Shark Diving in Oahu, Hawaii

I’ve always been an adrenaline junkie, so when we took a family trip to Oahu, Hawaii I immediately googled ‘shark diving.’ Now, if you do this you will find a long list of ‘cage diving’ experiences. 

This is where most companies will throw bait into or ‘chum the waters’, put you in a cage and have the sharks aggressively eat the bait in front of you for photo opportunities.

sharks in the sea Hawaii

While this may conjure up some of the scariest movie moments from Steven Spielberg’s Jaws, it isn’t the typical behaviour of sharks, nor is it a very respectful or humane way to interact with such a beautiful species.

in the sea with sharks

One Ocean Diving, on the other hand, provides an opportunity to not only interact and swim with sharks but, more importantly, learn about them as a 400 million year old species.

The Pelagic Shark Program is an extensively developed project based on shark behavioural research, all hosted by full time marine biologists. When you sign up for a trip, you’ll board a 27 foot vessel with only 6 to 8 guests on board for a wonderfully intimate program.

swimming with sharks

After a safety briefing you’ll leave the North Shore harbour and begin the 15 minute trip out to the survey/dive site. On the ride out ,your marine biologist/divemaster will give you a ton of fascinating information about sharks.

You’ll learn all about how their biology and physiology affect their behaviour, and how your behaviour affects their mood. In additional you’ll find out what types of sharks you may spot and how to tell if they’re male or female.

One of my favourite facts about sharks is that they are extreme energy conservers. They will do everything in their power to conserve energy as much as possible while swimming. This fact alone reminds us how misconstrued sharks are when they’re shown above the water.

You’ll also see for yourself that they do not look at humans as natural prey.

photographing sharks underwater
going underwater with sharks

As you’ll see from the video below, the sharks keep their distance and are gorgeous to see (without the cage and disrupting their natural way of underwater life).

With no chum or other human tampering, you’ll feel good about being a respectful, curious observer without adding to their problems or misconceptions.

I want to emphasise One Ocean Research’s safety program. Currently the team has a 100% safety record and are trained experienced experts working for over 10 years in the water with sharks.

They know many of them by name and swim alongside them every day. While you are in the water your divemaster is constantly in the water with you monitoring the sharks, their behaviour and social dynamics.

One of the things they like to remind you is that you are several hundred thousand times more likely to be injured on the drive to the harbour than during your experience in the open ocean.

So drive carefully and don’t be afraid to try this once in a lifetime experience!

a shark in deep blue water

If I sound like I’m trying to ‘sell’ this experience it’s because when people hear, see, or ask me about it they immediately approach it with trepidation and fear. But after doing this (twice now!) I have a completely different view of sharks, and have realized how calm, clever and incredible they truly are. It is worth the money, time and exhilaration for an experience you’ll never forget.

on the boat

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2 Comments

  1. Wow that was so cool, having lived in Cape Town, we had many visitors that went Shark Cage diving where chum was used and of course cages for the divers safety. Not something I would or could do as I suffer from claustrophobia, beautiful to watch the video. Respected in their own habitat, wonderful.

    1. Rachel, thanks so much! Yes – there are so many companies that continue to rile up sharks by chumming the waters and making them become aggressive. I’ve learned so much about these creatures from these Marine Biologists – and how in reality they are all about conserving their own energy as much as possible. It’s fascinating! So glad you enjoyed the video as well! Hurrah!

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