Scuba Diving in the Big Island: A Diver’s Paradise


Unearth an underwater paradise as you dive deep into the azure waters of Hawaii’s Big Island. A world teeming with vibrant ocean life and captivating coral reefs awaits your discovery.

In this article, we’ll dive into why this volcanic gem is considered a haven for underwater enthusiasts. We will also look into what makes it an absolute must-visit for anyone seeking to explore the mysteries of the deep.

The Allure of Hawaii’s Big Island

Hawaii’s Big Island, the largest in the U.S, is a tapestry of awe-striking landscapes, from sun-kissed beaches to verdant rainforests and active volcanoes. However, it’s beneath the surface where the island truly comes to life. The island’s underseas is a diver’s dream, with a warm, crystal-clear ocean offering visibility up to 100 feet (and sometimes much more!). This makes it an idyllic location for both novice and experienced divers.

What Makes Big Island Diver’s Paradise?

The Big Island is a treasure trove of unique marine life and an underwater safari with enchanting sea creatures. Encounter graceful manta rays, dolphins, and a multitude of tropical fish that color the blue canvas with a spectrum of hues. The island’s waters are also home to five of the world’s seven sea turtle species, offering rare glimpses into their intriguing lives.

Beyond its rich biodiversity, Hawaii boasts water conditions that are nearly ideal for underwater activities year-round, making any time the best time for a scuba dive. Its calm waters offer a sanctuary for beginners to learn and for seasoned divers to explore the deep sea.

Best Scuba Diving Spots on the Big Island

Kealakekua Bay

Scuba diving in the big island
Scuba diving on the big island

Kealakekua Bay is a marine life conservation district and a haven for underwater explorers. It is located 12 miles south of Historic Kailua Village. A white obelisk in Kealakekua Bay State Historical Park commemorates the death of the first Westerner, Captain James Cook. In addition to this historical symbol, the bay is packed with coral gardens and a plethora of sea creatures, which makes it one of the great shore dive sites. 

Pu’uhonua O Honaunau AKA Two Step

Just a short distance from Kealakekua Bay, Two Step is another favorite among Big Island divers. The site’s name comes from the natural “two-step” entry into the water. Here, you may experience a manta ray night snorkel trip on the Kona coast and spot a variety of aquatic life, including green sea turtles and an array of tropical fish.

Also known as the City of Refuge, Pu’uhonua O Honaunau is a historical site that doubles as a fantastic diving spot. With its pristine waters and abundance of marine life, the location is among the best dive sites one should consider.    

Marine Life in Hawaii

Hawaiian islands are home to a diverse array of aquatic life, and scuba divers can encounter a variety of species, including manta rays, dolphins, turtles, and a spectrum of tropical fish. Certain times of the year also bring sightings of larger marine creatures, such as humpback whales.

The island’s marine biodiversity is a testament to the health of its marine ecosystems. As visitors, it’s our responsibility to make sure that our activities do not disturb these delicate environments.   

Scuba Diving Kona: Shark Diving

Kona shark diving
Kona shark diving

For those seeking an adrenaline rush, getting into Kona diving with sharks is an unmissable experience. This thrilling adventure offers divers the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to come face-to-face with the ocean’s most formidable creature. Encounters with Nurse sharks and sometimes Galapagos, sandbars, and even the occasional tiger shark are common. “Laverne” is a famous tiger shark that frequents the Harbor mouth and if lucky, you’ll witness her grace 🙂 

Although shark diving might seem daunting, reputable dive operators prioritize safety and ensure that divers are well-briefed on appropriate behavior. Keep in mind that these magnificent creatures deserve our respect, and any interaction should be conducted in a way that doesn’t harm or stress the sharks.  

Manta Ray Night Dive

The Manta Ray Night Dive in Hawaii is a must-do activity for anyone seeking an unforgettable adventure in the Aloha State. These gentle giants, with wingspans often exceeding 10 feet, perform their elegant ballet, spiraling and somersaulting in search of their nightly meal, tiny plankton and krill attracted to the light.

How to Get Started with Scuba Diving on the Big Island

Scuba diving is an adventure that requires proper training and equipment. For those new to this underwater sport, numerous dive shops across the Big Island offer lessons and certification programs, ensuring you are well-equipped to explore the ocean depths safely. You can choose from a range of courses, from introductory classes to advanced open water courses.

