... between two houses. Easy to miss.

However, you can just go a bit further southeast on the highway and there's a turnout right above a beach, which is a fine entry point for snorkeling.

This area doesn't have the typical wide and deep expanses of sandy beach that are iconic of Hawaii. But how much sand do you really need or want for good snorkeling? In fact, immediately southeast of the entry point is a seawall, which has virtually no beach for a short stretch and then a small strip of beach resumes between the water and some foliage (good if you want some shade, too) right next to the highway.

And this is where some of the best snorkeling is to be had. Just this afternoon I spent about 45 minutes in the water with a lumbering green sea turtle. It appeared to be approaching the maximum known size for these creatures at almost 4' or so. I just happened upon it in the water about chin deep as it was lazily cruising. But then it began to feed on the bottom casually and I remained within, literally, touching distance of it and sometimes ventured a ways to some fairly large coral bulbs and structures, too.

There were many colorful and varying species of fish about, both in the open spaces and around the rocks/coral. As the turtle feeds on vegetation on the bottom, it churns things up and the fish like to come and gather and enjoy their own feeding of what's disturbed. So I was, literally, surrounded by half a dozen variety of prime, colorful tropical fish, wonderful coral/reef structure and in good visibility water on a mostly sunny day.

On other outings I've watched a large eel, run across another 6, 8 or 10 varieties of fish of all sizes, including a nice cow fish.

I've also ventured out pretty far from shore, since the reef extends perhaps a quarter mile or so, where the outside surf breaks. During most of that span you can find bottom or reef ledges or coral/rock structures. Continue further and the coral/reef gets increasingly compacted and contiguous until rather far out you're in water no more than waist deep.

Most days, I've either had these spots to myself, or just a couple or few other people around at all. There are some stronger currents in the more northwesterly areas, and a more considerable cross-current close to shore there. It's a delight to come back in to shore and feel the very warm currents too.

All in all a wonderful area and I'd rate it as a Don't Miss snorkeling outing (even though I notice a scarcity of other mentions of this wonderful place).

Comments for Snorkeling Hau'ula - Oahu - A Little Known Gem

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Jul 10, 2010
Excellent - A New Snorkeling Spot on Oahu
by: Galen & Nicole

Thanks so much for sharing that review. That is exactly what we hoped would happen with our community post area, to learn about new good spots to snorkel and share them with everyone. We are excited now to go back to snorkel Oahu and check out Hau'ula snorkeling.

Oct 01, 2012
Location Question....
by: Cary Bennett

Is the Hau'ula seawall area you are talking about south or just north of the LDS Church that I am seeing on Google earth? We are headed to Oahu on Friday and this sounds like a great place to get away from crowds and perhaps encounter a turtle or two. Generally speaking, does the current there run north to south or just the opposite?

Thanks for the info.

Oct 02, 2012
Reef Location
by: Original Poster

You'll find it at the southern-most beach of Hau'ula. You'll be able to see the surface currents defining the reef. Enjoy!

Oct 07, 2012
by: Anonymous

We drove home from the North Shore that way yesterday. The area is beautiful and was gorgeous and calm. It appears that the barrier reef area does a great job of creating a sort of lagoon area. It was getting late in the day, so, we didn't stop and snorkel. :( We did see a pair of snorkelers out around the reef area obviously doing a drift. It looked like fun!

Our next chance to get in the water isn't until Thursday, because Gary teaches a class at UH Mon. - Wed.. The winds are supposed to be all over the place the next 3 days, and the forecast is for winds out of the ENE at 13-15 Thursday, so, I'm not sure that we will get to do anything on that side. Just have to wait and see.

Again, thanks for the info.!

Jan 28, 2014
A Great Spot Thanks!
by: TatzuFilms

I used to live in Ka'a'awa near Hau'ula. I struggled to find a good spot for snorkeling in the area. The windward side "normally" has fairly poor snorkeling conditions due to stream runoff, more rain, and stronger winds.

However this spot you mentioned is excellent and I would go as far as to say it is definitely one of the top spots on the island. The water was a very nice shade of blue. And there were plenty fish and coral.

The only possible con I can mention is that the current can be fairly strong here (but nothing dangerous). Just kind of hard to stay in one spot for a time.


Jan 28, 2014
Thanks for the Feedback!
by: Christopher (Author)

I'm glad to see that some others have found this helpful, useful and specific enough to find their way there. Yet, I'm betting that this is still one of the lesser known secret spots on the island.

Aren't we lucky? ;-)

BTW, the conclusion of my piece does mention the several currents in the area. I ventured all the way out to the breakers and most of the way parallel to the shore, all told. I didn't run across anything I'd rate as outright "dangerous". Mostly, there's varying strengths of "drift" and, yes, some areas take more effort to stay stationary.

Aug 14, 2015
Thanks a million for this - love Oahu & can't wait to try this spot!
by: Jen

Thank you so much for this! My friend & I were on Oahu last year and fell in love with the North Shore - didn't want to go anywhere else once we were there. I just **know** that we've probably driven past this place you're talking about a million times - thank you for the detailed instructions, the cautions about the currents (we're from Minnesota, lol, so still terrified about the ocean!). I'm so excited to hopefully be able to convince my friend to try snorkeling here - in water she can stand up in! Thanks a million for this. Mahalo :)

Apr 28, 2016
More specifics on Hau'ula spot, please
by: Snorkeling Sam

Greetings! We will be right where you were writing about in June 2016 - the southern-most Homestead Road with the beach access just across the highway. Looking on Google satellite, I don't see a seawall or any markers you speak of. Is it near where the 'bus stops' are on the highway? How far south do I go from the beach access between the homes? THANK YOU! :)

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