Scuba Diving in Hawaii: 5 Great Dive Sites for Your Next Trip

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Scuba Diving Hawaii is one of our best dive sites in the world

If scuba diving in Hawaii isn’t on your bucket list, it should be! In fact, it should be on every diver’s bucket list. Historically best known for surfing, the Hawaiian Islands are slowly but surely becoming one of the best diving destinations in the world, especially for people based on the west coast of North America.

Made up of 137 islands spanning 1,500 miles/2,400 km, and although they are part of the United States, they are tropical islands that are physiographically part of Polynesia. The beautiful destination has eight main islands, the “Big Island” of Hawaii, which gives its name to the entire state, then Lanai, Kauai, Kahoolawe, Maui, Molokai, Niihau and Oahu. Most of the northwest of the archipelago is uninhabited and is part of the third largest marine protected area in the world, the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument.

Location

Kauai – Sheraton Caverns

Sheraton Caverns is home to stunning geography and topography and home to fascinating marine life. The most striking features of the site are three huge collapsed lava tubes. These tubes take divers directly to the beach at the Sheraton Kauai hotel.

Take a dive light with you as you can spot a wide range of creatures including spiny lobster, reef crabs and even turkey. One thing to remember is that the site is much more than that. There is an abundance of interesting and varied marine life outside the tubes. You can regularly encounter turtles, whitemouth moray eels and yellow margin moray eels while diving in the Sheraton caverns. If you are lucky and good at spotting wildlife, you may catch a giant anglerfish or a leaf anglerfish.

You can see yellow-margined moray eels while scuba diving in Hawaii

Sheraton Caverns is one of Hawaii’s most fun dives, open to all levels of divers. The maximum depth at the site is 64ft/~19m, although typical diving around the area is done at a depth of 40ft/12m. due to how fun the site can turn out to be time and time again, it is often nicknamed “the circus” by local divers.

Lani – The first cathedral

If you are going to Lanai diving on your Scuba diving in Hawaii trip, you can’t miss the first cathedral. The site takes its name from its topography and the effects it creates. The site is composed of a vast underwater cavern and a tunnel. In the middle of the cave is an altar-shaped rock illuminated by light streaming through holes in the roof of the cave. The color and strange nature of the light hitting the rock altar inspired the name of the site. The maximum depth of the site is 65ft/~19m.

Diving into the cathedral itself is an adventure; you enter the site through an arch and a tunnel. Once you’ve enjoyed the atmosphere of the cathedral and a host of critters to discover inside, you can head to the back of the room to find an exit called the Torpedo Tube or Rifle pump. You have to time your run with the surge, and before you know it, the shotgun will spit you on the reef wall.

Once outside, the action can get more interesting, with a wide range of marine life. You can regularly encounter sharks and turtles swimming around the wall. A closer look at the wall may allow you to spot lobster reed fish, including bandit angelfish.

Oahu – Vought F4U Privateer

Heading to Oahu, one of Hawaii’s deepest and most famous wrecks is the Vought F4U Corsair. One of the few true diveable wrecks in Hawaii (the plane sank due to engine problems which was not intentionally a man-made wreck), it has been around for over 70 years, having crashed in 1946 due motor problems during a training exercise.

The wreck is a bit deeper than most of the island, resting on the seabed at 35m/115ft. This makes the Vought F4U Corsair only suitable for advanced divers and also makes it an ideal dive for nitrox divers who want to extend their dive time a bit.

Despite its age, the wreck is in excellent condition. While the wings are now buried in the sand, the cockpit is open and you can still see the pilot’s seat, rudder pedals and control stick. A closer look shows that some of the dashboard dials and gauges still retain their glass covers.

When scuba diving in Hawaii, the wreck offers memorable photo opportunities, either of the large number of garden eels that populate the seabed around the wreck, or of the Galapagos sharks that hang out in the distance. Alternatively, you can slip into the cockpit and sit in the pilot’s seat for a photo op or even take a picture of the straight but slightly bent propeller. All in all, the Vought F4U Corsair is definitely worth adding to your Hawaii scuba diving bucket list.

Maui – Molokini Wall

The Molokini Wall is a great drift dive that is not for the novice diver. The conditions and the current make it essential to have some experience before attempting Molokini Wall. The wall is part of a volcanic crater and is stunning, dropping 300ft/~90m, although a typical dive is around 80ft/~24m. The site is renowned for its excellent visibility, often exceeding 100 feet/30 meters.

The crater is part of the Marine Life Conservation District, which has been protected since the 1970s. Because of this, the site is absolutely pristine and teeming with healthy, vibrant coral life and growth. On Molokini dives you can regularly encounter large numbers of gray reef, blacktip and whitetip sharks. There is also a decent chance of encountering manta rays and dolphins as well as turtles and a host of other sea life. Over 250 species of fish have been recorded in the area, some of which are found nowhere else.

Dive trips to Molokani are usually a two tank dive trip due to the remoteness of the site, as it takes 40 minutes by boat from Maui to get to the site. If you are an experienced diver and planning to scuba dive in Hawaii, you should consider adding Molokini Wall to your itinerary. you will not regret it.

Scuba Diving Hawaii Absolute Must: Kona Night time Manta Heaven

If there is any diving experience, you should not miss your next Hawaii diving trip; it’s night diving with manta rays off Kona. The breathtaking experience is arguably the best diving experience to be had when scuba diving in Hawaii.

The water off Kailua-Kona is rich in plankton. At night, the lights attract plankton to congregate in large numbers. As sure as night will follow, daytime mantas follow their food source plankton into shallow waters to feed.

Over time and habituation, this nocturnal manta feeding triggered by human lights has become a regular habit. Several dive boats create a circle of light, and before you know it, up to 20 mantas show up and begin feeding and performing their graceful barrel rolls in the water.

All the action takes place in the shallow waters, and it can get crowded with over 40 divers in the water. Ironically, this makes things even better since each diver is equipped with a torch which adds to the light and plankton which attracts even more mantas.

This is an easy dive open to all divers, and even non-divers can experience snorkeling from the surface as the action tends to be very shallow. Night diving with manta rays should be the first item on your to-do list when planning to scuba dive in Hawaii.

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Our Top Dive Sites of the World guide is brought to you by Suunto. We recommend using a Suunto dive computer scuba diving or snorkeling at one of these dive sites. Suunto is the world’s leading designer and manufacturer of dive computers providing dive instruments for recreational, technical and freediving. You can learn more about Suunto.com.

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