Located on the North Shore and adjacent to Waimea Bay, Pupukea Beach Park, is a Marine Life Conservation Area. At the south end is Three Tables, a protected beach with three sections of flat coral reefs. At the north end is a lagoon called Share's Cove which is great for snorkling, beachcombing and tide pooling.
We are vacationing on Oahu and have snorkeled twice at Shark's Cove. Absolutely loved seeing the fish, turtles, urchins and eels. There isnt a sandy spot, only large rocks. Its not a great place to sit and watch people snorkel, so if you are sitting out, I would bring a cushion and an umbrella. Those in the water will need water shoes for the rocks and sea urchins. Young kids can snorkel, but I would think someone should be with them. There are large rocks in the cove that you can stop and stand on if you need to.The bus stops are right at the parking lot and right across the street. Foodland and Shark's Cove Grill are also across the street to buy food and drinks. There is an outdoor shower and a restroom with a changing room. Its a perfect place in a perfect location. The only reason this does not have 5 stars is that it is a high theft area. You cannot leave your stuff unattended. We did not bring a waterproof bag for our rental key so we had it wrapped in a towel along with other towels. We placed it at the edge of the water so it was highly visible. Didn't matter. When we came in our towels and jeep had been stolen along with the 4 phones and gps in the jeep. Luckily, the jeep was recovered, but we are currently replacing cellphones and driver licenses. That's not exactly what you want to be spending your time and money doing while vacationing in paradise. So get some kind of waterproof bag to take your valuables with you, or have someone on shore keeping guard. On the plus side, we met some wonderful police officers! We also saw a pod of spinner dolphins swimming nearby. LOVED THIS PLACE!
I would take Shark's Cove over Haunama Bay any day. First of all, I love the laid back atmosphere of the North Shore. Secondly, there are far fewer people snorkeling here and the scenery is just as pretty. We saw tons of fish and enjoyed exploring both the Pupukea tide pools and the deeper water. I did see quite a few families in and around the water while we were there. It is rocky getting down to the water so be careful. One thing to be aware of is that waves get big on the North Shore during the winter so this is a good summer spot but I wouldn't go in during the winter.
"SNORKEL where it more easy going & not stressful finding parking (park along the street) but MUST have water shoes". Located in North Shore between Waimae (past the rock) and before Sunset Beach basically across Foodland, this is one of the BEST places to snorkel. We prefer to snorkel here over Hanauma Bay (even though it very rocky so water shoes are a must) and visit every time we are in Oahu (except winter time). There are two areas to snorkel, from the restroom/shower area looking toward the beach -the shallow plateua area with the beach to left and the deeper Shark's Cove area to the right where diver's wave to us from the bottom. The water is basically calm here in the summer because it's protective by rocks. Locals bring their kids with their baby snorkel gear to the shallow area, let them sit in the water and dip their little heads in the water to discover the local marine life such as hermit crabs, various types of baby fishes, etc. My teenage kids (13 & 16) still enjoy snorkeling in the shallow area but we see much more schools of fish in the cove and sometimes turtles visit. My 16-year old recently brought a buddy with him who never snorkeled before and he LOVED it here. We always bring food to picnic but somehow we always end up at Foodland (incl. deli & Starbucks) especially after we swim to eat again.
PS- To and from Waikiki, if you have to stop for a break/restrooms, try Dole Plantation gift store along the way or else head to Haleiwa.