Snorkeling Sharks Cove – Everything You Need To Know


Shark’s Cove on Oahu’s North Shore is one of the island’s most popular snorkel spots. In fact, it was rated by Scuba Diving Magazine as one of the top 12 shore dives in the world.

Shark’s Cove lies within the Pupukea Marine Life Conservation District. These marine conservation districts help to protect and maintain coral reefs and marine life, which is why there are so many fish here.

The area is named Shark’s Cove as the outline of the reef looks like a shark as seen from above, so don’t worry, it’s just a name and nothing sinister will be lurking in the waters. Promise.

As one of Oahu’s most popular snorkel locations Sharks Cove can get quite busy. It is also only really possible to snorkel at this location during the summer months.

During the winter months Oahu’s North Shore is world famous for its humongous waves that are enjoyed by surfers from all over the world, making this area far too dangerous to snorkel.


Sharks Cove is located on Oahu’s North Shore and is approximately 40 miles (around an hours drive) from Honolulu. 

The cove is located just after the Foodland grocery store, and you will find parking spaces for Sharks Cove located just before and after the cove.

As this is a very popular location and parking spaces are limited, it’s important to arrive at Sharks Cove early in order to ensure you get a parking space.


Sharks Cove perhaps isn’t the best ‘beach’ for families with younger children as the area mainly consists of sharp/slippery lava rock both in and out of the water.

Children may however enjoy exploring the tide pools that are located just to the left of Sharks Cove.

The depth of the water in Sharks Cove ranges from quite shallow (2-4 feet), to 6-20 feet in its deepest areas. 

This area can get busy and is very rocky so it is important to be aware of other swimmers and of your surroundings at all times. 


The entrance into the water can be difficult as it is not a soft sandy beach – It is sharp lava rock which can also be very slippery so exercise caution when entering. 

Carefully navigate your way through the water – It is possible to avoid the rocks and find nice sandy parts to stand on, just be cautious, especially as waves possess the potential to knock you off balance.

Once you’re safely in deep enough water you can begin swimming the cove and exploring the interesting rock formations and the various marine life 

It would be extremely wise to bring a pair of water shoes with you so you don’t have to worry about slipping, or other potential foot injuries from the sharp rocks in this area. 

Your water shoes will also come in really handy for walking through the tide pools that are just to the left of sharks cove. This is a great area to wade through and explore.

The visibility in the water is often amazingly clear, but as ever this can depend on the weather (it will be less clear during heavy rainfall), or if the currents are strong that day.

snorkeling at sharks cove hawaii


Here are some general tips and information to give you the best time snorkeling sharks cove:

  • Three Tables, another of Oahu’s best snorkel locations is less than just half a mile from Sharks Cove.
  • Sharks Cove is only 15 mins from Kuilima Cove so if the waves are too high at Sharks Cove, try Kuilima which is much more sheltered and less prone to waves/strong currents
  • There is parking available but as this is a popular location spaces can fill fast. Come early to avoid disappointment
  • There is no lifeguard on duty at Sharks Cove
  • There are small shops and food trucks nearby to buy food and drink, and restrooms/showers are available.
  • Bring water shoes! You will have a far better experience navigating the sharp and often slippery rocks at Sharks Cove if you have a good pair of water shoes.
  • This is one of Oahu’s best spots to snorkel so it can get crowded at times, especially at weekends. Try and come during the week and earlier in the day to get the best experience.
  • The “beach” area is very small and there isn’t much in the way of shade here so bring plenty of reef safe sunscreen and cover up with a rash guard to avoid burning.
  • This can be a high theft area so avoid leaving any valuables on the beach or on display in your car.


The reason people love snorkeling at Sharks Cove is the amazingly high diversity of fish that can be seen here in droves.

Butterfly fish, boxfish, surgeonfish, wrasse, turtles, eels, parrotfish, tang, unicornfish, needlefish, mullet, trumpetfish, Humuhumunukunukuapua’a, octopus.. And more

Harmless white tipped reef sharks have also been spotted lurking around the outside of the cove


Around Sharks Cove there are plenty of food trucks for you to grab food and drinks.

Kuilima Cove is only a 15 minute drive from Sharks Cove so it’s easy to hit both of these snorkel locations in a single day. Check out our guide to snorkeling Kuilima Cove for further details.

Three Tables is also less than half a mile away. If you’re staying at Turtle Bay resort then you are in a prime location to easily access all three of these snorkel spots beaches.

Or if you are only visiting the North Shore of Oahu for the day – The close proximity of these beaches will allow you to easily visit all three in one day if you wish.

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