It’s the quintessential tropical vacation destination and, at more than 3219 kilometres/2000 miles from the nearest continental landmass, one of the more remote places on earth. Made up of hundreds of islands stretching across the central Pacific Ocean, four main islands stand out for most tourists – Oahu, where Honolulu is located, Maui, Kauai and the eponymously named Big Island of Hawaii. That remoteness pays off with some of the most pristine scenery, cleanest air and unique marine creatures on the planet. But, the US’ diminutive 50th state is also a land of contrast, from the fire of lava to the ice of snow-capped volcanoes, farmland and cities, waterfalls and sandy beaches. In short, it’s a Pacific paradise, particularly so for divers.
- O’ahu – The wrecks of the YO-257 and the San Pedro run parallel approximately 36 metres/120 feet apart. The Atlantis Submarine often visits and divers can interact with submarine passengers. The Sea Tiger, off Waikiki, is reputed to be a former smuggling vessel. She rests in 36 metres/120 feet of water and divers often see spotted eagle rays, puffer fish and frog fish, with green sea turtles also making an appearance. Summer’s calmer surf opens up famous North Shore dive sites such as Shark’s Cove and Three Tables to divers. There are also many other shore dives on O’ahu. The most popular include Makaha Caverns and Electric Beach.
- Maui – Black Rock is one of the most popular dives here but many hotels along the Ka’anapali coast have great house reefs. With eagle rays, turtles and schooling fish, they're great for taking photos. Keep an eye out for Hawaii’s state fish –the humahumanukanuka'apua'a, also known as the Lagoon Triggerfish. Molokini Crater is just a 30-minute boat ride from Maui. Many species of fish, eels, and the occasional manta ray inhabit the crater’s interior, which is a marine protected area. Molokini’s backside has deeper water and occasionally strong current attracts larger pelagic animals like mantas, sharks or whales. There are several fun wrecks off Maui. Two of the most popular are the St. Anthony (located off of Kihei) and the 30-metre/100-foot long Carthaginian, just south of Lahaina. Both wrecks were sunk as artificial reefs and have become home to green sea turtles, schools of damselfish, surgeonfish, goatfish and butterfly fish.
- Lana’i – Lana’i is known for its superior visibility and cavern diving. Cathedrals I and II are the most popular sites and your boat charter will likely take you to one of them. Plus, if you love to find new fish or see rare invertebrates, Lana’i is your place. While it's possible to stay on Lana'i, most dive charters depart from Lahaina, Maui. The crossing takes 30-45 minutes and, during winter months, you’ll likely see humpback whales.
- Moloka’i – Moloka’i offers a rare opportunity to visit pristine sites and spot rare animals. Most of these drift dives range from 18-36 metres/60-120 feet in depth. Popular dives include Fish Bowl, Deep Corner and Fish Rain. Most offer shallow and deep sections with plentiful sea life and the chance to see larger pelagics, such as hammerhead sharks, and rare Hawaiian Monk Seals are known to make appearances.
- Hawai’i – Some describe the manta ray night dive off Kona as otherworldly because nothing compares to kneeling in black water while giant manta rays soar above your head. It’s serene, beautiful and gets your pulse pounding all at the same time. Once you’ve checked your manta ray dive off the list, take in some of the Big Island’s more than 50 dive sites. Famous for underwater lava formations, the Big Island also features turtles, a variety of eels and many endemic Hawaiian fish. Divers with relevant experience may be interested in a pelagic blackwater dive featuring mysterious deepwater creatures that swim up from the depths at night. Top shore diving spots include Two Step, Honokohau Harbor, Mile Marker 4, Old Airport, Kamakahonu Beach and Keauhou.
- Kaua’i – Divers can access the south shore year-round by boat and take in some great dive sites. A collapsed v-shaped lava tube, Sheraton Caverns, is home to many Hawaiian green sea turtles. At Turtle Bluffs, you drift along and see sand caves along with white-tip reef sharks and turtle cleaning stations. Koloa Landing, home to the dragon moray eel, is one of the best shore diving spots. It offers easy access and you can dive it nearly year round. Prince Kuhio’s is another great spot that offers an abundant supply of Hawaiian green sea turtles that aren’t afraid to have their pictures taken. You can only dive Anini Beach during summer months but it offers great reefs and abundant marine life all at a maximum depth of 14 metres/45 feet. Tunnels Beach gets its name from a series of collapsed lava tubes both on the inner and outer reefs. Known for geologic structure, turtle cleaning stations, octopus and even white-tip sharks, this site doesn’t fail to impress.
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Visibility – Generally 10-30 metres/35-100 feet plus, depending on conditions.
Water Temperature – A comfortable average of 23-27°C/74-80°F overall, towards the cool end of this range in winter and warmer in summer.
Weather – Generally tropical, but temperature and climate can change dramatically depending on where you are located on a particular island.
Featured Creatures – You'll see white-tip reef sharks, giant green sea turtles, moray eels, slipper lobsters, reef fish and hundreds of other critters at dive sites around the islands. In some locations, morning dives offer spotted dolphin sighting opportunities. In winter, you can see migrating humpback whales topside and even hear them sing when you’re underwater.
Recommended Training – Take the PADI Boat Diver, PADI Deep Diver and PADI Wreck Diver courses for diving on the deeper wrecks. The AWARE - Fish Identification course is also a good choice to help you identify the many unique species.
Note - Travel to any destination may be adversely affected by conditions including (but not limited) to security, entry and exit requirements, health conditions, local laws and culture, natural disasters and climate. Regardless of your destination, check your local travel advisory board or department for travel advice about that location when planning your trip and again shortly before you leave.
Language – English.
Currency – US dollar. Credit cards are widely accepted.
Major Airports – Honolulu International Airport is the main international gateway, with Kahului Airport on Maui, Kona International Airport on the Big Island, and Lihue Airport on Kauai receiving both international and interisland flights.
Electricity and Internet – 110-120 volt, 60hz. Internet is widely available.
Topside Attractions – From fabulous beaches and volcanoes to all the attractions of the metropolis and the opportunity to escape to a remote waterfall, Hawaii has a great deal to offer. Don’t miss the USSArizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor.