Boats docked at Harbor during our Oahu boat tour with Glass bottom boat.

11 Best Boat Tours in Oahu (Our Honest Review)

If you’re looking for a fun way to explore the beautiful island of Oahu, boat tours are the way to go! 

However, with so many different boat tour companies, It can be difficult to figure out which company offers the best value for your money.

But don’t worry! We’ve done the research for you and found the best boat tours in Waikiki and Oahu.

Our list includes affordable and high-end options to help you find the ideal boat tour for any event. These tours offer skilled captains, breathtaking landscapes, and numerous opportunities for photo ops!

These tours also provide a chance for you to witness some wildlife. If you’re fortunate enough to schedule your visit between December and May, you may be able to catch a glimpse of some humpback whales!

Why should you trust us? We’ve spent several hours researching and gathering consumer feedback on the best boat tours on the island of Oahu. Most importantly, we’ve tested most of the tours ourselves, so you can be sure that the recommendations are reliable and accurate.

We know all about the pros and cons of each tour, so you can make an informed decision when selecting the best boat tour for your needs.

This Travel Dream contains affiliate links. We may receive compensation at no extra cost to you if you purchase using one of these links. You can read my disclaimer for more information.

Don’t have time to read about all the boat tours on this list? No worries—we have shortlisted our three favorite tours on Oahu here to make things easy for you:

Star Casual Sunset and Show Cruise

  • Dinner cruise in Waikiki with a three-course menu
  • Overall amazing experience
  • Offers a luxury feel at a great price
  • Kid and adult friendly 

Small Group Yacht Sunset Cruise from Oahu

  • Luxury experience
  • Maximum of six people
  • Dinner cruise in Ko Olina with a tasting menu
  • Perfect for couples or small groups

Turtle Canyon Snorkel Excursion from Waikiki, Hawaii

  • Kid and adult friendly 
  • Top-rated snorkeling tour in Oahu
  • Takes you to “Turtle Canyon,” a great place to snorkel in Oahu
  • Budget-friendly 
Cody on the Glass Bottom Boat Tour in Waikiki Oahu enjoying the views of the Waikiki Skyline and Diamond Head.
Glass Bottom Boat Waikiki
Me on the BYOB Sunset Boat Cruise in Oahu taking Titanic style photos with Diamond Head in the background.
BYOB Sunset Boat Cruise

Expectations During a Boat Tour

Before we begin, we wanted to address the following:

The tour companies cannot control mother nature. You can expect a great experience, but there is no guarantee that wildlife or perfect weather will be encountered daily.

We must remember that turtles, whales, dolphins, etc., are wild animals, and no one can control where and when they will appear. You have to be patient and make the best of the situation.

We have been on many boat tours in Hawaii, and the experience varies depending on many factors. However, the crew will do their best to ensure you have a great time.

Also, we have been lucky enough to experience beautiful weather and sunsets and have spotted more wild animals than we could have imagined.

However, we also had a few tours that failed not because of the crew’s fault but because of unfavorable weather conditions and the unpredictability of nature.

We don’t consider these as a failure because the boat ride was still enjoyable with fantastic views. For example, we went on a sunset cruise, and unfortunately, it was overcast. But the crew tried to find whales to compensate, and luckily we spotted two whales on the tour!

Without further ado, let’s dive into the best boat tours in Oahu!

Two boats on the water in Waikiki during a boat tour with a view of the Waikiki Skyline.

1. Star Casual Sunset and Show Cruise

Operated by: Star of Honolulu Cruises and Events

Duration: 2 hours (approx.)

Meeting Point: Pier 8, Aloha Tower Marketplace, 1 Aloha Tower Dr, Honolulu, HI 96813

Star Casual Sunset and Show Cruise is arguably one of the best dinner sunset cruises on the island of Oahu. This tour takes you on a beautiful voyage along the Waikiki coastline, with gorgeous views of Diamond Head and the Honolulu skyline.

Aboard the catamaran, guests will experience an unforgettable evening with live Hawaiian entertainment, a three-course dinner featuring crab, steak, and chicken, and a complimentary mai tai.

