Fifteen sharks swirl in figure eights beneath me. But I’m not peering over the side of a boat or secured in an underwater safety cage. I’m snorkeling in the open ocean, 3 miles off the North Shore of Oahu. Ocean Ramsey, a shark behaviorist and cofounder of One Ocean, bobs in the waves beside me. Her company runs this open-to-the-public pelagic shark-diving program—the first of its kind in the US. When I first slip into the water, the Jaws theme song echoes in my head. I frantically recall the safety instructions I’ve been given: Don’t splash. Keep your arms against your body. If a shark nuzzles your GoPro, drawn in by its electrical impulses, gently flick your wrist. Most importantly, never take your eyes off the sharks. When I timidly submerge my face in the water, I’m soothed by the sharks’ slow aquatic choreography. Galapagos and Sandbar sharks glide within a few feet of my body, their eyes gleaming like buttons on a peacoat. Forty minutes later, I climb from the choppy waves into the boat and my stomach does backflips. When I stop dry-heaving, I chuckle at the irony: For all my trepidation, it wasn’t the sharks that did me in—it was the seasickness.

While on the North Shore

STAY: Sleep among fragrant fruit trees at Orchard Oasis (aka the Hobbit Hut), a cozy AirBNB with a chicken coop and a heated outdoor shower.

EAT: Tuck into a plate of fiery jumbo shrimp from Giovanni’s food truck, then cool down with a lilikoi, guava, and papaya shave ice from Matsumoto’s.

DO: Zipline over taro and cherry tomato fields at Climb Works Keana Farms.


This article appears in the October issue. Subscribe now.