Shark Diving in Hawaii

Shark Diving in Hawaii (Places, Costs, Tips, Best Time, Shark Species)

Shark diving is where you go scuba diving specifically looking for sharks. In most cases, this also means chumming is involved. Diving with sharks, an activity that’s quickly becoming popular with more than just thrill-seekers. In fact, diving with sharks has become a massive business around the world. For example, in South Africa, a prime…

Shark diving is where you go scuba diving specifically looking for sharks. In most cases, this also means chumming is involved. Diving with sharks, an activity that’s quickly becoming popular with more than just thrill-seekers. In fact, diving with sharks has become a massive business around the world. For example, in South Africa, a prime shark-diving spot, the country earns about $30 million a year from tourists looking to see sharks up close  


Types of Shark Diving 

There are basically two options for you to have a personal look at the sharks. But for both, you need to know scuba diving first- 

  • Cage Diving with Sharks

The most common method of diving with sharks is cage diving. This method is by far the safest, yet it still allows divers to get up close and personal with the sharks. The cage, which is attached to a boat, is typically a rectangle and fits about four divers at a time. Once in the water, divers have a largely unobstructed view of the sharks as they swim within feet of the cage. A typical dive will last about 20 to 30 minutes and give the diver plenty of chances to take pictures and marvel at the mighty creatures. 

  • Open Water Diving with Sharks

The most extreme form of diving with sharks is to go all out and literally swim with them in their natural habitat. No cages, no safety link to the boat, just you and the sharks in the wide-open ocean. At the moment, there are only a few places on Earth that will allow you to view sharks without a cage, but you may find it to be an experience that’s well worth the trip. Open water diving is a safe activity, but it is always important to remember that sharks are wild animals and can be unpredictable. 

Shark Diving in Hawaii

Hawaii is one of the best places in the world for shark diving. That’s because there are about 40 different species of sharks found regularly in the waters around the Hawaiian islands. Eight types of sharks are considered to be common even near the shore. These include the white-tipped reef shark, the scalloped hammerhead shark, the tiger shark, the Galapagos shark, the gray reef shark, and the sandbar shark, to name a few. 

Sharks are so common around Hawaii that the ancient native peoples believed they had a spiritual connection to the species. Some believed that sharks would come as the spirit of their ancestors who came back to protect them, or an “aumakua.” Sharks are just one of the many marine life species that were thought of in this way. 

Top 5 best places to go shark diving in Hawaii

Hawaii is the heaven for Shark diving whether it’s cage diving or open water diving. Here is the list of top 5 places in Hawaii where you can spend your time with the most magnificent animal in the world- 

  • Shark Cage Diving In Oahu

Experience the thrill of meeting sharks face-to-face in the pristine waters of Oahu. See Hawaii’s majestic hunters — Galapagos and Sandbar sharks in their natural environment — surrounded by the deep blue of the Big Island’s popular North Shore. Observe from the safety of a floating cage. Stay on the surface, then using a mask and snorkel, look through large polyglass windows to watch the sharks as they gracefully glide by.

  • Oahu Shark Dive
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Set out from Oahu’s scenic North Shore to the depths of the big blue Pacific, where you have the chance to observe wild sharks from inside an underwater shark cage. Thanks to your professional, experienced crew, the Oahu shark dive is completely safe as they know the predators’ behavior, and the underwater cage provides proven safety against all different species of sharks. Whether you’re in the cage with sharks right in front of you or watching from up in the boat, Oahu shark diving is a Hawaii activity you’ll definitely never forget.

  • Swim with Sharks (cage-free)

Leave your preconceptions about sharks at the door and get up close to these sleek creatures on this unique ocean experience. Head out from Haleiwa, on the North Shore of O’ahu, and spend roughly half an hour swimming with the sharks living in the area. Don’t worry, though: even if you aren’t swimming in a cage, you’re still in safe hands, with a guide on board and a safety diver swimming with each group.

  • Snorkel with sharks in Hawaii with One Ocean Diving

Safely snorkeling with large marine animals of the coast of the north shore of Oahu. This tour is extremely educational and is guided by a marine biologist. We will be snorkeling in the deep blue pelagic water 3 miles outside of Haleiwa Harbor looking for marine life like sharks, turtles, dolphins, and whales.

  • Pelagic Shark Dive Tour

Set sail on the Mo’o with “the original shark boat crew” and learn skills passed down through generations to interact responsibly and safely with sharks and other marine life. Swim and snorkel with native sharks on Oahu’s North Shore. Look out for White Tipped Reef Sharks, Scalloped Hammerhead Sharks, Tiger Sharks, Galapagos Sharks, Gray Reef Sharks, and Sandbar Sharks, and learn about the local culture of respect for native animals and the natural environment.

Sharks Species You can Dive with in Hawaii

There are nearly 40 different shark species in Hawaii. Below are some of the most common sharks found around Oahu and the other islands- 

  • Reef Sharks

Reef sharks live (obviously) in reefs, which brings them close to the surface on many occasions. These beauties are rare in their ability to breathe while lying still – a trait not found in most sharks. Therefore, it is common to see a reef shark relaxing under a shipwreck or in a short cave. Pictured is the whitetip reef shark! They are easy to spot and identify due to the white tip of their dorsal fin. These are common Hawaii sharks. They present no immediate threat to humans unless explicitly attacked. Reef sharks can be identified by their unique shape: a broad, round snout and large eyes. The whitetip is one of many species within the grey reef shark family. These adorable creatures are known for being social rather than territorial and can be found in groups up to 20.

