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Oahu North Shore is home to large populations of sharks, including the Galápagos shark and the sandbar shark which are found by dozens in the open sea a few miles from the coast. If most tour agencies offer cage diving (which is not always considered very ethical), a few operators organize cage-free snorkeling tours to get close and personal with the ocean’s most feared creatures.

Snorkeler swimming with a shark on Oahu North Shore
Snorkeler swimming with a shark on Oahu North Shore.

How to go snorkeling with sharks off Oahu’s North Shore?

To snorkel with sharks off the North Shore of Oahu, you must book a tour with a local operator. 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 minutes snorkeling session. Make sure that it is a cage-free tour at the time of booking. Most operators offer full refund or next snorkel free if no sharks are spotted.

Oahu North Shore sharks snorkeling map

Water entrance for snorkeling with sharks in Oahu

Your guide will provide instructions and you will enter the water from the boat ladder. Snorkel guides will stay with you in the water.

Snorkeling with Oahu’s North Shore sharks

The spot to swim with sharks extends for several miles in an open sea area where the depth reaches about 250 ft.

Galapagos shark in Oahu
The most common shark species at this location is the Galápagos shark.

Once in the water, you will observe the sharks swimming all around you in their natural habitat. A majority of the sharks snorkelers 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.

Galapagos shark in Oahu
The Galápagos shark is abundantly present around oceanic islands. It reaches a maximum length of 330 cm (11 ft).

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.

Restaurants and accommodation nearby

There are several cafes and restaurants around Haleiwa Marina, from where most tours depart.

 

  • Level required Advanced
  • Maximum depth250ft/80m
  • Water entranceFrom boat ladder
  • Visitor numbersLow
  • Access costsPrice of a snorkeling tour (from $120 pp.)

MAP Spot

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.