Despite the crowds of tourists upon Waikiki Beach trying to get an enviable tan their co-workers will resent, there is some great snorkelling opportunities that you don't necessarily have to pay for.
When the ocean is devoid of any waves I urge you to go out as far as you feel comfortable without getting in the way of the novice surfers and their coaches.
When I first snorkelled Waikiki I found a wide variety of fish from the puffer to coiled sea snakes and most surprisingly old sea turtles that have seen the likes of Elvis and maybe even the Pearl Harbour attack.
If you want to venture out into deeper waters the Outrigger on the Beach hotel features catamaran sails out to coral where sea turtles are cleaned by large tornado-like schools of fish.
A bit more further out certified divers can even explore a sunken boat and various locations surrounding Oahu have sunken Japanese submarines.
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Learning to Surf and Paddleboard
Hawaii offers visitors plenty of opportunity to learn the difference between a long board, a short board, and a paddleboard. Offshore from Waikiki is the Canoes surf break, whose waves can be gentle for beginners. Perhaps even more valuable is the beach’s rich surfing heritage, which learners can absorb by simply spending time here. Waikiki was once the retreat of 19th-century Hawaiian monarchs, who would unwind by the waves. It’s also the home of former Olympian and “father of modern surfing” Duke Kahanamoku, whose sculpted likeness on the beach is always adorned with leis. Here you can learn technique, but also etiquette: Newcomers to the shore should show aloha by respecting the local surf culture and sharing the waves.
The name Oahu means “gathering place,” and this convivial spirit thrives at Waikiki Beach. Here, Hawaiian monarchs once gathered for pleasure, and the area’s magnetism now draws international travelers. As befits a gathering place, there’s no shortage of diversion, with more than 100 hotels and resorts to keep visitors sheltered and occupied. On Kalakaua Avenue, luxury brands like Gucci, Yves St. Laurent, and Chanel attract an upscale set, while surf shops such as RipCurl and Quiksilver outfit sportsmen and women. Beach bars line the waterfront and offer stools for travelers—to gather and people-watch with a bright cocktail in hand.
There's a certain kind of peace that one feels when basking in the Waikiki sun. You go there, banana daiquiri on one hand, and a trusty old camera on the other. You capture the moment and say to yourself, "ahh...this is paradise."