Among the most intriguing of ocean mammals, sharks inspire awe—and in often cases, fear—in the hearts of many. But what is surprising to discover is that these mysterious and fascinating creatures may actually be seen up close and personal, and in a completely safe capacity, via professional shark encounters. And what better place is there to do so than in Hawaiʻi? Gathered below are your best shark tour and excursion bets on each Hawaiian island.
For those visiting Oʻahu, all roads lead to the famed North Shore, where two main companies, Hawaii Shark Encounters and North Shore Shark Adventures, offer exciting caged shark tours. Each departing from Haleʻiwa’s small boat harbor, these encounters have guests first outfitted with all the necessary gear (snorkel, mask, etc.), then motored out to the “caged” area, a designated, enclosed spot where sharks literally swim by on every side! Another Oʻahu option is at Sea Life Park, where guests may step into a contained shark tank and spend 20 minutes viewing these amazing beings from behind a safe, steel net.
You can also have the once-in-a-lifetime chance to witness these powerful, stunning creatures on Maui, with a one tank dive experience with Shark Dive Maui located at Maui Ocean Center. This thrilling opportunity allows certified divers to descend into a 750,000-gallon Open Ocean Exhibit, and spend 40 minutes swimming alongside sandbar sharks, blacktip reef sharks, whitetip reef sharks, grey reef sharks, hammerhead sharks, tiger sharks, and more (entire program length is 2 hours).
And although there are no specific expert-led shark excursions on the other Hawaiian Islands, there are indeed a handful of hot spots where the majestic fish often frequent and can be seen in the wild. For example, visitors journeying to Kauaʻi may find a dorsal fin or two skimming through the deep ocean blue found just off the island’s world famous Nā Pali Coastline.
Similarly boasting shark-spotting in the creatures’ natural habitat is the Big Island, where sharks may frequently be seen frolicking along the area found just off of Spencer Park, or Puʻukoholā heiau, one of the largest—and the last—heiau built in Hawaii (extra caution is advised here).
Lastly, Lanai teases its visitors who are in search of shark encounters with a spot called Shark Fin Cove. A misnomer, the locale is lovely, yet its name is not derived from any shark sightings but rather a rock formation that bears an uncanny resemblance to the species’ dorsal fin.
So, now that you are armed with the inside knowledge of the where—and what type of—shark encounters are among the tops in Hawaiʻi, all that’s left is to put your brave, adventure face on and literally dive in!