Scuba Diving in Hawaii

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Scuba Diving Locations - Scuba Diving in the USA
Wednesday, 17 December 2008 23:27

Very few people can think of Hawaii without picturing themselves scuba diving in the crystal waters and taking in the wonderful sites of the abundant marine life and the awesome underwater topography and lava formations created when these volcanic islands sprouted forth from the ocean.  To many serious scuba divers, Hawaii is among their top picks for places they truly want to dive.  While there are eight main islands that people generally think of when they want to scuba dive, there are actually one hundred and thirty two islands that make up the state of Hawaii.  This means that there are actually more diving experiences out there waiting to be discovered then you would have initially thought.


Hawaii Diving Map

Hawaii Diving Map


Because of the wide range of underwater environments that can be dived in Hawaii (reefs, caverns, lava formations, etc), you may decide that you want to spend each day focused on a specific type of area, or you may just one to focus on a specific region.  Whatever your choice, the easiest way to get around and to find the best diving locations is to contact one of the local diving centres to make sure that you find what you are looking for.  A point of interest is that some divers in Hawaii enter the water at the shoreline because it is such an easy way to dive quickly; however, to truly experience the majesty that can be found underwater in Hawaii you will want to do a boat dive.  This way you can get as far out as possible and not have to worry about tide currents and their effect on the shoreline.  


Wrecks to Explore in Hawaii

The island of Hawaii is home to a few different wreck sites, some created as artificial reefs and some that occurred during other circumstances and have been turned into wonderful diving locations. 

One such interesting dive spot is the Corsair Plane that is located on the southern side of Oahu.  The plane came to be a part of the underwater scene in Hawaii after a pilot was forced to abandon his aircraft when he ran out of fuel in 1946, and it has been there ever since.  This wreck is approximately one hundred feet underwater (thirty two meters) and is almost completely intact, which is a rarity.  The marine life has adapted well to this wreck and you can see orange sponge, antler coral, turtles, eagle rays, and anglerfish, as well as many others.


The Cosair Plane Wreck

The Cosair Plane Wreck


The YO-257 is another wreck dive that can be found in Oahu, although this one was created on purpose when the elderly ship was sank near Waikiki in 1989.  However, because it was meant as an artificial reef, it was also prepared for divers and offers a variety of interesting penetration dives, as there are holes cut throughout the ship for access.  The ship sits upright and is a very interesting site to visit whilst underwater.  The wreck of the San Pedro is approximately fifty yards away and it was also put in as an artificial reef site in 1996.  The site is full of marine life and other activity; it is an extremely popular dive site in Hawaii and there is even an Atlantis submarine that passes overhead on its tour.

In Maui there is an interesting wreck, a remnant from World War II.  The remains of an F 6 F Hellcat came to rest in approximately thirty feet of water just off of the southern coast near Kihei.  The plane is upside down and the engine was torn from the wreck on impact and lays approximately twenty yards away.  There is not much marine life in the area, and the wreck may not be possible to access at all times because of the weather conditions in the area, but it is an interesting dive site for history buffs.

One of the more advanced wreck dives in the area is the Kahala Barge off the coast of Oahu.  This wreck was purposefully sank to create an artificial reef, and as such it allows divers a lot of access to the ship, including the pilot house.  The area offers up to one hundred feet of visibility, and the wreck itself sits just two hundred and fifty yards off the coast, making it accessible from the shore.  However, the wreck is considered to be advanced because of the strong currents that can cause problems.  This is especially true when one considers the potential risk of snares on penetration dives, on the jagged edges of the ship for example.


Best Time of the Year to Dive in Hawaii

Since Hawaii has warm weather all year long, you can potentially dive there at any time.  The tourist traffic tends to be the heaviest during the summer months, so those wishing to avoid the crowds should probably visit from November to April, when the water temperature is still a reasonable 24°C/75°F.


Notable Diving Locations in Hawaii

A diving location that is interesting for a range of divers, from the novice to the advanced, is the Black Rock off Oahu’s eastern shore.  The site is interesting because it is a wall dive that runs down until you find a breach in the wall and can enter a cave that is almost one hundred feet long.  There is easy access to the cave, and divers can readily find areas that let them have different access points to the inner cave.  There are quite a few interesting varieties of marine life down at the dive site, but you have to be careful when diving in such an enclosed area as stirring up the sandy bottom can create difficulty with visibility.

Another interesting cave penetration dive can be found off Maui’s western shore and is known as the Five Graves and although the site is recommended for both beginners and advanced divers, the entrance can be a little difficult.  So, if you are a novice diver, be sure to go with a group so that you can get assistance from your dive guide if necessary.  This site is interesting because of the interconnecting caves and arches that you can swim around in, and you will need to have a flashlight if you want to be able to see everything that these lave formations have to offer.  There is a variety of marine life and you should be able to see conger eels, turtles, octopus, lava tubes, lobsters, reef sharks, eagle rays, and frogfish.


Five Graves, Hawaii

Five Graves, Hawaii


Because of the area and the interesting underwater topography that forms much of it, there are a variety of good cavern dives available.  This includes the Mauna Lani Caves that are located just north of Kona.  This cavern system is also known as the Haunted Caves and can provide divers with an interesting experience.  The caves themselves are interwoven among the coral formations and are in somewhat shallower waters as they are only about twenty feet down on average.  These caves range in size and shape and offer divers a good look at a huge array of marine life as well as two different underwater environments (the caverns and the reef).  However, even though they are near the shore, it is not recommended you attempt to access them this way as it is a resort area and there can be problems in trying to manoeuvre through the pedestrian traffic with all of the scuba gear in tow.  Many opt to enter the water by anchoring their boats to the buoys that rest on the water just above the cave system.  


Types of Marine Life in Hawaii

A brief overview of the marine life and fish species that you can hope to see while diving in Hawaii include wrasse, rabbit fish, moray eels, white-tipped reef sharks, green sea turtles, tangs, trumpet fish, eagle rays, manta rays, orange sponge, coral, anglerfish, conger eels, octopus, lava tubes, lobsters, frogfish, trigger fish, whales, bottle nosed dolphins, starfish, shells, spinner dolphins, moorish idols, spotted puffer fish, crabs, reef fish, and a variety of other fish and marine life that are native to the area but too numerous to be mentioned here.



A Rabbitfish



Hawaii Diving Fact Sheet

Average Air Temperature:        27°C – 31°C (80°F – 90°F)

Average Water Temperature:    24°C – 27°C (70°F – 80°F)  

Recommended Exposure Protection:  A 3mm – 7mm suit

Average Visibility:  For many areas of the islands, visibility is extremely good and can range up to 35 meters (approximately one hundred and twenty feet).

Coldest Times:    November to April

Hottest Times:    May to October

Best Times to Dive:  The diving in Hawaii is good all year long and is not restricted to a specific season because of colder weather.  However, many serious divers may choose a time when they would avoid a lot of the tourist traffic in the area because this makes the dives easier and more accessible.  

Worst Times to Dive:  There really isn’t a “bad” time to dive on the Hawaiian Islands.  You can go year round and enjoy a variety of fish, exploring coral reefs, and diving through wrecks.


Hawaii Diving Video


Recommended: Hawaii Tours


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