This is a tale of three cameras and one amazing snorkeling spot.  From my (very small amount of) research, I can tell you that Shark’s Cove either gets its name from its shape OR the fact that it’s home to white-tipped reef sharks.  Or maybe it’s both.  I’m honestly just not sure.  But what I do know is that is that it’s been touted as one of the 12 best shore dives in the world.  And since it’s on the north shore, we had to wait until the swell died down to safely access it.  That’s where summer comes in.

And we’ve now been there three times in two months.

So back in May, we swam with a few turtles, and my underwater camera (Nikon AW110) quit working correctly.  So when I sent it in to get repaired, I picked up another camera to see how I liked it.  It was the Olympus TG-850.  Spoiler alert, it was awful.  There are some pictures taken below with it, but the main result was that it wanted me to use the flash even underwater, and all I ever captured was bubbles.  When I managed to turn off the flash, every shot took forever to process.

Who’s got time for that?  Not me.  So then I decided to get the GoPro Hero 3+ Black Edition.  I loved the images others have captured with the GoPro, but I wasn’t sure about the lack of immediate viewing.  I want to see the pictures to know if I need to try again!  (And yes, you can get an LCD screen but that’s more money.)  But ultimately, the GoPro ended up being a no-go for me because while it did great capturing humans, I didn’t like the fish pictures at all.  The angle was just too wide and the fish seemed too small.  And when I cropped in, there was no contrast in the pictures.  So only a few came out okay.

I should mention here that my AW110 ended up being unrepairable, so I just got a credit toward a new camera.  So when the GoPro was a bust, I decided to just upgrade to the Nikon AW120. (The older model is no longer for sale at Best Buy.)  And although this camera doesn’t live up to my high DSLR standards, I have to say that it was the best of the three I tried for sure.  Since we’re just learning to snorkel, I’m good with a cheapy underwater camera that only costs a few hundred bucks.  Maybe at some point, I’ll want to get a housing for my professional camera and see how that goes.  But for now, I’m really happy with the AW120.  Now if it could last longer than 6 months, that’d be great!

Okay, let’s get to the pictures!  Although, fair warning, they are kind of random throughout the post.  Just ooh and ahh when you see a pretty fish.

Shark’s Cove is part of Pupukea Beach Park on Oahu’s North Shore.  Parking is limited and the place is popular, but we’ve been able to find a spot within a few minutes each time.  There is quite a bit going on at this beach too.  In addition to this snorkeling area, there are tide pools in the middle and another snorkeling/scuba diving section called Three Tables on the southern end.  We still have a ton to explore.

This is the view from above Shark’s Cove near the vehicles.  There isn’t a lot of sand in this section – you just walk down a path to get to the rocky shoreline.

The first time we went, we had no idea where to enter the water.  There were people all over the place, but it was obvious that you could hurt yourself if the water slammed you into one of those rocks.

Although we all have fins, we read that wearing reef shoes is recommended because of the sharp rocks/coral.  Also, our children are not strong swimmers, so we had them wear these Speedo swim vests.  They aren’t USCG-approved, and they aren’t meant to save their lives.  We always keep track of the kids and in many cases, we hold onto them.  The vests are to just help them stay afloat and comfortable.

There ended up being a perfect entrance point to the left of the cove – near the middle tide pools.

This is one of the photos taken with the Olympus TG-850.

This is a look back toward the road.

I must have been trying to get a family selfie here.  I’m annoying with the pictures.

Look! An actual picture of fish with the TG-850! The yellow one is called a Fourspot butterflyfish.  Not sure about the other one. (I just have a little very incomplete fish guide I picked up at the store.  We’re working on learning more!)

Aidan is still working on keeping his head submersed.

And that is all of the decent pictures I got with the Olympus TG-850.  That camera might be good for hiking because it’s “rugged” and “tough”, but I can’t recommend it for underwater pictures.  At all.

So then we went back with the GoPro.  And mostly I really wanted to get a family selfie because it’s got a wide angle and I thought it would be the easiest to shoot with.

It took a while to get us all lined up…

This ended up being the best one I captured.  I don’t know what Aidan was looking at.  But at least a fish made an appearance!

This is one of my favorites from the GoPro fish pictures.  I think it’s a school of Convict surgeonfish.

And just lots of people pictures.  There isn’t a whole lot to say about the snorkeling experience because you just swim around and look for fish.  It’s a lot more fun to do than to read about!

I’m not totally sure, but I think these are called Gray Chub fish.  Or maybe they’re a different species of Chubs.  They were everywhere during each of our trips and they’ll swim all around you.

I’m so proud of these three! They’ve come so far in such a short time.

Can you see the fish? I think it’s a school of needlefish. (Or it could be cornetfish.)

More Chubs.

A headless Aidan surrounded by fish.

And then we saw a turtle!

A short video of the turtle swimming:

The color in these GoPro pics is a hot mess, but I love this shot for some reason.

These two pictures were taken as we were swimming back to shore.

In this photo, the one to the left is a Reef triggerfish.  It’s Hawaiian name is humuhumunukunukuapua’a and it is the Hawaii state fish.

I don’t know what the other ones are.

We are only able to handle about an hour in the water at this point.  It’s exhausting!

This was the end of our second adventure.

So yesterday, James and I went back without the kids.  They were more than happy to stay with the sitter.

And I love these fish pictures with my AW120 SO much more!

I always think of the Denver Broncos when I see these particular fish.  They are actually Achilles tang fish.

We STILL have not worked out the fog situation.  It’s annoying.

Feeding frenzy!

We decided to wear fins this time instead of reef shoes.  Since we didn’t have to worry about making sure the kids were safe, we wanted to hit more areas of the cove and the fins help us go faster and farther.

I can’t figure out what the big fish is called.  It might be the Ring-tailed surgeonfish.  But either way, it’s pretty!

That bad boy on the bottom is called an Orangespine unicornfish.  Love it!

These are Whitespotted surgeonfish.

I think this might be an Eyestripe surgeonfish. Or a Yellowfin surgeonfish.

The gray and white striped dude is a Blackspot sergeant.

And for the first time, we worked on diving below the surface!  It was exciting to try something new.

I think this is a cornetfish.  But maybe this one is a needlefish too?  A marine biologist I am not.

I wanted to get a picture that included the mountain ridge behind us.  Fail.

There it is!  Ugly, ugly day.

I have a lot more to learn about diving underwater.  It hurts my ears and I need to work on holding my breath.

But I was going pretty far each time!

Those little guys in the back with the orange horizontal stripe are called Orangeband sturgeonfish.

I looooove when we encounter large groups of fish.

James was working on diving to get pictures of fish at the bottom.

Here is a really awful video, but I love to see the fish moving.

After 90 minutes, we finally made our way out of the water.  James saw both an eel and a baby turtle that I missed and therefore didn’t capture.  But it was still a faaaaaantastic day considering it was pouring when we arrived and I was just sure that I wouldn’t be able to get any good pictures. (I may or may not be a Drama Queen at times.)

Thanks for reading and checking out the pictures.  Don’t judge if half of my fish names are incorrect.  We’re working on it!

As always, please know your limits and those of your children.  Someone recently drowned at this exact location so there is definitely a risk involved.  But it is a fantastic experience if you pay attention and always put safety first.  We spent months learning in the lagoons before we felt confident enough to tackle something more open.  🙂  And even then, we stayed within the cove.  We didn’t venture out too far because we just didn’t feel ready yet.

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