If you are looking for a unique activity on Oahu to get your adrenaline going, this is it! Shark Cage Diving on the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii is easily one of the best activities I’ve ever done on the island. This short but action-packed tour takes you out three miles on a boat from Haleiwa and then the action begins. You will hop into the shark cage where you will find yourself being circled by Sandbar and Galapagos Sharks or maybe even a tiger shark if you are ‘lucky’. It might all sound quite scary but the sharks are quite relaxed and there is no feeding of the sharks so the entire experience was just incredible. We found ourselves within inches of the sharks and the entire shark cage diving adventure felt surreal.
In this blog post, I will fill you in about everything you need to know such as costs, location, the best time of day for the tour (this is important), what to expect, and how to get there. You should definitely book this one online because it often sells out more than a week in advance. You also want to do the tour in the morning time slot (I will explain why later in the blog post).
BOOK YOUR TOUR: North Shore Shark Cage Diving Experience
INFORMATION ABOUT THE SHARK CAGE DIVING TOUR ON OAHU
- Each tour leaves Haleiwa Harbor and lasts approximately two hours, which was quite nice as you could spend half a day up on the north shore exploring after your tour.
- You will ride on a custom-made, spacious aluminum boat, which includes a canopy for shade and cushioned seating for comfort. Masks and snorkels are provided, however, you are free to bring your own (fins are not necessary).
- The sharks range in size from five to fifteen feet, and are often just inches away from the cage and the spectators inside!
- The tour travels offshore three to four miles to the cage moored in the beautiful cobalt blue water.
- The visibility is so good (often 150 feet or more) that you can actually see the sharks come up from the deep. Often on the way, you may also encounter dolphins, Hawaiian green sea turtles, and magnificent humpback whales (November through May).
- The cage can hold up to eight people comfortably which allows small families to experience their shark dive together.
- No chumming is necessary as the sharks are attracted to the sound of our motors which they interpret as a crabbing vessel and a potential food source.
- Guests are encouraged to bring their own underwater cameras for the opportunity to capture the best footage of Hawaiian sharks anywhere.
- Disposable cameras and a video option are also available for purchase.
- The first tour starts at 7 a.m. with the exception of June through August when the first tour departs at 6 a.m. Additional tours occur up to 11 a.m. and, depending on availability, later tours are available.
BOOK YOUR TOUR: North Shore Shark Cage Diving Experience
MY EXPERIENCE ON THE OAHU SHARK CAGE DIVING TOUR
This is a quick summary of my experience of cage diving with sharks in Hawaii.
Like many tourists, our day began down in Waikiki (Honolulu) and we made the drive up to the Haleiwa on the North Shore of Oahu with our rental car. The tour begins at the Haleiwa Boat Harbor where you can find parking and toilets to get yourself sorted before the tour. It’s best to get there 20-minutes before your tour time to check in and be ready for the staff to call you onto the boat.
The tour takes off and cruises out three miles from the shore. This seems awfully close to the shore for hundreds of sharks but that is the reality! There is a shark cage moored permanently out at sea so the boat pulls up the cage and then ropes up to the buoy and parks there for the duration of the tour. If you get sea-sick, you will be stationary on a rocking boat for quite a while so this could trouble you.
BEST TIME OF DAY FOR THE OAHU SHARK CAGE DIVE: The earlier you do the tour, the calmer the ocean. The trade winds pick up in the afternoon and it honestly gets a little wild out on the rocking boat and in the cage. I went in the afternoon for my shark-cage diving tour but went a few days later when I did the open-water free-diving tour with sharks and it was so much calmer in the morning. The staff told me this is normal and they advise everyone to book in the morning if it is possible with their schedule so you have a much more peaceful time.
BOOK YOUR TOUR: North Shore Shark Cage Diving Experience
Once at the site, we put on the snorkel and mask and climbed down into the cage. It all happened so quickly but as soon as I put my head underwater there was a massive shark staring right at me as it swam towards the cage. The next twenty minutes would be one of the most incredible underwater experiences of my life.
The sharks are drawn to the surface by the sound of the engine and circle the back of the boat where the cage is placed. Curiously they cruise around, often coming very close to the cage but never moving around in an aggressive manner. Although the bars of the cage are quite wide and my fingers and toes felt quite exposed, I felt quite safe as I watched the calm nature of the sharks. This is a great way to observe sharks up close and personal from beneath the surface without having to swim or work hard while still in a very safe environment.
You are allowed to take your GoPro into the cage, which is pretty cool as you can get some great shots considering how close the sharks come. I filmed this little clip below on my GoPro from beneath the bars of the cage.
SHARK CAGE DIVE TOUR COST
The cost of the tour for Adults is $100 if you book online (Click Here to book online) or $120 if you don’t book online. Kids are $60 and the Kamaina (local discount is $85) for Oahu residents and military.
SHARK MYTHOLOGY IN HAWAII
Shark or “Mano” in Hawaiian, is still central to the culture of the native Hawaiians and is featured in many legends. Hawaiians today still revere the shark and honor them as ancestral familial Gods of long ago. They are one of many central figures in Hawaiian mythology and are featured in countless legends throughout the Pacific. The shark God Kamohoali`i guided his sister Fire Goddess Pele on her journey as she escaped a feud with her sister which resulted in the creation of the Hawaiian Islands. This tour takes you on a journey to see one of the many forms of sharks, the descendants of Hawaiian folklore, and witness their agility and gracefulness as they glide by just inches away from you. All this and a breathtaking view of Oahu’s North Shore are part of the Hawaii shark tour.