The Star of Honolulu Sunset Cruise ship in Waikiki Oahu taken after our tour.

Spend two hours with your loved ones enjoying all that Waikiki offers, including the beautiful sunset.

What’s included:

Why we love this tour: From the moment we stepped onto the ship, we were surrounded by pleasant staff and live entertainment. We were in awe of the stunning sunset views highlighting the sparkling Waikiki skyline, complete with the iconic Diamond Head in the background.

We also loved the delicious crab, steak, and chicken dinner. It was a pleasant surprise, given most tours do not offer this option. The ship was also quite nice, allowing us room to spread out and explore different parts of the boat.

My plate of food from the Star Casual Sunset Cruise with crabs, steak mashed potatoes and vegetables.

Cons: If your group is too small to occupy an entire dining table, you may have to share the experience with other passengers. We shared our table with a family of four since our group was only two. We didn’t mind too much, but it’s worth noting. Outside the dinner setting, the ship had plenty of room to walk around and relax.

Cody aboard the Star of Honolulu Dinner Sunset Cruise in Waikiki enjoying the gorgeous views of Diamond Head.
The gorgeous sunset we saw aboard the Star of Honolulu Dinner Sunset Cruise in Waikiki, Oahu.
Me aboard the Star of Honolulu Dinner Sunset Cruise in Waikiki enjoying the gorgeous sunset views with the city in the background.
Dancers performing on the Star Casual Dinner Sunset Cruise in Waikiki.

Tip: It’s essential to pay close attention to the check-in time. Most tours require you to arrive at least half an hour before the scheduled departure, as late arrivals are not allowed onto the ship. We arrived 5 minutes before departure time and almost didn’t make it. I can’t express how stressful this was! Glad we made it.

2. Small Group Yacht Sunset Cruise from Oahu

Operated by: MANA Cruises

Duration: 2 hours 30 minutes (approx.)

Meeting Point: Ko Olina Marina, 92-100 Waipahe Pl, Kapolei, HI 96707

The Mana Cruise is a luxury 46-foot intimate yacht that departs from Ko Olina Marina on the west side of Oahu. As you sail around the island, you will be surrounded by breathtaking scenery, spectacular sunset views, a chance to spot some wildlife, and towering cliffs.

This tour is perfect for couples or small groups looking to spend quality time together while enjoying the evening in style! It’s also an ideal option for those that want a private boat tour on Oahu, as a maximum of six people can join this tour.

The tour offers an intimate atmosphere perfect for an evening of serenity and relaxation. With your experienced skipper at the helm, you will also learn about Hawaii’s rich history and culture, all while cruising around the beautiful coastline of Oahu.

As you’re whisked away, you can enjoy a delicious meal or drink and watch the sunset over the horizon.

Dinner consists of a delectable chef’s tasting menu with fresh local ingredients, including succulent short rib steak, perfectly seared ahi, herbed chicken, and fried rice. 

Cody enjoying the pretty pink sky during our sunset cruise in Oahu.

What’s included:

  • Prepared tasting menu
  • Hosted bar with unlimited spirits, sparkling wines, and beers
  • Unlimited nonalcoholic beverages

Why we love this tour: We love the intimate experience of being out on the water with a small group and taking in the breathtaking views. All that, plus a delicious meal and unlimited drinks, make this tour an unforgettable experience.

Cons: This tour is somewhat expensive, but that’s to be expected with the luxury nature of the cruise. However, the delicious food, knowledgeable guide, and intimate atmosphere make it well worth its price.

3. Turtle Canyon Snorkel Excursion from Waikiki, Hawaii

Operated by: Living Ocean Tours

Duration: 2 hours (approx.)

Meeting Point: 1125 Ala Moana Boulevard Slip B-01, Honolulu, HI 96814

The Turtle Canyon Snorkel Excursion from Waikiki, Hawaii is a great way to explore the perfectly blue waters of Oahu. The tour takes you to one of the best places to snorkel in Oahu, known for having a high concentration of green sea turtles.

