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Mala Wharf on Maui

Maui scuba diving site called Mala Wharf, seen from the ocean's surface.

Best Place to Dive on Maui

Mala Wharf is the best Maui diving site on the island. Maui is home to some remarkable dive sites, but few offer a history like this former commercial and USA military dock. Today it is a collapsed pier that met its end in 1992 during Hurricane Iniki. So, if you are ready to see the resident White Tip Reef Sharks and Hawaiian Green Turtles, then ask us about this spot.

The location is off Maui’s beaten tourist path, yet easy to find because it sits immediately south of the concrete canal that’s next to the Lahaina Cannery Mall. As you drive towards the boat ramp, you will see restrooms and showers on the left side. The dive site offers adventure for every scuba diving skill level, and it’s excellent for snorkelers too.

The old concrete pier was built in 1922 with steel-reinforcements to provide a place for steamships to disembark passengers and load goods. But, shortly after being constructed, Mala Wharf was found to be entirely inadequate for the job of servicing large steamships. This error was not to be the end of Mala Wharf, as smaller vessels instead used the sturdy structure to shuttle passengers, pineapples, and agricultural freight. At its height, Mala Wharf served a couple of essential functions in Lahaina. It became a small harbor for whale hunters, and during World War Two was used by soldiers on their way to and from leave in Lahaina town.

In 1992, Hurricane Iniki forever changed everything about Mala Wharf. With winds that peaked around 145 mph, the hurricane wrought tremendous havoc on Maui. The most powerful hurricane in decades to strike anywhere in Hawaii, it spelled the end for commercial use of Mala Wharf in Lahaina. Strong waves, 30-foot surf, and powerful winds sent Mala Wharf to the sandy bottom. Much to the luck of scuba divers today, the collapsed pilings and other remains of the pier now act as an artificial reef where sharks, turtles, and colorful fish thrive. You can arrange a scuba diving tour with Banyan Tree Divers to hang out with these awesome underwater animals. Together let’s see what has become of Mala Wharf while marveling at some of Maui’s most colorful corals and fish in Hawaii. Not to mention finding the elusive frogfish!

Ask any local, and they will assure you that Mala Wharf on Maui offers the best scuba diving on the island. You can get to the dive site by boat, but you do not need a boat. Mala Wharf is famous for shore diving. Here divers park in the public lot and head to the beach on the left. To enter, you will walk along the south side of the pier, keeping as close to the structure as possible. Unless it’s raining and the adjacent river is producing substantial runoff, you can safely enter the water at the beach to the left of the pier and then kick out to the dive site. Once you are near the end of the existing jetty, be sure to look out for boat traffic. There are often numerous vessels looking for a mooring with the same idea as you. Mala Wharf is immediately south of the bridge at Lahaina Cannery Mall. Downward of the boat ramp, you will find restrooms and showers.

The Hawaiian islands are undoubtedly an enchanted place on Earth. In Hawaii, you will find active volcanoes, snow-capped mountain peaks, and an underwater playground that will live on in your dreams forever. So when you are ready for the best Maui scuba diving, give our Lahaina dive shop a call at (808) 446-6099.