Diving & Snorkeling: Hawaii

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Hawaii Diving Sites
Underwater Hawaii

MAUI

The second largest Hawaiian island,Maui arose from the ocean floor as twoseparate volcanoes. Lava flows and erosion eventually built up a valley-likeisthmus between the two, linking themin their present form. The southeasternportion is dominated by Haleakala, andthe northwest by Puu Kukui. The twohigh peaks block the trade winds thatblow in from the northeast.

Maui’s best and most consistentlygood dive sites are found along the leeward shore that winds down from Kaanapali to La Perouse Bay. Although thenorth shore is Maui’s longest coastline,this region is seldom dived due to its remoteness and year-round rough water.The windward southeast coast is alsorarely visited because of near-constantwinds, swells and strong currents.

BLACK ROCK
Location: Southeast of Kahana
Depth Range: 15-30ft (5-9m)
Access: Beach
Expertise Rating: Novice

Black Rock is probably not the mostthrilling shore dive on Maui, but it isthe easiest, safest and most convenient.A large, black volcanic-rock peninsulajuts out several hundred feet from theotherwise sandy shore in front of theSheraton Hotel. The south side of thepeninsula borders and protects thebay, which is a perfect playground fornovice divers and snorkelers. The areais also a popular night dive suitable forall levels.

The underwater terrain consistsmostly of sand and volcanic rock. Marinelife highlights include a large variety offriendly fish. Expect to be approachedby large swarms of butterflyfish and tangs. Used to being fed, their appearance provides good snapshot opportunities in shallow water.

More experienced divers may wantto leave the cove, which is easiest todo near the reef along the peninsula.You’ll be rewarded with better visibilityand more natural marine life behavior,but be prepared for a moderate currentonce you reach the peninsula’s point.


MOLOKINI CRATER

The tip of this extinct volcanic craterrises out of the water in the channel betweenMaui and the uninhabited islandof Kahoolawe.

While the northern side has beenbreached by the ocean, the southernhalf of the crater is still intact, creatinga crescent-shaped island of volcanicrock barely a quarter of a mile (400m)long. The crater can be divided into fourmain diving areas: inside, outside, andthe two points of the crescent.

Molokini is a designated marine lifeconservation district. All boats visitingmust use the moorings rather than anchorsin order to keep coral damageto a minimum, but the high volume ofdivers has certainly affected the reefover the years.

If you prefer to avoid the crowds, tryto find an operator that visits in the afternoon.

Tour operators occasionally offer twomorning dives on the outside of Molokini,then move to the inside after mostother boats have left.

INSIDE CRATER
Location: Molokini Crater
Depth Range: 10-30ft (3-9m)
Access: Boat
Expertise Rating: Novice

This is by far Maui County’s most popularspot for snorkeling, snuba and scubadiving. The inside of the crater is almostalways protected from the wind andcurrent, is accessible year-round andis suitable for all levels of divers andsnorkelers.

The bottom’s mix of rubble and sandwith scattered rock and reef formationsprovides an ideal habitat for a varietyof species. There are zillions of butterflyfish,saddle wrasses, chubs, surgeonfish,parrotfish and bluestripe snapper,all of which fearlessly approach diversand snorkelers. Octopuses, moray eels,leaf fish and other friendly critters canalso be found within the crater’s shelteredcove.


Published: 15 Jan 2007 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

Best Hotels in Hawaii

$995
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Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea
$322
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Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa
$1409
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Trump International Hotel Waikiki Beach Walk
$349
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Koa Kea Hotel and Resort

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