Best Scuba Diving in Hawaii: Exploring the Underwater Paradise

If you enjoy gorgeous beaches, crystal blue waters and warm weather – 3 things Hawaii happens to be famous for – this is the perfect vacation area for you.

And, if you’re an avid scuba diver or even someone who wants to try it for the first time, Hawaii offers some of the most beautiful diving locations.

Unfortunately, with so many options, it can be hard to know which locations to try out.

If you have a limited amount of time and don’t know where to start your scuba diving adventures, try out one of these best scuba diving spots.

Best Diving in Oahu Hawaii

1. Hanauma Bay

Located on the southeast tip of Oahu, Hanauma Bay is a family-friendly diving and snorkeling point.

For beginners who are nervous about going into deep or rougher water, Hanauma Bay is a great way to experience a more leisurely dive.

This area is also a Marine Life Conservation District, so it has strict rules on how to treat the environment, which you should apply anywhere you dive in Hawaii.

Make sure to check out this compilation 4k video from some dives around Oahu that include Hanauma Bay.

Best Scuba Diving in Kauai

2. Kee Beach

Kauai is home to some of the most fantastic dive spots in Hawaii and Kee Beach is a great option.

It’s hard to choose just one area and makes answering the question – Is Maui or Kauai better? – that much more challenging to answer. However, Kee Beach makes the list because of its versatility.

If you’re vacationing in a group and want to visit an area that offers an opportunity for everyone to have fun, Kee Beach is a great option.

This little lagoon is excellent for snorkeling, with shallow waters and a calm current. Yet, a little further out are deeper coral reefs that experienced divers love to explore.

And Kauai is known for having the densest population of green sea turtles. These creatures are friendly and will get close enough to pose for pictures but PLEASE refrain from touching them.

Kee Beach is perfect for the entire family to enjoy, no matter how well they dive making it a great reason why you should visit Hawaii in the first place!

Big Island Dive Sites

3. Kealakekua Bay

Kealakekua Bay is a well-known snorkeling spot in historic Kona. While the bay is great for boating and kayaking, its diving spots are spectacular.

The Big Island is known for its underwater lava formations, and the extensive corals that form along these formations make for ideal scuba conditions.

Entire schools of tropical fish, eels, and turtles populate the water of Kealakekua Bay. However, Kealakekua Bay and the Kona area are known for manta rays. Guides can take you out to the regions where these majestic creatures swim.

If you want to learn a little history while scuba diving, ask to dive around the Captain James Cook memorial.

4. Honaunau Bay

With over 50 diving spots, Big Island Hawaii had to be on the list twice! Also called The City of Refuge, Honaunau Bay has a beautiful diving spot called Two-steps.

It’s named this because the lava flats go out into the bay and then create two steps that make it easy for divers to step into the water. There are the usual tropical fish at this location and green sea turtles, eels, and, if you’re lucky, dolphins!

While I can’t promise you will see them because they don’t always come, spinner dolphins sometimes use Honaunau Bay as a resting place during the day. You should always respect these animals’ space, but they are very friendly, and many divers have reported spending entire days playing and interacting with the dolphins.

Honaunau Bay is another great location for divers of all diving experience levels, whether experts or beginners. And it’s backed by a national park, so if you need to take a break, you can spend time wandering the park, learning more about Hawaii and its colorful history.

Maui Scuba Diving Sites

5. Black Rock

With a clear access point, Black Rock is the Sheraton Hotels house reef. Despite it being near a relatively developed area, Black Rock has such a great variety of wildlife, it’s still a must-see.

Also situated around a lava formation, you’ll probably be able to see turtles, octopi, and moray eels. And don’t forget to look for the Triggerfish, the state fish of Hawaii, also known by its official name – Humuhumunukunukuapua’a. Say that fast three times!

If you have the time, Black Rock is even more stunning during the night dives. At this time, even more fish and sea creatures come out, like goatfish and shrimp.

And, if you’ve never done a night dive before, this beginner to intermediate site is an excellent opportunity for a first-timer. You won’t feel too overwhelmed, but you won’t be bored with the fantastic variety.

6. Lanai Cathedrals

Although Lanai is a separate Hawaiian Island, most of the scuba diving tours of the Cathedrals leave from Maui.

Technically, Cathedral One and Cathedral Two, the Cathedrals are internationally praised as some of the best caverns for scuba diving.

Made from the lava that has leaked into the ocean and cooled into tubes, passages, caverns, and arches, the Cathedrals are only suitable for intermediate and advanced divers.

With depths from 15 to 65 feet, not only will you get to see the usual fish that roam around the island, like trumpet fish and octopi, you’ll also get to see the creatures that inhabit the darker corners of these caverns.

Still, even without the sea life, the dives are amazing. Exploring the different formations and seeing the varying coral, like black coral, is just as interesting as the fishes at these sites.

7. Fish Rain, Molokai

Molokai boasts the largest fringe reef in Hawaii and one favorite spot of master divers is Fish Rain.

Because the waters surrounding the island are a little rougher and chartering from Maui is one of the only ways to get there, drift dives are the best way to enjoy Molokai.

You’ll get to see a large variety of fish, including a larger school that you can’t see on coral reefs, but Fish Rain is all about seeing more giant sea creatures.

Hammerhead sharks are the most frequently seen visitors, but Tiger sharks are known to make appearances.

And, if you’re fortunate, you’ll get to see an endangered Monk Seal, which is a rare, but possible occurrence at Fish Rain.

Scuba Diving Hawaii FAQs

Which Hawaiian Islands have the best scuba diving?

The best scuba diving in Hawaii can be found on two islands: Big Island and Oahu. On Big Island, the southwest coast of Kona is renowned for its exceptional diving spots. Similarly, there are excellent diving sites near Honolulu on Oahu. These locations are not only known for their rich marine life and clear waters but also for their accessibility and proximity to accommodations and transport links, making them the most popular scuba diving destinations in Hawaii.

Which are the best months to scuba dive in Hawaii?

The best months for scuba diving in Hawaii vary slightly across the four main islands, but you can generally enjoy time underwater year-round. If you are going to Oahu, diving is excellent year-round, but visibility is often best during the summer months (April to October). On Maui the optimal diving season is also April to October. The Big Island Diving generally has good conditions all year, but the calmest waters are typically found during summer. And last but certainly not least, diving on Kauai can be enjoyed year-round, with the calmest conditions usually between April and November.

Is scuba diving better in Maui or Oahu?

Scuba diving in both Maui and Oahu offers unique experiences, and the choice between the two depends on your diving interests. If you’re interested in diverse marine life and unique underwater landscapes, Maui may be the better choice. If you’re fascinated by wreck diving, Oahu might be more appealing. Either way, you can’t go wrong so why not plan a dive trip to both!

Is scuba diving better in Oahu or Kauai?

Both Oahu and Kauai provide world-class diving experiences. Oahu is renowned for its wreck dives, such as the YO-257 and Sea Tiger, and offers a variety of shore dives with opportunities to see larger marine life like turtles and reef sharks. Kauai, however, is famous for its abundant Hawaiian green sea turtles and underwater caverns, such as Sheraton Caverns, with typically calmer waters suitable for divers of all experience levels. The right choice boils down to what adventure suits you most.

Check out our Google Web Story – Best Places to Scuba Dive in Hawaii

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