Hawaii Scuba Diving – Best 25 Dive Sites

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Scuba diving in Hawaii presents a unique and breathtaking experience for divers of all levels. With clear waters and abundant aquatic life, Hawaii is home to some of the world’s best dive sites. From shore diving to boat dives, Hawaii’s islands offer various options for scuba enthusiasts!

In this article, we will explore the 25 best scuba diving locations in Hawaii, including both popular and lesser-known spots. Whether you are a seasoned diver or a beginner, these dive sites will surely provide an unforgettable experience.

Best Scuba Dive Sites in Hawaii

Big Island

Overall the western coast of hawaii island (the big island) has the most excellent scuba diving.
Overall the western coast of hawaii island (the big island) has the most excellent scuba diving.

1. Crescent Beach 

Crescent Beach near Honokohau Harbor is considered one of the top Hawaii scuba diving locations. This incredible spot presents a variety of diving options, including a popular night dive. 

The clear waters at Crescent Beach provide excellent visibility and a chance to see a wide range of ocean life. Crescent Beach has an abundance of coral growth, making it a colorful and picturesque dive spot. The shallow reef is home to various animals, including Hawaiian green sea turtles and octopuses. 

The gentle slope of the reef makes it an excellent spot for beginners. Meanwhile, the depth of the dive (reaching up to 40 ft) offers a challenge for more experienced scuba enthusiasts. 

2. Manta Ray Heaven 

Manta Ray Heaven is one of the best diving locations in the world to dive with manta rays! This dive location is accessible by boat and just outside Kailua Kona. Its depth ranges from 20 to 30 ft. It is best for certified divers of all certification levels and snorkelers. During manta night dive trips, you’ll have the opportunity to see the beautiful Hawaiian coastline at sunset.

Manta Ray Heaven is popular due to its large population of manta rays, which can be seen year-round. This dive site presents a unique experience as these gentle giants gracefully glide over the reef. Divers can also encounter other aquatic life, such as sharks, eels, and various species of fish. Local resident mantas can have wingspans reaching 16 feet, with “Big Bertha” being one of the largest and oldest identified local mantas.

3. Pu’uhonua o Honaunau

Pu’uhonua o Honaunau, also known as the “place of refuge at Honaunau,” is an excellent location for recreational divers. The site has a maximum depth of around 70ft, thus offering options for both certified and uncertified divers. 

The highlight of the dive is the abundance of turtles that can be spotted throughout the dive location. The diving spot is also home to many corals and sponges, adding to the colorful and picturesque experience. 

4. Honokohau Beach

Honokohau is one of the best dive sites on the Big Island. The site provides a variety of diving options, including shore dives and boat dives. It is accessible to divers of all levels. 

The clear waters at Honokohau provide excellent visibility and a chance to see a wide range of sea life. The gentle slope of the reef makes it a great spot for beginners. However, the depth of the dive (reaching up to 90 ft) offers a challenge for more experienced divers. 

5. Kaiwi Point

Kaiwi Point, also referred to as Makapu’u Point, is a popular drift diving site on the eastern tip of Big Island, Hawaii. The site has a variety of coral growth and an abundance of sponges and sea fans. The unique feature of Kaiwi Point is that it is home to a large population of sea turtles.

In addition, at Kaiwi Point, divers have a great opportunity to see the famous Hawaiian monk seal, known to frequent the area. The site has strong currents, which can make it challenging for some divers but paves the way for drift diving. It also presents a chance for experienced divers to see pelagic species like sharks and dolphins. 

Oahu

Oahu island offers the best wreck diving in hawaii
Oahu island offers the best wreck diving in hawaii

1. YO-257

The YO-257 is an amazing diving spot for certified scuba enthusiasts looking for an exciting wreck diving experience in Hawaii. It is located in relatively shallow waters, with a maximum depth of around 115 ft.

This shipwreck features a former U.S. Navy oiler. In 1989, a submarine tour company deliberately sank the YO-257 with the intention of enhancing the sights on their tour. Over time, it became an artificial reef, making it an excellent diving spot.

It’s now covered in soft coral, adding to the colorful and picturesque experience. This wreck diving location provides a chance to explore a man-made underwater ecosystem.

2. Shark’s Cove

Shark’s Cove is an astounding Hawaii scuba diving site on the island of Oahu, Hawaii. It’s famous for its clear waters and diverse aquatic life. Its depth ranges from 10ft to 40ft, making it suitable for both certified and uncertified divers. 

