|

The Ultimate Guide to Scuba Diving in Maui

With world class dive sites and fantastic weather year-round, Maui is one of the best places to go scuba diving in the US. Maui truly has it all in terms of diving, offering shore dives along the coast and boat dives in all of the dive sites in the waters surrounding Maui, Moloka’i, and Lana’i. 

The Pacific waters attract both resident wildlife like sea turtles and dolphins year-round and large pelagic life such as sharks and whales seasonally to admire during your time scuba diving in Maui. As someone who loves adventure and wildlife, I knew I had to add scuba diving to my Maui itinerary!

Maui scuba diving is a one-of-a-kind experience, and this ultimate guide will tell you everything you need to know when planning a scuba diving trip to Maui. 

Laynie diving with two turtles in Maui

When To Go Scuba Diving in Maui

The weather in Maui is rather stellar year-round with lots of sunny and warm days. Dive conditions will vary slightly throughout the year, but there are only two main seasons in Maui: summer and winter

The summertime runs from May to October, and the water temperature is from the high 70s to the low 80s. Hammerhead sharks come around during this time as well and offer up an epic underwater experience!

Many tourists flock to the Valley Isle from November to April for humpback whale season since it’s the best island to go whale watching! The shallow Au’au channel between Maui, Moloka’i, and Lana’i attracts whales every winter. While it’s illegal to swim with whales in Hawaii, you can still have an ethical experience with them on your trip. You’re likely to hear them singing as you dive in Maui. 

A humpback whale seen breaching off the coast of Hawaii
Humpback whales come to Hawaiian waters every winter

Winter in Maui brings a slight temperature change with the water hovering around the low to mid-70s, so a wetsuit may be more comfortable if you get cold in the water. It can be wet and rainy in some places of the island, but West Maui is the driest part of the island during this time. 

The two high seasons for tourism in Hawaii fall at the peaks of each season, from December to March and June to July. Visiting in a transitional time like April and May will help you beat the crowds and save money on your trip to Maui

How Much Does It Cost to Scuba Dive in Maui?

While it certainly has a lot to offer, the diving in Maui is not cheap. Most dive tours are booked as two-tank trips and range in price from $230 to $330 per trip, with longer trips to the waters surrounding Moloka’i and Lana’i coming at a higher price.

There are a few select trips to choose from for a single tank dive at around $130 to $160, but I’d recommend at least two to four dives to fully explore the underwater heaven that surrounds Maui.

Most dive tours offered include gear, but some may charge for rentals depending on which dive shop you go with. I didn’t expect to have to buy an SMB for my hammerhead shark dive, but it ended up coming in handy later when I did my divemaster course in Utila!

Best Dive Spots in Maui

From Lahaina to Lana’i, dive spots are abundant in this part of the Pacific. Both shore dives and boat dives are well-loved on Maui and there are a few exceptional spots to explore that will leave you wanting to come back for more. 

Molokini Crater

Found off the south of Maui, this partially submerged volcanic crater is the most popular snorkeling and scuba diving spot in the area for its extraordinary dive conditions. High visibility, a healthy vibrant reef, and over 250 marine species make this a can’t-miss spot to explore when scuba diving in Maui. 

There are a few dive spots within the crater, with the “Middle Reef” site being the most popular. Pennant and pyramid butterfly fish along with a plethora of other tropical fish can be admired here.

Molokini Crater from above
The Molokini Crater has fantastic dive sites to offer!

Advanced divers can try out the Back Wall, a drift dive through significant current. This dive holds the opportunity to see larger pelagic life out in the deep blue and a grey reef shark cleaning station found along the back wall. 

Kihei

Found near Kihei in Southwest Maui, Makena Landing is a popular shore dive that’s better known as “Turtle Town”. This shore dive requires a brief surface swim out to the site where you’re likely to see the beloved sea turtles (known to the Hawaiians as “Honu”) as you descend for your dive.

This South Maui dive spot also boasts underwater caves where you can enjoy the marine life while diving some pretty awesome swim-throughs. Alongside the turtles, tours like this one often see tons of tropical fish and white tip reef sharks.

A sea turtle seen while snorkeling in Hawaii
Honu can be found everywhere around the Hawaiian islands

Ulua Beach is similar to Makena Landing in that there is plenty of reef and marine life to see at this dive site. The calm waters and sandy bottom make the shore entry easier, and many shops use this site for dive training. It also has many amenities including bathrooms, showers, and even benches with tank holders, making it great for beginner scuba diving in Maui.

Lahaina

Often regarded as the best dive site on the island, the Mala Wharf has an interesting backstory- and the best dive sites are those that come with a crazy story. After Hurricane Iniki forced the poorly structured wharf underwater in 1992, it created a sanctuary for marine life there. 

Nowadays, there’s a turtle cleaning station and marine life everywhere around the wreck. Though the shore entry was slightly difficult due to the high surf when I visited, it was certainly worth it to be able to see all that this site had to offer.

The Mala Wharf of Maui
Parts of the Mala Wharf still stand above the surface, but the rest belongs to the ocean

Kahekili Beach Park (better known to divers as Airport Beach) is another popular shore diving spot found just north of Lahaina. With the sandy entry and pristine conditions, this is another prime spot for beginner divers or dive courses. There are resident hawksbill turtles here, and this is one of the only places to see them while diving in Maui. 

