Five Top Scuba Dives in Hawaii

The waters are always warm in the South Pacific! That’s not the only reason that Hawaii is such a fantastic place to rack up some scuba dives, either: it’s easy to travel here from the States, it’s easy to find a great dive shop in Hawaii, and each of the islands adds a delightful personality to the dive. Once there, it’s becomes dazzlingly easy to island-hop from site to site.

Hawaii holds some great treasures in scuba diving (especially reef and wreck scuba diving), and boasts the kind of dreamlike visibility that reveals them all to scuba diving visitors.

1. Hanauma Bay, Oahu

You’ll be shocked to see such spectacular scuba diving without having to bring a passport. It’s a volcanic crater that’s a state-protected marine sanctuary, so it’s a full-on underwater neighborhood. If you’re planning on doing much scuba diving in Oahu in general, be aware that scuba diving is a summertime activity on the island’s north shore; when the winds come in, the surfers take over.

2. Kingman Reef

Hawaii’s Kingman Reef is not to be mistaken for the non-diveable American marine reserve about 950 miles into Oceania. (If you want to dive there, you’ll need to be with a scientific expedition.) Hawaii’s Kingman Reef is pretty darn cool, too! It’s a series of finger reefs — noted for large game fish, octopus and anemone crabs. Bring your baby-shower gifts: it’s also a major nesting area for white tip sharks.

3. The Wreck of the Sea Tiger

Also on the Town side of Oahu, a hulking old smuggling vessel is inhabited by spotted eagle rays, squirrelfish, filefish and more than a few reef sharks. It’s diveable both during the day and at night. You’ll dodge the submarines and moray eels as you make your way down to the wreck and through its cargo holds, stairwells and passageways. Since antiquity, scores of ships have found their way to the seafloor in the Hawaiian islands; if the Sea Tiger whets your appetite for wreck scuba diving, there’s plenty more to explore!

4. Five Caves, Maui

Nestled next to a sunken volcano, Maui’s Five Caves dive site offers turtle-filled crevasses with depths to 130 ft. Its previous name was “Five Graves,” but the local dive shops in Maui have begun to refer to the site more scientifically in the past few years. Try to get someone to tell you the story as you make your way to the entrance!

5. Tunnels Reef, Kauai

The most back-to-the-land of the Hawaiian island, Kauai, has a delightfully slow rhythm. You wouldn’t expect to find such modern, well-run dive shops on Kauai, but they’re there! Tunnels Reef is a more advanced dive site than many others in Hawaii — you’ll first need to make it over the lava shelf, and then you’ll need help navigating to the lava tubes. If you want to see sharks, you can: you’ll just have to go farther afield.

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