Scuba Diving in Hawaii

By Napua Heen

To divers’ delights, Hawaiʻi’s reefs are home to colorful and exotic fish. Warm temperatures and water clarity that is usually very good make for excellent diving conditions. The Big Island is known for its nighttime manta ray dives off of the Kona coast and vibrant sea life. Some islands, like Kauaʻi and Lānaʻi offer dives into underwater sea caves. On Lānaʻi you can even have a dive adventure that ends in a marriage proposal!

Ocean Ramsey of One Ocean Diving dives down to identify a Galapagos shark during a cageless shark viewing expedition with One Ocean Diving off Haleiwa on Oahu's North Shore.  Photo:  Jamm Aquino/The Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

Ocean Ramsey of One Ocean Diving dives down to identify a Galapagos shark during a cageless shark viewing expedition with One Ocean Diving off Haleiwa on Oahu’s North Shore. Photo: Jamm Aquino/The Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

Dive companies operate tours on the six major islands of Oʻahu, Maui, Kauaʻi, Big Island, Lānaʻi and Molokaʻi. Scuba diving on your own requires a certification process. However, most dive companies in Hawaiʻi offer beginner level dives with a master diver. These dives don’t require certification. If you are already certified, rental equipment and boat charters are available.

Hawaiʻi is a great place to get certified. You may be able to complete your certification in as little as three days. If you’re vacationing, you might consider doing some of the course work prior to arrival and completing your certification with open water dives once in Hawaiʻi.

About one-third of the dive sites in Hawaiʻi are accessible via shore. The other sites require chartering a boat. There are a good number of dives that can be done at depths of about 25-30 ft. with dives up to 160 ft. off of the islands of Oʻahu and Maui and every depth in between.

Some of the sea creatures you might encounter include the honu (green sea turtle), naiʻa (dolphins), puhi (eel), manō (shark), hīhīmanu (sting ray), and koholā (humpback whale).