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Essential Scuba Tips to Plan Your Maui Vacation

a cartoon man packing scuba gear for maui vacation

Maui Scuba Diving Checklist

The flight and hotel are all set, and it is time to plan your Maui scuba diving adventure. Are there specific dive sites would you like to visit? Which dive company will you choose? What should you pack for scuba diving during your trip? Are you new to diving and just looking for the best beginner dive experience? Properly preparing for diving during your Maui vacation will ensure the best experience for you and your family. Here are some tips on how to prepare for your next scuba diving holiday. Keep this list handy so that you can refer back to it next time you plan a trip to Maui.

1. Research Maui Dive Sites: Shore Dives vs. Boat Dives?

One of the best aspects of scuba diving on Maui is the variety of diving options offered. Whether you are a brand new diver, seasoned professional, or somewhere in between, there are perfect dive sites available to you. The excellent shore diving sites on Maui’s west side are ideal for beginner and experienced divers alike. Dive sites like Molokini or Lana’i Cathedrals will require a scuba certification and feature fascinating underwater rock formations.

Maui scuba diving is unique, with almost as many shore dives as boat dive sites. It’s essential to pay attention to whether or not the company you book with offers both or just one. Banyan Tree Divers Maui, for example, only offers shore diving tours. We can help you with boat diving referrals, but we do not provide this service unless you prefer to charter a boat privately.

Contact us if private boat diving is something that interests you.

For beginner divers, we recommend shore diving. The sites are shallow and safe, the conditions are often calm, and shore diving is great for people who tend to get seasick. For certified divers, we recommend both! Shore diving on Maui is relaxed, and there is still a ton of sea life to enjoy. The iconic boat diving sites are well worth a visit, and some lesser-known sites are excellent too.

For a more comprehensive description of Maui’s shore diving sites, check out our blog post, Maui Shore Diving: Official Guide. For an excellent description of both boat diving sites and shore dive sites, see the popular Maui Information Guide.

Maui shore diving with clear water at Airport Beach.

Shore diving at Ka’anapali Beach.

Maui diving with diver inside cavern at Second Cathedral on Lanai.

Boat diving at Lana’i Second Cathedral

Makai Adventures scuba diving boat picking up divers at Lanai.

Charter your private boat

2. Choose a Maui Dive Shop

Researching dive companies on Maui can be dizzying. There are MANY options! Choosing the best dive company for you depends on what you are looking for in a scuba diving experience on your Maui vacation. Reading reviews is an excellent place to start. TripAdvisor and Google do not filter their results, so what you read comes from previous guests.

Call the company ahead of time and get a feel for the services they offer and their availability. We own and operate our small dive company, so when you call Banyan Tree Divers Maui (808-446-6099), one of the owners will answer your call. We can answer any questions you might have and help guide you in the right direction if you are looking for something we cannot provide. 

Get scuba certified on Maui!Some companies are larger than others. Perhaps you are a solo diver and looking for a dive operation with an abundance of diving options and availability. In this case, it might be useful to go with a more extensive dive operation that can offer both shore and boat diving options, as well as a variety of time slots for your reservation. If you have some flexibility in your Maui vacation schedule and are looking for more personalized service, then a smaller operation is the way to go (wink wink, look no further ;-). 

Perhaps you are a couple or a family looking to scuba dive together for the first time. West Maui shore diving is perfect for first-time divers. There are several excellent shore diving operations in the Lahaina area. Often your decision will come down to price comparison. Our competitive prices reflect our service quality, the added benefit of guaranteed small groups, and private diving options. If you are looking for the cheapest deal, then we might not be the shop for you. But if you are looking for a safe, memorable highlight of your Maui vacation, then we can’t wait to style you out. 

No matter which company you choose, take the time to do a little research and make sure their services reflect the scuba diving experience you hope to have on your Maui vacation.

3. Packing Dive Equipment for Your Maui Vacation 

The date for your Maui Vacation is quickly approaching. It’s time to pack and get your dive gear ready. What follows is a good packing list for a variety of levels of dive experience. The first three listed items apply to all scuba divers, while the rest apply mostly to certified divers bringing equipment from home. 

♦Comfortable Swimwear 

Ocean temperatures in Hawai’i range from 76 to 82 degrees, depending on the time of year you visit the islands. It’s common for all Lahaina dive shops to provide wetsuits for your scuba dive. 3mm shortie wetsuits are perfect for summer in Maui, while 3mm full-length wetsuits get offered during the winter months of January to March.

