Snorkeling Three Tables – One of Oahu’s Best snorkel spots

The snorkeling at Three Tables on Oahu’s North Shore is some of the best on the island.

This small but pristine little beach boasts some of the best coral the North Shore has to offer, as well as some very interesting underwater topography that’s fun to explore. 

Three Tables beach is rich in both fish population and diversity, and is in close proximity to a ton of other Oahu attractions. 

It can be a perfect stop whilst on an action packed day of North Shore activities, or a great place to spend the day relaxing intertwined with some epic snorkeling.

Keep reading to discover everything you need to know about Three Tables, like:

  • Best time to visit Three Tables
  • How to get there
  • What marine life you will see 
  • Tips for snorkeling Three Tables

Difficulty Level: Easy | Lifeguard: No | Facilities: Picnic Tables, Restrooms, Showers

About

Three Tables, a beautiful little sandy beach on Oahu’s North Shore is one of Oahu’s most popular snorkel spots.

The soft golden sand and excellent snorkeling here make this location a prime spot for both relaxing on the beach and some fun filled snorkel action.

The name Three Tables comes from the three areas of coral formation which are visible at the ocean’s surface when the tide is low enough, and basically resemble three table tops!

three tables beach hawaii

Three Tables beach is part of one of Oahu’s Marine Life Conservation Districts. 

The aim of these conservation districts are to conserve the marine life at them, so activities such as fishing, or removing or disturbing any of the wildlife here is not permitted.

The result is that these districts are generally teeming with marine life and make great locations for snorkeling, scuba diving and underwater photography.

Unlike the nearby Sharks Cove which has very little sand and is composed primarily of sharp lava rock, Three Tables beach is exactly the kind of beautiful beach you’d expect from a tropical paradise like Hawaii. Luscious soft sand and picturesque turquoise waters.

Location

Three Tables beach is located on the North Shore of Oahu and is less than just half a mile from Sharks Cove (another of Oahu’s most popular snorkel spots).

From Waikiki it’s about a 1 hours drive to Three Tables which is situated on Highway 83.

In terms of parking, there are spaces available on the road right in front of the beach itself, and a further set of parking spaces just a short walk up the road directly in front of the restroom/shower area.

snorkeling three tables

Difficulty

Snorkeling Three Tables  is great for people of all ages and abilities, but it’s only possible to snorkel here through the summer months. (This is the North Shore after all!)

During the winter months it isn’t really possible to snorkel Three Tables  due to the giant waves that hit the north shore, which can reach up to about 20 feet high in this area!

When Three Tables is nice and calm in the summer though beginners & children can happily explore this area but they are best  sticking between the tables and the shore.

Stronger swimmers can venture outwards and around the tables, but should only do so if the currents and waves aren’t too strong.

Snorkeling Three Tables

three tables beach oahu

The sandy beach here gently slopes into the ocean making entry into the water very easy. It starts to get a bit rocky shortly into the water so have your fins at the ready to put them on once you reach this area. 

When it comes to snorkeling Three Tables, you’ll want to explore around the three tables themselves, there is some really interesting topography underwater including many ledges, arches and lava tubes around the tables to explore and swim through.

If the current isn’t too strong then you can venture outside of the three tables, but it can be risky to do this if there is a current as it can push you back into the tables themselves.

Use your judgement and exercise caution – If you’re in any doubt, then it is certainly best not to risk it.

The water depth at Three Tables ranges from shallow to approximately 15 feet deep around the tables, and as with any snorkel spot, the visibility can vary and it will be dependent on the conditions of the ocean that day.

That being said, the visibility snorkeling Three Tables is usually excellent!

Best Time For Snorkeling Three Tables

Three Tables is best snorkeled during the summer months, and as with most snorkel spots on Oahu, it is at its quietest during the week and earlier on in the morning

Restaurants and Facilities

There are plenty of facilities in this area to allow you to spend the day here. Food, water, shade and restroom facilities are all located very close by.

The only points to be aware of are that there are no lifeguards situated at Three Tables, and no opportunity for snorkel rental (but I always recommend having your own snorkel gear anyway!)

  • The Foodland grocery store is situated across the street
  • Restrooms & showers are available a short walk away.
  • There are picnic tables here and plenty of shaded areas
  • Parking is available but is quite limited (at the side of the road). It’s not too bad on weekdays but gets busy on weekends and holidays so arrive early to avoid disappointment
  • There is no lifeguard at Three Tables beach
  • Bring your own snorkel gear

Marine Life At Three Tables

Humuhumunukunukuapua'a

The reason Three Tables is one of Oahu’s most popular snorkel spots is due to the fact there is a great variety of marine life which can be seen here, and can be seen in abundance!

Here is just some of the marine life you can see at Three Tables:

  • Humuhumunukunukuapua’a
  • Green Sea Turtles (if you’re lucky)
  • Goatfish
  • Surgeonfish
  • Tang
  • Grouper
  • Sea Urchins (mind your feet!)
  • Cornetfish
  • Damselfish
  • Parrotfish
  • Sergeant
  • Wrasse
  • Sea Cucumber

And many more!

Tips For Snorkeling Three Tables

  • This spot, and the other spots along the North Shore, are best visited in the summertime
  • Definitely bring your snorkel fins, or at least a pair of water shoes
  • Reef Safe Sunscreen is mandatory in Hawaii in order to best protect and preserve the reefs & marine life
  • Combine a trip to Three Tables with the nearby Sharks Cove
  • I always wear a rash guard for snorkeling, when there is as much to see in the water as there is here, you can easily end up with a nasty burn for staying out in the sun for too long!

Other Activities In The Area

There’s plenty of fun to be had on the North Shore of Oahu. As well as the many beautiful snorkel spots there are some great other activities too.

  • Scuba diving Three Tables is popular as well as snorkeling there
  • Popular hikes in this area include:
  • Kaena Point 
  • Ehukai Pillbox Trail
  • Waimea Falls & Botanical Garden

Other popular beaches in the area also include

  • Waimea Bay
  • Sunset Beach
  • Banzai Pipeline
  • Sharks Cove

If you’re interested in finding out Oahu’s other best places to snorkel, check out our Oahu Snorkel Guide. A comprehensive list and detailed guides to all of the best beaches for snorkeling on Oahu!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *