Episode 8 – Freediving with Sharks in Hawaii

Written by on April 13, 2020

All Links mentioned in the Podcast episode are Listed at the bottom of this page as well as spread throughout in the blog post.

Have you always dreamed of freediving with sharks? Haven’t we all!

Hawaii is one of the most amazing places in the world to go freediving with sharks. You can encounter some amazing species, including many sharks which are safe to dive with.

Bill from SCUBA Travel Podcast has been freediving with sharks in Hawaii three times now! He had some awesome experiences, so read on if you want to hear all about the best places to go.

How Freediving with Sharks in Hawaii Started

Before tourism was a thing, one of the main industries around Hawaii was fishing. Fishermen used to come back into the harbour, cleaning their catch, and throwing fish guts over the side of their boats. They were inadvertently chumming the waters!

The locals started to notice something. Every time they passed through the area outside the harbour, sharks would surface and congregate around the boats. Even when there was nothing thrown overboard, the sharks heard the boat motors, and came looking for scraps and a free meal!

After so many years, the sharks had been conditioned, like Pavlov’s dogs, to come and check out what’s going down whenever they hear the boat motors.

The tour operators guarantee a 100% chance of seeing sharks, which is pretty epic.

The sharks come up to the surface when they hear the boat’s motors passing over. After they’re turned off, the sharks slowly dissipate until there’s only one or two. Then just as they start the boat motors again, and suddenly, BOOM, within two minutes there 45 sharks again. It’s foolproof – it happens every time. There’s no need to worry if you’ll see a shark or not! This is the case for all tours.

Where to Go Freediving with Sharks in Hawaii

The best place to go freediving with sharks is on Oahu on the North Shore. It’s the Main Island – not to be confused with the Big Island! It’s a cool spot where they hold all the surfing contests with the big waves. The area you go freediving with sharks is in the same spot!

All three times Bill has been freediving with sharks, it’s been there.

There are a couple of options when freediving with sharks. You can either do it in a cage, or out. In a cage, you’re floating at the surface with a snorkel. Outside of one, it’s mainly snorkelling, and there isn’t too much opportunity to go freediving to depth.

The North Shore companies are the original tour operators. There are around 10 companies operating, around half run shark cage diving.

The great news is, there are many companies to choose from for the experience. Each time Bill has been with a different company. And each company operated in a slightly different way.

Read on to find out all about North Shore Shark Adventures, Hawaii Adventure Diving and One Ocean Diving.

North Shore Shark Adventures

North Shore Shark Adventures is a big company who operate cage diving.

Bill shared a video of his trip with them on his YouTube channel

They have two or three larger comfortable boats with enclosed seating areas inside. They fit around 22 people on board. On the larger boat, they split the people into three groups. Each group goes on rotation into the cage for around 15 minutes. Between ‘dives’ you can have drinks and refreshments. It’s a longer tour because of the size of the groups and due to the cage operations.

North Shore Shark Adventures is family-friendly, and young kids can come along. Non-swimmers who are spectating are welcome to join the ride on the boat.

As you’re in the cage, young kids can get in the water too! The sharks you swim with are ‘family-friendly’ so to speak! They’re mainly Galapagos Sharks, who aren’t known to be aggressive at all. There are also Reef Sharks who are equally as timid. If you’re lucky, you might even see a Hammerhead or two!

Hawaii Adventure Diving

Hawaii Adventure Diving is a small operation – which can be a better thing if you prefer intimate tours! They usually run one boat, sometimes two in the summer when it’s busy. It’s a smaller boat which takes 6-8 people. When Bill went on this tour there were just three people.

At Hawaii Adventure Diving, you can either do cage diving or freediving with the sharks. Even with a small group, you can choose what you prefer. When Bill went, he went freediving, but the others in his group stayed in the cage.

Bill shared a wicked video on his YouTube channel  from this trip – check it out!. During this experience, the sharks were pretty frisky! They were coming right up to the divers. The Divemaster was fending them away with his camera housing which always makes for some good footage.

Bill confirms this trip was one he won’t ever forget! Check out some cool video footage of Hawaii Adventure Diving trips here.

One Ocean Diving

One Ocean Diving is a pretty big operation! If you’re a shark lover, you’ve probably heard of Ocean Ramsay. There was a video of her freediving with a massive Great White Shark which went viral on Instagram and YouTube!

