Shark's Cove is a wonderful place to spend the day snorkeling on the North Shore of Oahu. What's unique about Shark's Cove is that, while the rest of the North Shore's swimming takes place along white sand beaches, this location is along a rocky coastline, and it even includes a huge lava rock tide pool like the kind found on the Big Island.
Shark's Cove was rated by Scuba Diving Magazine as one of the "Top 12 Shore Dives in the World," so the area is no secret, and visitors are bound to be accompanied by others in the water.
Sea turtles are a common sight at Shark's Cove — Photo courtesy of urbanfoodie33
The pond is wide, and though the surface rocks are quite sharp, the bottom of the pond is made up of large, smooth boulders and coral heads. Out in the bay, small caves and ledges make good places to peak into for a look at sea life, and they're popular with local divers who like to explore them.
Serious divers may want to bring their gear, but for anyone who comes unprepared, there's a small shop right across the street that sells and rents diving gear.
Also across the street is Foodland, a large supermarket, as well as Pupukea Grill, Shark's Cove Grill and The Galley. These are all great options for lunch, serving unique, local-inspired dishes.
There are restrooms and cold showers located by the parking lot above the pond.
Tide pools at Shark's Cove are loaded with fish — Photo courtesy of Jason Helle
It's very important to pay attention to the size of the surf while swimming at Shark's Cove, especially from September through March. To the west of Shark's Cove is Waimea Bay, where surfers ride 30-foot waves in the winter. To the east is Sunset Beach and Pipeline, two more famous surf breaks.
It's not a good idea to take small children into the bay, but the pond itself is fitting for children. Just remember that small ones should be accompanied by adults. The inside of the bay is about eight to 15 feet deep, and it progressively gets deeper farther out.
After diving, those in need of soft white sand can head a couple minutes west and enjoy the views of Ka'ena Point from Ke Iki Beach, one of the more secluded beaches on the North Shore. Beach-goers who don't mind company can watch the sunset at Sunset Beach or Pipeline.
Families with small children will love Mother's Beach, a cove to the east of Sunset Beach that has an often mellow shore break, even when the waves are big.