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14 Best Places For Scuba Diving In Hawaii

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Best scuba diving in Hawaii includes places like Molokini Crater, Hanauma Bay, Kailua-Kona and more. This is one of the most desired watersports in Hawaii.

Hawaii offers some of the most incredible diving opportunities in the world. The warm tropical climate, rich biodiversity, crystal-clear waters and stunning coral reefs make for a mesmerizing experience.

Here is a list of some of the best spots in Hawaii that every watersports enthusiast should pay a visit to during their trip to the tropical paradise.

1. Molokini Crater

Molokini Crater is a partially submerged volcanic crater located 2.5 miles off the southwest coast of Maui. This place boasts an incredible underwater ecosystem.

This famous crescent-shaped islet is the remnant of an ancient volcanic cinder cone. The rich marine ecology makes it a prime destination for scuba diving and snorkeling enthusiasts.

This uninhabited islet has been designated as a Marine Life Conservation District and a State Seabird Sanctuary. Underwater adventure is the best thing to do here for a memorable experience.

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Reef's End is located on the outer wall of the crater and offers the opportunity to encounter reef sharks, eels, and colorful reef fish. Likewise, Enenu'i Reef is known for its coral formations and diverse marine species. 

The scuba diving experience at Molokini Crater is unmatched. Divers can expect clear water with excellent visibility, typically ranging from 100 to 150 feet.

2. Hanauma Bay

Best scuba diving Hawaii Hanauma Bay is situated on the southeastern coast of Oahu. The bay has several excellent scuba diving sites within its protected marine environment.

The bay is located about 10 miles east of the capital city of Honolulu. The stunning natural beauty of the place, crystal-clear waters, and vibrant marine life make it a top destination for scuba diving enthusiasts.

The remarkable underwater visibility of the Bay makes it the best place to snorkel in Oahu. On a good day, water clarity exceeds 100 feet which allows divers to fully appreciate the colorful coral formations.

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Hanauma Bay Crater is the most popular diving site that features an array of coral formations and marine life. Here, you have a good chance to encounter with parrotfish, triggerfish, and angelfish.

Similarly, The Wall located along the outer edge of Hanauma Bay's reef offers a deeper dive experience. Divers can descend to depths of around 40 to 60 feet and witness turtles, rays, and occasionally, reef sharks.

3. Kailua-Kona

Kailua-Kona is a world-famous spot for underwater diving located on the western coast of the Big Island. The waters are relatively calm, making it suitable for both beginners and advanced divers.

Scuba diving and night manta ray snorkel in Kailua-Kona provides a diverse and vibrant underwater experience to everyone who visits this place. Furthermore, its unique geological features, such as underwater lava tubes and arches, add to the intrigue of the diving experience.

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The array of marine life that you can expect to see in Kona includes colorful coral reefs, tropical fish, sea turtles, eels, dolphins, and sometimes even sharks.

Some of the most notable diving sites include Kealakekua Bay and Honaunau Bay. The former is famous for its pristine water and the Captain Cook Monument.

The latter is loved by divers for its easy entry and vibrant coral reefs. Also known as Two Step Beach, this place is a perfect spot to begin the adventure for both novice and experienced divers.

4. Black Rock

Best Hawaii scuba diving Black Rock is renowned for its colorful coral formation and a wide variety of marine life. It is located on the northern end of Kaanapali Beach in Maui.

Also referred to as Pu'u Keka'a, this prominent geological feature is a part of the Kaanapali Resort area. The Black Rock is not the primary diving site itself, but an entry and exit point to several sites nearby.

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Some of the famous and frequently visited diving sites near Black Rock are mentioned here. The first is Airport Beach which has calm and clear water.

Second is the Honolua Bay, a marine reserve located a short drive away from the Beach. This place is famous for its coral gardens, turtles, and occasional encounters with dolphins and reef sharks.

5. Turtle Town

Turtle Town is a part of the Makena State Park that encompasses several scenic beaches and underwater attractions. This place is located on the southern coast of Maui near Kihei.

This place is a well-renowned place among snorkelers and scuba divers. Here, you will find an abundant sea turtle population which is a delight for marine enthusiasts. 

Turtle Town, one of the best places to snorkel in Maui, is a general area with numerous diving sites and coral formations. Hawaiian green sea turtles are common sightings here along with other marine life.

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Depending on your certification level, you can explore shallow reefs or venture deeper to explore underwater caves and lava formations. The water temperature is generally pleasant year-round.

The primary entry point for divers here is Maluaka Beach which gives you a chance to explore lava rock formations and coral gardens.

Other famous spots are the Five Caves located offshore from Maluaka Beach, Pu'u Olai which is also known as Red Hill and the White Rock located further south.

6. Lanai Cathedrals

Best scuba dive Hawaii Lanai Cathedrals is famous among scuba divers due to its unique underwater topography and abundant marine life. It is located off the southern coast of Lanai.

Lanai, often called the Pineapple Isle is known for its beautiful landscapes and relatively secluded atmosphere. Observing marine life from small reef fish to larger pelagic species like sharks and dolphins is a unique experience here.

The underwater topography at this place, including arches, tunnels, and caves, creates a visually stunning environment for divers to explore.

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Lanai Cathedrals is a collection of several distinct dive sites offering a unique underwater experience. First Cathedral is the primary site that features two large lava rock formations with underwater arches and swim-throughs.

Likewise, the Second Cathedral is known for its dramatic topography, with lava tubes and caverns that create an otherworldly atmosphere.

7. Puako

Puako with its warm and clear water provides excellent visibility for divers. You will get a good chance to encounter marine life such as colorful reef fish, sea turtles, eels, and corals.

