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A Helpful Guide to Scuba Diving in Hawaii

Exploring Hawaii’s underwater realms offers an exhilarating experience that is both unique and breathtaking. The islands’ volcanic origins and isolated geographical location in the central Pacific make them a premier destination for underwater adventures. The best time to visit for scuba diving is during the summer, from May to September when the waters are calm, and the visibility is at its best.

From the majestic migrating humpback whales to the best scuba diving in Hawaii, you will have an unforgettable experience.

The Hawaiian archipelago consists of 137 islands spreading over 1,500 miles, with the state being the only U.S. territory outside North America. The main islands for top-tier scuba diving in Hawaii include The Big Island, Oahu, Maui, Molokai, and Kauai. Each offers diverse diving opportunities with sites easily accessible from significant points like Honolulu on Oahu, ensuring a thrilling dive experience regardless of where you choose.

Among these, The Big Island is the best Hawaiian island for scuba diving. It is particularly famous for diving in Kona, where the clear waters offer high visibility. Not far behind, Oahu boasts the iconic dive sites near Honolulu, allowing divers to explore shipwrecks and encounter large pelagic fish. Maui is another favoured destination, where the crescent-shaped Molokini crater offers a protected sanctuary bursting with marine life.

For those seeking the best scuba diving in Hawaii, look at the extensive choices available throughout the islands. Each island caters to different levels of diving experience, from beginners to advanced divers. Whether it’s the dramatic underwater landscapes of Kauai or the vibrant ecosystems of Maui, Hawaii holds a treasure trove of dive sites that offer the ultimate diving escapade tailored to every diver’s dream.

The Best Scuba Diving in Hawaii, We Reckon

Scuba diving in Hawaii along the southwest coast of Kona on the Big Island and near Honolulu on Oahu can be tremendous. These prime locations feature exceptional underwater landscapes and are conveniently close to various accommodations and transport facilities, providing a seamless diving experience. This accessibility makes them among the most frequented dive spots in Hawaii.

Hawaii boasts some of the best shore diving globally. Many diving sites are available both by boat and directly from the shore. Each site offers a unique dive experience, populated with vibrant marine life and spectacular coral formations, making Hawaii a top destination for divers worldwide.


Scuba diving in Hawaii, particularly around Oahu, offers some of the region’s most exciting wreck diving opportunities. Oahu alone has at least ten wreck sites accessible to recreational divers. Among the most famous is the Corsair aeroplane wreck, which plunged into the ocean in 1946. Nearby, divers can explore the YO-257 and San Pedro wrecks, which the Atlantis Submarine Company intentionally sunk less than 100 feet off Waikiki’s coast. 

These sites have transformed into thriving artificial reefs, with marine life like eagle rays, pufferfish, frogfish, and numerous turtles. Another notable site is the Sea Tiger wreck at Waikiki, situated at 120 feet and ideal for penetration diving. An underwater strobe can significantly enhance the visualization of vibrant colours in these deep waters.

For a truly distinctive experience, Oahu’s North Shore is the place for shark cage diving, a highlight of Hawaii scuba diving.

The waters around Hawaii are populated with approximately 40 of the world’s 140 shark species. Scuba divers can expect thrilling encounters with species like the Galapagos, sandbar, and tiger sharks, along with occasional sightings of blue, silky, or hammerhead sharks. These unique encounters are sure to pique the interest of any diver. 

Maui & Molokini

Maui, renowned for its stunning scuba diving locales, offers an array of exciting underwater adventures, including several notable wreck dives.

The St Anthony and the Carthaginian are popular dive sites within recreational limits. Having been deliberately sunk to create artificial reefs, these shipwrecks teem with vibrant marine life. Fish here include large schools of damselfish, surgeonfish, goatfish, and butterflyfish, making them prime spots for underwater photography and marine observation in Hawaii.

Adding to the allure of scuba diving in Maui, a short 30-minute boat ride brings you to Molokini Crater. This semi-submerged volcanic crater doubles as a Marine Life Conservation District. This unique location is brimming with colourful reef species, such as Hawaii’s official state fish. 

Divers at Molokini can explore the crescent moon-shaped crater’s inner reef for these vibrant creatures or venture to the Back Side, known for attracting larger pelagic species. During the winter months, this area becomes a hotspot for observing migrating humpback whales—an unforgettable sight that underscores why Maui offers some of the best scuba diving in Hawaii.


Distinguished by its captivating western shoreline, Kona is undeniably the epitome of scuba diving in Hawaii. It boasts an impressive selection of over 50 dive sites. Among these remarkable locations, one standout experience that shouldn’t be missed is the captivating nighttime encounter with manta rays.

Considered one of the best dives in Hawaii, this breathtaking adventure allows divers to witness dozens of majestic manta rays gracefully gliding through torch beams, feeding on plankton attracted by the shore lights of Kona’s beach resorts.

Beyond the mesmerizing manta ray encounters, Kona offers many incredible experiences for underwater enthusiasts. Divers can explore fascinating underwater lava formations, indulge in the unique thrill of blackwater diving, and enjoy delightful encounters with sea turtles. Popular dive sites in Kona include Eel Cove, Turtle Pinnacle, and Long Lava Tube. 

