Sharks Cove Dive Guide (Oahu North Shore)
A guide for scuba diving and snorkeling Sharks Cove, Three Tables, and Firehouse on the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii
Location Type: Shore Dive/Reef Dive
GPS Address: Shark's Cove, Haleiwa, HI 96712 (Google Maps)
Difficultly: Beginner/Intermediate (Depending on conditions and route)
Average Depth: 20 - 40 feet
Ideal Wave Conditions: 1-2 ft or lower (entry conditions get very rough in higher waves) Sharks Cove is only suitable for diving/snorkeling in late April - early October. Waves are too large during the winter months.
Amenities: Small rinse showers, bathrooms/port-a-johns, food trucks across the street
Parking: Parking and traffic gets crowded and crazy quickly. Get there early in the morning.
Family-Friendly: There are a lot of family-friendly beach and snorkeling spots adjacent to the cove. Three Tables Beach is right next to the cove. There are also a lot of delicious food trucks across the street that the family can hang out at.
Entry: There is a small trail leading from the parking lot down into the cove (see map). The walk down the trail is short, but it is definitely rocky and somewhat steep with dive gear. It is recommended that you use carabiner to carry your mask and fins, leaving your hands free.
This is one of the most popular dive sites on the island for local divers and snorkelers. Only dive-able during the summer months, this area has an abundance of wildlife, caves, caverns, and swim throughs. If you take the northern route, you'll have several lava tubes that you can swim through (usually with some turtles or octopus lurking). If you follow the coast west, you'll see some impressive rock formations, including one known as the Cathedral.
The entry for this dive can be tricky. There is a small trail leading from the parking lot down into the cove (see map). The walk down the trail is short, but it is definitely rocky and somewhat steep with dive gear. It is recommended that you use carabiner to carry your mask and fins, leaving your hands free. Once you get down to the cove, walk all the way around to the south side of the cove to enter the water (this is usually the easiest entry point). The water entry is rocky, and there are large rocks under the water that can hit your tank and legs. Be mindful of where you put your hands; this is a tide pool, so there are plenty of sea urchins in the crevices. Once you get past the larger rocks the cove opens up. We recommend surface swimming out to the center (about 75m out) before descending.
If you plan on snorkeling in Sharks Cove, we recommend staying inside of the cove. Be sure to wear booties/water shoes while getting in, because the entrance can be rocky.
Locations to Explore:
East Route (After coming out of the cove)
Once you dive down, follow the northern wall of the cove out to the open water. Near the northern entrance to the cove, there is a large underwater cavern known as the blue room (be cautious of the strong surge, especially toward the back of the cavern). Keep following the coastline north, until you reach the lava tubes. Within this area are several swim-through caverns, reefs, and rock formations to explore.
West Route (After coming out of the cove)
There are still a lot of cool rock formations and sea life south of Sharks Cove, heading toward three tables. Be careful not to stray too close to the shore, where conditions can be rough due to the ocean surge. Somewhere in this area is also the cathedral rock formation, which is an impressive overhang. (This section/route will be updated more as our admins dive more this summer!)
(DO NOT attempt without proper training and calm conditions) The elevator is a vertical lava tube that descends directly down (25-30 ft) to a cavern. Perform a giant stride entry into the tube when the water is calm. From there, you can swim directly out into the reef.
This spot is only safe to dive during the summer months. High/dangerous surf conditions are present during the winter months.
When in doubt, don't go out. Entry conditions can be extremely hazardous in waves as small as 3-5 feet. If you don't see anyone down in the cove, that's an indication that you shouldn't go out.
The entry involves walking down a rocky trail, and entering where a lot of underwater boulders are present.
This dive site can be challenging in strong currents, especially for beginners.
There are a lot of caves and swim-through caverns at this site. Do not exceed your limits or training as a diver. Be aware that ocean surge in these areas can toss around divers and get them wedged in tight spots.
The elevator is an EXTREMELY hazardous entry. It is only suitable for advanced divers, in calm conditions.
Since this dive is further on the north side of the island, we recommend renting gear and tanks from Surf N Sea if you didn't rent from a dive shop in town. Also be on the lookout during the winter months; Surf N Sea sells off sets of their rental gear for great prices.
After the Dive:
On the North side of the island, we like to hang out at Haleiwa after our dives (or the food trucks across the street!). If we feel more like going to the beach, we'll head over further east to Sunset Beach.
Haleiwa Joe's (Haleiwa): Founded in 1998, the original Haleiwa Joe’s is located in historic Haleiwa town on Oahu’s illustrious “Seven-mile Miracle”. It boasts views of the harbor, ocean, and postcard sunsets and has some of the best food on the North Shore. Their brunch is absolutely fantastic!
Haleiwa Town: Rich with island history, Haleiwa is now the social and artistic hub of the North Shore. Here you’ll find surfers fueling up on shrimp or other delicacies at one of the town’s abundant food trucks before hitting the famous beaches of Waimea Bay, Ehukai (Banzai Pipeline) and Sunset Beach. You’ll also find locals and visitors winding down with a shaved ice after a day in the sun or shopping at boutiques filled with unique gifts that will allow you to bring back a piece of Hawaii with you.