Shore Diving in Maui: Where to Go

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Interested in a convenient diving experience and don’t mind carrying your own dive gear? Then, shore diving may be your thing, and there are several incredible shore diving destinations and dive sites in Maui that offer a glimpse into the island’s underwater world. These dive sites are easily accessible and offer an exciting and unique diving experience. 

Shore diving locations are popular choices for introductory dive scuba diving courses, advanced and beginner scuba divers, along with snorkelers. Shore diving is never boring and great for experienced divers visiting the island as well. Some of the best dive sites where you can enjoy this activity in Maui are over rocky entrances rather than sandy beaches so it’s important to watch your step and wear dive booties in these areas. That said you can see abundant coral growth and vibrant ocean life very close to the shore!

So, let’s get into the basics of this experience and what the best shore diving destinations in Maui are. 

Maui under water

What Is Shore Diving?

Shore diving, also known as beach diving, is a type of scuba diving where divers enter the water from a beach or shoreline rather than from a boat. When doing a shore dive, divers typically carry their own scuba gear and walk into the water from the shore. 

Shore dive sites can sometimes be less crowded, less rushed and more intimate than boat diving. So, if you’re looking for a unique diving experience and are comfortable carrying your own scuba gear, this may be a great option for you.

Shore diving
Shore diving

Best Shore Diving Destinations in Maui

1. Mala Wharf 

Mala Wharf, also known as Mala Pier, is one of the best shore diving spots in west Maui, known for its clear waters and easy access. However, it wasn’t always the case. It used to be a functioning pier that was constructed to facilitate the transporting of pineapples and sugarcane from the island. Hurricane Iniki destroyed its dock in 1992. 

Since then, Mala Wharf has become one of the most beautiful artificial reefs on the island and serves as home to colorful fish, white tip reef sharks, and a turtle cleaning station. It offers a shallow Maui shore diving experience with depths ranging from 20 to 30 feet. 

In addition, you can also night dive here if you’re looking for a slightly different experience. Mala Wharf offers spectacular night dives during which you can see spotted eagle rays, eels, sharks, and lobsters, along with other species that tend to be more active at night.

2. Five Caves

Five Caves, also known as Five Graves, is a popular dive site in South Maui, Hawaii, nearby Kihei and Wailea. It has five underwater caves that were formed by lava tubes but have been eroded by the ocean over time, several swim-throughs, and underwater arches that make for interesting exploration.

The area is home to tropical fish, sea turtles, octopuses, and occasionally reef sharks. 

It also has a large population of macro life, such as sea stars and nudibranchs, which are colorful sea slugs. The depth of the dive ranges from about 20 to 40 feet, making it accessible to certified divers of various skill levels.

3. Ulua Beach

Ulua Beach s situated between Wailea and Kihei on the south coast of Maui. It has a large coral reef, where you can observe turtles, octopuses, eels, a variety of fish, and macro life. The reef has several swim-throughs and underwater arches that make for interesting exploration. Nearby, you can also check out a lava flow and a series of small underwater caves.

The depth of the dive site ranges from about 15 to 40 feet, and the area has great visibility, which can reach up to 100 feet on a good day.

4. Makena Landing

Makena Landing is located on the southern coast of the island. It offers a wide range of activities for visitors, including swimming, sunbathing, snorkeling, and shore diving. Its name translates to “abundance,” and you can observe turtles, eels, manta rays, octopuses, schools of colorful fish, and occasionally even dolphins or whales.

The dive site at Makena Landing is accessible from the beach and has a relatively easy entry and exit. The depth of the water ranges from about 10 to 40 feet. So, it’s a great spot for both beginner and intermediate divers.

Makena landing diving
Makena landing diving

5. Ahihi Kinau Natural Area Reserve 

Ahihi Kinau Natural Area Reserve is a protected area on the southwest coast of Maui. The reserve encompasses a large area of protected coastline and is known for its vibrant coral reefs, diverse marine species, and unique underwater topography. It’s specifically known for having healthy coral reefs, beautiful natural light making for great underwater photograph.

The dive site at Ahihi Kinau is accessible from the shore and has several entry points, including a small cove and a rocky beach. Its underwater landscape is quite unique, with lava tubes, arches, and coral formations. The depth of the water ranges from shallow to about 40 feet, with some deeper areas that reach up to 60 feet. This said, you should be comfortable carrying your gear a short walk to the entrance which could take 5-10 minutes (wearing your gear) over a rocky trail so anyone with ankle, knee or back issues may want to skip this dive.

6. Black Rock Beach 

Many deem this to be one of the best shore diving sites along the northern coastline on the west side of Maui. The beach is located north of the popular Kaanapali Beach. It has a sandy beach and a large black volcanic cliff at its end, which gives the beach its name. 

