Preparing a trip to Hawaii’s capital? Among the sightseeing and beach relaxation, there’s one major adventure you have to try: swimming with sharks. This incredible experience is offered at various locations around O’ahu Island. Scroll down to find out where to book, what to know, and what the difference is between open water shark diving and shark cage diving.
Where To Book
There are a variety of places to dive with sharks on O’ahu Island. Here are some of the top-rated ones:
1. One Ocean Diving
Forty-five minutes from Honolulu is Haleiwa, where you can find many shark diving opportunities. At One Ocean Diving in Haleiwa, you can swim with the sharks while learning about conservation and marine research. This educational open-water diving experience has it all!
2. Hawaii Shark Encounters
Also in Haleiwa is Hawaii Shark Encounters, which offers shark cage diving. This is a snorkeling adventure rather than a scuba one, and, as such, no experience is required. You only need to know how to swim! You’ll also learn about the biology and behavior of sharks, as well as their role in Hawaiian culture and mythology.
3. Oahu Diving
This Honolulu company caters to first-time divers. Though they offer general scuba diving tours and not shark diving specifically, many visitors have seen sharks on their tours, along with other sea creatures like dolphins, turtles, and eels. This is a great option to test out diving and get your toes wet— literally!
What To Know
BEFORE YOU DIVE:
1. Check if you need to be certified
Some companies require you to have a scuba certification. This is typically listed on their website, so you can learn this information before booking your tour. If you’re not certified (as many aren’t), there will absolutely be places that don’t require a certification. Or, if you’re feeling extra adventurous, you can get certified!
2. Dive with a guide
As fun as it might be to buy some gear and bait sharks out yourself, it’s also incredibly dangerous. Be sure that you’re diving with a certified guide from a reputable company.
3. Know when not to dive
If you’re feeling sick or in pain, save the diving for another day. The same goes for if you have drunk alcohol or taken drugs before the dive begins. When in doubt, check-in with your doctor to ensure you’re cleared to dive.
DURING YOUR DIVE:
1. Listen to your guide
Your guide does this all day long. Listen to their instructions!
2. Don’t panic
Sharks are scary creatures— it’s normal to be frightened of them. Like most predators, they can sense fear, so it’s important to stay calm.
3. Respect the sharks
You’re invading the sharks’ space, so be respectful towards them! Do not antagonize the sharks. In fact, if you’d like to catch a better look at a shark, avoid eye contact with them. It will likely encourage them to come closer.
AFTER YOUR DIVE:
1. Make sure you’re able to fly
If you went scuba diving, you should not fly on an airplane for 24 hours. This does not apply to people who snorkeled— you’re good to go!
Open Water vs Cage Diving
When going shark diving, you’ll have the option between open water diving and cage diving. Open water diving is exactly what it sounds like: you, your guide, and the rest of your tour swimming untethered in the ocean with sharks. It is usually recommended for people who have scuba or snorkeling experience; however, there are some companies that guide beginners through it.
Meanwhile, cage diving is recommended for beginners. It is also the safest and most common method. A cage is dangled off of the charter boat with the adventurers inside, and the sharks are baited to that area by the guides. You’ll be on the same level as the sharks and able to watch them circle the boat from below the water!