Batter late than never...review based on September 2011 trip.
First off, book for the beginning of your trip in case of cancellations. Didn't happen to us, but weather can make for rough seas. (If you do get cancelled...it's better to be at the dock wishing you were in the cage than being in the cage wishing you were at the dock! Remember this for delayed flights too...would you rather be on the ground wishing you were in the air or in the air wishing you were on the ground? Point is: trust those who work with Mother Nature to make the call as to whether it's safe or not.)
Also, book for the first trip of the day. Yes, waking up at 4:00 AM sound horrible, but if you live in North America you've got at least a three hour time shift...and a 7:00 AM wake up isn't bad. East coasters...six hour time shift means your body thinks it's 10:00 AM...so don't grumble about waking up early. Why the first trip? Smoother ocean. It was significantly different on the way into port than the ride out to sea, in a, "Uh, how high do these waves get?" sort of way.
Last warning...Hawaii traffic can be brutal. I mean worse than LA, Las Vegas Strip, or rush hour downtown Toronto driving. Give yourself time to get to the North Shore. Relax..you're on vacation, right?
Facts for the trip: washroom in the harbor is not great. Scary, even, with bugs that don't scare. The "shower" on the boat is the friendly staff hosing you down after you get back in the boat. Refreshments were non-existent.
So...as for the actual experience...awesome. Boat goes twenty minutes out, pulls up to a bobbing cage. (You get the safety briefing about what to do if the boat sinks...when the raft can take two people, you look at your shipmates with and eye that says, "If the boat goes down in shark filled waters, my butt is on the raft after i throw my wife on it. You....good luck." )
Engine is shut off, and the crew is enthusiastic to get the show rolling. Customers look down, at the horizon, nobody moving a muscle. So I pull the brave man attitude from where my terror is, get up, and climb down into the ocean to meet my greatest fear face to teeth.
Never having snorkeled before, first thing I do is try to breath and choke on a lungful of sea water...at which point I see the first shark rushing the cage.
I scream underwater.
My wife, safe on the boat, asks why I'm screaming like a little girl. I tighten my death grip on the steel cage and tell her to come in if she wants to question my cowardice. She declines, as do some others on the boat. I wait for others to enter the cage, but they're taking their time. So, feeling alone, and hearing the theme from "Jaws", I make my way to the side of the cage near the back of the boat. Knees lock on the middle bar, feet clamp on the lower bar like a chimp in the zoo, and I discard the snorkel and just hold my breath and dunk my head beneath the waves.
A dozen, then more sharks start to circle. The crew slaps an oar against the surface, bringing sharks up to the surface like a Polaris missile. I've seen "Shark Week" and in my minds eye pictures a flying shark entering the cage and snacking on me. I ask the crew...beg them...to stop pissing off the sharks, as there are enough around. This makes everybody laugh, but they're still not in the cage.
Finally others get up their nerve to join in the fun. Now, I've been alone for five minutes with sharks around me. What is the natural reaction when something now bumps into me from behind?
Easy...stop filming, drop the camera on it's leash, and frantically turn to make sure it's not one of those Discovery Channel sharks that learned how to fly.
Seriously, the experience was amazing. Seeing the sight of a fin slicing the water headed towards you, then ducking under water to see the magnificent animal, is breathtaking. Fear turns to fascination. You watch, mesmerized, as dozens of sharks glide through the ocean with you in the middle. Time seems to slow down, and your adrenaline sharpens your senses as you feel more alive than you've ever felt.
But then it's time to climb the ladder, and you do so with a new found appreciation for sharks.
And with stories you'll be telling for years.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.