Shark Snorkeling in Oahu: Best Spots for Diving Activities

Shark Snorkeling in Oahu: Best Spots for Diving Activities

With shark snorkeling in Oahu, explore underwater worlds near you and see sharks in their natural habitat.
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There are wonderful places where you can swim in the sea, admire the clarity of the blue and feel the sun warming your back. What if you’re wearing a diving mask and you’re surrounded by silence when suddenly a shark appears from under the water?

A shark that races past with its fin slicing through the water like a sharp knife? If this excites you, you will love the adventure of swimming with a shark in Oahu!

In this article, we explain all the details of swimming with a shark in this Hawaiian paradise, from the types of sharks you might encounter to the best dive spots and times.

Why Oahu?

So, why is Oahu so popular for a shark swimming adventure? As well as being home to a vibrant city like Honolulu, Oahu is one of the most biologically diverse islands in the Hawaiian island chain. The waters around the island are home to many different species of sharks.

When to Visit: Best Time for Shark Snorkeling in Oahu

Choosing the right time for your shark swimming adventure in Oahu ensures you get the most out of the experience. You can see sharks on Oahu year-round, making it an ideal destination for any time of year.

Best Snorkeling Spots In Oahu
Jean-Claude Monty

However, the time when you can see the most shark species is during the summer months, from June to August. During this period the sea is calmer and the visibility of the water increases. However, no matter what time of year it is, early morning is usually the best time for swimming.

This is when the sea is calmest and the sharks are most active. Remember that nature has its own schedule, there is no guarantee of always seeing a shark, but with a little planning you can increase your chances of a great shark experience.

What Kind of Sharks are in Oahu?

  • Galapagos Sharks: Named after the islands where they were first recognized, this is one of the species most commonly seen on Oahu. They can grow up to 3 meters long and are curious about divers and swimmers.
  • Sandbar Sharks: Easily recognized by their high, triangular dorsal fins and long, slender bodies. Sandbar sharks are usually quite calm and pose little threat to swimmers.
  • Scalloped Hammerhead Sharks: With a large, hammer-shaped head, this species is famous for its appearance. They are not as common as Galapagos or Barbary sharks, but seeing one while swimming is a great experience.
  • Tiger Sharks: One of the larger species found around Oahu. Although their size may seem intimidating, tiger sharks are generally indifferent to human presence, unless provoked.
  • White Tip Reef Sharks: These smaller and agile sharks are usually found in the coral reefs around Oahu. They are recognized by their distinctive white-tipped fins and generally pose no threat to swimmers.

How to Shark Snorkel in Oahu?

Swimming with sharks on Oahu is both an exciting and educational experience. It all starts with a boat ride into the deep blue waters where sharks are known to congregate. When you arrive at the designated dive spot, you receive a short safety briefing.

Cage Shark Snorkeling In Oahu
Faye S

Then, you enter the water with your diving equipment, you can be free swimming or in a protective cage, depending on the setting of the tour operator.

In the crystal clear waters of Oahu, you will soon have the opportunity to observe the graceful movements of these impressive creatures.

Shark Snorkeling Safety Tips

  1. Stay calm: Sharks are very sensitive to movement and sound. Fast and erratic movements can stress the sharks and increase your risk of injury.
  2. Listen to your guide: The guides are experienced professionals. Pay close attention to their safety briefing and always follow their instructions.
  3. Keep a safe distance: While sharks in Oahu are not typically aggressive, remember they are wild animals. Give them ample space and respect.
  4. Avoid touching the sharks: Touching not only disrupts their natural behavior but can also be dangerous for you.
  5. Take care of your equipment: Make sure your snorkeling gear is in good condition. A leaking mask or ill-fitting fins can cause unnecessary distractions.
  6. Stay hydrated and protected from the sun: It’s easy to forget about dehydration and sunburn when you’re fascinated by sharks. Drink plenty of water and wear sunscreen or UV-protective clothing.

Shark Snorkeling In Oahu Tips
William Roedl

Top Shark Snorkeling Spots in Oahu:

  • Haleiwa (North Shore): Located about 30 miles from Honolulu, Haleiwa is the center of shark swimming tours. Here you will often encounter Galapagos and Sandbar sharks.
  • Waimea Bay (North Shore): About 32 miles from the city center, it is a popular spot with freedivers and swimmers. The area is known for its clear waters and rich marine life, home to many species of sharks.
  • Kahe Point (West Coast): About 24 miles from Honolulu, Kahe Point, also known as Electric Beach, is a popular swimming spot that attracts marine life with its warm, clear waters, where White-tipped Reef Sharks can be seen.
  • Hanauma Bay (Southeast Coast): Located about 10 miles from downtown Honolulu, Hanauma Bay is a nature preserve known for its rich marine life. While less common, you might be able to spot smaller reef sharks here.
  • Three Tables Beach (North Shore): Located 35 miles from Honolulu, it’s a famous diving site where you can occasionally spot various shark species in the summer months.

Planning Your Shark Snorkeling Trip: Practical Advice

To get the best experience snorkeling with sharks on Oahu, you need to do a little planning. First, decide when you want to go. As we said before, summer is the best time to see sharks because it offers better conditions in terms of weather and visibility. But you can see sharks at any time of the year.

Once you have set your dates, start researching tour operators. Choose companies with a good safety record and positive customer reviews. I recommend booking your tour in advance to guarantee your place, especially during peak seasons.

Shark Snorkeling Without Cage

Think about what to take with you. Apart from a swimsuit, you may want to consider bringing a rash guard for sun protection, a towel, extra clothes and medication for those who suffer from seasickness. Most tour operators will provide the necessary snorkeling equipment.

Finally, learn about the sharks you will see and the importance of shark protection. This will not only enhance your snorkeling experience but also give you a greater respect for these incredible creatures.


Do I need any special training or certification for shark snorkeling in Oahu?

No, you don’t need any special training or certification for shark snorkeling. Both beginners and experienced snorkelers can enjoy this adventure. However, you should be comfortable in the water. All safety instructions will be provided by the tour operator.

Is shark snorkeling safe?

Yes, shark snorkeling is considered safe. The species of sharks encountered during snorkeling tours in Oahu are not typically aggressive towards humans. Furthermore, tour operators put safety as their top priority, providing safety gear and detailed instructions.

Can I feed the sharks during my snorkeling tour?

Feeding sharks during snorkeling tours is not recommended or ethical. Feeding disrupts the natural behavior of sharks and can create unnecessary risks.

Sharks In Oahu Diving Spots

Can I take photos or videos during my shark snorkeling tour?

Absolutely! Capturing your shark snorkeling adventure on camera is encouraged. However, make sure to secure your camera equipment to prevent accidental loss.


Snorkeling with sharks on Oahu offers the opportunity to meet the ocean’s largest creatures up close. From choosing the best season to understanding the species you’ll encounter, your journey can be both exciting and enlightening.