Black Rock Beach offers one of the best shore dives in Maui and is popular with divers and snorkelers. Here, you can see large populations of fish and a wealth of other species like moray eels, eagle rays, and green sea turtles. You can also go night diving and observe nocturnal marine creatures. It also makes for a great night dive and drift dive. Currents can be apparent on this point so going with a dive professional and guide is recommended.

7. Airport Beach

Airport Beach, also known as Kahekili Beach Park, is on the northwest coast of Maui, Hawaii. The dive site has a shallow reef system and is accessible from the beach. The water is typically calm and clear, making it a popular spot for snorkeling and diving.

At Airport Beach, you can see a wide array of sea life, such as green sea turtles, octopuses, eels, and a variety of tropical fish. The depth of the site ranges from about 10 to 30 feet, making it accessible to novel and experienced certified divers. This is a sandy beach entrance with close by access from the parking lot. Kahekili Beach Park also offers showers, bathrooms and limited picnic areas making for a relaxing dive and staging area.

8. Honolua Bay

Honolua Bay is a protected area on the northwest coast of the island. The water at Honolua Bay can be rough, especially during the winter months when the surf is higher. So, it’s best to shore dive here during the summer months when the water is calmer.

The best entry point for shore diving at Honolua Bay is from the rocky beach on the right-hand side of the bay. It offers a range of depths for diving, with some areas as shallow as 15 feet and others as deep as 60 feet. You will need to carry your gear a 10-15 minute walk through an incredible jungle so be prepared for the walk with your gear and hiking back to your car after your dive.

Honolua bay
Honolua bay

Shore Diving Tips to Have a Safe and Sustainable Experience

1. Always Shore Dive with a Buddy

Diving with a buddy is an important safety measure. It can help you prevent accidents and ensure that you have a safe and enjoyable diving experience, especially if you dive on your own as opposed to diving on a tour. Choose a buddy who is adequately trained and experienced and communicate clearly before, during, and after the dive.

2. Check Weather and Tide Conditions

Before heading out for shore dives, check the weather and tide conditions. Never dive if the waves are over 1-2 feet in height. It’s always important to watch the ocean for 5-10 minutes upon arriving to observe the current waves and current along with the entrance and exit which can be hazardous with waves and major tide changes. Be sure to check wind forecasts and current observations. 

3. Plan Your Entry and When You’ll Put On Your Gear

Getting to your entry point with all your gear is the most tiring and challenging part of shore diving. Make sure you and your buddy agree on where you kit up and how you enter, so that you spend the least energy possible. Take your time and take breaks to make sure you are relaxed when you dive in. 

In addition, think about when and how you’ll put on and take off your fins. It’s best to do so in waist-deep water. You can put on your fins while your buddy supports you. However, think ahead of what you may do alternatively if conditions aren’t ideal for that.

On a gradually sloping shoreline, stay close to the bottom until the water is about 3 feet deep. You can then take off your fins and exit. If you have trouble doing so, keep your fins on and crawl out on all fours. Keep an eye out for swimmers and boat traffic, as that can affect your exit, too.

Finally, triple-check all of your dive gear before heading out, and bring spare gear if available. Since you’re diving from the shore, you won’t be close to a dive shop or dive boat. For beginner scuba divers, you can use rental gear, but make sure it’s from a reputable dive shop! 

Shore diving with complete gear
Shore diving with complete gear

4. Before You Get In, Ensure You Can Get Out 

If you are going to shore dive in tidal regions and rocky shores in tidal regions, plan your exit and have a backup plan in case circumstances change. On steep and sloping surf beaches, surf can build significantly when the tide rises. Or ledges that you’ve used may be higher or lower as the tide changes.  

5. Pay Attention to Landmarks

Before you make your entry, observe your surroundings and the landmarks that you can use as guidelines. These can be trees, cliffs, or similar. When those are positioned in a specific way, you can know if you’re at the right place to exit, especially as the tide changes and things may look different.

6. Be Careful with Corals

Corals are fragile and delicate and play a vital role in the local marine environment. They provide habitat and food for a wide variety of marine life and help protect shorelines from erosion. Unfortunately, many coral reefs are dying, and many coral species are endangered. Therefore, it’s important to be mindful of your movements and gear while diving and always use zinc or mineral based sunscreen that is reef safe.

7. Dive with a Dive Flag and Use a Dive Computer

In all of Hawaii, it is required to dive with a dive flag. It’s an important safety measure that alerts boaters in the area that there are divers in the water and can help prevent accidents. Failing to dive with a flag in Maui can result in a hefty fine, court appearance, having your gear impounded and ruin any vacation. 

A dive computer is another important piece of equipment for shore divers. It allows monitoring of critical information related to the dive, including depth, bottom time, and decompression requirements. 

