During the surf
season (October - April) the waves on North Shore are too big to do any suitable snorkeling, but
in spring and summer the surf is generally flat and the visibility underwater will reach 40-60 feet.
(Check the surf report on North Shore for wave heights.)
Sharks Cove on North Shore is a favorite Snorkeling & Diving spot for many. The cove has tide pools for children and beginning snorkelers as well as deeper and more advanced diving for the expert skin divers and scuba divers. The park has bathrooms, showers and a beach (to the far left of the cove) as well.
The underwater caves and caverns at Sharks cove set it apart from other diving locations on North Shore. If you are comfortable enough with snorkeling and capable of holding your breath for a minute or two, most of the underwater passage ways can be explored without the need for scuba gear. See instructions below the photos for advice about holding your breath underwater.
To the left of Sharks cove is 3 Tables and Waimea Bay which are also popular dive spots. To the right is an image of Sharks Cove cut out from the panoramic photo of North Shore below. It's located aproximately 11.2 miles from Laie and can be reached easily by bus.
The panoramic photo below extends from Halewia to Turtle Bay. The panoramic photo to the left extends from Halewia to The end of Kiana point. Clicking on these photos will open the image in high resolution format (10 feet in length - about 3 Megs in file size). The beaches, coral reefs, canals, etc. can all be seen in the image and used to identify the layout of the beach and water. It should be helpfull for snorkelers, Scuba divers and even surfers.
Click here for photos of this activity.
Most people can hold their breath longer than they think. If you follow a few basic steps you will probably be surprised of what you are capable of. First however, you must have the basics down. You will need a pair of fins and a quality mask and snorkel. (No cheep foodland $20 set). I recommend Surf-N-Sea or Deep Ecology for buying gear - both are dive shops located in Haleiwa. You should be comfortable enough using your gear that snorkeling becomes second nature. If you have troubles with a leaky mask or snorkel or feel like you are struggling to get air or you panick easily, then you need to get some more experience or some new snorkel gear.
For those of you ready for more advance diving here are a few tricks that will increase your underwater time.
1. Keep warm. Body temperature plays a big part in the use of oxygen. If you are cold or shivering you heart must beat faster and use more oxygen to keep you warm. If you want to impress someone - time yourself underwater when you've been sitting in a hottub for a while.
2. Take a couple prep-dives when you get in the water. Since you've probably been sitting in a car or bus your body is only taking and using enough oxygen to get by on. When you get in the water you will want to use and circulate as much air as you can. Once you get in and are comfortable with your gear and setup, hold your breath for as long as you can. (Which will probably only be 20 or 30 seconds). When you breath again you should be panting pretty heavily. Float for a few minutes and rest for a bit while you catch your breath then repeat the process at least one more time. For these prep dives and subsequent underwater dives you suffocate your system of air for a bit. It counters the problem by flooding itself with air when it becomes available. You will feel your heart beat go up as your heart circulates the oxygen-rich blood around the body.
3. Breathe Deeply The passage from your lungs to the end of the snorkel is called dead air space. Dead air is the air that you breath out - rich in carbon dioxide. Each time you breathe in through the snorkel you get all the dead air that you exhaled from your previous breath that was sitting in your throat, mouth, and snorkel. Usually when snorkeling, especially when nervous or uncomfortable it's natural to take short quick breaths. When you do this you move the same air up and down in your throat and snorkel which results in a poor supply of oxygen. If you can get in the habbit of breathing deeply you will get a fresh supply of oxygen for each breath and your lungs will work at full capacity to get oxygen in the blood. (Sometimes people try to breathe without the snorkel to minimize the dead air space, but it takes more work to keep your mouth above the water and takes more oxygen anyway. Just use the snorkel - it will only help.
Summary After you do a couple warm up dives to get the oxygen circulating, swim (at the surface) to the spot you aim to dive. Float at the surface for a few minutes and breathe deeply. This will help slow your heart rate down and enrich your blood with oxygen. Just before you dive take about 6 to 8 quick, deep breaths and make your dive.
CAUTION Out of all the activites I (Merlin) have done, skin diving has brought me the most near-death experiences. It must be done with caution and wisdom.
Moving a lot of air in and out of the body begins to shut off the system alarm for air. It helps you hold your breath longer, but instead of getting the burning "I need air" feeling in your lungs & throat, you begin to lose consiencesness and black out. Also, holding your breath works pretty well for a while, but after about an hour of diving, your body will usually begin to tire of flooding and holding air and begin to exhaust it's capabilities. After a time you will not be able to dive through caves that you were able to earlier in the dive.
Avoid snorkeling alone. Never dive through caves alone. Be cautious of one another.
Even if you are familiar with the caves and terrain, avoid cave diving at night. During the day the sun lights up the ends of each cave. You can usually swim down, look into a cave and see the exit before even entering it. This gives you an idea of the length of the cave and and weather you are capable of swimming through it. At night you only have your flashlight which illuminates the area around you. You have to guess which direction to go to exit the cave. Things look very different at night and it's easy to get dissoriented. (I experienced blackout one night trying to get out of a cave I had done dozens of times during the day.)