Shark’s Cove is one of the best snorkeling spots on Oahu. There’s a huge area that is protected from waves by high reef walls, fun underwater cave networks to dive and swim through, and you’ll almost always find tons of fish and turtles.
Getting to Shark’s Cove
Shark’s Cove is located on the North Shore of Oahu in Pupukea–between Bonzai Pipeline and Waimea Bay.
There is a long parking lot on the west side of the road and right in front of the cove. It does get very crowded on the North Shore during peak travel months but you can usually find parking here.
The Protected Reef Area
You’ll find bathrooms and showers and small beach areas but Shark’s Cove is definitely not known for it’s nice beaches. A lot of the area is covered in super sharp lava rock that hurts like heck and if it’s a hot day the sand will scorch your feet but don’t be discouraged!
Shark’s Cove is unmistakable–from the road you can see a large area of calm water with hundreds of lava rock jutting out. High reef walls protect this area from the massive waves that crash against the outer walls. Much of it is also very shallow so it makes for a perfect swimming hole for children and a nice place to relax.
You can do some snorkeling here but it is shallow and most of the fish are in the small bay to the north. While the area is protected from the waves most of the time, please beware and be mindful of the tide. If the tide is high enough and waves violent enough then Shark’s Cove can be extremely dangerous. The below video freaked me out!
Snorkeling at Shark’s Cove
The best snorkeling and the awesome diving is in the bay to the north. I’ve seen turtles there every time I’ve gone and even been encircled by thousands of fish. There are cool places to explore on the south side of the cove you can see in my video at the top. Once again, just be careful, the tides can be super strong and dangerous and the rocks are sharp and painful.
Diving at Shark’s Cove
If you pay close enough attention, somewhere in the middle of the cove you’ll see holes in the reef beneath you. If you’re an experienced diver and can hold your breath for a significant amount of time then you can dive and swim through these awesome holes.
At first I was pretty scared to commit and plunge into this holes/underwater caves but once I had practiced and was confident enough this became a huge thrill for me. There are multiple holes and entrances with awesome views that few have seen.
Shark’s Cove offers something for everyone and is great for families. For other snorkeling spots on Oahu check out Hanauma Bay and Laniakea Beach