January 5, 2023 | 10 minutes read
Diving with Sharks in Maui: Everything You Need to Know
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Sharks are some of the most feared creatures on the planet. For many Hawaiian families, however, they are revered. If you’re considering diving with sharks in Maui to witness their magnificence in person, this guide’s exactly what you need.
Here, we will discuss everything you need to know about Maui shark diving, including what species you can expect to see and where you can go for the best experience!
Yes, both swimming and drift diving with sharks is possible. Various species live in the waters surrounding the island and neighboring islands of Molokaʻi, Lānaʻi, and Kahoʻolawe. You can also see other types of marine life here, like spotted eagle rays, dolphins, moray eels, tropical fish, humpback whales, and more.
When diving with sharks, it’s important to remember that these animals are wild. They should always be respected, even when on a dive tour. It is advised to go with a dive professional and guide who have experience diving with sharks.
When at a dive site, always follow safety precautions. It will maximize your chances of having a safe, thrilling, and unforgettable experience.
Also known as shipwreck sharks, they are commonly spotted on drift dives, especially at night. They are often seen in caves and wrecks in Maui and its neighboring island, the island of Molokai.
These sharks are communal and have distinctive white tips on most of their fins. A white tip reef shark usually grows up to 7 ft (2.1 m).
Gray reef sharks are also very common, especially during dives on the southwestern side of the island and Molokini Crater. They have gray dorsal sides and pale undersides, with a distinct white band on their tail.
They can grow up to 6 ft (1.8 m) in length and often hunt in packs.
Tiger sharks typically range from 8 to 10 feet (2.5 – 3 m) in length. They are rarely seen but definitely present, especially at Turtle Town or Maluaka Beach.
They are apex predators and should always be respected. Don’t fret, as they typically do not pose a threat to divers on a drift dive. Tiger sharks typically hunt for “honu” (sea turtles) and can be found hunting after rain storms when visibility is reduced, making turtles an easy target. Shark attacks in Maui are rare; however, Tiger sharks are the primary threat to swimmers when visibility is reduced.
The general rule of thumb is to avoid swimming at dusk and dawn when tiger sharks are hunting and always avoid swimming after a storm when sediment is stirred up, and visibility is reduced. Never swim in “brown water” or if you can’t see the bottom. A swimmer can easily look like a flailing sea turtle, and an investigative “bite” can be lethal to any human being.
Galapagos sharks are rare but can be found near the islands of Maui, Molokini, and Lanai. They can reach up to 9 ft (2.7 m) in length and have a unique color pattern. They have mottled gray or brown-green bodies and white tips on their fins. Galapagos are pelagic sharks that cross the open oceans looking for food. They are also one of the more aggressive sharks as they may have traveled thousands of miles looking for food when they end up in Hawaiian waters.
Though not common, hammerheads (and even scalloped hammerheads) can sometimes be sighted.
Hammerhead sharks have light gray bodies with a greenish tint. They can range from 3 ft to 20 ft (0.9 m to 6 m) in length. Hammerheads have white bellies. This allows them to remain close to the ocean floor and hunt prey undetected. They scan the bottom looking for rays and other marine life embedded in the sand.
You can recognize a hammerhead shark by its T-shaped head. Keep in mind, though, that there are several hammerhead shark species, and each has a distinctive hammer-like head.
Compared to other types, hammerheads have smaller mouths. They tend to travel in schools as large as 100 hammerhead sharks which enables them to get food easier. Meanwhile, at night, hammerheads usually hunt alone.
Due to their unique head shape, hammerheads have unique sensory abilities as well as superior vision and depth perception. They are, however, not typically hostile to humans.
Jump on a boat or a hammerhead charter and travel across the Pailolo Channel for a chance to see schooling scalloped hammerhead sharks.
Pailolo Channel is one of the best hammerhead shark viewing spots. Both Maui shark tours and Molokai hammerhead dive trips are popular there. In fact, Molokai is one of the few places in the world where you can see huge schools of hammerheads.
If you head to Molokai, Fish Rain is a great dive site. Fish Rain is a drift dive that allows you to see a wide range of sea life, including scalloped hammerheads and even dolphins. There are lots of fish in the water column, and they resemble rain droplets, hence, the name. Even if you don’t see a single hammerhead shark, you are unlikely to leave disappointed.
These small, sleek animals can also be seen on shark dives, particularly at the dive site off the coast of Molokini. They often travel in large schools and can reach lengths of up to 6 ft (1.8 m). Black tips exhibit more aggressive behavior when compared to their more docile white tip reef shark relatives.
Though not typically considered a threat to humans, nurse sharks should still be respected. These bottom-dwelling animals can be found in caves and around coral reefs and reach up to 10 ft (3 m) in length.
The Lanai Cathedrals dive site off the coast of Lahaina is a great place to see white tip reef sharks. This site features deep swim-throughs and caves. White tips can often be found resting or searching for food at night.
It’s fun swimming with white tips. In fact, it’s mind-blowing to see them up close!
They can also often be found at popular beginner and advanced dive sites, such as Mala Pier, Molokini Crater, and Makena Landing. If diving Molokini Crater, ask your dive guide to make a stop by the “shark condos,” which are located near the sand channel and towards the southern edge of the crater. The southern “shark condos” sit at a depth of 120 ft which puts any diver close to their NDL (no decompression limit) and should only be visited by more experienced divers with great control of their buoyancy.
