As some of you may know, I have a huge love for the ocean and a fascination for its creatures. Nothing says marine life experience better than swimming with Galapagos Sharks in Haleiwa, Hawaii with North Shore Shark Adventures. My ultimate dream would be to go in a shark tank in Africa with the Great White Sharks. My shark experience in Hawaii is preparing me for that thrill. North Shore Shark Adventures shark encounter begins at Haleiwa Small Boat Harbor to sail 3 miles from Haleiwa Bay to the deep blue waters off the North coast of Oahu. The anticipation of leaving the boat to enter the cool water to meet the Galapagos Sharks face to face was both thrilling and nerve wrecking.
Once the boat reached its off-shore destination, I immediately saw large dark figures swimming just under the water’s surface around the boat. I was anxious and excited to get into the tank to face the beasts. Although scary, I’ve always been curious about sharks and I was extremely excited to see them up close. The Galapagos Sharks live miles off the North coast of Oahu in the deep waters naturally. The sharks most typically seen on the tour include the Galapagos Shark and the full of attitude Grey Reef Shark (less common but sometimes spotted are the Sandbar Shark and Hammerhead Shark). I was lucky enough (or not so luck enough) to see a very large barracuda! That scared me more than the sharks because I knew it could fit through the bars of the cage if it wanted to. Luckily, it slowly swam away.
The sharks are habituated in the area where North Shore Shark Adventures does their tour because the sharks are used to the shrimp boats commonly in the area. When the sharks hear the engine of the tour boat they assume it’s the shrimp boat. North Shore Shark Encounters do not ‘bait’ the sharks nor ‘chum’ the water to attract the sharks. The sharks naturally swim curiously around the tour boat thinking it is a common shrimp boat. The fishermen often throw their leftover bait and dead shrimp back into the water before heading back to the harbor. The sharks were hoping for a snack from the shrimp fishermen when we arrived, but we were only there to observe them in their natural habitat. Many of the smaller sharks are too timid to rise from the depths of the sea to observe the action at the water’s surface.
North Shore Shark Adventures have two boats, Anela and Abunai, which both do multiple tours per day. Knowing that North Shore Shark Adventures do this every day made me feel more confident about knowingly getting into shark infested waters. Once I entered the shark tank and put my head below the surface I immediately saw a dozen or more sharks swimming calmly around the tank. I couldn’t believe my eyes! Was I really up close and personal with a 12 foot shark? As I moved around the tank looking around in every direction I saw the beautiful (yet slightly scary) creatures swimming effortless around me. There is something about sharks that makes them so mysterious and intriguing. I didn’t want to ever leave the tank. I could have stayed there forever observing the misunderstood creatures.
The experience was not scary after all, but an incredible opportunity to observe one of the ocean’s most feared predators. I’m glad I was brave enough to try it! It’s always something I wanted to do but didn’t know if I was actually going to follow through with it. Now the question is, when will I swim with the great white sharks?
*Media coverage for North Shore Shark Adventures