Scuba Dive Maui

By Hawaii.com Team

Manta Ray Diving - Kona Coast | Big Island Visitors Bureau (BIVB) / Kirk Lee Aeder

Manta Ray Diving – Kona Coast | Big Island Visitors Bureau (BIVB) / Kirk Lee Aeder

At its greatest height, Haleakala towers 30,000 feet from its base on the floor of the Pacific to its summit, 10,023 feet above sea level. That means about two-thirds of the great, slumbering volcano is submerged beneath the sea, its rich store of secrets shared only with folks who find ways to get down under. The view below the surface is breathtaking—living coral reefs, sea caves, large varieties of exotic friendly and not-so-friendly fish, sea turtles, eels and sea caves. Water temperature ranges from 72 degrees in winter to the low 80s in the summer, and on calm days, water visibility can exceed 100 feet.

Maui’s vast underworld—its teeming marine environment—is a natural draw for SCUBA divers. You can set out on your own or book a trip with one of the island’s many SCUBA diving operators. Most offer small-group tours and some offer an array of auxiliary services like retail sales, jeep rentals, instruction and lodging.

The premier dive site on the island has to be Molokini Marine Life Conservation District. This sunken volcanic cinder cone, three miles off the coast of Maui, hosts spectacular marine life and coral formations with high visibility underwater views that have been measured at 160 feet. Just as bike riders queue up at dawn to coast down Haleakala, divers and snorkelers line up at Ma’alaea and Lahaina harbors each day to make the trip to Molokini.

The island itself is off-limits to humans. It’s a bird sanctuary, and there’s no fishing in the marine sanctuary that surrounds the island. But divers and snorkelers are welcome to explore Molokini’s underwater refuge to their heart’s content. The water varies in depth from 10 to 50 feet.

Some people believe the best site is on the backside of the crater where the crowds tend to thin out and 100-foot visibility is common. Other well-known sites are an artificial reef off Mokapu Beach in Wailea called St. Anthony, a pre-contact Hawaiian fishing site called the “85-foot pinnacle,” the Makena area, south of Wailea, La Perouse Bay, and, when the weather is favorable, the Kanaio Coast. The nearby island of Lanai also offers some good diving destinations.

You can travel to Molokini, Lanai and many other dive sites aboard custom dive boats, ridged-hull inflatables, or glass-bottom boats. Most charters include transport, gear, equipment, instruction and lunch.

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