♦Reef Safe Sunscreen a no oxybenzone sign at the beach

Starting in 2021, the Hawai’i ban on oxybenzone and octinoxate sunscreens will go into effect. Yay! Be sure that the sunscreen you are using contains only zinc or titanium dioxide. Avobenzone is also an ingredient to avoid and is often found in so-called “reef safe” sunscreens, even though it is also harmful to reefs.

♦Mask and Snorkel (if you have one)

A comfortable mask is one of the most important pieces of scuba equipment. You can bring your mask and snorkel if you have them; however, reputable dive operations provide quality masks that never fog up with comfortable mask straps that don’t pull your hair. So, if you are wondering whether or not our Lahaina dive shop falls into this category, why yes … yes, we do!

♦Dive Boots and Fins

Fins are tricky. They take up a ton of space in your luggage, but it’s nice to have them for both snorkeling and diving. If you don’t mind packing them, then they are nice to have but keep in mind that you can rent snorkel equipment for a nominal fee from the Snorkel Store, Boss Frog’s, or Snorkel Bob’s, and all dive companies will provide fins for you. Banyan Tree Divers Maui provides the added luxury of dive boots to protect your feet and high-quality open-heel fins from Mares, Aqua Lung, and other trusted scuba brands. Dive boots are necessary for shore diving on Maui. Be wary of dive companies that don’t provide boots to protect your feet. 

♦Wetsuit 

Whether or not to bring a wetsuit depends on personal preference. A wetsuit tends to take up a lot of space in your luggage, and it’s annoying to have to worry about drying it thoroughly before you return home. If you are like me and need a 5mm thick wetsuit no matter how warm the water is, then packing a wetsuit can be a bit of a pain. However, it is nice to know that the only person who has worn your wetsuit is you. Do you need to bring it? Probably not. Do you have space for it? Then why not pack it?

♦Regulator 

If you have made it to the point in your adoration for scuba diving that you have invested in scuba equipment, then congratulations! Welcome to the club of fun, adventurous, and often quirky enthusiasts. Before you pack your regulator:

  • Be sure to hook it up to a tank and ensure that both your primary and alternate regulators breathe easily.
  • Make sure there are no leaks.
  • Ensure that your pressure gauge is working by breathing from your regulator while looking at the pressure gauge.

Is the needle moving when you breathe from it? If no, you are good to go. The pressure gauge needle should NOT move when you test your regulator. Always remember to replace the dust cap!

♦BCD 

The importance of soaking and rinsing your BCD with fresh water immediately after diving will make itself apparent when you get your BCD out of storage. If you neglect this simple step in equipment care, you might have problems putting your BCD back into use. Saltwater is incredibly detrimental to your dive equipment. Failing to rinse your BCD inside and out can lead to excessive salt deposits, undermining the material’s integrity. It is also a good idea to test your BCD with a tank to make sure it isn’t self-inflating.

Conversely, you will want to make sure that your BCD is holding air. Avoid leaks in your BCD with proper fresh water washing and careful handling. If your BCD is self-inflating, you will want to have the LPI connector replaced at your local dive shop repair station.

♦Dive Computer

My dive computer is my most prized scuba possession. It allows you to plan and execute dives safely. I would argue that a dive computer should be one piece of equipment in which avid divers first invest. They are easy to pack and give you peace of mind in every dive you make. Make sure the battery is full, and dive mode is working. If you recently purchased a new dive computer, then read the instructions first!

4. What Else Am I Forgetting?

PADI open water diver card for a Maui scuba diving certification course.

 

♦Scuba Certification Card

Don’t forget that you will need to show proof of your dive experience. Be sure to pack your scuba certification card or purchase a digital copy of your card from your certification agency. PADI provides an app containing all the proof of your dive training in one place.

♦Dive Insurance Paperwork

DAN is the most widely used provider of scuba diving insurance. If you decide to purchase dive accident insurance, then bring that information to Maui.

♦First Aid Kit

Dive operations maintain a first-aid kit in the unlikely and unfortunate event you encounter a sea urchin or take a spill exiting from the water. However, it is a good idea to have your own travel first aid kit for possible post-dive wound care.

♦Log Book or Log Book App

Your logbook is proof of your dive experience and a dive journal. But many certified divers do not take the time to record their scuba diving history! Nonsense, keep a record of your scuba diving memories in your logbook! After a few Maui vacations, you will thank me!

Final Thought

A lot goes into planning a Maui vacation, and taking the time to prepare sets you and your family up for a successful and stress-free trip. I hope you have found this preparation list helpful. Click HERE for an excellent, printable scuba diving vacation checklist that will save you some time. At the time of writing, I couldn’t find a suitable travel packing app for divers. Project for app developers, perhaps? Thank you for reading!