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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, August 8, 2004

Pupukea has great snorkeling, diving — in summer

By Kevin Dayton
Advertiser Big Island Bureau

Shark's Cove, on the North Shore, is part of Pupukea Beach Park.

The Honolulu Advertiser

Pupukea (which means white shell) is a long, narrow, 80-acre beach park with a rocky shore. Two small pocket beaches lie among the rocks: Three Tables at the Waimea end of the park, and Shark's Cove, at the Kahuku end.

Beach profile: Pupukea Beach Park, 59-727 Kamehameha Highway.

Water activities: diving, snorkeling, swimming, exploring the large tide pools at Shark's Cove.

What is there: parking, restrooms, showers.

Ocean conditions: Calm waters prevail from May through August or September. However, from October through April, extremely dangerous currents and surf conditions prevail.

History: Three Tables swimming area was once known as Avocado Beach. In the early 1900s, Frederick Haley Sr. established a 400-acre avocado farm in the Pupukea Highlands, with more than 11,000 trees. Avocados were hauled by mule wagon down the steep hill to the Maunawai train stop at the foot of the present Pupukea Road. In 1912, Haley sold his farm to Libby, McNeil and Libby, who used it for growing pineapples.

John Severson, a California surfer who worked in a map office at Schofield Barracks, named the surf site (next to Rocky Point) in the winter of 1957. Severson believed the site should have a Hawaiian name and selected Pupukea, the name of the land division from Waimea Point to Rocky Point. Severson was discharged in 1958 and went on to produce six surfing movies and found Surfer Magazine. He was voted into the Surfing Hall of Fame in 1993, and elected Waterman of the Year in 1997 by the Surf Industry Manufacturers' Association.

The name Three Tables comes from a raised coral reef in the sandy bay that is broken into three parts. Shark's Cove was named by the scuba divers who use it as an entry/exit point. One popular story says that the outline of a reef outside the cove resembles a shark when seen from above.

During summer months, Shark's Cove provides excellent swimming and snorkeling and is used by amateur scuba divers. (Despite the name, there are no more sharks in this area than elsewhere around O'ahu.)

The Honolulu Fire Department's Sunset Beach station is in the center of the Pupukea Beach Park. An important rescue base for the North Shore, its firefighters perform many ocean rescues.

Nearby: Pu'u o Mahuka Heiau, above Waimea Bay, reached from Pupukea Road, offers a stunning view of the North Shore to Ka'ena Point.

Where to eat: Take a picnic, or try the lunch cart outside Foodland at nearby Sunset Beach Shopping Center; Sunset Pizza, 59-174 Kamehameha Highway.

Source: "Beaches of O'ahu," and "Hawai'i Place Names: Shores, Beaches, and Surf Sites," both by John Clark