Well – One Ocean Diving is her shop. She runs it with her husband. So it’s a very popular operator. They’ve got three boats running five trips a day, seven days a week.

The good thing about One Ocean Diving is that there’s a big focus on shark conservation. Ocean Ramsay is a big shark advocate! On the trips they run, they share a lot of information about what you can do to help with shark conservation. That’s a really awesome part of this shop.

On these trips, there’s no cage diving option – only swimming with sharks!

It’s a very regimented operation, with a strict briefing letting you know what you can and can’t do. There’s a divemaster in the water with you at all times. They’re positioned near the deep water, and customers have to be in a line within five feet of the boat.

Once the sharks come near to the surface, you spend about five minutes or so getting used to it all. You can ask the Divemaster with a thumbs down if you can do some freediving. If they’re happy with how everything is, then you can dive down, although no deeper than around 25 feet.

You always have to stay between the Divemaster and the boat, so they’re nearest to the sharks. The Divemaster wants to be able to see everyone close together, to keep everything in order and everyone safe! They do an awesome job of keeping things safe, but it’s a tonne of fun!

After a while, the sharks get deeper, dropping to around 30 or 40 feet. Then the engines start up again which attracts the sharks back up to the surface.

One Ocean Diving is known to have frequent interaction with Tiger Sharks too! You can see some awesome snaps on their Instagram. Lost LeBlanc has some insane video footage of sharks on their trips too.

How to Choose Who to Go Freediving With Sharks in Hawaii With

There are a few things to consider when deciding who to go freediving with sharks in Hawaii with!

If you want a family environment, definitely go with North Shore Shark Adventures! Or if everyone wants to do cage diving. Likewise, if any of you group prefer the comfort of a bigger boat, then this is the best option by a long way.

Hawaii Adventure Diving is a great option if half of your group want to go cage diving and half want to go swimming with sharks. Remember it’s more intimate and a smaller boat so not as comfortable, though. You’re more at one with nature here – there’s no toilet on board, so you better be ready to jump in the water if you gotta go!

One Ocean Diving is the best choice if everyone wants to go swimming with sharks, and doesn’t want the limitation of the cage. Likewise, for anyone who’s passionate about shark conservation and focusing on ocean health, then this is by far the best choice.

What next?

If you have any ideas of topics you want to hear about, or guests you’d like to hear from, email Bill at scubatravelpodcast@gmail.com or send him a DM on Instagram at @hydra_therapy. Visit scubatravelpodcast.com for all the links etc!

About Bill

Bill has been diving for over 20 years, with about 500 dives in 13 different countries! He has experience in both cold and warm water, so he’s been around a little bit! Listen to episode one for more about Bill’s story.

About Tash

Tash is a Divemaster, marine conservationist and digital marketer. She loves animals, adventures, the ocean, and chasing an endless summer! She was born in Canada, grew up in the UK, and is currently living in Aussie where the waters are (sometimes!) warmer.


Bill’s a super experienced diver but isn’t a dive instructor! He’s just a great guy sharing his knowledge and advice about scuba diving and ocean activities. Contact a certified scuba centre for official scuba advice!

List of Links

North Shore Shark Adventures – https://youtu.be/i0voy160ffA

Hawaii Adventure Diving – https://youtu.be/IvVDdqEG3Lk

One Ocean Diving – https://youtu.be/_AEq1U09Xak

Here are Links to all the companies websites;

North Shore Shark Adventures – https://sharktourshawaii.com/

Hawaii Adventure Diving – http://hawaiiadventurediving.com/

One Ocean Diving – https://www.freedivewithsharks.com/

Here are Links to the Youtubers Mentioned

North Shore Shark Adventures

iJustine – https://youtu.be/cMGCOaJ7SJU

iJustine again – https://youtu.be/RK97IWYmHW0

Jenna Ezarik – https://youtu.be/IiSxZyi9eIs

Hawaii Adventure Diving

Roman Atwood – https://youtu.be/RGoYtdx8lWg

One Ocean Diving

DALLMYD – https://youtu.be/ZhObYiIcC5s

Lost LeBlanc – https://youtu.be/UWu8_vDnmSE

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