Sharks Cove is one of the most beautiful places to snorkel in the world with its crystal clear aqua water and abundance of sea life, you will not be disappointed! I need to emphasize there is no sharks in Sharks cove. From what I have found they say the shape of the cove resembles a shark and that is why it is called Sharks Cove.
I will explain how to get to and from at the end of the article but from Honolulu it is about an hour and if you are coming from the south and going up the east side of the island it takes around 2 hours so you can plan accordingly.
At first glance going through the rural area there is parking at the top of the bay and once you walk down from the right side (northwest) you can see the magnificent views and the fresh ocean air in your face. Sharks cove is in a secluded bay away from the big breaks and reefs of the North Shore but still are cautious because some currents can come through and disrupt the visibility at times but will still have a great view.
The best time to go
Snorkeling there is best in the summer months because the swell is smaller and less waves to disrupt the ocean life and fewer currents. The bay is in between Waimea Bay and the Banzai pipeline which are major surf spots in which waves can reach up to 30 feet. Even during the winter months it can get rough in the bay but just be cautious and take your time. Always ask the locals if you are unsure. The parking lot is small so if you are worried about parking get there before 9:30 am just to be safe but if you can’t find parking you may just have to walk a little bit.
There is a small sandy area at the base of the bay for you to lounge before, during or after you are snorkeling but it can get a little crowded during the day. It will never be crowded enough where you won’t find a spot but if you are concerned just show up a bit earlier.
The ocean floor
The land around the area is formed from volcanic ash, rock and sand. Once you get into the water the bottom is smooth rock and coral ledges where you can see a wide variety of different coral. You will see blue coral which offers a massive skeleton made of calcium carbonate. Cauliflower coral is present all around the reef and can be identified with its wart-like growths and color which is red in this reef.
From years of exposure, the ocean waves having crashed down on the volcanic ash and rocks it has created tide pools, smaller caves and ledges for different marine like to swim around in a calmer environment. With proper footwear such as water shoes because the surface can be quite sharp or even sea urchins can be hiding in small crevices. You may want to take a look at these water shoes….
The most tide pools are on the South side (to the left facing the ocean) so that is the best to go exploring but be careful again if you have younger children or there is big waves because you can get splashed from the waves that could cause you to lose your balance. The bay goes to the depth from the shallows at knee high but can get to around 18 feet so make sure you are a confident swimmer.
Once you are in the water though, let the enjoyment begin. It is ranked “Top 12 Shore Dives by Scuba Diving Magazine so it’s a sure target of an amazing time.
There is so much marine life in this bay because it is sheltered from the ocean in the bay I have seen so much marine life (every day is different, so you cannot get mad if you do not see some of these fish:
Spectacled parrot fish
And of course Turtles
For your Information – amenities
If nature calls there are public restrooms at the parking lot so you don’t have to run across the street to use a restaurant or gas station. There are showers for your convenience to get the salt off your body and snorkeling gear especially if you have to drive back to Honolulu or the southern point of the island. Just across the street from the parking lot there are some small shops where you can purchase food and beverages in case you forgot your lunch or you need that extra beverage when the kids won’t calm down.
There are no lifeguards on duty so pay attention to all of the signs and respect the ocean.
To and from:
Sharks cove is very easy to get to and from; it just depends on where you are coming from. Roughly it will take about an hour (35 miles) by vehicle from downtown Honolulu or the airport depending on traffic. If you don’t have access to any mapping system or GPS I am going to provide a few short directions just in case.
For those of you who do have access to some sort of GPS device Sharks cove can sometimes be a little trickier to locate on a map but if you plug in 672 Kamehameha Hwy, Haleiwa, HI 96712 (close to the beach) that will be the quickest and easiest to get to that general direction and once you get into the town of Pupukea (you can try typing that in as well for a general direction to).
From Honolulu you will need to get onto Hwy 1 West (Lunalilo Fwy) for 2.4 miles
Stay left onto I-H201 W (Moanalua Fwy) towards Fort Shafter
Take exit toward Pearl City I-H2 onto I-H1 West (Queen Liluokalani Fwy) 4.7 miles
Take exit 8A toward Mililani/Wahiawa onto I-H2 N (Veterans Memorial Fwy) 7.9 miles
Continue on S Kamehameha Hwy (HI-80) 8.5 miles
Continue on Joseph P Leong Hwy (HI-83) 6.6 miles
Arrive at Kamehameha Hwy (HI-83
If you are coming from the East side of the island around Kanohe you want to get Hwy 3 (John A Burns Fwy) to I-H201 and then the Moanalua Fwy towards Fort Shafter.
If you are coming from the South of the Island near Hanauma Bay, take Hwy 1 west (Lunalilo Fwy) until you get to Honolulu and stay left onto I-H201 W and follow the previous directions from Honolulu.
For the scenic view from the south going along the east coast again this is very easy and beautiful roads from Hanauma Bay is around 50 miles which will take around 2 hours so plan accordingly.
Head toward Kealahou St on Kalanianaole Hwy (HI-72) 10.3 miles
Turn left onto Kalanianaole Hwy (HI-61) 1.8 miles
Turn right onto Kamehameha Hwy (HI-83) 5.4 miles
Arrive at Kamehameha Hwy (HI-830). Your destination is on the right
Kaneohe Bay, Kaneohe, HI 96744
Head toward Hunalepo St on Kamehameha Hwy (HI-830) 2.5 miles
Turn right onto Kamehameha Hwy (HI-83) 29.8 miles
Arrive at Kamehameha Hwy (HI-83). Your destination is on the left
59-672 Kamehameha Hwy, Haleiwa, HI 96712