The Best Ocean Adventures on Oahu

Oahu Snorkeling

Oahu is filled with endless beauty around every turn and beneath every grain of sand. The perfect temperatures and friendly locals add to the attraction of this picturesque land. During my 11 day Oahu vacation, I explored the depths of the ocean floor with Reef Pirates, surfed the rolling waves that draw surfers from all over the world with Ty Gurney Surf School, and swam with the mysterious sharks that fill the deep waters with North Shore Shark Adventures. It’s this blend between serenity and aquatic adventure that truly captures my heart.

Scuba Diving with Reef Pirates

Scuba diving with Reef Pirates combines all of the best scuba experiences in one. Sunken ships and planes are both part of the adventure along with diving with schools of fish and doves of turtles. With a maximum of 6 divers per trip, Reef Pirates make each guest feel welcomed and part of an intimate experience. Being immersed in another world is eye-opening. You feel connected to your environment and begin to respect it more.

North Shore Shark Adventures, Oahu

My new respect for the world below the surface has piqued my curiosity toward some of the more unfamiliar encounters with larger fish. While I’m not ready to dive in with a frenzy of sharks just yet, North Shore Shark Adventures offers the best alternative. I was able to see the beauty and splendor of Hawaii’s sharks as they rose from the depths to greet me. Three miles out to sea off Oahu’s beautiful North Shore, I climbed into a secure metal cage and watched dozens of Galapagos sharks calmly swim around me. I was free to view the sharks in their natural environment in a safe situation. The only problem is that my curiosity has grown even greater and I wanted to get out of the cage. (I’ll save that adventure for another time.)

Ty Gurney Surf School

It’s obvious that I love being in the water and participating in water activities, but the one water adventure that I haven’t been able to see much success was surfing. I took lessons in Fiji and Costa Rica, I attempted to surf in southern California, and I even own my own board, but I usually leave feeling discouraged and frustrated. I struggle with staying on the board, regardless of the size, and I was tempted to give up. My lesson with Ty Gurney Surf School changed everything! The instructor, Joey Carroll, instantly sparked my drive. His confidence in me made me feel invincible and on the first try, I stood up on the board and rode a wave. I felt like I had just climbed Kilimanjaro. Time after time, I stood up and surfed the waves for what seemed like hours. (I’m fully aware the I was only up for less than a minute, but let me have this one, ok?)

My success could be attributed to a number of things. I’m no longer fearful of what’s swimming below me. With experiences like snorkeling, scuba diving, and cage diving, I’ve lost the deep-rooted fear that would take hold me in the water. The waves in Oahu helped tremendously too. The long, gradual waves near Waikiki Beach are perfect for beginners. Most importantly, though, Brad can hugely be credited to my success. He was meant to be a surf instructor. I fed off of his positive demeanor and his passion for the ocean. He slipped tips into the conversation and encouraged my positive behaviors. It was as much a lesson in good teaching habits as it was surfing.

When I go on vacation, I’m searching for a memorable vacation filled with unique adventures. Oahu is bucket list vacation approved.

21 thoughts on “The Best Ocean Adventures on Oahu

  1. Hi Lesley,
    I’ve given surfing a go in Byron Bay Australia with a most awesome instructor called Serena.
    I found to ride atop the ocean wave brings an exhilaration I was unprepared for and I didn’t even manage to stand up!
    Where sharks are concerned i’ve swam with reef sharks and find them curious, interested and alert. Our undersea world is magnificent isn’t it?
    My husband scuba dived with bull sharks and i am waiting for an opportunity to go scuba diving in the Caribbean with Hammerheads. More people need to see what’s under the waves to gain an appreciation for life above it. Sounds like you’ve had an amazing time. I love Oahu. Jealous!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


  2. Great adventure! Waikiki beach is truly meant for starting your surfing carrier and the North Shore surf scene is for getting some encouragement to continue practicing. The Shark adventure is one of these regrets I have about little things I haven’t done while they were easily available to me. It was a financial constrain back then when I was dreaming about diving into the shark cage.
    With all respect to Oahu and its adventures I do think its a bit more overcrowded to my taste. I am curious to pick your brain on Kauai. It’s an all around winner for me!


  3. My husband and I went to Oahu 2 years ago and we think about it everyday. We spent 2 days at Pearl Harbor soaking in as much history as possible. Most of the rest of the time we were in Waikiki–breakfast on the beach, afternoons sitting on our hotel balcony, swimming, shopping, the aquarium, and driving around. We’d like to go back one day, or maybe to Kaui. I enjoyed reading about your experience.


  4. As always, I thoroughly enjoyed the photos. In regards to the surfing, one great big KUDOS! I could have spent the entire trip just trying to stand up on that board, so one minute in my book (or a little less) is HUMONGOUS! Congratulations.. I’ll read you later.


  5. I used to take a plastic bag of cooked macaroni to Hanauma Bay when I snorkled there. We would nip off a corner of the bag and squirt some out in the water. Soon we would be enveloped in a huge tornado of fish.


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