8. Take Guided Shore Dives

If you’ve never had a shore diving adventure or are unfamiliar with the area, consider taking a guided shore dive organized by a local dive shop. This will help ensure a safe and enjoyable experience. Guided shore dives also offer the opportunity to learn more about the local marine fauna.

By following these tips, you can make sure that your shore dives are safe, sustainable, and enjoyable. Always be aware of your surroundings and respect marine biodiversity and the environment. It’s important to remember that we are guests in the underwater world and should always act accordingly.

Take guided shore dives
Taking a guided shore dives

Your Top Maui Shore Diving FAQs

Is shore diving hard?

Shore diving requires divers to be in good physical shape as they need to carry scuba gear, air tank and gear. This can be challenging for some individuals, especially those with back or hip injuries. 

However, with a little extra preparation and planning, it can be a great option for many scuba divers. It allows you to have more control over the dive schedule and explore local dive sites in a more intimate way.

How deep is shore diving?

For shore diving, Maui generally offers a range of depths, generally between 10-60 ft. This makes it a great option for divers of all levels. There are a few sites near Airport Beach that can reach depths of 100+ ft. However, for deeper diving, you’ll need to be on a boat. If that’s what you’re looking for, many dive resorts in Maui offer boat diving trips to deeper dive sites.

What tide is best for shore diving?

The best tide for shore diving depends on the dive site and the conditions. To determine the best tide for a particular dive site, it’s best to check local dive site maps or contact dive shops, dive resorts, or tour providers like WildVoice and ask for advice.

For novice divers, it is recommended to dive at high tide as it requires less walking out with heavy gear. However, it’s important to keep in mind that high tide can also mean more boat traffic and increased wave action. So, it’s always best to check weather and tide conditions before diving.

Best tide for shore diving
Best tide for shore diving

What is ocean diving called?

Ocean diving, also known as open water diving, is the type of diving that takes place in the open ocean. It can be a thrilling and unique diving experience, but it requires planning, preparation, and adequate safety precautions. It’s essential to always be aware of the conditions and to have the proper training and equipment.

Do I need a wetsuit to dive in Maui?

When diving in Maui, it is generally recommended to wear a wetsuit. It will help keep you warm and comfortable, allowing you to fully enjoy your diving experience.

The water temperature in Maui is usually around 75-80 degrees Fahrenheit. So. a 3mm wetsuit is considered standard. However, if individuals run very warm, a “shortie” wetsuit can be used. On the other hand, if an individual feels cold, a 5mm suit is recommended.

It’s always best to check the water temperature before diving and to dress accordingly. Remember to also bring a dive hood if you’re diving in colder waters.

Wearing a wetsuit when diving in maui
Wearing a wetsuit when diving in maui

Can you scuba dive from the shore?

Yes, it is possible to scuba dive from the shore. This type of diving is called shore diving. It is a popular option among divers looking for a convenient, affordable, and more private diving experience. Shore diving offers divers the opportunity to explore nearby gardens of coral and see a variety of marine wildlife, such as hawksbill turtles, eagle rays, reef sharks, and a variety of fish.

In Maui, shore diving is a popular activity, and there are many excellent shore-diving destinations that offer clear waters, diverse underwater life, and easy access. These destinations are considered some of the best diving spots in the world, and many shore divers come to Maui specifically to explore these sites.

It’s important to note that shore diving requires additional preparation and planning, as divers need to carry their tanks and gear. 

What is the golden rule of scuba diving?

Below are key rules you should always keep in mind when scuba diving: 

  • Safety first: Always prioritize safety when diving, and follow safety guidelines and procedures.
  • Never dive alone: Always dive with a dive buddy or in a group.
  • Never hold your breath: Always breathe continuously while diving to avoid dangerous consequences, such as lung overexpansion, oxygen toxicity, and nitrogen narcosis. Continuous breathing also helps you remain calm.
  • Only take pictures: You’re welcome to take pictures of the sea life and the dive site, but always keep in mind not to touch, take, or harm the marine creatures or plants.
  • Only leave bubbles: Leave only bubbles and take only memories. Respect the dive site, the marine wildlife, and the environment.

By following these rules, you can ensure that your diving experience is safe and enjoyable. Remember that diving is a privilege, and we must respect the underwater world.

Shore Diving Maui with WildVoice

WildVoice is a great choice for those looking for an exciting and convenient scuba diving experience. We offer guided tours to a wide range of dive sites, from shallow reefs to deeper waters, making it easy to find the perfect experience for your capabilities and interests.

Our professional guides and staff know the dive sites very well. They can provide valuable information about marine life and dive conditions while prioritizing your safety and wildlife preservation. Book your dive trip today!

Professional guides and staff
Professional guides and staff

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