Source: North Shore Shark Adventures
I hope you enjoyed this guide to the Oahu Shark Cage Diving experience in Hawaii.
MY FOUR FAVORITE ACTIVITIES ON OAHU
If you are looking for some more adventures on top of the cliff jumping while on Oahu, there are lots of other adventurous things to do that will also get your adrenaline pumping. Here are four of my favorites.
- Oahu scenic helicopter flight: My number one recommendation is to do a heli-flight (doors off). You will be absolutely blown away when you see Oahu from the sky! Click to book your tour: Doors-Off Helicopter Flight Tour
- North Shore Shark Cage Adventure: The biggest adrenaline rush you can have in Hawaii is beneath the surface with sharks! Click to book your tour: North Shore Shark Cage Experience
- Eco-Friendly Dolphin and Snorkel Half-Day Cruise: One of the best experiences I had on Oahu was swimming with the beautiful spinner dolphins. A once in a lifetime experience. Click to book your tour: Eco-Friendly Dolphin and Snorkel Tour
- Turtle Canyon Snorkel Cruise by Catamaran: One of my favorite memories of Hawaii is floating in the water with a Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle. On this tour that is exactly what you will do! Click to book your tour: Turtle Canyon Snorkel Cruise by Catamaran
Where to stay on Oahu
Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach Resort (Overall Favorite): In the heart of Waikiki, this high-end resort is right on the beach. Luxury rooms overlooking the beach, a private lagoon and a free fireworks and dance performance show. Hilton is easily the most recognizable hotel on the Island.
Why I recommend this hotel: It has its own private lagoon. While lots of people love the beach it is perfect for families. Kids can kayak, swim and snorkel with no worries. There are no currents, waves or sea creatures to worry about. The hotel is right on Waikiki Beach so don’t worry the beach is right there also.
Sheraton Waikiki (Luxury): A luxury resort with the most amazing infinity pool on the island, which overlooks the beach. The bar and nightclub at the Sheraton is a great place to relax after a long day of island adventures.
Why I recommend this hotel: The Sheraton is always exceptional no matter the location but imagine you are leaning over the edge of an infinity pool, the ocean is below you and you turn to your left and watch Diamond Head crater in the distance. That’s where you will be at the end of each day, having a Mai Tai cocktail in your infinity pool. Later on, in the evening Rumfire is a great bar venue, which is actually part of the Sheraton. It is open to the public and is one of the best high-end venues on Oahu. It has a small dance floor but is mostly standing and seating areas for drinks, chats and good times.
Ewa Hotel Waikiki: (Value): Hotels in Waikiki can be expensive. Deciding where to stay on Oahu can be difficult if you don’t have much cash. Luckily, there is an accommodation option on the edge of Waikiki that is excellent value.
Why do I recommend this hostel/hotel: This is the perfect hotel if you want location but are willing to sacrifice a pool and some luxury items to save up to $200 per night. All of the hotels in this area are minimum $300 per night and often much more. Ewa Hotel is just one block back from the beach and is just over $150 USD. If you are like me, I never swim in the hotel pool anyway. Didn’t you come halfway across the world to swim in the beach!
Waikiki Beachside Hostel (Budget Choice): A budget alternative, which is still in an amazing location. Walking distance to Waikiki beach and a central location to base yourself for a week of adventures.
Why I recommend this hostel: Unfortunately Waikiki and Honolulu, in general, are not cheap. You can grab a dorm room for under $35 a night within walking distance to Waikiki surf beach. This location really is great. You are near a lot of attractions and can take public transport to a lot of great east coast beaches and hikes. It is the number one hostel in Waikiki and I’m sure you will meet other adventurers to go on hikes with!
Disney Aulani Resort (Family Choice): This is a resort your kids will never forget. It honestly feels like a theme park at times with just how many pools and activities are available. If you can afford it, this is the #1 place to stay for families on Oahu.
Why I recommend this hotel: Disney Aulani Resort combines luxury accommodation with family fun. A huge lazy river/tire tube lagoon is probably the highlight of the resort although the water slides and private beach aren’t too far behind. The kids club and massage center are just among a few of the many activities included in your stay. Attend ukelele lessons, free fire-pit story-telling at night and more and more! Your kids will never be bored and the quality of entertainment and facilities is just beyond amazing.
MORE OAHU BLOG POSTS
I lived on Oahu for two years and loved adventuring from the beaches to the mountains to the waterfalls! These are my most popular blog post and guides from the beautiful island of Oahu to help you plan your trip!
What to pack for Hawaii: THE HAWAII PACKING LIST: WHAT TO PACK AND WHY
A helpful guide to choosing accommodation: WHERE TO STAY ON OAHU: WHICH REGION IS BEST FOR YOU?
Most epic hike on Oahu: THE STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN OAHU, HAWAII: UPDATED 2018
The best Waterfalls: 11 AMAZING WATERFALLS ON OAHU, HAWAII
Ultimate Cliff Jumping Guide: 11 BEST CLIFF JUMPING SPOTS ON OAHU, HAWAII
Guide to Swimming with Sea Turtles: WHERE TO SEE TURTLES ON OAHU, HAWAII
The Best Hikes on Oahu: 10 BEST HIKES ON OAHU, HAWAII
My favorite experience on Oahu: AMAZING DOORS OFF HELICOPTER TOUR OF OAHU, HAWAII
The Ultimate Guide to Oahu: 80 THINGS TO DO ON OAHU – THE BUCKET LIST