Hawaii is the most exciting diving locale within the US because of its remoteness from the mainland and the exotic nature. Being a tropical volcanic island means that you can see wildlife there that you can’t see anywhere else in the US. Many of the best Hawaii diving sites can be found close to Honolulu on Oahu, but they exist all over the islands. There are so many things to see, from shipwrecks, to whales, to sea turtles.
You can visit Hawaii year round, however, if you’re looking to see whales, peak viewing season is between January and March. You’re more likely to hear than see the whales, but that’s more impressive than it seems! The water temperatures will be between 83 and 76 degrees depending on the season.
The Molokini Wall is one of the most incredible dives on the planet. It isn’t for a beginner though. The dive site itself is 40 minutes from Maui by boat but the experience is worth the trip. The 300 foot high wall was formed during the volcanic eruption that formed the island and it’s home to an incredible variety of wildlife. The reef is absolutely bursting with life, with a lot of big-animal encounters. You can see sharks, colorful reef fish, octopus, eels. Turtles and whales can happen to swim by. Visibility is good, so this is a great spot if you want to take some photographs.
This is a two tank dive, with the first dive being inside the crater, while the second dive is a drift dive on the wall itself. This is for experienced divers only, since the current is pushing you along without a line.
Manta Ray Night Dive
This dive is a must. This is one of the most popular dives in Hawaii right now, which isn’t surprising considering the natural beauty of manta rays. The dive tours actually guarantee that you’ll see manta rays and if you don’t, they offer a free second dive.
The manta rays you’ll see gliding just over your head are feeding on zooplankton. They put on a great show and you’ll likely see hundreds of them on your dive. The way that the rays move in the darkness while feeding is awe inspiring.
If you want to see a wreck, this is your best bet. This oiler served in WW2, the Korean War, and Vietnam, and it’s been sitting on the bottom of the ocean since 1989. The inside of the wreck is accessible because sections have been cut away. This is also a fantastic place to see turtles, who have made the wreck a cleaning station for themselves. If it floats your boat, you can see the Atlantis tourist submarine too, if you time it right.
The Lanai Cathedral dive sites are caverns which have a beautiful light show. Through time, holes have developed in the cavern ceilings that let light in, leading to it being compared to a cathedral. The light streaming in during daytime gives the feeling of being in a church with high stained glass windows. This is a great dive with something for everyone, considering that the depth ranges from 15 to 65 feet. There’s a lot of wildlife to see, like sharks, dolphins, turtles, and once in a while whales.
Black Water Dive
The Black Water Dive is a night dive in the middle of the ocean. You’re tethered on a 50 foot line where the ocean floor is 6000 ft below you. Descending in pitch black darkness, you have the opportunity to see creatures that you would miss during the day. Strange deepwater creatures come up at night and you can see tetrapods, jellyfish, larval octopus, and crabs. You might even see a sea creature that generates its own light, like the Pyrosome. This dive is worth experiencing for the wealth of sea life in these special conditions.