Hawai'i Coral Reef Network

Marine Protected Areas in Hawai'i

Pupukea, Oah'u

25 acres, Established 1983


 Located on the north shore of O'ahu, Pupukea Beach Park is on the Kahuku side of Waimea Bay, next to the Sunset Beach Fire Station. Take Kamehameha Highway (Hwy. 83) from Hale'iwa or Kahuku to Waimea. Parking is available at the beach park. Bus service to the area is available daily.

The MLCD is located offshore of the beach park, from the highwater mark seaward to a line from the point at the beach park's southwestern end to Kulalua Point.

The district includes two major swimming areas, Shark's Cove and Three Tables, as well as the offshore region just north of Sharks' Cove. The tidepool area to the left of Shark's Cove, though not part of the MLCD, is good for reef walking or snorkeling, depending on wave and tide conditions.

Shark's Cove, near the northern end of the MLCD, is a popular site for snorkeling, and is fairly shallow. Depths range up to 20 feet at the cove's mouth. Diving conditions are better outside the cove. Caves can be found around the cove's northwest point, and to a lesser extent to the south. The area to the left of the cove offers excellent night diving. The bottom outside the cove slopes to about 45 feet. Visibility is generally poor inside the cove, but improves quickly outside. The origin of the cove's name is uncertain, but sharks are no more common here than anywhere else on the island. Shark's Cove is one of the North Shore's most popular SCUBA destinations.

Three Tables cove, located at the district's southern end, gets its name from the three or four flat sections of reef visible at low tide. Snorkeling is good around and just outside the tables area, and diving conditions improve farther out. Water depths near the tables average about 15 feet, and the best diving is at depths of 30 to 45 feet. Many ledges, arches, lava tubes and other features are found near and outside the tables.

Safety considerations

From about May through October the water is generally calm, but surges are possible. During winter months current and wave conditions become extremely dangerous in all areas of the MLCD, as well as the tidepool area.

No lifeguards are on duty at the beach, but a fire station is located near the tidepools.


Restrooms, showers, emergency and pay phones.


Pole-and-line fishing for finfish is permitted from the shoreline, and taking of limu is also permitted. Spearfishing without SCUBA is permitted throughout the district, and use of nets is allowed in the MLCD's northern portion. SCUBA divers may transit the MLCD with fish taken outside the district. Any other taking of marine life is prohibited, as is the taking of sand, coral, shells or rocks.

NOTE: The Division of Aquatic Resources is considering changing the Pupukea MLCD and is requesting public comments


See also: Administrative Rules

Last update: 6/12/2002