Puako is a small, picturesque coastal community located on the west coast of the Big Island. This place is easily accessible by car from the Kona International Airport if you are flying into the island.

The underwater topography of Puako such as coral reefs, lava formations, and underwater caves, makes each dive unique and exciting. Divers of various skill levels can equally enjoy underwater exploration here.

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Situated on the stunning Kohala Coast, Puako offers divers access to some fantastic scuba diving sites in the area. The most famous one is The Puako Wall, known for its beautiful coral formations and underwater caves.

The second one is the Turtle Pinnacle abundance with green sea turtle population. Another notable site is the Hapuna Beach State Park which offers great shore diving opportunities.

8. Kealakekua Bay

Kealakekua Bay located on the western coast of the Big Island is renowned for its exceptional scuba diving opportunities. This is a popular destination for locals and tourists alike.

The picturesque beauty of the bay, the calm and clear waters and the vibrant marine life are all the major inviting factors here. You can't help but put on your diving gear and dive in the water as soon as you reach here.

This place offers a memorable experience for divers of all levels and skills. Apart from the encounter with the vibrant tropical marine life, it an also an ideal location for underwater photography and videography.

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The underwater topography of the Kealakekua Bay featuring caves, ledges, and coral formations makes for a captivating environment for exploration.

You can easily access several diving sites in this area. The first is The Captain Cook Monument marked by a white obelisk on the shore. 

The second one is Manini Beach Park which is the best spot for beginners. On the northern end, you will find another great spot Napoopoo Beach Park

9. Kahe Point Beach Park

Best Hawaii scuba dive Kahe Point Beach Park is situated in the southwestern part of Oahu. The Park is easily accessible by car, and it's a convenient day trip from Honolulu.

Also known as Electric Beach, it is popular for its exceptional scuba diving and snorkeling opportunities. The underwater landscape at the Park includes a mix of coral reefs and rocky formations.

The main attraction of this place is the warm water outflow from the nearby Kahe Power Plant. The water current can be too strong for beginners so it is wise to go there with experienced guides.

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The discharge of the warm water attracts a variety of marine life which provides ample opportunity for divers to explore the life underwater. 

Some common species you may encounter at Kahe Point Beach Park include Hawaiian green sea turtles, schools of tropical fish, and occasionally dolphins or sharks.

10. Garden Eel Cove

Garden Eel Cove is a decent place to go scuba diving on the Big Island. This site is particularly famous for the dense population of garden eels. 

The Cove is situated on the western coast of the Big Island and lies in close proximity to the town of Kailua-Kona. The stunning underwater landscapes and unique marine life draw people to the cove in large numbers.

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Similarly, the pristine waters and warm temperatures make this Cove an ideal place to get into the waters for divers of all levels. The relatively shallow depths which typically range from 20 to 60 feet, make it easily accessible.

The highlighted feature of Garden Eel Cove is the night dive where divers gather around special lighting rigs on the seabed. Particularly in the case of Manta Ray Night Dive, it provides one mesmerizing spectacle.

11. Shark’s Cove

Shark’s Cove is a famous spot for scuba diving and snorkeling in the North Shore of Oahu. It is part of the Pupukea Marine Life Conservation District.

Sharks Cove has been rated by Scuba Diving Magazine as one of the “Top Twelve Shore Dives in the World”. The bottom of the cove is made up of large smooth boulders and coral heads forming small caves and ledges for marine life to hide.

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The walls of the surrounding cliffs provide calmer water attracting schooling surface fish. Divers have a good chance of spotting butterfly fish, parrot fish, damsel fish, eels, turtles and crustaceans.

You will be delighted to know that the Cove is not the sole diving spot here. First, there is The Pinnacles, known for its underwater rock formations and swim-throughs and secondly, The Three Tables with three large flat-topped rocks.

12. Na Pali Coast

Scuba dive in Hawaii in the crystal-clear water of the Na Pali Coast is an on-of-a-kind experience. The excellent visibility allows you to explore the rich marine life with relative ease.

Na Pali Coast is one of the best places to vacation in Hawaii for several reasons. This stunning and rugged coastline is located on the northwestern side of Kauai.

The eye-catching lush green valleys, cascading waterfalls and most notably scuba diving opportunities are the main attractions of this place.

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Depending on the specific dive site, depths can vary, so there are options for divers of different skill levels. Apart from that, every diver will get a chance to explore the unique underwater topography with caves, lava tubes, and arches.

The most notable diving site, Nualolo Kai features an abundance of marine life. Another famous spot, Honopu Beach will leave you with lasting memories with its vibrant coral gardens.

13. Molokai North Shore

Molokai North Shore is among the least explored spots in Hawaii which still offers excellent diving opportunities. Above all, you will have a unique diving experience away from the usual crowd.

This underdeveloped yet laid-back area in Molokai is a part of the Hawaiian archipelago. The least explored waters here are typically clear, making for good visibility.

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The most notable scuba diving site here is the Mokuhooniki Rock, an underwater pinnacle where you can spot colorful fish, turtles, and occasionally sharks.

Another great spot to get into the pristine waters in Molokai North Shore is Fish Rainbows which features numerous coral formations and a large variety of fish species.

14. Tunnels Beach

Tunnels Beach is one of the most popular spots in Hawaii for scuba diving adventures. It is situated on the north shore of Kauai approximately 10 miles west of Princeville.

The most inviting feature of this beach is the series of underwater lava tube arches and caverns that offer an exhilarating underwater experience.

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These underwater arches are teeming with a variety of colorful tropical fish, green sea turtles and even reef sharks. However, one must keep in mind that the water currents vary with season.

Two Lovers Point is a famous landmark near Tunnels Beach which features a sloping coral reef. Experienced divers who love to explore the depths will find various caverns and swim-throughs.