O`ahu has much to offer those who agree that it’s better “under the sea.” Located at the northern edge of the tropics, our waters are warm (72-78⁰ F) and teeming with marine life. Because of the islands’ isolation, 20% of our fish species are found here and nowhere else. Colorful butterfly fish, ornate angel fish, several species of eel, and the ever-present friendly green sea turtles are common sights on every scuba dive in Honolulu. The shelfs around the island are shallow and feature fabulous wreck diving, rock wall drift dives, and coral reef excursions. You could easily spend your entire vacation exploring the dive sites of O`ahu, and frankly, that doesn’t sound half bad!
Hotter Under the Water
O`ahu features dives for beginners and dive masters alike, but it is important you do your dive homework first. Shoreline entries can be treacherous, currents can change suddenly, and weather can be unpredictable. We strongly recommend booking with a Scuba dive Oahu charter. Some of the best dives they will take you on include:
In Waimea Bay, Waimea Wall follows the remnants of a volcanic eruption that are now large fingers of coral. Caved in lava tubes are a haven for whitetip reef sharks and juvenile lobsters. Around the corner is Sharks’ Cove, but no need to worry about sharks here. You can expect amazing topography and large fish and turtles to cruise by once you leave the cove for the outer reef. Lava tubes and hidden caverns within the reef flat beckon the diver with promises of unknown adventure, but caution is advised (seriously, don’t get stuck).
Shore dives with tricky entrances are the rule of thumb here, but if you can master the rock ledges and ocean swells, Halona Blowhole, Lanai Lookout, and Makapu`u Lighthouse offer incredible reef and cavern diving under the right conditions. During the winter, you’ll hear humpback whales seemingly right next to you, and you might even spot a monk seal.
Almost always offering good conditions, the south side has excellent diving. Close to Waikiki’s beaches are the wrecks of the Sea Tiger, YO-257, and San Pedro (be sure to wave to the tourists on the Atlantis submarine tour when it passes by). Under ideal conditions you can even dive the Corsair, a downed WWII-era fighter plane in 107’ of water. Personally, we always jump at the chance to visit the stunning overhangs of Ewa Pinnacles (the visibility here is amazing) and we absolutely love the excitement of diving the Sea Cave and 100-foot hole near Hawaii Kai.
Big draws to the leeward side of the island include watching marine life play in the warm-water outflow of the power plant at Electric Beach, the enchanting mystery of Makaha Caverns, and the wreck of The Mahi.
O`ahu offers a mix of shore dives and boat dives, but with the host of reputable scuba dive Oahu shops we recommend going with a charter package and combining the best 2 or 3 dives that day’s conditions allow for. Dive shops are located all over the island, and many offer pick-up at your resort lodgings. Whether you need equipment rentals, air fills, or full-day boat tours with knowledgeable guides, you can’t go wrong with any of them (our favorites are Waikiki Dive Center, Dive Oahu, Aaron’s Dive Shop, and Island Divers). See what they offer – including weekend certifications – and add a scuba diving Honolulu package to your vacation today!