  • Galapagos Sharks

Like the whitetip reef shark, the Galapagos is a requiem shark that is found globally. These creatures are much larger, often reaching 3 meters / 9.8 feet. They are often mistaken for reef sharks since they come from the same family and appear very similar in shape. Unfortunately, Galapagos Sharks are considered dangerous in the international community. They have been found to act aggressively towards humans, giving them a bad reputation. It is unfair to assume this of every Galapagos shark, however! Many of the attacks were instigated by the human threatening the shark’s home or babies.

  • Sandbar Shark
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 A species of requiem shark and part of the family Carcharhinidae, native to the Atlantic Ocean and the Indo-Pacific. It is one of the biggest coastal sharks in the world and is closely related to the dusky shark, and the bull shark. Females can grow 6-8 ft and give birth to an average of 8 pups, which they carry for 1 year before giving birth. Males can grow to 6 ft at age 12 years maturity. The longevity of the sandbar shark is typically 35-41 years. Sandbar sharks swim alone or gather in sex-segregated schools that vary in size.

  • Tiger Shark

The Tiger Shark is another requiem shark, although they are much larger than the other reef sharks listed. They are considered a macropredator since they can grow up to 5 meters / 16.5 feet! Tiger sharks are hungry creatures, with the widest food spectrum of all sharks – their prey is extensive and even, at times, includes garbage. Young Tiger Sharks are equipped with dark stripes down their bodies that resemble those of a tiger. As they mature, these stripes fade, but their ferocity remains! 

  • Hammerhead Sharks

Up to 20 feet (6 meters) in length, Hammerhead Sharks are the easiest to recognize thanks to the particular head shape, reminiscent of a hammer. The strange shape allows them to see almost 360° and use a highly specialized detector of electric and magnetic fields. This means they can move in the blue water of the ocean, without any reference points, yet remain perfectly oriented. As one might surmise, they are unbelievable hunters. 

10 Things You Need to Know When Diving with Sharks in Hawaii


Many shark species are ambush predators and, when investigating novel objects, prefer not to be seen in order to maintain their own safety and advantage. If they know they’re being watched, it can deter them from coming too close unexpectedly. Diving in a group is a great way to ensure there are always pairs of eyes not only looking for sharks but also monitoring the sharks’ and divers’ behavior.


It is best practice to avoid diving at dawn and dusk, as that’s prime hunting time for many types of sharks. Likewise, avoid murky water at all times.


Hawaii is full of larger sharks such as the tiger shark. Avoiding marine mammal colonies is especially important when hoping to see such large sharks, which feed on those mammals. When a shark is hunting, there is a possibility it could mistake a diver for a seal or view that diver as competition for the food source. 


Choosing a reputable and environmentally-focused dive operator is a key consideration with shark diving. Many operators adhere to strict codes of best practice to ensure both the animals’ and divers’ safety, and that the divers enjoy the experience.


Before diving with sharks, get to know their behaviors. Sharks are intelligent animals that will display warning signals if they feel threatened by a diver’s presence. These subtle signs are a diver’s cue to move away from the shark and include mouth gaping, an arched back, the pectoral fins being dropped, and overall exaggerated body movements.

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Understand the dive environment before you enter the water. This is important not only when it comes to safety, but also for finding sharks in the first place.


Seeing a shark underwater for the first time is hugely exciting. Take a moment to slow your breathing and check your dive gauges so as to avoid any unexpected depth changes. Do not rapidly ascend or plummet in pursuit of the shark. Stay calm, breathe and enjoy the encounter.


It is best practice to choose dark and neutral colors for shark dives. Avoid shiny cameras and jewelry, as they can mimic the appearance of fish underwater and attract a shark’s attention.


Whether diving as a buddy pair without a guide or diving with an operator, pay attention to safety procedures. Always remember the ocean is the sharks’ environment and treat them with respect. If you’re on a guided dive, listen to the safety briefing. Follow instructions while underwater.


While shark diving does require extra safety considerations, the risk of an accident occurring is very low. People return to Hawaii for shark diving year after year because put simply, it’s so much fun. So if you’re planning your first shark dive in Hawaii or your next, make sure to relax and enjoy the encounter.

Best time to plan a Shark diving adventure in Hawaii

Diving with sharks can be done at any time. However, in summer, ​it’s better because there are fewer waves and the ocean is calmer. If waves are too big, the dive could be canceled for safety reasons. 

Things you need to go for Shark Diving

Your diving gears will be determined by the type of diving, water temperature, and conditions that you will be in Hawaii. However, here are the few things you need to take in with you if you are planning for a shark dive-

  • Most importantly bring your swimsuit/bathing costume.
  • Warm clothes – even in summer it can get chilly at sea.
  • A camera, sunscreen, and a hat/cap in summer or a beanie in winter.

Other items like- masks, fins, BCD, tanks, etc will be provided by the service you are planning to collaborate with. 

Cost to go Shark diving in Hawaii

If you’re diving in Hawaii whether it is exploring the sharks through cages or diving freely, you’ll find we have rates that will meet your budget- 

Cost For cage diving in Hawaii

  • Prices based on per day 
  • For one person- $160 +  tax 
  • Mask, Snorkel, and Fins – $20
  • Wetsuit – $20
  • Time- 4 hours half day trip 

Cost For freediving in Hawaii

Prices based on per day 

  • For 2 tanks- $153 + tax
  • Mask, Snorkel and Fins – $20
  • Wetsuit – $20
  • Time- 11.00 a.m to 3.00 p.m 

Is it safe to shark dive in Hawaii

Yes, it is completely safe to dive in Hawaii. Hawaiians pray to the sharks as their ancestors. Therefore, it is less risky than other places. Shark encounters are totally fun, and exhilarating. Once you are in the water diving with these sharks you realize how graceful these guys are!

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