Hailey Minton

Writer. Photographer. Explorer.

November 30, 2017 · 5 min read

Jump on the Turtle Canyon Snorkel Tour and Sail

Guests will take a 3 hour catamaran excursion to snorkel with turtles off the shore of Honolulu

This adventure begins as you leave the harbor and make your way to Turtle Canyon to snorkel with green sea turtles. After the turtle tour,  diving or flipping off the boat a few times if you ask the captain, the friendly crew will set out a sandwich bar with all the fixings. You will eat lunch as the crew sets sail to pass Diamond Head before returning to the harbor.

This boat will take you to turtle canyon. Makani is the Hawaiian word for wind. It is a fitting name for the catamaran.

Getting in the water for the Turtle Tour

The boat slowed once we got close to Turtle Canyon and a large turtle popped his head above the surface up just off the port side.

The turtle tour began once we were in the water. We followed one of the lifeguards to Turtle Canyon and at one point there were 6 turtles suspended in the water.  The turtles hung out and let the tang fish clean their shells. “It’s a symbiotic relationship,” said Kiah the bartender before we got in the water. “The turtles come to get a day spa, the fish get a meal, and we get to snorkel with them.” There were turtles around us  the entire time our group was in the water.


This is a great place to snorkel with turtles especially in the winter when the waves are too big at other popular snorkeling spots like Shark’s Cove.


Diving and safety vests

Kiah gives instruction on how to wear the safety vests.

Before getting into the water, the crew hands out snorkels, masks, fins, and yellow safety vests. Everyone was required to wear the vests. We weren’t required to inflate them and the staff let everyone dive down as deep as they liked which I really appreciated. If you are an intermediate snorkeler, ask one of the guides about equalizing to alleviate the water pressure on your ears. That way you can dive down deep without being in pain. If you are a beginner snorkeler, inflate the vests and it will help you stay afloat on the surface.


Jumping off the boat

We asked Captain Brad if there was a place we were allowed to jump off the boat. He happily opened up a gate on the railing of the starboard side of the boat. We had some fun and two young teenage girls even joined in.

I jump off the side of the boat towards Diamond Head after Captain Brad opens the gate for us.

Tanner does a backflip off the starboard side of the boat. The Honolulu coastline is in the background.


The crew told us it was a pretty calm day on the seas before we initially set out from the harbor. After snorkeling the crew put up the sail and we cruised east along the coast a little past Diamond Head to the lighthouse. The waves got bigger the closer we got to Diamond Head and a couple of waves threw a little mist over everyone sitting on the net. Mina said, “On big days it’s like riding a rollercoaster and everyone sitting in the front gets sprayed.” He said dolphins sometimes show up to catch a free ride off the front of the boat. He also said they have buckets for anyone who gets seasick. “It’s best to use a bucket because when we are sailing it can be windy and if you try aiming overboard…well, it might end up on other people.”   

The sail catches the wind that pushes the group back to the harbor.

The Crew

The boat is manned by three different captains throughout the week and the crew is different on different days of the week as well. We went on a Wednesday and we had a GREAT crew. You can tell they enjoy each other’s company.

If you talk with them, they will make your experience even better. I asked Mina, the first mate, if they ever see sharks out there. He smiled and hesitantly said, “yeah sometimes.” I told him I was hoping to see one some day. “I’ll jump in with you guys and see if I can find some.” Later he showed us a little nook under a reef shelf on the bottom of the ocean where two black tipped reef sharks were sleeping! 

Mina the first mate, and one of the lifeguards put away the sail as the boat gets close to the harbor.


The Makani Catamaran has been sailing Hawaiian waters since 2005. This 64 foot long vessel can carry up to 79 passengers with a crew of five. The $1.8 million vessel was constructed in the United States Virgin Islands.

Amenities available

  • Two bathrooms
  • Covered and open-air seating
  • Full bar with non alcoholic and alcoholic drinks
  • Sandwich bar with a side dish
  • Biodegradable cups, cutlery and napkins.
  • Full surround sound system




What to bring

  • Swimsuit
  • towel
  • sunscreen
  • slippers or flipflops
  • sunglasses