This two-hour snorkel cruise provides all the necessary equipment, such as masks, flippers, and life vests. You’ll also get an informative safety briefing before starting your adventure.

The boat ride off the Waikiki shore to Turtle Canyon takes about 20 minutes. We enjoyed the gorgeous views of Diamond Head and the Waikiki skyline on the way. 

Once we reached Turtle Canyon, we got a briefing on how to use the equipment, and then we headed into the water. The view underwater was terrific! We had a great time snorkeling and swimming with turtles.

We saw seven Hawaiian green sea turtles right when we entered the water. They come to this area of the coral reef every year to have fish eat the algae off of their shells. It’s literally like a spa experience for them!

The coral reef was teeming with life, and the visibility was clear the day we went. We also saw some tropical fish, eels, and an octopus. On the way back to the harbor, we even spotted some whales and dolphins! 

This tour is great for adults and is also one of the kid-friendly boat tours on Oahu.

The Turtle Canyons Snorkel Excursion tour in Oahu with people getting off the boat to snorkel.
A turtle swimming in the water during our Turtle Canyons Snorkel Excursion tour in Oahu with gorgeous blue water.
Man jumping in the water from a boat tour in Oahu at Turtle Canyons.
Cody snorkeling at Turtle Canyons in Waikiki during our boat tour with gorgeous blue waters.
View of Diamond Head, Waikiki and the Living Ocean Tours boat in Oahu.

What’s included:

  • Snorkel gear
  • Light snacks and beverages
  • Professional guide

Why we love this tour: You get to snorkel with sea turtles and explore the fantastic array of marine life in Oahu’s waters. The tour is also very informative, as your guide will provide detailed information about the coral reef habitat and its inhabitants.

Cons: The tour can hold up to 40 people and can get crowded during peak periods. We went during the off-season in February, which wasn’t crowded.

Note: Swimming with sea turtles is a privilege, not a right. All snorkelers are expected to adhere to the guidelines of responsible eco-tourism. Turtles are protected by the law and should not be touched or harassed in any way.

4. Polynesian Canoe Sunset Sail

Operated by: Kamoauli

Duration: 2 hours (approx.)

Meeting Point: 1125 Ala Moana Blvd, Honolulu, HI 96813, Pier D Slip 106, Across from Kewalo Basin Park

The Polynesian Canoe Sunset Sail is one of the unique boat tours on Oahu aboard a traditional double-hulled canoe. The tour includes an informative introduction to Hawaiian culture and its traditional sailing methods.

During the tour, you will hear Hawaiian legends and myths as you sail along the picturesque Waikiki coastline. Last but certainly not least, guests can participate in traditional taro preparation and hula dancing.

This tour gives me the feel of attending a luau in Oahu! The experience is quite fascinating and informative, but also a lot of fun.

Two boat tours in the water in Oahu with a view of Honolulu.
A gorgeous sunset seen during our sunset boat cruise tour in Oahu.

What’s included:

  • Cultural & educational activities
  • Hula dancing
  • Refreshments and dinner
  • Learn about and participate in a traditional sunset ‘oli ceremony
  • Live slack key guitar
  • Ukelele and Hawaiian folk music

Why we love this tour: We love the educational aspect of this tour and the unique experience of sailing on a traditional double-hulled canoe. The hula dancing and taro preparation were also a plus.

Cons: This tour is one of the pricier options on this list, but it’s worth every penny!

5. Turtle Canyon Catamaran Snorkel Cruise from Waikiki

Operated by: Hawaii Nautical

Duration: 2 or 3 hours (approx.)

Meeting Point: Kewalo Basin, Honolulu, HI 96813 – Slip F28 (Honi Olani)

Turtle Canyon Catamaran Snorkel Cruise is another popular snorkeling tour in Oahu. The cruise departs from Waikiki and takes you to Turtle Canyon, located just off the coast of Waikiki, where you can explore an abundance of colorful sea life.

Most snorkeling tours in Oahu, including the one offered by Living Ocean Tours above, will take you to Turtle Canyon.

During the tour, guests will get to snorkel with green sea turtles while getting up close to other tropical fish and coral reefs. You will also be rewarded with gorgeous views of Diamond Head and the Waikiki coastline.

Man snorkeling with a whole bunch of fish at Turtle Canyons in Oahu with perfect blue waters.
Cody holding a see urchin during the Turtle Canyons Snorkeling Boat Tour in Oahu.
Two people swimming with a turtle during the Turtle Canyons Snorkeling Tour in Oahu.
A turtle swimming in the water with some fish and coral during the Turtle Canyons Snorkeling Tour in Oahu, Hawaii.

What’s included:

  • Snorkeling gear
  • Snacks
  • Beverages and two alcoholic drinks
  • The midday tour consists of a deli lunch on board

Why we love this tour: We love that they offer a two or three-hour option for this tour, so you can choose the one that suits your needs and desires best. The guides are also knowledgeable and friendly, which is always a plus.

Cons: Turtle Canyon is a very popular snorkeling spot, which can get a bit crowded during peak season. If you prefer to avoid crowds, we recommend taking the first tour of the day.

6. Waikiki Atlantis Submarine Adventure

Operated by: Atlantis Adventures Hawaii

Duration: 2 hours (approx.)

Meeting Point: Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort, 2005 Kālia Rd, Honolulu, HI 96815

If you’re looking for an adventure that will take your breath away, then the Waikiki Atlantis Submarine Adventure is something to consider. The tour takes you on a unique underwater journey with a breathtaking guided tour of the ocean depths of Oahu.

During this incredible underwater experience, you’ll view living coral, sea turtles, and Hawaiian tropical fish through the boat’s panoramic windows. 

Your guide will provide details on the marine life you encounter so that you can learn more about Hawaii’s ocean environment.

You also have the option to upgrade to the premium submarine tour, which is the most technologically advanced passenger submarine in the world, with a capacity of 64 explorers. Upgrading gives you access to more personal space with large viewports. 

The vessel takes you deep into the waters of the Pacific Ocean to explore a whole new world beneath the surface. Delve 100 feet down to discover sunken airplanes, shipwrecks, and vibrant coral reefs teeming with magnificent marine life. If this isn’t the coolest thing ever, we don’t know what is!

What Included:

  • Submarine dive
  • Complete live professional narration in English
  • Pre-recorded audio available in Spanish, Japanese, Korean, and Chinese
  • Shuttle boat to the submarine dive site

Why we love this tour: We love that you get to explore the deep waters of Hawaii without getting wet. It’s an adventure perfect for anyone who loves the ocean or is curious about the underwater world.

Cons: Some customers advised that the tour was short for the price that you pay.

7. Waikiki Sunset Cocktail Cruise

Operated by: Hawaii Nautical

Duration: 1 hour 30 minutes (approx.)

Meeting Point: 1125 Ala Moana Blvd, Honolulu, HI 96814, Honu Olani is at Slip F28

What better way to end your day in paradise than with a spectacular Waikiki Sunset Cocktail Cruise? This is the perfect way to relax and enjoy the fantastic views of Oahu’s legendary coastline as you sip on delicious cocktails, beer, or wine.

This luxury 53-foot catamaran takes you on a leisurely cruise along Waikiki’s shoreline, with views of Diamond Head and the Waikiki skyline.

Upon arrival at Diamond Head, you will enjoy the spectacular views as the sun sets over the Pacific Ocean. This tour is perfect for couples, families, friends, or anyone who wants to take in the beauty of Oahu.

The gorgeous sunset we saw during the Waikiki Cocktail Sunset Cruise in Oahu.
Cody on the Waikiki Cocktail Sunset Cruise taking photos during sunset.
People sailing right off the coast of Oahu during the Waikiki Sunset Cruise Boat Tour.
Cody on the Waikiki Cocktail Sunset Cruise enjoying taking photos.

What’s included: 

  • Appetizers
  • Two alcoholic drinks
  • Unlimited nonalcoholic drinks

Why we love this tour: The staff onboard was incredibly friendly and accommodating. We went on a cloudy day, and the team compensated by trying to find whales and dolphins for us to watch. Overall, it was an enjoyable experience that we highly recommend.

