Hawaii is known for its hula dancing, pineapples, and majestic volcanoes. The Islands of Hawaii also have some of the best waters for scuba diving in the South Pacific and arguably, the world. The Hawaiian Islands actually consist of 132 islands, though “mainlanders” generally only think of the eight main islands, Ni’ihau, Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, Lanai, Maui, Kahoolawe and Hawaii. These fabled islands are a paradise for divers – being surrounded by the Pacific Ocean and located over 2400 miles from the nearest continent has created a unique underwater environment, in fact over 25% of all marine species in the world call Hawaii home.
For divers of all skill levels the four most visited islands are Oahu, Maui, Kauai and Hawaii, with each Island sporting its own undersea riches and unique dive locations. Lanai, Molokai and Ni’ihau are frequented a little less often by Scuba Divers – while they offer some unique dives and encounters with marine life, they are generally recommended for intermediate to advanced divers. Sheltered from trade winds by mountains, which create visibility to 100 feet Hawaii, itself “The Big Island” has some wonderful dive sites. Oahu features a variety of dive sites that range from offshore lava formations and grottoes to plane and shipwrecks, many that are the home to large schools of colorful fish and green sea turtles. For the best in underwater lava formations divers recommend Lanai where the scuba dive sites are known for their lava formations which not only house a large variety of marine life but as the sunshine plays off of them through the clear waters, make for some amazing lighting effects. Swim through otherworldly lava formations from archways and ridges to tunnels and pinnacles. Night diving is especially interesting in Hawaii. There is a night dive with the nocturnal feeding Manta Rays off the coast of Kona that has been rated by the New York Times as one of the Top 10 Scuba Diving experiences in the world. These non-aggressive docile rays “fly” under water on bat-like wings, some with a span of 8-10 feet. These gentle giants will swoop and glide, often grazing divers who hover transfixed at this underwater ballet.
If you’re like many divers, you’ve dreamed of swimming with dolphins in their natural habitat. A Scuba experience not to miss when diving in Hawaii is to snorkel or dive with dolphins. There are a number of dive shops/excursions that offer this life-altering event. These tour operators know exactly where the dolphins live and play, and specialize in taking small groups of lucky adventurers out to frolic with these playful sea mammals every day. Once in the midst of a pod of dolphins, you’ll be able to swim with these majestic creatures, as well as take in views of some other fascinating sea life.
Like many exotic or tropical destinations, when you are not cavorting with dolphins or dancing with Mantas, there is much for the Scuba Diver to do in Hawaii, no matter what Island you are visiting. You can visit a luau, go to the world’s most active volcano or just kick back and relax on some of the nicest, most secluded beaches you are likely to find anywhere.