Shark’s Cove is an excellent spot for snorkeling and diving. It’s also a great place to explore the reef and see various marine creatures. The site has a rocky reef and tide pools that are home to a variety of aquatic life. It also features an abundance of coral growth, and it’s known for its colorful and picturesque views. 

3. Sea Tiger

The Sea Tiger is a remarkable diving spot, and it offers the opportunity for offshore dive locations. During the early 1990s, the Sea Tiger was a Chinese trading vessel that arrived in Hawaii carrying illegal immigrants. After being confiscated by authorities, the ship was cleaned up and ultimately sunk in 1999 to create a reef. 

Found at a depth of around 110ft, the Sea Tiger is now covered in hard and soft coral. It’s a great dive location for certified scuba divers looking for an exciting and unique diving experience in Hawaii. 

4. Turtle Canyon

Turtle Canyon is an amazing diving spot for both beginner and novice divers. The site also offers the opportunity for boat diving, with the boat ride out to Turtle Canyon taking around 15 minutes. 

The reef at Turtle Canyon is approximately 20-45 feet deep and provides a unique diving experience. The site is known for its large lava/rock-encrusted fingers that point out from the shallow shores of Waikiki in a southeastern direction. 

The area between these “fingers” is mostly small rock boulders, coral heads, and sand. The site is not known for its colorful corals, but it is a great spot for viewing turtles in their natural habitat. 

5. Makaha Caverns

Makaha Caverns is a splendid diving spot that offers a great offshore dive location and opportunity for kayak diving and diver propulsion vehicle diving. It’s known for its abundance of wildlife, swim-throughs, and rock formations that divers can spend hours exploring. 

The site features caverns, which means you can do cavern scuba diving, with holes or small ceiling openings offering amazing lighting for photography. The caverns are home to various marine creatures, such as turtles (frequent residents in caves), massive puffer fish, spiny lobsters, and schools of fish. 

The site is accessible to divers of all levels, and taking a boat, kayak, or DPV out to the main cavern site is recommended.

Maui

Diving in hawaii can be enjoyed year-round, with average water temperature between 75-80°f (24-27°c) which reach their peak in september.
Diving in hawaii can be enjoyed year-round, with average water temperature between 75-80°f (24-27°c) which reach their peak in september.

1. Molokini Back Wall and Molokini Crater

Molokini Backwall and Molokini Crater are astounding dive sites. The Backwall of Molokini Crater is a sheer drop reaching 300 feet and is considered one of the most dramatic wall dive sites in the world. 

The site is a remote dive location, only accessible by boat. Although infrequent, it can be prone to upwelling and downwelling, so nitrox should be used with caution to prevent exceeding your maximum operating depth (MOD). It’s a drift dive for more experienced divers, and it’s important to have recent diving experience before going on any drift dive. 

The site grants the chance to see larger pelagic species, and the rare blue dragon nudibranch is seen more at this site than elsewhere in Hawaii. There is also a shark cleaning station, and if you’re lucky, you may see gray reef sharks getting their teeth cleaned by the endemic Hawaiian cleaner wrasse. Drift dives on the backwall make for an incredible experience and should be on every bucket list.

2. Lanai Cathedrals 

The Cathedrals of Lanai are two of the most famous dive sites in Maui County and offer a unique diving experience for those interested in diving in Hawaii. 

Named Lanai’s First Cathedral and Second Cathedral, the two dive sites were formed by lava tubes that have created beautiful underwater “rooms” with natural light coming from all around. Both have overhead environments, areas with temporary darkness, and smaller confined spaces. It is recommended, though not required, to bring dive lights because of that. 

3. Five Caves / Five Graves & Makena Landing

Five Caves/Five Graves is a must-visit diving spot for those interested in diving in Hawaii. The dive site is known for its easily navigated caves, making it an excellent spot for whitetip reef sharks and turtles to sleep. 

The caves are also home to some rare oceanic life, such as the ultra-rare flame angelfish, gold lace nudibranchs, and even the occasional Hawaiian monk seal. The dive is relatively shallow, making it an excellent spot for all levels of divers, and the caves present a unique diving experience that is not found in many other places in Hawaii. 

4. Airport Beach

Airport Beach on Maui is a great diving location for beginner and intermediate scuba enthusiasts. With depths ranging from 25 feet to 47 feet on the outer reef, it offers a great introduction to diving in Hawaii. 