Cons: There are few seats on the boat, so if you don’t get there early enough, you may have trouble finding a seat. Many people were okay with it since they were taking photos or enjoying the gorgeous views. Also, we were okay with sitting on the floor. You are on a boat, after all!

Tip: This is a no-shoes activity, so wear something comfortable and easy to slip off. Shoes will be kept at the pier for the duration of the tour.

8. Afternoon Waikiki Glass Bottom Boat Cruise

Operated by: Haleiwa Glass Bottom Boats LLC

Duration: 1 hour (approx.)

Meeting Point: 1009 Ala Moana Blvd, Honolulu, HI 96814. Kewalo Basin Harbor Slip F21 

The Waikiki Glass Bottom Boat tour takes you on a cruise along Waikiki’s famous shoreline towards Diamond Head in a glass-bottom boat.

This is a perfect daytime boat tour as you admire the stunning views of Diamond Head and the city skyline from the spacious Haleiwa Queen, a 50ft power catamaran with 49 seats and a shaded deck.

The glass bottom panels allow you to observe the magnificent marine life inhabiting Waikiki’s waters. You will have a chance to marvel at colorful tropical fish, honu (sea turtles), eel, reef sharks, and dolphins, and maybe even glimpse some humpback whales swimming by during whale season.

If you have kids in your group, they will enjoy this tour!

Cody and me on the Waikiki Glass Bottom Boat Tour with views of Honolulu in the background.
Cody on the Glass Bottom Boat Tour in Waikiki Enjoying the gorgeous views of Diamond Head.
Cody on the Glass Bottom Boat Tour waiting for the boat to leave. There are also multiple boats docked at the harbor.
Cody and other people on the Glass Bottom Boat Tour in Oahu enjoying the gorgeous views of Honolulu and Diamond Head.

What’s Included:

  • Bottled water

Why we love this tour: We love that this tour is very budget friendly but still offers an excellent opportunity to explore the beautiful waters of Oahu. The crew was knowledgeable about the area, giving us detailed information about the island and the marine life we spotted. Their jokes weren’t bad either!

We were lucky enough to spot some turtles, dolphins, and green sea turtles during our visit in February. Also, there were only ten people on our tour, but that’s because we visited in the off-season.

Cons: We used the glass bottom panels less since viewing things from the deck was easier and better. This wasn’t a deal breaker to us since it was only a $40 tour, but it’s worth noting since this is advertised as a glass-bottom boat tour.

9. Oahu Shark Dive

Operated by: North Shore Shark Adventures

Duration: 2 Hours (approx.)

Meeting Point: 66-101 Haleiwa Rd, Haleiwa, HI 96712

If you’re looking for an adrenaline rush, why not embark on an exciting Oahu Shark Dive Tour from the picturesque North Shore of the island? This tour is definitely one of the best tours on Oahu!

Guests will witness wild sharks up close from the safety of an underwater shark cage accompanied by a professional and experienced crew. The crew’s knowledge of shark behavior and the secure cage ensures safety against all shark species.

Watch for sea turtles, dolphins, and humpback whales in winter as you make your way to the shark-viewing spot.

Once you set out in the cage, the thrill and adrenaline rush upon seeing the ocean’s top predators is an unmatched experience. Galapagos, hammerhead, and sandbar sharks, typically between 5-15 feet, are common sightings in these waters.

If you are diving in a group, the cage has ample room for two adult divers and can carry up to eight individuals during each occasion, subject to the weather and current conditions. Nevertheless, if you’d rather stay on the boat, you can still experience an exciting adventure. 

Note: This tour offers a money-back guarantee if you don’t see any sharks.

Why we love this tour: The thrilling adventure and the knowledgeable crew are some of the best features of this tour. The chance to observe wild sharks up close from the safety of an underwater cage is an experience of a lifetime.

Cons: This tour is on the North Shore of Oahu, about an hour’s drive from Honolulu. If you are staying in Waikiki, it can be a far drive.

