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Swim With Sharks in Hawaii: A Guide

a shark in the water

What if you could help preserve a species while having the time of your life?

That’s what happens when you swim with sharks in Hawaii. First of all, having your own shark encounter is the kind of thing you’ll never forget. And you can be sure that your friends and family will be jealous!

On top of that, this kind of shark tourism brings in $314 million each year. Much of this money gets reinvested into the environment to help ensure that sharks are healthy and safe.

Ready to have fun and do your part to keep sharks safe? Keep reading to discover our complete guide to swimming with sharks in Hawaii!

Why Would You Want to Swim With Sharks?

Reasons to swim with sharks include that the act is thrilling, the sharks are beautiful, and tourism helps with conservation. The actual act of swimming with sharks is also very safe, even if you aren’t a great swimmer.

If they are being honest, most who enjoy swimming with sharks have the heart of a thrill-seeker. And there are few things more thrilling than sinking into the depths of the ocean and getting face to face with a ferocious shark!

The sharks themselves are also stunning in their beauty. Because most sharks do not last long in a captive environment, swimming with sharks may be your only chance to see these magnificent creatures up close.

Finally, as we noted before, things like shark tours help to promote ocean conservation. In fact, these awesome tours are some of the most direct ways you can help keep these sharks alive!

Why Hawaii is the Best Place for Swimming With Sharks

Sharks are active all over the world. Once you decide you want to swim with sharks, you may find yourself asking a good question: why should I go all the way to Hawaii for a shark encounter?

One reason is that there are so many different kinds of sharks to see. In fact, there are about 40 different shark species off the coast of Hawaii for you to discover!

That leads to the next reason: due to all the sharks, shark tourism has become a big business throughout Hawaii. These companies have been doing this for a long time and can help you have the best possible experience.

The final reason is very simple: Hawaii is…well…Hawaii! If you’re going to plan a shark encounter, why not head towards the state many consider nothing short of paradise?

Staying Safe With Cage Diving

Can you guess the main reason people are hesitant to swim with sharks? It mostly has to do with a little movie called Jaws. Ever since that film solidified the idea of sharks being dangerous creatures, many going into the water have worried about getting bitten.

This is one of the reasons that cage diving has become one of the best ways to encounter sharks. You’ve probably seen this kind of thing in movies or documentaries: you go inside the cage, and the cage goes into the water. Once you are underwater, the cage helps to protect you against any possible danger of shark attack.

If you’re really scared of getting bitten by a shark, cage diving helps take care of some of those fears. Since these cages have been keeping underwater specialists alive for decades, you can count on the cage to protect you. 

How Does Cage Diving Work?

Cage diving is a simple affair. You go out to a predetermined area with your tour group and get into the cage when it’s your turn. When you get in, these cages will be on the surface of the water, allowing for easy access.

Next, your tour guides will bait the water with plenty of chum. As you may have seen before, this chum is able to attract any sharks that may be in the nearby area.

Once the cage goes into the water, all you have to do is sit back and watch the sharks! You get all the benefits of a great shark encounter without having to worry about the possibility of being bitten.

Is Cage Diving The Only Way to Swim With Sharks?

So far, we have focused extensively on cage diving, but this isn’t the only way to see sharks underwater. In certain areas and with certain tours, you can do more of a free swimming experience with the sharks.

For example, Go Adventure Hawaii offers a Pelagic shark dive. Your tour guide will provide a mask and fins. Once you get to the destination, you can enjoy snorkeling and free diving as you see fit.

Worried about diving without a cage? Don’t fret: your trained safety diver guide will tell you what to do to stay safe inside the water. And you may be surprised by how liberating it feels to swim freely with these amazing creatures!

The Importance of Going With The Right Tour Group

As we noted before, there are plenty of professional tour groups throughout Hawaii that can help you plan a shark encounter. However, make sure you don’t just pick the first group that you see. That’s because traveling with the right tour group to see the sharks makes all the difference.

For example, a good tour group knows how to keep you safe in the water. With trained professionals and the right equipment in place, you don’t have to worry about getting hurt in the water. This lets you kick back and just enjoy this powerful experience.

Speaking of enjoyment, the right tour guides can enhance any diving experience. Not only do they know where to go for you to get the best view, but they can provide valuable information about the island and about your diving destination.

Now that you know a bit more about how shark diving works, let’s take a closer look at some of the areas where you can swim with sharks.

Where To Have Your Hawaiian Shark Encounter

Will this be your first time in Hawaii? You may be surprised by just how many islands there are and how many places you can visit!

There are countless inland destinations for traditional tourist fun. When it comes to swimming with sharks, though, here are a few of the best areas in Hawaii!

Hawaii Island

Hawaii Island is better known to some tourists and even locals as “The Big Island.” And there are plenty of sharks for you to see just a few miles off of the island!

For example, you can expect to see Hammerheads, Tiger Sharks, Reef Sharks, and even Great Whites! And once the dive is over, you’ll find plenty of awesome things to do on the island itself.


Maui may not have a cool nickname like “The Big Island,” but it’s still the second-largest island in the state. And off the coast of Maui, there are plenty of sharks for you to scope out.

In this area, you can usually see Black Tip, Hammerhead, Gray Reef, and other exotic shark species. To get deep into the ocean to check them out, though, you may need to use special SCUBA gear.

Interestingly, Maui also has some locations where divers can dive into a giant, man-made tank in order to swim with sharks. This may be a more convenient, affordable, or simply less frightening option for someone who wants to see sharks up close but doesn’t want to go deep into the ocean.


Oahu is the third-largest of the Hawaiian Islands. And while Oahu is home to many “must-see” sights for tourists, shark lovers mostly love this island because of the potential for exotic shark encounters.

What kind of sharks can you expect to see? In this area, there are Tiger Sharks, Whale Sharks, Makos, Galapagos, and more. And when it comes to seeing the sharks, you may have more options than you originally planned for!

That’s because Oahu provides ample opportunities for cage diving as well as for snorkeling or free diving. No matter how you want your shark encounter to go, you can truly customize your experience here in Oahu.


By now, you may have noticed there are plenty of sharks in different areas of Hawaii. But what if you want to focus on just one shark: the Hammerhead? In that case, you may want to go for a dive in Molokai!

This is the best destination if you want to see a rare breed of shark: the scalloped Hammerhead. In addition to being very exotic, these sharks are also not aggressive at all. So, if you like the idea of swimming with sharks but are terrified of being bitten, this may be a great place to start.

Swimming With Sharks in Hawaii: Plan Your Trip Today!

Now you know how (and where) to swim with sharks in Hawaii. But do you know who you can trust to provide the best possible experience?

At Go Adventure Hawaii, we specialize in making your shark encounter dreams come true. To discover how we can provide the experience of a lifetime, contact us today!

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