The site is known for its excellent visibility, which ranges from 40 to 150 feet. It’s easy to access, with a 2-minute walk through a grassy picnic area from the nearby parking lot. This makes it a popular spot for introductory scuba diving classes and scuba refresher courses. 

The reef starts just 25 feet from the shore, making it perfect for both diving and snorkeling. The site is home to a colorful reef, turtles, and, on rare occasions, hawksbill turtles. 

5.  Honolua Bay

Honolua Bay is an excellent diving spot, offering a great diving experience for both beginners and intermediate divers. The bay features depths of approximately 65 feet on the outer reaches, making it an excellent spot for those looking to explore deeper waters. 

Access to the bay is easy, with a 5-minute walk through a tropical rainforest-like setting from the parking lot. The site is protected from the south swells that prevail during the summer months, making it a popular spot for both snorkeling and scuba diving. 

Visitors can also drive to the site and enjoy the beautiful underwater scenery without paying extra for a boat tour. The bay can be accessed by traveling north on Highway 31 until mile marker 33, where you will see a small access road on the left.

Moloka’i

Diving on molokai is exceptional because of the vast amount of reef that can be found on our southern shore.
Diving on molokai is exceptional because of the vast amount of reef that can be found on our southern shore.

1. Fish Bowl

Fish Bowl, located in the Pailolo Channel, is a challenging dive site only accessible during ideal weather conditions. Despite the strong currents, the site is well worth the effort for experienced divers. 

At depths of 40 to 60 feet, divers can expect to encounter an array of marine species, including hammerhead sharks, octopuses of various species, lobsters, eagle rays, and a variety of reef fish. Diving in Hawaii is a unique experience, and Fish Bowl is an amazing dive location that provides a chance to see a diverse range of marine creatures in their natural habitat.

2. Fish Rain

Fish Rain is known for its abundance of oceanic life and thrilling diving experience. The site is situated along a pristine reef. It is home to a large school of scalloped hammerhead sharks, which can be observed in their natural habitat. 

Divers will also encounter a variety of other marine species, including barracudas and thousands of fish that resemble raindrops in the water column. The site is considered advanced and requires experienced scuba enthusiasts due to the strong currents and diving depth. 

3. Hole in the Wall

Located just 20 minutes from the center of Moloka’i, Hawaii, the Hole in the Wall diving spot presents a unique and exciting diving experience. The dive spot is particularly close to the Martini wall diving site. Hence, the Hole in the Wall diving site has a similar aquatic life to the Martini wall diving site. 

The depths range from 16-49 feet. Upon arriving, divers will see two rocks on the surface and a third just under the surface. The main rock runs for 427 feet, making it a large site that takes around 40 minutes to swim around non-stop.

One of the highlights of this dive is the hole, a swim-through that is 49 feet long, 10 feet wide, and 5 feet high, creating an overhead environment. Divers may encounter rays or turtles while swimming through the hole. On the deeper section of the dive, divers may see large rays in the sand and even seahorses and nudibranchs if they venture further out.

4. The Cove

The Cove is a popular diving destination known for its diverse marine life and ideal diving conditions. Located off the coast of Moloka’i, it offers depths ranging from 20 to 100 feet. It is home to various sea creatures, such as antler coral trees, butterflyfish, Spanish dancers, hawkfish, pelagic fish, lobster, and sharks. 

The site is protected by a half-circle cove that creates a gentle slope that drops off at 50 feet, making it an excellent spot for novice and experienced scuba enthusiasts.

5. Elephant Rock

Located in the Similan Islands, Elephant Rock is known for its unique shape resembling an elephant’s head. This site offers small caves, arches, and swim-throughs that attract a wide variety of aquatic life. Divers can expect to see different species of sharks, like whitetip, blacktip, and leopard sharks. There’s also a diverse range of fish, such as giant trevallies and barracudas, hunting around large granite boulders. 

Due to its depth of around 229 ft and strong currents, Elephant Rock is better suited for experienced scuba enthusiasts and those with cave diving certifications. The best time to dive here is from October to November. 

Kauai

The diving in kauai is very diverse with a wide range of possibilities.
The diving in kauai is very diverse with a wide range of possibilities.

1. Sheraton Caverns

The Sheraton Caverns is a popular scuba site on the south side of Kauai, Hawaii, known for its partially collapsed lava tubes and stunning swim-throughs. It’s a playground for cavern diving enthusiasts and critters alike, with plenty of nooks and crannies for marine life to hide in. 

