Hawaii has some of the best temperatures, making for a perfect scuba diving trip. The Pacific Ocean rarely dips below 76 degrees in Honolulu, even in the winter months. On average, you can expect to experience water temperatures of 80 to 81 degrees, especially during the months of July to September.
Additionally, the air temperature is soothing, staying at a modest 80 degrees the majority of the year.
Are you planning a dive trip? What’s some of the best scuba diving in Hawaii?
Luckily for you, the options are aplenty. You can dive off the coast of the Big Island or stay central in Honolulu. Or, you can do it all, taking day trips here and there all over this beautiful state.
Without further ado, here are some of the top spots worth considering.
1. Ko Olina, Oahu
This pristine dive spot in Oahu is phenomenal. Here, you’ll explore world-renowned reefs from a respectable distance. The coast of Ko Olina offers plenty of wildlife, ensuring your trip is anything but boring.
Diving Oahu is a must-do for newbies and connoisseurs alike. There’s nothing like watching spinner dolphins, turtles, and humpback whales in their natural habitats.
You can also find tons of wrecks, both ship and plane, to dive in Oahu. Many wrecks are sunk on purpose to create artificial reefs. One, in particular, was not—the Corsair Plane Wreck.
Sitting at depths of about 107 feet, this dive is not for beginners. This WWII plane ran out of fuel mid-flight, causing the pilot to ditch. What you see now is a perfectly intact plane wreck in excellent condition, featuring a cockpit gauge that still has its glass intact.
Keep your eyes peeled for the elusive garden eel if you attempt this deep dive.
2. The Golden Arches
This dive site is located on the famous Big Island. The Golden Arches are lava arches beneath the sea, surrounded by schools of fish.
Expect excellent visibility here, allowing you to witness all the wonders this dive site has to offer. You can also expect to see plenty of healthy corals here, providing a scenic backdrop to the arches. You may even come across dozens of manta rays if you’re lucky!
Getting here is easy—a quick, 25-minute boat ride from the shores will have you arriving at this 60-feet-deep location.
3. Molokini’s Back Wall
This spot is well-known and well-respected, for good reasons. It’s a breathtaking landmass that features a volcanic edge, half in and half out of the water. From the surface, enjoy the sights of this massive wall that rests between Makena and Kaho’olawe.
Or, take your adventure underneath the surface and enjoy some of the best scuba diving in Hawaii.
Since Molokini is primarily rock, there’s little to no sand or sediment clouding up the water around it. This provides unmatched visibility for divers and snorkelers. Plus, this crater is home to an astounding 250 marine creatures, including things like:
- Yellow tang
- Moorish idol
- Whale sharks
- Bluefin trevally
Expect colonies of antler coral, dozens of fish, and 80-feet visibility.
4. The Cathedrals in Lana’i
Keep the spectacular visibility going and be sure to check out Cathedrals I and II in Lana’i, a well-known and popular dive spot in Hawaii.
This diving is perfect for both beginner and advanced divers, providing visibility of 80-100 feet and depths up to 60 feet (but also as little as 25). Why is this spot so magnificent?
Cathedral I features a two-story-tall underwater cavern, which is actually a lava tube. The tube consists of various caves, caverns, tunnels, ridges, and passageways. This is perfect for those who want to explore more than coral reefs.
The roof of the Cathedral is partially collapsed, leaving behind a substantial hole that lets in the perfect amount of natural spotlight. From here, you can see all the remains of the fallen lava rock in what’s appropriately called the Altar.
Expect to see plenty of wildlife, including Bandit angelfish, sharks, turtles, lobsters, and several varieties of fish.
5. The Big Island’s Manta Ray Night Dive
Why not try something new and dive in the evening hours instead of the daylight? Night dives offer a fascinating look at the hustling, bustling life that goes on after hours under the sea.
The Big Island, in particular, offers a fascinating night dive that features dozens of manta rays. Watch them soar, come together, and swim apart in a smooth, slow, graceful fashion, illuminated by lights under the water. The manta ray night dive has been voted by travel and dive magazines alike as one of the best night dives in the world.
It’s also accessible for all levels, allowing both beginner and more advanced divers a chance to experience its wonder.
Manta rays open their giant mouths and let krill funnel in, providing an enticing show that’s unlike any other.
6. Encounter Sharks on the North Shore of Oahu
Stay in Oahu and take your diving up a notch by going underwater with the sharks.
Scared? Don’t be.
Shark conservationist Ocean Ramsey describes the sharks as “big, beautiful, gentle giants.” Plus, sharks like Great Whites are actually pretty rare in Hawaii and considered a vulnerable species. The water there is too warm for them, especially in comparison to California’s cooler temperatures.
In Oahu, expect clear waters and warm temperatures, like all the other dive spots on this list. You can find tours that offer both cage and cage-free diving.
The Best Scuba Diving in Hawaii Is All Around You
It would be accurate to say that the best scuba diving in Hawaii is, well, everywhere. You’re surrounded by crystal-clear ocean water that’s warm year-round. When you get back on the dive boat, you’re greeted by more soothing temperatures.
What more could you ask for? It’s time to book your dive trip!
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