How to Snorkel with Sea Turtles in Oahu on a Budget

A vacation to Hawaii can be expensive. While on a year-long trip around the world, we spent a week in Oahu, Hawaii where we did not want to miss out on great activities because of our small budget. You can read how we managed that on our full 7 budget friendly days itinerary for Oahu here. One thing we really wanted to do in Hawaii was see some wild sea turtles! But after a few days of being on the island, we weren’t sure we could make the cost to go snorkeling with these magnificent sea creatures. Fortunately, the worry was short lived once I opened up Groupon. Groupon had a great selection of activities on the island that I was not expecting. After searching a bit, we decided the best value and alignment with what experience we were looking for was with Pink Sails Waikiki for their Turtle Canyon tour.

Turtle Snorkel Adventure with Pink Sails Waikiki

We purchased the Two-Hour Turtle Canyon Snorkel and Sail Adventure for Two with Pink Sails Waikiki on Groupon for $89.00 ($44.50 per person) in February of 2019. Groupon also often has promo codes you can enter for an extra percent off of activities, so, before you buy, look around their website for extra discounts.

Our experience with Pink Sails Waikiki was amazing. First, they have two different times the tour goes a day (sometimes three) which is helpful so you can choose the time that works best for you. Second, they offer a free shuttle to pick you up from your hotel or hostel and bring you to their boat at the harbor in Waikiki (and they will return you back after the tour too).

They will pick you up from your hotel in Waikiki in this bright pink Mercedes van. Can’t miss it!

Once you arrive at the harbor, the crew greets all the passengers and gets everyone on the catamaran. They do a quick safety talk, then start heading out of the harbor to the area with the sea turtles. It only takes about 20 minutes to get out to the spot where the sea turtles hang. During the boat ride, they told us some information about the sea turtles, how to behave in the water with them (obviously not to touch them) and about the location being a cleaning station for the turtles. When the boat stopped, I was a little confused. I thought we would be going to a shallow area near shore, but it was just a bit past the surfers in Waikiki beach in the open water.

View of Waikiki from the Pink Sails Waikiki catamaran during our turtle snorkel in Oahu, Hawaii
Location of the snorkeling with sea turtles, off the shores of Oahu, Hawaii

As a girl from the midwest who has spent very little time in and around the ocean, I was a bit worried about snorkeling in the open water. I had only ever been snorkeling two times before and those were from the shore, not jumping off a boat. But the crew was very helpful. First they had all the experienced snorkelers get their gear on and head out into the water with one of the crew members. Next, they took the entry level people and gave us an introduction about snorkeling and how to maneuver in the water. They provided goggles, snorkel, fins, and a life jacket. They also had extra floatation devices in case anyone felt they needed more than a life jacket.

Once we were in the water with all of our gear on, we started scanning around in the water for sea turtles. At first, they are a bit hard to spot since they blend in well with the bottom. Soon a couple came into view in the distance near the ocean floor. Convenient to turtle viewing is turtles need to breathe air every so often, so eventually they would come up with all the swimmers and take some air. If you were careful and did not chase them, you could see them quite closely.

Snorkeling with turtles in Oahu, Hawaii

Sometimes you wouldn’t see sea turtles for a few minutes. We continued searching around and then a couple more would appear from another direction, going to get cleaned by the fish on the reef below. It was so amazing to see these beautiful creatures up close and in their natural habitat.

Snorkeling with turtles in Oahu, Hawaii

After the snorkeling was over, we all boarded the catamaran and went for a sail. They offered some free soda and crackers while we enjoyed the boat ride. They told everyone to look out for whales and dolphins, but, unfortunately, we did not see any. They took us back into the harbor, we hopped into the bright pink Mercedes, and then we were taken back to our hostel.

Luke and I enjoying the ride on the catamaran of Pink Sails Waikiki after snorkeling with turtles

Overall, we had a great experience with Pink Sails Waikiki on their 2-hour Turtle Canyon adventure. The crew was helpful, funny and welcoming. We were able to get super close to so many sea turtles and enjoyed the sail after. It was a great value for them to pick us up and drop us off at our hostel, while providing all the gear and some light snacks. We would definitely go with them again on this tour or one of the other many tours they offer!

Why buy with Groupon?

Why pay full price when Groupon has such great deals for activities all over Hawaii? There are deals for sunset cruises, full day boat tours, whale watching tours and so much more!

If you’re not yet on Groupon, use this link to help out a blogger, and receive $10 off your first purchase. 🙂

This post is not sponsored in any way- just expressing my experiences in Hawaii. Curious about other ways to save money and explore Oahu, Hawaii? Read my 7 Budget Friendly Days in Oahu, Hawaii post!


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