Hawaii Vacation Misadventures of Andy & Sheila: Close Encounters of the Shark Kind

Update: please note that we had this encounter and wrote this article prior to being educated on dolphin behavior. We would never attempt to swim with dolphins in the ocean again as we have learned that when the dolphins come into the bay in the daytime, they’re there to rest.

Beach at Four Seasons Manale Bay

If you’ve ever wanted to swim with dolphins in open water, you’ll have an excellent chance of doing just that when you visit Lana’i’s beautiful Hulopoe Beach. Pods of spinner dolphins come to the protected bay waters almost daily and often several times each day.

While relaxing on the sand and soaking up the soothing sounds of the waves crashing at  Hulopoe Beach, Andy and I admired the dolphins as they frolicked in the bay. We observed other visitors swimming out towards the dolphins and allowing them to swim past. These visitors would come back to the shore shrieking with excitement from the experience.

You know that I’ve confessed many times that I’m a big chicken in the sea. As I observed others having so much fun swimming with the dolphins, I wanted to join in the fun, but I was having to work up my nerve. Eventually, I became brave enough to give it a try. After picking up snorkel gear, I pushed myself out of my comfort zone and dove it the water.

While trying to work up the nerve to get in the water, I must have wasted too much time. We swam out towards the area where we had seen dolphins, but we must have been too late to the party. Alas, they were gone!

With our snorkel masks on, Andy and I swam side by side while pointing out beautiful fish. We came across a large section of a sandy bottom and didn’t see any fish for a while. That was until I spotted a six-foot shark hovering on the bottom approximately 10 feet away. I still don’t know how I reacted so calmly, but I tapped Andy on the arm and pointed to the shark. Though I was freaking out inside, I was remaining calm on the outside. Without even stopping to discuss the situation, Andy and I immediately began to swim back to shore.

The shark didn’t even seem to notice us and definitely didn’t bother us. In a way, I’m glad that happened. One of my fears of snorkeling is encountering a shark. Now that I met the fear and it was such a non-issue, I think I’ll feel a bit more confident the next time I snorkel.

Have you had any shark encounters while snorkeling in Hawaii?


This post is part of a series of Hawaii vacation mishaps. See the entire collection of our misadventure chronicles.

  1. Hi Sheila, Sharks are wonderful animals to see on the reef. As long as you are careful and respectful you should not fear them. Bobbie and I were diving at Puako in 20 feet of water when we encountered a huge tiger shark. Large sharks really take your breath away! 50 yards away and totally oblivious to the large shark was a tourist boat with 30 splashing and thrashing tourist-simply snorkeling away. They did not even see the large predator in the water…thank goodness…It would have been a scene out of Jaws the movie… Not for the attack, but for the tourist panic. Thankfully, the shark simply checked us all out and proceeded on his way…just as you would expect. The deal is that sometimes it is better to not see everything on the reef and to simply enjoy the water and the nice scenery! jerry

  2. that was a wonderful but scary experience. how is the water temp during december. are they cold? we plan to go snorkeling.
    thank you.

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