Blackwater dives entail venturing into the ocean’s depths at night, where the magic of biochemistry manifests itself. Witness hundreds of larval stage critters rising to the surface, accompanied by intriguing creatures like squids and unusual jellyfish. These extraordinary experiences are a captivating dimension to the astounding scuba diving in Kona, Hawaii.


Lanai, a hidden gem of scuba diving in Hawaii, offers a haven of exploration through its captivating caves and caverns. Viewed via a scenic 45-minute crossing from Maui, Lanai’s underwater world showcases remarkable visibility, allowing divers to immerse themselves in its beauty fully. This secluded island is renowned for its diverse marine life, boasting an array of unique fish and invertebrate species, making it a must-visit destination for the best scuba diving in Hawaii.

Among Lanai’s numerous dive sites, Cathedral I and Cathedral II are the most popular. You can reach these magnificent chambers through awe-inspiring vaulted arches, providing the right amount of natural light for tube corals and sponges to thrive on the large boulders scattered across the seabed. Combining the grandeur of the caverns and the vibrant marine life that calls them home creates an enchanting and unforgettable underwater experience in Lanai.

Discovering the hidden treasures beneath the waters surrounding Lanai offers divers an opportunity to witness the unique allure of this exotic Hawaiian island. With exceptional visibility, captivating formations, and an abundance of intriguing marine species, Lanai truly stands as a paradise for those seeking the best scuba diving in Hawaii.


Molokai, blessed with a pristine and vibrant reef, is a haven for *scuba diving in Hawaii*. Dive enthusiasts can explore many fantastic dive sites with varying depths that transition from shallow coral formations to breathtaking walls. Embracing the thrill of drift dives, divers have the opportunity to encounter elusive aquatic species like the Hawaiian monk seal and awe-inspiring hammerhead sharks. 

In Molokai, famous sites such as Fish Bowl, Fish Rain, and Deep Corner capture the imagination with abundant marine life. These dive sites brim with an array of smaller fish species, creating a bustling underwater ecosystem that is both captivating and diverse. The waters of Molokai conceal rare and unique marine animals, making each dive an adventure filled with unforgettable encounters.


Scuba diving in Kauai unveils captivating encounters with Hawaiian green sea turtles, offering a mesmerizing experience at renowned sites like Sheraton Caverns and Prince Kuhio’s. These locations boast an abundance of these magnificent creatures, seemingly unperturbed by the presence of divers and their cameras. Another noteworthy spot, Turtle Bluffs, is home to several cleaning stations where turtles and whitetip reef sharks gather. 

Impressive terrestrial formations in Tunnel Beach provide opportunities to observe octopuses. Diving in Kauai is made even more special by the enchanting songs of humpback whales, which you can often hear underwater during dives. If you are lucky, you may glimpse these majestic giants. For an unforgettable experience, if conditions permit, you should take advantage of a trip to nearby Niihau, as it offers some fantastic Hawaiian scuba diving.

What is The Best Time to Go Scuba Diving in Hawaii?

The good news is that you can enjoy scuba diving in Hawaii year-round. The tropical climate ensures consistently pleasant water temperatures, with September being the peak month in terms of warmth. However, if you prefer to enjoy your dives with fewer crowds and a more serene environment, September and January are typically the least crowded months in Hawaii. 

Whether you want to explore the underwaters of Hawaii in the summer, winter, or any other season, you can expect a fulfilling diving experience thanks to the favourable climate and abundant marine life. 

Thermal and Experience Level Info

  • Water Temperature: 75-80°F (24-27°C)
  • Visibility: 75-100 ft (25-30m) can vary depending on rainfall and run-off.
  • Depth Range: 10-130 ft (3-40m)
  • Recommended experience levels: There are sites and locations that are suitable for all levels and snorkellers alike.

Getting to Hawaii

Honolulu’s main gateway for scuba diving is the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL) on Ohau. However, international flights also arrive at Kahului Airport (OGG) on Maui and Lihue Airport (LIH) on Kauai. For travellers flying from Los Angeles, the best deals on flights to Honolulu can often be found, although direct flights are available from various other North American cities. European flights typically have U.S. connections, while Asian flights commonly connect in Japan.

Once you’ve arrived in Hawaii, several options are available for transportation between the islands. Domestic flights provide convenient connections, and inter-island ferries offer an alternative mode of transportation.

However, it’s important to note that flights during peak seasons may be expensive, so planning and considering travel alternatives can help manage costs and ensure a smooth journey to your desired diving destination in Hawaii.

Vegan and Plant-based in Hawaii

Hawaii is incredibly inclusive, and you will have no trouble finding plenty of healthy food that fits your preferences during your stay. Whether you stay resort-based or prefer exploring food options, there are loads of great menus out there, ready to get your teeth into. For more information regarding vegan options in Hawaii, get in touch.

To Wrap it Up

Hawaii is home to some of the world’s most iconic scenery, snorkelling, and scuba diving. It is convenient to get to from many locations and offers an array of inclusive options for your travel. Whether wrecks, or mantas at night take your fancy, add Hawaii to your list for an upcoming scuba holiday.

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