Find the Best Dive Spots

By Team

Hanauma Bay, Oahu. Photo: Lara Snydal-Mijatovich.

Hawaii’s underwater landscape is unique thanks to the lava that has poured into the ocean for centuries, creating an underwater topography extraordinaire. The lava tubes, arches, caves and caverns, canyons, crevices and pinnacles, as well as sunken vessels, provide for great diving opportunities. Add warm water, high visibility and an abundance of reef fish and sea creatures, and you can look forward to an awesome dive.

If you’re a certified diver, there are several options available on Oahu. You may rent equipment at a number of dive shops and venture out on your own, or you can arrange for a chartered excursion. Local professionals know where the best dive sports are and what conditions are suitable at certain times of the year. Many of the island’s best dives are offshore, so your best bet might be to book a dive boat.

If you aren’t certified and want to learn to dive, take an introductory dive or “resort course.” This dive is offered by most dive shops and takes about half a day. It can range from a simple shallow water beach or pool dive, to a deeper boat dive. The course begins with some serious instruction, learning the rules of the deep and getting comfortable with the seemingly ungainly equipment. It is usually a two-tank dive, no deeper than 30 feet with no more than four divers per instructor. The intro dive is a relatively inexpensive way to discover your aptitude and interest levels. Aqua Zone offers a free scuba clinic for people 10 and older.

Intriguing dive spots on Oahu include Kahuna Canyon, near Mokule’ia on the North Shore, where the walls of the canyon rise steeply from the ocean floor to create the illusion of a subterranean Grand Canyon. Off Ma’ili Point, just south of Wai’anae on the West Shore, lies the wreck of the Mahi, a sunken 185-foot mine sweeper.

Just outside Waikiki is a dive spot off Ala Moana Park known as Rainbow Reef. The reef is accessible from the shore or boat and the fish are used to being hand-fed. Hanauma Bay, though crowded, offers good diving conditions most of the time and is accessible from the shore as well as by boat. Oahu’s south shore features a cluster of great dive sites, all accessible by boat only. Check out sites like Fantasy Reef, Big Eel Reef, Turtle Canyon, Kahala Barge and Hundred Foot Hole.

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