Imagine yourself, legs hovering tentatively over the surface of the water, knowing exactly what will greet you beneath the surface. A wave of excitement washing over you as your last remaining nerves begin to slowly melt away. The chill of the deep ocean splashing up against your flippered foot as you drift in slowly towards the others. Days earlier, this water would have been a shock to your system but today, you’ve got your mind on other things.
Lots of them.
It’s a funny feeling intentionally getting into the water with dozens upon dozens of sharks, especially knowing everyone else on the island chooses to do so in a cage.
But you know what? You don’t need a cage when diving with sharks in Hawaii. Seriously, you don’t.
Free Diving with Sharks in Oahu – One for the Bucket List
When we last visited Oahu, cage diving with sharks was something that caught our eyes. With limited time though, it wasn’t to be.
When we booked our return trip to Honolulu, you can guess which activity suddenly shot to the top of our travel wishlist!
There was no debating it; this time we were on the hunt for sharks – only not in the way you might imagine.
Anti-Jaws: The Natural Beauty of Sharks
Sharks may not be commonly found on the ‘most beautiful’ list within nature but having now swum with them on multiple occasions, this is something we’d seriously challenge. With incredible grace, intelligence, stamina and curiosity, they are an absolute pleasure to observe in the wild.
On the surface, the fear that some people hold for sharks is understandable. Dig a little deeper though and you learn very quickly that sharks don’t deserve the reputation that they’ve garnered in the media.
Cageless Shark Diving: Is It Really Safe?
Absolutely! The team at One Ocean Diving have a 100% safety record and spend a great deal of time with these beauties. They know many of the sharks well, check for signs of aggression before any visitors enter the water and adapt their programme to suit the animals on any given day. Before diving, guests are loaded up with information, ensuring a safe and comfortable experience for everyone.
The second you slip into the water and look down upon these incredible creatures, I I’d practically guarantee you that any fear will slip away. When you push misconceptions aside, you’re left with nothing but reality…
Sharks are seriously impressive.
At no point in the swim did any of us feel even remotely uncomfortable; quite the opposite!
If you closed your eyes and listened, you’d hear nothing but our gasps of excitement, non-stop chatter above the surface, the sound of bubbles rising through the water and the call of nearby whales echoing around.
There really isn’t anything to fear.
What Makes One Ocean Diving Different?
These guys know their stuff.
With a strong focus on education and conservation, the One Ocean team are serious about changing broad misperceptions about sharks. They clearly live and breathe sharks and their passion for them is enough to convince even the most hesitant guest of the importance of their plight.
It’s incredibly obvious that a dive with One Ocean goes beyond your typical tourist activity.
With the attending marine biologist/specialist, you’ll learn about the physiology, biology and behaviour of sharks whilst learning how to read their body language and how to safely interact with them in their own habitat.
As the first and only cageless shark research programme in Hawaii, their first priority is protecting the numerous species they encounter in the region. On any given day, you run the chance of seeing a range of pelagic sharks; sandbar, Galapagos, tiger, great white, hammerhead sharks and more are all potentially up for grabs. That’s not mentioning any number of bonus mammals, fish and whales that you can expect to see too.
We were incredibly lucky to find our way to two massive schools converging – the more dominant Galapagos sharks rising to the surface whilst the less aggressive sandbar sharks intentionally lazed around below. All in all, we shared the water with over 50 sharks whilst being serenaded by whales throughout the dive.
One Ocean Diving Hawaii: Everything you need to know to prepare for your dive
To get to the harbour, you’ll need to head for the infamous North Shore of Oahu in a rental car. We picked up our rental just after 7am (when they opened) and had enough time to stop in at a drugstore for supplies before heading to the dock at 8.30am. It’s a comfortable drive over to One Ocean and there’s no need to pay for GPS at the rental agency – just preload either Google Maps or Waze and you’ll be set.
What to Take on Your Shark Dive
Fortunately, you’ll already have all of the required supplies with you on vacation and anything else you might need, One Ocean are able to supply.
We suggest you have on hand:
- Flip flops (or jandals as we Kiwis call them)
- A bathing suit (togs)
- A towel
- A rash shirt and/or swim shorts if you’re looking for some protection from the sun. The team do have rash shirts that you’re able to borrow onboard should your wish. They don’t supply wetsuits but there’s really no need for them – the water is relatively warm and once you’re in, you won’t think twice about it.
- Snacks and drinks. Thanks to the early start (and even earlier breakfast), it didn’t hurt to have a chocolate bar on hand for the ride back.
- Seasickness medication? None of us got seasick but if you do, it’s something you’ll want to consider ahead of time. You can pick up seasickness tablets cheaply from local drugstores, or, if you only ever experience very mild motion illness, ginger-based drinks can help stave it off.
- A waterproof camera. If you’ve got a GoPro, leave your bright floatie at home and instead opt for your standard extendable selfie-stick, preferably dark in colour. If you don’t have an appropriate selfie-stick, the team will ensure you’re kitted out. Body and hand mounts are not suitable as you’ll need to be able to hold the camera out from your body, just in case an inquisitive shark decides to check it out. Without a camera? The One Ocean team is able to provide videography for an additional USD50 (NZD68.35).
Though it was originally the manta rays that drew us back to Hawaii, it was our freedive with the sharks that really took our breath away. Without doubt, our snorkel with One Ocean Diving was the highlight of our time on Oahu and one of the highlights of our six month trip.
If you find yourself in Hawaii, be sure to book a trip out with the team. If you’re not booking a trip to Hawaii, what are you waiting for?!
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Thank you to One Ocean Diving for having us out on their Shark Research Snorkel (AKA Pelagic Shark Program). As always, all thoughts are entirely our own. What an experience!!