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Last updated on September 2, 2023
Oahu North Shore is home to large populations of sharks, including the Galápagos and the sandbar sharks which are found by dozens in the open sea a few miles from the coast. Most tour agencies offer cage diving, which is not always considered very ethical, and a few operators organize cage-free snorkeling tours for you to get up close and personal with the ocean’s most feared creatures.
To snorkel with the sharks off the North Shore of Oahu, you must book a tour with a local operator, like Island View Hawaii, which offers a daily two-hours shark tour. The prime spot to swim with sharks is located just three miles off the coast of Haleiwa, which is the departure point for most tours.
Tour prices range between $120 and $180 per person for 2 hours, including an approximately 20 minute snorkeling session. Make sure that it is a cage-free tour at the time of booking. Most operators offer full refund or your next snorkel free if no sharks are spotted.
Your guide will provide instructions and you will enter the water from the boat ladder. Snorkel guides will stay with you in the water.
The spot to swim with sharks extends for several miles in an open sea area where the depth reaches about 250 ft.
Once in the water, you will observe the sharks swimming all around you in their natural habitat. A majority of the sharks that snorkelers will see at this location are the Galápagos shark and the sandbar shark. Several dozen individuals may be present around the boat, sometimes accompanied by barracudas or schools of rainbow runners.
If Galápagos and sandbar sharks are the most common at this location, tiger sharks (from June to October), gray reef sharks, and hammerhead sharks are also occasionally seen.
There are several cafes and restaurants around Haleiwa Marina, from where most tours depart.
These spots are only recommended to good swimmers, in good physical conditions, and with excellent snorkeling skills. These spots can experience currents, moderate waves, important depths, tight or narrow passages, or tricky water entrance, and can be located near hazardous areas (channels, boat traffic, strong currents…). The distance to swim to reach the most interesting snorkeling areas can be important - up to 500 meters. The “advanced” category includes drift snorkeling (transported by currents) and snorkeling off the coast.
This level only apply when the spot experiences optimal sea and/or weather conditions. It is not applicable if the sea and/or weather conditions deteriorate, in particular in the presence of rough sea, rain, strong wind, unusual current, large tides, waves and/or swell.You can find more details about the definition of our snorkeling levels on our snorkeling safety page.
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Snorkeling spots are part of a wild environment and their aspect can be significantly altered by weather, seasons, sea conditions, human impact and climate events (storms, hurricanes, seawater-warming episodes…). The consequences can be an alteration of the seabed (coral bleaching, coral destruction, and invasive seagrass), a poor underwater visibility, or a decrease of the sea life present in the area. Snorkeling Report makes every effort to ensure that all the information displayed on this website is accurate and up-to-date, but no guarantee is given that the underwater visibility and seabed aspect will be exactly as described on this page the day you will snorkel the spot. If you recently snorkeled this area and noticed some changes compared to the information contained on this page, please contact us.
The data contained in this website is for general information purposes only, and is not legal advice. It is intended to provide snorkelers with the information that will enable them to engage in safe and enjoyable snorkeling, and it is not meant as a substitute for swim level, physical condition, experience, or local knowledge. Remember that all marine activities, including snorkeling, are potentially dangerous, and that you enter the water at your own risk. You must take an individual weather, sea conditions and hazards assessment before entering the water. If snorkeling conditions are degraded, postpone your snorkeling or select an alternate site. Know and obey local laws and regulations, including regulated areas, protected species, wildlife interaction and dive flag laws.
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