Remember, the ocean is a delicately balanced ecosystem, and as divers, we are privileged visitors. It’s essential to adhere to the principles of responsible diving, ensuring we leave this underwater paradise as pristine as we found it for future generations of divers to enjoy.

Safety First: Scuba Diving Precautions for the Big Island Divers

When it comes to scuba diving, safety should always be the top priority. Even though the Big Island’s diving conditions are favorable, it’s important to be aware of potential risks and how to mitigate them. Before diving, always check the weather forecast and stay out of strong currents and rough seas.     

Ensure your equipment is in good working order, and familiarize yourself with emergency procedures. Diving with a buddy is highly recommended, as it provides an extra layer of safety. Most importantly, never exceed your training or comfort level.

Snorkeling vs Scuba Diving: Which is Best for You?

Scuba diving
Scuba diving

While both snorkeling and scuba diving offer the opportunity to explore the Big Island’s underwater world, they provide different experiences.

Snorkeling is a more relaxed, less equipment-intensive activity that allows you to observe ocean life from the surface. It’s an excellent option for those who aren’t comfortable with the idea of deep diving or for families with young children. 

On the other hand, scuba diving allows you to delve deeper into the ocean, offering closer encounters with marine life and access to underwater lava caves and artificial reefs, beyond the reach of snorkelers. However, since scuba diving is more challenging, it requires proper training and equipment. Ultimately, whether you choose to snorkel or scuba dive will depend on your comfort level, physical fitness, and the kind of underwater experience you seek.

Underwater Photography in Hawaii

Underwater marine life
Underwater marine life

For those with a passion for photography, the Big Island of Hawaii’s underwater world provides countless opportunities to capture stunning images. From the vibrant colors of tropical fish to the majestic grace of manta rays, there’s no shortage of subjects for your lens.

Before you dive with your camera, ensure you’re familiar with the basics of underwater photography. This includes understanding how light behaves underwater, managing movement and buoyancy, and mastering close-up shots. Aside from improving these skills, another key to great underwater photography is patience and respect for the marine environment.

Scuba Gear Rental in Hawaii

If you’re planning a scuba diving trip to the Big Island but don’t want to lug all your gear with you, don’t fret. Numerous diving tours and shops that rent snorkeling gear and other equipment are spread over the island. From regulators and BCDs to fins and masks, you can rent everything you need for your dive. 

Many places also offer packages that include gear rental, boat charter, and a dive guide, ensuring you have everything you need for a successful dive.

Diving Certification in Hawaii

While the Big Island is a great place for advanced divers, it’s also an excellent place to learn. Several dive schools on the island offer certification courses ranging from beginner to advanced levels. Whether you want to try diving for the first time or advance your diving skills, the Big Island has a course to suit your needs.

When is the Best Time to Visit Hawaii For Scuba Diving

While the Big Island offers great diving year-round, certain times of the year can be particularly rewarding. From December to April, humpback whales visit the Hawaiian waters, and divers might be lucky enough to hear their songs underwater.

For those interested in manta rays encounters, these majestic creatures can be seen year-round. However, they are more frequently sighted during the warmer months.

What Are the Best Scuba Diving Spots on the Big Island?

Some of the top spots for scuba diving on the Big Island include Kealakekua Bay, Two Step, and Pu’uhonua O Honaunau. These spots offer excellent visibility, an abundance of marine life, and beautiful underwater landscapes.

Is It Safe to Go Shark Diving in Kona?

Yes, with reputable dive operators, Kona diving with sharks is safe. These operators prioritize safety and provide comprehensive briefings to ensure divers know how to behave around sharks.

How Can I Get a Scuba Diving Certification on the Big Island?

There are numerous dive schools on the Big Island that offer certification courses. You can choose from a range of courses, from introductory to advanced, depending on your comfort level and experience.

Whether you’re seeking an adrenaline-fueled adventure or a tranquil exploration of the underwater world, the Big Island of Hawaii has something for every diver. Dive in and discover the diverse marine life, stunning underwater landscapes, and unique diving experiences that make the Big Island a true diver’s paradise. Let your underwater journey be one of diving, discovering, and delight!

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