Best Scuba Diving Destination: Hawaii?

Hawaii Scuba Diving

There’s plenty of reasons to go and visit Hawaii, from its beautiful beaches to the stunning scenery further inland and the chance to get away from it and relax in a tropical paradise. But it’s also a must-see for what lies below the waves that lap on the sandy shores. Hawaii might be a surfer’s paradise but it’s also an ideal location for an amazing scuba vacation.

Why’s Hawaii a great place to go scuba diving? It’s because of its volcanic origins which don’t just make it fascinating place to visit on land but also underwater, with volcanic craters and caverns formed out of collapsed lava tubes offering great spaces to explore as well as get up close and personal with some of the fascinating and colorful marine life that calls Hawaii’s shores its home.

From Galapagos sharks to sea turtles, tiger sharks, white tip reef sharks, migrating humpback whales, eagle rays, manta rays, monk seals, green sea turtles, black tip sharks, dolphins and much more, Hawaii’s waters are full of incredible sights. So while it’s over five hours on a plane from LA to get to America’s 50th state, if you’re as obsessed with diving as me, it’ll be worth it.

Going the distance to get the best dives doesn’t stop when you land in Hawaii either as I found out on my 40 minute boat ride to the Molokini Backwall. It’s part of a volcanic crater and goes more than 300 feet down (and 200 feet up above sea level), making it a stunning attraction even if the diving wasn’t up to much.

Getting down below the surface and you’ll see reef sharks (black tip, white tip, gray, take your pick), dolphins, manta rays and sea turtles and you could even hear humpback whales at the right time of year. Molokini Wall isn’t for beginners, it’s a drift dive that needs some experience but it’s one of the most dramatic dives around, especially on the vertical drop-off on the backside of the wall.

Dive in Hawaii

Another great drift dive that isn’t for the faint-hearted is Moloka’i, especially as it gives you the chance to see hammerhead sharks and even the very rarely spotted Hawaiian monk seals. There’s several sites to explore here, with names like Fish Bowl and Fish Rain, plus the equally imaginative Hole in the Wall (named after a hole… in a wall). They’re not easy to get into at times, but the colorful corals and butterfly fish make it worth the effort.

It’s not just natural splendor and aquatic beauty that I was here to see of course. Diving also gives you the chance to explore the past too and O’ahu is a great part of Hawaii for exploring wrecks.

One of the coolest is called Landing Craft Unit (L.C.U.) and it’s amazing because it ended up sinking upside down, making it a fairly unique experience. It’s said you can even see fish swimming upside down, I guess they tell which way up it’s meant to be?

Another classic wreck is the Mahi, a former US Navy minesweeper that was sunk on purpose as part of a project to create an artificial reef. It’s huge and is home to a great barracuda, reef fish, eels, sharks and much more. Other awesome wrecks include the San Pedro and YO 257 as well as a sunken Corsair airplane, which crashed and sank in 1946. It’s actually the only wreck on Oahu that happened as an accident.

Hawaii Diving with Sharks

Diving with sharks in Hawaii is an experience you can’t miss and one of the coolest places to do it is around the Cathedrals in Lana’i, a series of caverns that offer simply stunning conditions to dive on a sunny day. Gaps in the cavern ceilings let the light get in, illuminating them and creating hauntingly beautiful scenery like nothing I’ve seen before on a dive. It’s no wonder they’re named after religious buildings.

Elsewhere, there’s the Au’au crater which has the perfect name for an experience with sharks (‘ow, ow’, get it?) and it’s one of the best places in Hawaii to see them. I got lucky on my dive, getting to see oceanic whitetips, large jacks and hammerheads, as well as some sea turtles, while there was plenty of sealife on the walls around the crater, including nudibranches.

Flying to Hawaii

First things first, if you’re travelling from the UK, there’s no way to go direct to Hawaii. You can expect at least one stop but often two, depending which airline you travel with and how much you want to pay. Based on my experiences, there’s a good chance you’ll be spending some random time somewhere like Denmark or Canada en route to Hawaii, as crazy as that sounds.

When you get here, what if you’re not an experienced scuba diver?

Luckily, Hawaii has some great options for you too, starting right at the airport itself. Well, not the real airport. The old one. It’s called Old Kona Airport and it’s been turned into a recreation area, including a dive site where you can even have a great time snorkeling and still see a load of colorful fish. Beginner divers can see eagle rays, lionfish, eels and even the odd octopus if you go exploring the caverns and lava tubes.

Hawaii Dive Resorts

Unsurprisingly, there’s plenty of dive resorts in Hawaii with most of the big chain hotels offering dive packages, so you’ve got your pick of where to go, based not only on where you want to dive but (obviously) what’s going on back on dry land.

If you’re staying in Maui, you have to check out Black Rock, which is one of the best dive sites in the whole state. It’s also popular with snorkelers because there’s just so much marine life to be seen including sea turtles, rays and monk seals, but the diving is excellent too.

It’s actually part of the Sheraton resort, so be aware that you’ll need to go through that to get to the site. If you are visiting Maui, and interested to take Diving classes, we recommend In2Scuba Diving’s Maui Scuba Diving beginner classes.

Best Diving Hawaii

I’ve covered most of the best diving experiences you can have in Hawaii and each of them offers something unique and interesting so I’d recommend you give as many of them as you can a try. Of course, some are definitely for more experienced divers, like the awesomely named Suck ‘em Up Lava Tube, which is called that because it can actually suck you out of the cavern through the exit when the surge is right. It’s a hell of a thrill as long as you’re not new at this.

Another rare experience can be found in Kona at the manta ray night dive, where you can see potentially hundreds of rays feeding at the same time under the cover of darkness, swimming all around you as they do it. The dive organisers are so confident you’ll see them that if they don’t show up, you get offered a second trip for free to try again.

That’s the beauty of diving in Hawaii. There’s just so much of it that you’re bound to see something incredible and spectacular and sometimes if you don’t, you’ll get another go! Plus, you’re in Hawaii and there’s plenty of other sights and attractions to enjoy on dry land

Scuba Diving In Hawaii – Know Before You Go

Hawaii Water Temperature

You’re never likely to get too cold in the waters around Hawaii, with winter temperatures around 77 degrees and summer temperatures getting to around 82 degrees

Best Time to Dive Hawaii

Spring and fall/autumn are the best times to dive in Hawaii because it’s the low season with fewer tourists, calmer waters and better visibility.

Currency in Hawaii

As you’d expect from the 50th state of the USA, it’s the American dollar here.

Entry Requirements for Hawaii

All international visitors, regardless of country of origin, must present a valid passport or secure document when entering the United States, including Hawaii. You’ll also need prior authorization through a visa to enter the country.

Electricity in Hawaii

You’ll need your US two-pin plug adaptors here if you want to plug in any of your devices.

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