10. BYOB Sunset Cruise off the Waikiki Coast 

Operated by: Living Ocean Tours

Duration: 1 hour 30 minutes (approx.)

Meeting Point: 1125 Ala Moana Boulevard Slip B-01, Honolulu, HI 96814

The BYOB Sunset Cruise offers an affordable alternative to traditional sunset cruises. This tour takes passengers around the Waikiki coastline, providing picturesque views of the city and the captivating Hawaiian sunset.

We took this tour in February and ventured toward Diamond Head for approximately 20 minutes, and we were lucky enough to see whales in the distance. The captain was gracious to stop the boat for passengers to observe the creatures in their natural habitat.

We even saw a pod of spinner dolphins following our boat as we approached Diamond Head.

We headed towards the sunset, but the sky was overcast, so we didn’t see the sunset over the horizon. However, we still witnessed a beautiful pink sky after the sunset. It wasn’t the crew’s fault, so we can’t blame them.

What’s included:

  • Light refreshments
  • Snacks
Me taking titanic style photos on the BYOB sunset Cruise Tour in Waikiki, Oahu with views of Diamond Head.
Cody and me on our sunset cruise boat tour in Oahu with views of Diamond Head and Honolulu.
Cody waiting to board the BYOB Sunset Cruise Boat Tour in Waikiki at the pier.

Why we love this tour: We love a good affordable tour option, and this BYOB Sunset Cruise does not disappoint. It’s a great way to escape the hustle and bustle of the Waikiki beachfront for an hour or two.

Also, being on this boat experience brought back memories of the thrilling movie Titanic. The scenery was breathtaking, and I loved taking photos with the gorgeous Diamond Head in the background. Additionally, the crew was very nice and hospitable.

Cons: This tour is BYOB, so bring drinks if you prefer an adult beverage.\

11. Oahu Whale-Watching Excursion

Operated by: Hawaii Nautical

Duration: 2 hours (approx.)

Meeting Point: Kewalo Basin Harbor, 1125 Ala Moana Blvd, Honolulu, HI 96814, Slip F28

The Oahu Whale-Watching Excursion is an incredible way to get up close and personal with the majestic humpback whales. From December to April, these creatures come to Hawaii’s waters from Alaska to mate and give birth. You might even witness a group of playful young whale calves if you’re lucky.

Looking for a whale-watching adventure in Oahu with a money-back guarantee? Look no further! If you don’t spot any whales, you can enjoy the tour again for free.

There will be an expert guide on board to explain the migration pattern of humpback whales. You can ask questions and learn more about their ecosystem as well.

Man taking a picture of a whale spinning during a whale watching boat tour in Oahu

What’s Included:

  • Unlimited snacks
  • Unlimited non-alcoholic beverages

Why we love this tour: This is a money-back guarantee tour if you don’t see any whales. It’s also an excellent way to learn about the humpback whale species. The crew is knowledgeable, friendly, and accommodating throughout the journey.

Cons: Depending on when you visit, this boat can get crowded. If you prefer to avoid crowds, try booking the first or last tour of the day.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is There a Boat or Ferry to Hawaii?

Unfortunately, there are no ferries or boats to Hawaii from the mainland. However, there are some cruises from Los Angeles, San Francisco, Long Beach, British Columbia, San Diego, Seattle, and Vancouver.

Can You Island Hop in Hawaii by Boat?

The only ferry available is between Maui and Lanai. Expeditions Lanai operates a ferry service for the 45-mile trip. Flying between the islands is often the most convenient way to get around.

What Month is Best to Sail in Hawaii?

The best time to sail in Hawaii is between May and October, as these months generally experience calmer winds and better weather conditions.

The best times to cruise at the lowest prices are early November and early December. However, it’s essential to be aware of the hurricane season from June to November.

Final Thoughts

We hope our guide helps you find the perfect boat tour in Oahu! Whether it’s a romantic sunset cruise or a whale-watching adventure with your family, there are plenty of options for every kind of traveler.

Mahalo for stopping by! Until next time, aloha!