The site is home to various marine animals, including green turtles, bluestripe snappers, surgeonfish, white mouth moray eels, conger eels, spiny lobsters, and sharks. The healthy hard coral reef on top of the lava tubes is also an excellent spot for finding octopuses, nudibranchs, frogfish, and harlequin shrimp. 

2. Black Mountain

Black Mountain, near Kipu Kai on the island’s southeast side, provides excellent visibility due to the strong tradewinds that often clear the waters. At depths ranging from 20 to 100 feet, divers can explore the vibrant coral reef and encounter a variety of marine creatures. 

The site is known for its large population of lobsters and an abundance of fish, making it a popular spot for both recreational and experienced scuba enthusiasts. However, it is essential to note that the area can be subject to strong winds. Hence, it is best to check the weather conditions before planning a dive at Black Mountain.

3. Aquariums

The Aquariums dive is located near Nawiliwili Harbor. This site presents a variety of diving options, with depths ranging from 30 to 60 feet. It’s known for its beautiful ledges that start just ten feet deep. Its large boulders are home to abundant aquatic life, including lobsters and octopuses. 

Divers can expect to see a wide variety of fish and other marine animals, making it a perfect spot for both experienced and beginner divers. 

4. Brenneke’s Ledge

The Brenneke’s Ledges dive site is located off the southeastern shore of Kauai. The site boasts a huge lava shelf that runs parallel to the shore for several miles, dropping off into a 90-foot wall. 

The ledge is covered in pink and white cauliflower coral, providing homes for hermit crabs and other small crustaceans. Pincushion sea stars and Triton’s trumpet shells can also be found on the shelf. 

The highlight of the dive is descending the wall and exploring the black coral trees and vibrant orange cup coral that adorn the overhangs. Divers can also spot rare orange-banded cowries, reef crabs, lobsters, banded angelfish, bluestripe snapper, and snoozing reef sharks. 

5. Vertical Awareness, Niihau 

Vertical Awareness is a must-see dive site located off the coast of Niihau, known as the “Forbidden Island.” With steep walls that drop off to depths of 90 feet, divers will be in awe of the fascinating underwater topography. Vertical Awareness is a popular spot to see the endangered Hawaiian monk seals, which are known to be curious and often approach divers for a closer look. This is a “bucket list” dive so be sure to add it to your list!

In addition to the seals, divers can also expect to see various marine creatures, such as manta rays, eagle rays, and various shark species, including whitetips, Galapagos, greys, hammerheads, sandbar sharks, and even the occasional tiger shark. Schools of large game fish such as Mahi, giant trevally, and wahoo can also be spotted here. 

Your Top Questions about Scuba Diving in Hawaii Answered

Hawaii diving
Hawaii diving

1. Is Hawaii a good place for scuba diving?

Hawaii is considered one of the top destinations for scuba diving in the world. With numerous fantastic dive sites, clear waters, and diverse marine life, it’s an ideal location for divers of all levels. 

The Big Island is particularly known for its underwater lava formations, which provide a unique and exciting diving experience. The Manta Night Dive on the Big Island is a must-do for any diver visiting Hawaii. This experience allows divers to witness the graceful and awe-inspiring manta rays feed in the warm, plankton-rich waters. 

Furthermore, Hawaii provides a wide range of diving options, from shallow reef dives to deep-water drift dives. Such locations are excellent for a two-tank dive. 

Shallow reef dive in hawaii
Shallow reef dive in hawaii

2. How deep can you scuba dive in Hawaii?

Most Hawaii scuba diving spots offer depths between 40 and 60 feet. However, there are plenty of sites that allow you to dive deeper than that. A good example is the Molikini wall which can go as deep as 300 ft. Keep in mind that such sites are only accessible to advanced divers. All recreational divers should always stay within the recreational diving limits (130 feet) and closely monitor no decompression limits (NDL) unless trained in technical diving. 

3. What can you see when scuba diving in Hawaii?

Scuba diving in Hawaii presents a unique opportunity to explore vibrant coral reefs and the rich aquatic life of the Pacific Ocean, such as spinner dolphins, monk seals, spotted eagle rays, mantas, green sea turtles, white tip reef sharks, and more. Some of the most common exotic fish sightings include frogfish, eels, and leaf scorpionfish. 

