North of Honolulu and Waimea at Pupukea Beach Park, the snorkeling at Sharks Cove is rated as one of the best snorkel dive sites in the world. Sharks Cove is a small rocky bay with abundant marine life that is part of the Pupukea Marine Life Conservation District. The coral heads and boulders form small caves sheltering all the fish. Most of the bay is about 7 to 15 feet deep in the center. You can expect to see parrot fish, butterfly fish, needle fish, surgeon fish, goatfish, triggerfish, unicorn fish, eels, wrasse and sea turtles.
The Sharks Cove snorkeling dive site needs very calm seas to explore. It is a narrow, tight cove that can be treacherous if there are any waves. It would be best explored in seas with waves less than 2 feet. If closed out, there is a tide pool adjacent to Sharks Cove that is usually good to explore, just watch out for the central inlet which can have waves coming over the surrounding reefs. The best time for snorkeling at Sharks Cove is during the calmer summer months. When there are waves present, there is usually a strong current which should be avoided.
In addition to the main cove, there are protected Pupukea Tidepools just to the south, which can usually be entered yearround. They are very shallow and good for kids to see small reef fish.
The Sharks Cove snorkeling is located 1 mile northeast of Waimea Bay on Highway 93. There is limited parking at Sharks Cove which fills up fast, so make sure to arrive early such as before 9am. The water entrance is pretty rocky. To access the best snorkeling at Sharks Cove, use the left side of the cove. This dive site is located close to the Three Tables snorkeling dive site.
To reach the best snorkeling on Oahu by air, you will need to fly into Honolulu International Airport (HNL) which is located just on the west side of Honolulu. There are direct flights into Honolulu from the US, Australia, New Zealand, American Samoa, Tahiti, Japan and Fiji. In addition, there are inter-island flights to all the main Hawaiian Islands. The Sharks Cover parking area is located about 60 minutes from the aiport.
There is good snorkeling on Oahu year-round. But, the conditions very around the island depending upon time of year due to winds and currents. The north shore snorkeling dives are best from June through September and are usually closed out the rest of the year due to high surf. The south shore dive sites are best from November through May. The main exception is Hanauma Bay, which tends to be good year-round since it is very protected.
Overall, Sharks Cove is the 12th most popular snorkel dive spot of all 23 snorkeling dives in Oahu.