Scuba Diving on Oahu

Oʻahu is famous for its incredible dives to nearly a dozen sunken airplanes and ship wrecks as well as for its amazing reef system that’s home to thousands of fish species only found in Hawaiian waters.

Divers can see into the cockpit of a WWII plane off the shores of Hawaii Kai or explore the Makaha Taverns on the west side and hit multiple dive spots around the isle.

The Taverns are a series of tunnels and lava tubes where colorful tangs, goatfish and other unique species swim through Swiss cheese-like reefs that allow divers to see daylight on the other side as they swim through.

Local dive companies such as Island Divers, Oahu Diving, Aqua Zone, Hawaii Eco Divers and several others offer scuba experiences for beginners and advanced divers, with most dives less than a 15-minute boat ride from launch sites.

Advanced Oahu Scuba Dives

The one natural plane wreck is the Corsair Aircraft that crash-landed in 107 feet of water off the shores of Hawaii Kai in 1948 during a routine mission from Pearl Harbor. Eels love to call the Corsair home now; so if you try to sit in the cockpit proceed with caution. The corsair is more for advanced divers, as are the popular YO-257 and Mahi wreck dives. The YO-257 in less than 100 feet of water off the shores of Waikiki and, like the Mahi off the shores of Waianae, it has developed into an underwater aquarium of active sea life.

Beginners’ Oahu Scuba Dives

Nearly all local scuba companies offer afternoon dives for beginners and morning dives for seasoned vets. A perfect starting point for beginners is Turtle Canyon, a shallow 40-foot dive with reefs coming up to about 15 feet from the surface and just off the shores of Diamond Head. Turtle Canyon has a high concentration of green sea turtles that visit the area as a cleaning station. If you’re lucky, some white tip reef sharks may also visit while you’re down there. Another great site for newbies is the Makai Pier. Often used as a setting in the popular old TV series Magnum P.I., Makai Pier is a shoreline access excursion.

Popular Oahu Scuba Dives

Two other shoreline dives are extremely popular and offer some of the best visibility to see all the sealife: Electric Beach and Kahe Point. Both are located off the pristine waters on the west side. The power plant near Electric Beach causes a rush of warm water, and fish love to hang by the pipes below where warm meets cold. Want to scuba with spinner dolphins? Check out Kahe Point Beach Park. Dolphins feed there at night and come closer to shore in calmer waters during the day.

Two turtles at Electric Beach. Photo: Hawaii.com member Jason S.

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