The fascinating underwater topography of Hawaii, with its volcanic islands and reefs, also provides a perfect habitat for a wide range of large marine life. One of the highlights of diving in Hawaii is the chance to see a variety of shark species, including Galapagos sharks, tiger sharks, whale sharks, and reef sharks. You can also see humpback whales during whale season. 

Divers can also experience the thrill of night dives, where the underwater world comes alive with different species of marine life. With its clear waters, diverse marine life, and stunning underwater landscapes, Hawaii is a popular tourist destination, especially for scuba diving enthusiasts.

You'll learn how to navigate in the dark, where the most interesting creatures hang out, and gain night diving tips from your instructor.
You’ll learn how to navigate in the dark, where the most interesting creatures hang out, and gain night diving tips from your instructor.

4. What’s the best place to see green sea turtles in Hawaii?

Laniakea Beach, located on Oahu’s North Shore, is considered one of the best places in Hawaii to see sea turtles. Known locally as “Turtle Beach,” this spot is renowned for its frequent turtle sightings. The gentle waves of the ocean bring the turtles close to the shore, making it easy for visitors to observe these majestic creatures sunbathing or swimming. You can also frequently see turtles at “turtle town” (aka Makena Landing) and Mala Wharf on Maui.

Green sea turtles in hawaii
Green sea turtles in hawaii

5. What’s the best place in Hawaii to go shore diving?

Maui’s south shore offers the best shore diving opportunities in Hawaii, with crystal clear waters and abundant marine life. Popular sites include Maluaka Beach, where divers can explore coral gardens and spot sea turtles and tropical fish. In addition, Ahihi Bay is known for its lava formations and colorful reef. 

The island’s north shore also provides great shore diving experiences, with sites such as Honolua Bay, where divers can see schools of tropical fish and sharks. Kapalua Bay is known for its clear waters and diverse ocean life. 

Black Rock Beach, or Pu’u Keka’a, in the north end of Kaanapali Beach, is another beautiful location to explore when shore diving. Besides that, you can also enjoy a cliff diving and torch lighting ceremony at Black Rock which occurs daily just before sunset.

Maui's south shore
Maui’s south shore

6. How much does it cost to scuba dive in Hawaii?

The cost of scuba diving in Hawaii can vary depending on the location and the type of dive. On the Big Island and other Hawaiian islands, prices typically range from $150 to $250, including gear rental. Private boat charters may also be available and can go as high as $300 per person, depending on the number of divers in your party. 

It’s important to note that prices may vary depending on the dive company and location, so it’s best to check with multiple providers, such as on marketplaces for tours and activities, for the best rates.

7. Which Hawaiian island has the best scuba diving?

With its diverse range of dive locations, the Big Island is considered by many to be the best Hawaiian island for scuba diving. For example, the Kailua Kona coast is renowned for its manta ray night dive, where divers can witness these majestic creatures gracefully gliding through the water. 

The aquatic life in The Big Island is abundant, with a variety of colorful fish and coral, as well as the occasional spinner dolphins and humpback whales. For those looking for a more remote dive experience, the Big Island also presents plenty of secluded diving locations teeming with large marine creatures. 

Nonetheless, each Hawaiian island has plenty to offer. So, you won’t miss out if you visit either. 

8. Is scuba diving better in Maui or Oahu?

When it comes to scuba diving, both Maui and Oahu offer unique experiences for divers. Both islands are home to some of the best diving sites in Hawaii, and it ultimately depends on what you are looking for. 

Maui’s dive sites, such as Lanai Cathedrals and Molokini Crater, are known for their crystal clear waters and abundance of aquatic life, including humpback whales. Oahu, on the other hand, offers remote dive sites that are less crowded and are known for the diverse sea life, allowing divers to see something truly unique.

Aquatic life in hawaii
Aquatic life in hawaii

Scuba Dive in Hawaii with WildVoice

Diving in Hawaii, especially with WildVoice’s top-rated dive tour operators, is an experience not to be missed. As a company, WildVoice is dedicated to sustainability, ensuring that the beautiful underwater world of Hawaii remains unspoiled for generations to come. 

WildVoice also prioritizes customer experience, ensuring every diver has a safe and unforgettable dive. 

If you’re looking for a tour company that cares about the environment and your diving experience, then look no further! Book your dive with WildVoice today, and discover the beauty of Hawaii’s ocean floor.

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