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Is Maui Good for Scuba Diving?

Private Maui scuba diver with professional neutral buoyancy control near a sea turtle at Mala Wharf.

You are researching your next vacation. The family wants to go to Hawaiʻi, Maui to be exact. You want to go scuba diving. Is Maui good for scuba diving anyway? The fact that you are currently reading a blog on a website for a Maui dive company means that our answer might be admittedly biased. However, I am going to tell you exactly why Maui diving is not only good but why it is spectacular for scuba diving.

I have been diving all over the world. The variety of scuba diving experiences from one place to another is mind-boggling. Especially considering that coral reefs cover less than 1% of the ocean floor. Show me a series of photos from various dive sites around the world. I might not be able to tell you which one is from Thailand or which one is from the Caribbean, even though I have done extensive diving in both places. I would, however, be able to identify a Hawaiʻi reef immediately. The coral formations around the Hawaiian Islands are so incredibly unique; a seasoned diver could pick them out of a lineup. More than 20% of Hawaiian reef fishes are found nowhere else in the world.

Maui Diving Highlights

One great thing about Maui diving is the variety of dive sites to choose from. The Big Island is famous for the manta ray night dive. Oʻahu is famous for its wreck dives. Kauaʻi benefits from its proximity to offshore dive spots. Maui diving has all of these highlights accessible by boat and shore. The abundance of diving around Maui and Lanaʻi spreads out the dive operators, ensuring that even the most famous dive sites donʻt get too crowded.

Molokini Crater maui diving at molokini crater

Arguably Maui’s most famous dive location, Molokini crater is what remains from an eruption that is said to have occurred 230,000 years ago. The crescent-shaped atoll features a shallow bay and backside wall, reaching depths of 360 feet. Novice divers can swim with large schools of fish within the shallow confines of the crater. Advanced divers have the opportunity to drift dive along the backside of Molokini. Large schools of yellow tang, moorish idols, triggerfish, and trevally make their homes on the inside reef. Look for Blacktip reef sharks, eels, and an octopus or two along the back wall. Until the COVID-19 pandemic, Molokini was heavily visited by thousands of people each day. This lead to a decline in fish populations, as well as loss of habitat, partly due to human interaction with this delicate environment. Try to support small dive operations to lessen impact.


Mala Pier, Lahaina Maui scuba divers surfacing under Mala Wharf.

Mala Pier is hands down Maui’s best shore dive. The abundance of sea life at this particular location rival the best of the boat diving sites. A large wave hit the pier during Hurricane Iniki in 1992. Thus, almost a few decades of coral growth have developed a stunning artificial reef amongst the fallen concrete. Large schools of goatfish, a plethora of turtles, and white tip reef sharks have made this shallow dive site their permanent home. The entry is easy during high tide, but waves or low tide can make entry and exit challenging. It is best to hire a guide for this site to ensure both your safety and protection for the finite amount of beautiful reef.


First Cathedral Lanaiʻi Maui diving with diver inside cavern at First Cathedral on Lanai.

Southeast of Lanaʻi’s Hulopoe Bay sits First Cathedral, a fantastic dive for any diver interested in impressive rock formations. First Cathedral features a large cavern, or lava tube, consisting of tunnels and passageways. A hole in the top of the cavern allows light to penetrate during the day, creating a spotlight on a large rock inside called the Altar. Smaller holes in the walls of the cavern create almost a stained glass effect, contributing appropriately to the dive site’s name. Whitetip reef sharks, eels, and squirrelfish can be found inside the cavern, while lucky divers can spot frogfish and nudibranchs around the cavernʻs exterior. The maximum depth of this site is about 100ft making this site accessible to newly certified divers and intermediate divers alike. Open Water certified divers must closely watch their depth so as not to exceed certification depth limits.


Carthaginian Wreck Maui diving exploring the Carthaginian Wreck.

The boat was built in Germany in 1920. She ended up in Lahaina in 1973 when she was purchased by the Lahaina Restoration Foundation to serve as a symbol of the whaling industry in Lahaina. She was sunk in 2005 to produce an artificial reef for Maui diving expeditions. She sits in 97 feet and provides a stunning underwater scene for Advanced divers. Large fish and white tip reef sharks can be found cruising around her 98ft long hull. This particular wreck dive is a must for any shipwreck diving enthusiast. During whale season in Maui’s winter, loud whale song can be heard throughout this dive! With 100ft depth, divers should carefully monitor their no decompression limit and ascend with ample time to complete a safety stop.



Manta Rays in Honolua Bay Maui diving with manta ray at Honolua Bay.

On the northwest coast of Maui, a protected bay called Honolua Bay not only features some of the best snorkeling on the island during the summer months, but it is also a reliable place to dive with manta rays. The afternoons bring graceful mantas into the bay’s shallow waters. The long walk through lush forst with equipment to the water’s rocky entrance, coupled with the long surface swim make this shore dive suitable only to the fittest, most adventurous divers. However, the possible reward is well worth it! Aside from the chance to see mantas, Honolua Bay is visited by turtles, large trevally, houses many moorish idols, and mulitple kinds of butterfly fish. The winter months bring large waves to the area. Scuba diving and snorkeling is not recommended at this location during those months, but it’s an excellent place to watch winter surfing!


These are just some of the examples of the impressive dives that Maui diving has to offer. Whether you have never dived before, or are an accomplished scuba diver, there are enticing aspects of Maui diving for everyone. Contact Banyan Tree Divers to learn more about the dive experiences we offer for beginners and certified divers. Thank you for reading!

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