Scuba diving in Hawaii
Hawai’i is one of the world's most famous tourist paradises. This chain of islands hosts wrecks, caves, pristine reefs and exhilarating drift dives. These volcanic islands encourage lush coral gardens to grow and with 20% of marine life being endemic to the region, scuba diving here is guaranteed to be unforgettable.
Surrounded by the beauty of the Pacific Ocean, and more than 2400 miles from the nearest continent, scuba diving in Hawaii is known as the quintessential tropical dive experience in dive circles world wide. With cave dives off of Lana'i, ship wrecks off of Oahu, reefs in Maui, drift dives from Moloka'i and so much more, there is a Hawaiian scuba diving trip for every fascination. The Hawaiian island chain consists of 132 islands stretched over thousands of miles. Generally only eight are thought of as main islands for tourism, but the whole chain can serve as a playground for underwater scuba adventurers. Because Hawaii is made up of active volcanoes, the underwater scenery is always changing, making each dive holiday a somewhat different experience.
MARINE LIFE IN HAWAII
The topographical layout of the Hawaiian island chain presents and underwater world that attracts scuba divers from around the world. Volcanic activity continues to expand the Big Island and adds to the sea floor with lava tubes, ornate patterns of rock and lush coral gardens rich with nutrients. More than 20 percent of marine life is endemic to Hawaii making it a rewarding, worthwhile journey. Five types of angelfish, Hawaiian Bigeyes, several types of blenny and butterfly fish and the Hawaiian Ruby Cardinalfish are just a few of the local plentiful species to see while diving in Hawaii.
Thousands of humpback whales can be found in Hawaii during the winter months. They migrates as far as Alaska and participate in the longest seasonal migration of any mammal on the planet. Hawaiian Green Turtles, although endangered, are a common sight swimming along the Kona Coast or basking in the sands of Kahaluu Beach. Spinner Dolphins delight divers with their acrobatics, darting through the water in large pods and playfully spinning and leaping out of the water.
Hawaii scuba diving will provide visitors with hard and soft corals filtering water and providing nourishment for other sea creatures. Thousands of life forms such as octopus, eels, sea anemones, sponges, crabs and fish by the tens of thousands all call these waters home.
BEST DIVE SITES IN HAWAII
BIG ISLAND - HAWAI'I A scuba diving paradise with more than 50 dive sites awaits at Hawaii's Big Island. Peaceful, serene and diverse, many endemic species swim about this island along with a variety of eels. Hot spots include Two Step, Honokohau Harbor, Mile Marker 4 and Kamakahonu Beach. Western coast favorite scuba diving sites include General Store, Paradise Pinnacle, Tubestria Tunnel, The Hive, Rob's Reef and Turtle Pinnacle. Many liveaboard tours include these sites on their Hawaiian cruise itinerary. Kona is located on the Big Island of Hawaii and continues to be ranked as the best place to spot mysterious manta rays at night. Unlike their stingray and eagle ray cousins, inquisitive mantas do not have stingers and are very comfortable around people. Night time scuba diving is the best way to catch these gentle giants as the night lights from the coastal resorts attract the attention of plankton, and in turn, attract huge numbers of manta rays.
O'AHU Experience the wrecks of the YO-257 and the San Pedro just 120 feet apart and swim with the countless eagle rays, puffer fish, frog fish and turtles who call these areas home. Scuba diving in O'ahu in the summer sees calmer waters and allows for accessibility to the famous Hawaiian North Shore dive sites such as Shark's Cove and Three Tables. Scuba divers also enjoy Makaha Caverns and Electric Beach.
MAUI Black Rock is among the most popular scuba diving sites in the Hawaiian island of Maui, but there are many others among the pristine coral reefs as well. School fish dance about eagle rays and turtles, but don't leave the waters without spotting Hawaii's state fish the humanhumanuka'apua'a, also known as the Lagoon Triggerfish. While in Maui, be sure your dive trip includes the St. Anthony and the Carthaginian, both sunk as artificial reefs now teeming with biodiversity. Molokini Crater, a marine protected area, is just a 30-minute boat ride away from Maui and worth it for the larger pelagic encounters such as mantas, sharks and whales.
MOLOKA'I Dives in Moloka'i tend to vary in depth with both shallow and deeper sections offering plentiful sea life. Hammerhead sharks, rare Hawaiian Monk Seals and more are seen at dive sites like the Fish Bowl, Fish Rain and Deep Corner. This 30-mile-long segment of untouched reef offers outstanding diving in its nearly 40 different dive sites. The number of fantastic dive sites in Moloka'i can be overwhelming, but a liveaboard tour or other dive tour can help divers pinpoint regions of the greatest regions of the reef for individual interests.
LANA'I Divers express their amazement at the visibility among cavern dives in Lana'i. Cathedrals I and II are popular sites to spot new fish species and see rare invertebrates. Enjoy Scuba diving here during the winter months and you may be bringing major bragging rights back home after spotting humpback whales. Note: most boats going to Lana'i depart from Lahaina, Maui on a 40 minute journey.
KAUA'I Kauai is home to many Hawaiian green sea turtles. Visit Turtles Bluffs and drift along sand caves, spot white-tip reef sharks and turtle cleaning stations. A series of collapsed lava tubes create the aptly named Tunnels Beach, known to Hawaiian scuba divers as the spot for octopus and white-tips.
BEST TIME TO DIVE IN HAWAII
Water temperatures are comfortable year round typically not dipping below 74 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter months or rising above 80 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer. A tropical climate makes for enjoyable scuba diving year round. The best time to scuba dive Hawaii is the winter months when you may be treated to hearing the underwater songs of the Humpback whales as they partake in their yearly migration.
EXPERIENCE LEVEL FOR DIVING IN HAWAII
Hawaii offers scuba diving for every skill level. Both boat and shore dives are available to help scuba enthusiasts cater their holiday to their individual strengths and needs. Hawaii Liveaboard tours are a great opportunity to scuba dive many of the Hawaiian islands in one trip and enjoy up to 3 or 4 dives per day.
HOW DO I GET TO HAWAII
Honolulu International Airport is the main artery into Hawaii. Kahului Airport on Maui, Kona Airport on the Big Island and Lihue Airport on Kauai also receive international and inter-island flights. International flights from Tokyo, Japan arrive in about 8 hours. Other international flights arrive directly to the islands, though some may pass through continental United States airport hubs such as San Francisco, California which is about a 4 hour 45 minute flight to Honolulu or Houston, Texas, an 8 hour flight.