Shark's Cove on the North Shore of Oahu is not really a beach, but rather a snorkel and diving spot; and what a snorkel spot it is! This small cove is ringed in rocks and coral providing very little in the way of sand to lay out on, but if you are looking for a great place to snorkel, Shark's Cove is, at many times of the year, an excellent option.
During the winter months however you should definitely consider snorkeling elsewhere. Shark's Cove is located "spot on" between two locations that provide some of the biggest and most powerful waves on the planet, Waimea Bay and the Bonzai Pipeline. The rugged and rocky natural barriers that protect this cove in the summer time are all but blasted in a fury of whitewater and churning current. Summer is the reverse however, and the mostly calm and gentle waters provide an incredibly clear environment in which to observe fish of all varieties. Shark's Cove is in fact, a protected marine reserve and an ideal spot for primarily "advanced" snorkelers to enjoy a day's outing.
Unfortunately Shark's Cove does not have lifeguards present and it can provide some dangers even during the calmer times of year. The rock areas you will need to work your way over to enter the water are very sharp and brittle and will require the use of some water shoes. Once buoyant you can drift out into the center of the cove and with each swim stroke you will be moving into deeper water. The water at its deepest parts may be as much as thirty-five feet and the subterranean landscape becomes an intriguing labyrinth of caves, lava tubes, large rocks and curiously twisted volcanic formations. The real prizes here however are the various types of fish you will find which will include trigger fish, mullet, needle fish, turtles, parrot fish, butterfly and damsel fish, tang, wrasse and occasionally a monk seal. It is no wonder that the highly touted Scuba Dive Magazine has referred to Shark's Cove in glowing superlatives ranking it among the very best of shore dives.
With regard to amenities at Shark's Cove there are restrooms and showers but the parking can become difficult when the place gets busy. The cove itself is not really large at all and so it can fill up with snorkelers. Best bet is to get there as early as possible and grab a spot in the lot while they last. If not you will be forced to park on the roadway or at one of the nearby parking areas. Another unfortunate downside is that there have been an inordinate number of car break-ins over the course of years so you need to be careful with your valuables.
Please be advised that all beaches and ocean locations in Hawaii can be potentially dangerous including this location. Be completely aware of the ocean conditions prior to entering the water and of course, never turn your back on the ocean when you are on the shoreline. It should also be noted that all shorelines and beaches in Hawaii, including this one, can be frequented by sharks, jellyfish and other sea creatures which can provide potential harm to people entering the water. There are no lifeguards at this location.
One of the few beaches that has the look and feel of old Oahu is Kahana Beach on Oahu's windward coastline. The fact that this beach is located in a section of the island that is normally simply a gateway for island visitors to pass by on their way to visit what are presumably more spectacular attractions is the saving grace of Kahana Beach Park.
A listing of all Oahu Beaches can be found on these pages. Check for the Oahu Beach that will be perfect for you!
It's a good thing you're going to the beach on Oahu! Not only does Oahu have some of the most beautiful beaches in the state, have some of the best snorkeling to be seen in the state, have some of the best surfing, kayaking and stand-up paddling locations in the state and some of the largest waves for you to watch in the state, but Oahu beaches have more lifeguard locations and more lifeguards all toll than any other island in the State of Hawaii.
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