Shark diving is allowed as long as it is done with a certified licensed and experienced guide based on the Hawaiian Islands. You’ll also need to have your advanced certification. So, it can’t be your first dive ever.
In addition, it is important to always follow safety precautions and respect the natural behavior of these majestic animals. A moderate physical fitness level is also recommended.
Drift diving the Molokini Backwall is a great place to see white tip reef sharks along with the incredible wall that drops off to 300+ feet.
Shark dives offer the chance to see these impressive creatures up close in their natural habitat. If you’re looking for an exciting underwater adventure, shark diving in Maui should definitely be on your list.
There is no shark cage diving in Maui, Hawaii. North Shore, Oahu, on the other hand, offers both cage diving and cage free snorkeling with tiger and Galapagos sharks.
It is important to remember that shark cage diving can disturb the natural behavior of these creatures and should only be done with a licensed and responsible operator.
The number and types of sharks that can be seen will vary. It will depend mainly on the time of year and location.
However, popular spots often have a healthy population of various types, including white tips and gray reef sharks. There’s also the chance to see tiger and scalloped hammerhead sharks.
It is very possible to spot other marine life while on an advanced dive (or even while you snorkel).
Whale sharks are not resident in the area, and sightings are not common; however, they are spotted from time to time at Molokini Crater and Red Hill. On the other hand, manta rays, which can grow to similar sizes as whale sharks, can often be seen by those who dive Maui waters.
Additionally, humpback whales can be seen in Hawaii during their migratory season from December to April.
It depends on the specific situation. In general, swimming with sharks can be safe if you take the necessary precautions.
Sharks are generally shy animals and will usually avoid humans if possible. However, there is always a risk of being bitten. It is important to be aware of your surroundings and heed any warnings or advisories in Maui County. If you are swimming in an area known to have sharks, be sure to listen to a certified dive professional.
This Hawaiian island is one of the most popular diving destinations in the world, and for a good reason. With its clear water, colorful coral reefs, and abundant marine life, the island offers divers of all levels a wonderful underwater experience.
One of the great things about diving Maui waters is that you can access some amazing dive sites right from the beach. This makes it a perfect destination for a beginner and experienced diver alike.
To dive with sharks, check out dive sites on the western shore of the island. Here are just a few of the best dive sites there:
Located in Lahaina is Mala Wharf, a must-dive or snorkel site for anyone visiting Maui. Mala typically has resident white tip reef sharks within the structure towards the outer part of the dive site (closer to the boat channel).
A short distance from Lahaina, this dive site is known for its impressive array of marine life. In addition to sharks, you can expect to see turtles, eels, and more at Black Rock.
This site is perfect for beginner divers, as it features easy entry and plenty of coral reefs to explore. Makena Landing is also home to a wide variety of fish, including parrotfish, tangs, and triggerfish.
Kapalua Bay is one of the most popular dive sites on the island. It is known for its stunning coral reefs and a large population of fish. You can also expect to see sea turtles and eels at Kapalua Bay.
Maui offers something for everyone when it comes to diving. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced diver, there are plenty of amazing dive sites to explore here. You definitely shouldn’t miss out on this incredible underwater experience.
The best place for diving with sharks is at Molokini Crater at the “shark condos.” This is an extinct volcano that has turned into a marine sanctuary. It is a great place to see sharks, especially white tips and gray reef sharks, as well as a wealth of other sea life.
There is insufficient data specifically related to the island. However, shark attacks are relatively rare. An average of 6 fatalities occur each year in the US.
It’s important to remember that while sharks are often portrayed as aggressive and dangerous creatures, they are actually quite timid and will usually only attack humans if they feel threatened.
For this reason, it is important to always heed the warnings of your dive guide. With proper precautions, diving with sharks can be a safe and exhilarating experience.
There are a few safety tips that you should keep in mind:
Additionally, Hawaii has laws in place to protect sharks from harassment, harm, or capture. It’s essential to observe them. Starting in January 2022, Hawaii’s “no shark fishing” law went into effect to protect its shark population.
The best thing to bring when swimming with sharks is a good-fitting mask, snorkel, and set of fins. More aggressive species are attracted to yellow and bright colors, so your dive operator may advise against these bright colors if you have them with you. When making your way to and from the dive site, a sturdy pair of water shoes is recommended. This will protect your feet from any sharp objects on the bottom of the ocean. For divers, scuba gear is obviously a must.
When swimming with sharks, you should apply reef-safe sunscreen, and don’t forget your towel. You may also want to bring a hat and sunglasses to protect you from the sun while on an adventurous charter.
While not necessary, it can be beneficial to bring a dive computer, especially if you head to deeper dive sites like Molokini Crater, Fish Rain, or Fish Bowl.
Shark dives typically cost between $100 and $300 per person. However, the price will depend on the company you choose. Some companies offer package deals that include private boat charters, which are generally more expensive.
The best time for Maui shark swimming is during the summer months when the water is warm. The visibility is also typically better during this time, allowing for better snorkeling and underwater experiences. The winter tends to bring in more storms which turn up the bottom, decreasing visibility and making it best to stay out of the water. “When in doubt – don’t go out!”
Remember that shark swimming should only be done with a reputable and experienced guide who can ensure the safety of all participants.
Maui offers shark dive and snorkel experiences for both beginner and professional divers.
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When it comes to selecting your wildlife adventure, WildVoice operators are prompt, dependable, and can offer services based on your unique needs. Our goal is to provide you with the greatest possible experience.
Book your trip today to dive Maui waters with sharks!