It would take a lot more than a seemingly ominous name to keep people from exploring the deep sea caves and clear blue waters of what’s called “Sharks Cove.” (Maybe actually seeing a shark would do the trick…but let’s not go there!) In the calm summer months, this North Shore spot is ideal for snorkeling and swimming. It’s home to dozens of fish and an array of pristine marine life like no where else on Earth.

Snorkeling Sharks Cove is a good alternative to the ever-popular Hanauma Bay.

Look carefully, and you’ll see the underwater world really come to life – a must-see show if you’re in the islands with a snorkel and mask as your ticket to front row seats. If you’re really lucky, a honu (Hawaiian green sea turtle) will make an appearance as it gracefully glides out of a maze of reef tunnels. Schools of fish flock to the algae-covered floor, with some stragglers finding more interest in the wiggling toes of snorkelers.

So how did Sharks Cove get its name? Because of the white-tip reef sharks that call this cove their home. Not to worry, though. They’re curious but not known to be aggressive, unless they’re provoked. Plus, during the day, they spend much of their time resting in caves. That’s not to say that reef sharks have their set of stragglers, too, so don’t be alarmed if one comes to check you out. Another popular story is that the outline of an outside reef looks similar to a shark when seen from above. I think I like the latter reasoning better!

VIDEO: An underwater world waiting to be explored at Sharks Cove.

Scuba Diving Magazine rated Sharks Cove one of the “world’s top shore pes.” Reef sharks seem a minuscule part of the cove when compared to what else you’re bound to see – parrot fish, surgeon fish, tang, damsel fish, goat fish, mullet, needle fish, eels and crustaceans. It’s amazing how quickly the ocean floor drops from eight feet to 25 feet in a matter of several flips and flops of your fins.

The winter months, however, are a different scene. From November to February, high surf makes the cove inaccessible to swimmers. This can be very dangerous because there are no lifeguards on duty here. I’d suggest trying Kuilima Cove, just 15 minutes away from Sharks Cove. It’s a protected shoreline which makes it fairly clam year-round.

SHARKS COVE • Pupukea, HI 96712 • Amenities: showers, restrooms • Activities: snorkeling, swimming and scuba ping • Free parking in lot

Video Footage Provided By: Kristen Matsunaga


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