Swimming With Sharks in Hawaii

by Cicely A. Richard

Nearly 40 shark species call the sparkling blue waters of Pacific Ocean surrounding Hawaii home. Diving and charter companies have packages that allow you to get up close to these underwater predators that include hammerheads, sandbars, whale sharks and tiger sharks. Scuba divers swim with sharks near coral reefs and shipwrecks. If you are not brave enough to get in the water with sharks, charter companies let you observe sharks in a protected underwater cage.

Oahu Diving

Hawaii's Oahu Diving (oahudiving.com) provides scuba diving expeditions in which you sea sharks without the protection of an enclosed cage. Sharks hide among the coral reefs or shipwrecks under the waters surrounding Oahu's South Shore. Trained divers take you on excursions for beginner and longtime scuba divers. They help you with your diving gear and breathing techniques. The company's website has a video about shark encounters. First-time diver packages visit two locations, each visit taking 30 to 45 minutes to complete. Beginners receive diving gear, wetsuits, masks and pictures. Oahu Diving also offers a refresher diving course. All participants must complete a liability form.

Hawaii Shark Encounters

Hawaii Shark Encounters (hawaiisharkencounters.com) takes you on 1 1/2-hour swimming expeditions in open sea off the North Shore of Haleiwa, Oahu. You get to see Galapagos and sandbar sharks in their natural habitat in the safety of the companies floating cages. The cage features a Polyglass window that separate you from the sharks. You only wear a mask and snorkel because the cage is only lowered just below the water line. Not only do you get to see sharks, but also you hear educational information about sharks' place in the ocean habitat, conservation and Hawaiian folklore featuring sharks. You must make your reservations one to two months in advance. Hawaii Shark Encounter Tours accepts children as young as 5.

All Oahu Hawaii Tours

All Oahu Hawaii Tours (allhawaiitours.com) features the Two-hour Swimming with Sharks in Oahu tour in the waters of the North Shore. You see all kinds of sharks, including hammerhead and sandbar sharks. If you are not so brave, watch the sharks from the boat as they circle beneath. A cage-view gets you face-to-face with these underwater predators. The glass cage sits below the the water and you see the sharks wearing a mask and snorkels. Each person gets 20 to 30 minutes under the water, depending on the number of passengers who signed up for cage viewing. Children as young as 4 are allowed on trips. Advanced payments guarantee a place on the boat.

North Shore Shark Adventures

North Shore Shark Adventures (hawaiisharkadventures.com) offers two-hour swimming with sharks adventures. Located on the Haleiwa Boat Harbor, the company works with the Department of Land and Natural Resources and researchers to tag area sharks and monitor their behavior. Before you board the boat, North Shore Shark Adventures gives you a brief safety presentation. The guides want you to bring a swimsuit, sunscreen, jacket, towel and underwater camera. In addition to seeing sharks, you might spot dolphins, humpback whales and sea turtles. The company allows children as young as 3 on the boat. It also provides round-trip transportation if you are staying at Waikiki hotels for an additional fee.

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