Moloka’i and Lana’i

The approach to diving Fish Rain off the coast of Moloka’i is an experience within itself since the conditions here get rough (to say the least). Massive waves bring about seasickness, and the entry back onto the boat is one like I’ve never experienced before. After surfacing from the dive, everyone holds onto a line while being thrown back and forth and into each other while waiting to climb back onto the rocky boat in full gear.

Besides the entry and exit for the dive being hectic, the rest of the dive is pretty chill as it’s mostly a blue water dive (simply swimming out in the open ocean with no reef). This site is notorious for its large pelagic life, with hammerheads being the main attraction in the summer and essential for my fellow shark-lovers out there!

A hammerhead swimming in the big blue
Hammerheads are Fish Rain’s highlight

Fish rain is named for the large schools of fish that make it look as if fish are raining on you during the dive, and there’s a potential to see plenty of other types of marine life at this diversified site including:

  • Galapagos Sharks
  • Grey Reef Sharks
  • White Tip Reef Sharks
  • Spotted Eagle Rays
  • Whale Sharks (rare but possible!)

The Lana’i Cathedrals site puts a unique and fascinating spin on diving as the site highlights the enchanting volcanic history of the Hawaiian islands. Lava tubes created stunning rock formations that create the opportunity to swim through these dramatic and cathedral-esque caves and arches. 

Untouched reefs and strong fish populations make dives to the cathedrals special, along with the dolphins and whales that are frequently seen from the boat in this area. 

The coast of Lanai
Lanai seen from the dive boat

Best Dive Shops in Maui

1. Extended Horizons Scuba Diving

Extended Horizons is a prime choice for diving in Maui due to their commitment to sustainability and abundance of opportunities. They have several eco diving opportunities and green initiatives that are perfect for the conscious traveler. Additionally, they opt for small groups and are extremely accommodating to varied certification levels within your group. 

Shore dives at some of Maui’s best dive sites was made easy with Extended Horizons, and their crew is super friendly and knowledgeable to make your trip amazing.

UPDATE: After the Lahaina fires destroyed their shop and their boat, they have begun leading shore dives again and stocking up on new dive equipment. You can support their business by booking a tour with them! 

Laynie seen scuba diving in Maui
Hawaii diving never disappoints!

2. Lahaina Divers

This dive shop offers shore diving and boat diving in all of Maui’s best dive spots, including favorites like the Molokini Crater and Backwall, along with special expeditions like the hammerhead dive off of Moloka’i. They are one of the more expensive options, but they have many different dive options for the beginner to advanced diver. 

I would 100% recommend Lahaina Divers as your choice if you love pelagic life, since they run the best hammerhead diving tour. Even with the crazy conditions, their instructors and dive guides are extremely experienced and can help you out every step of the way for this mission. 

UPDATE: As of right now, Lahaina Divers has been completely shut down from the fires and are in the process of rebuilding. They are accepting donations to help their efforts on their website.

3. Maui Dreams

Maui Dreams of Kihei is a great choice for Maui scuba diving offering two-tank shore and boat dives for $229. They are the only 5-star PADI Instructor Development Center on Maui and the best place to go if you’re looking to advance your education. They offer almost every certification possible, and tons of dive variations to add to your Maui diving itinerary:

  • Guided Shore and Boat Dives
  • Night Dives
  • Scuba Development Courses
  • Guided Scooter Dive (or DPV specialty certification)
  • Freediving

Thankfully, Maui Dreams was not harmed by the fires in Lahaina and still run courses and tours daily. 

4. Maui Diving

With several dive packages across all of the island’s dive sites, Maui Diving is a more affordable option when choosing who to book your scuba expedition with. Trips with them vary in price but are typically around $189 for two dives. They also offer a five-star, five dives package for $475, which is a perfect option to get immersed in the Maui dive culture by choosing one of their manta and shark dives or a turtle dive in one of the classic dive sites.

Laynie seen diving amongst turtles in Maui
Tons of turtles to be seen while diving in Maui

UPDATE: Maui Diving lost their Lahaina store to the fires, but their Kihei dive center and Kaanapali meeting point are both still up and running! They also offer whale watching, sunset cruises, and snorkeling tours in addition to their scuba diving tours.

Other Tips for Diving in Hawaii

  • Due to rough conditions, most dive shops require 25+ dives and a dive within the last 6 months- make sure to check with your dive shop in case you need a refresher course
  • Reef-safe sunscreen, sunglasses, and a protective hat are all recommended to protect yourself from the powerful tropical sun of Maui☀️
  • Hydration is KEY 🔑 Always make sure to bring a water bottle on your trips and get plenty of water in before you head out for your dive. This is essential not only because of the physical exertion, but to prevent DCI (decompression illness)
  • On some of the more hectic dives, sea sickness medication will keep you in good spirits for the duration of your dive trip
  • Dive insurance is essential when planning a dive trip- especially because even an hour in the recompression chamber can cost thousands! It’s always better to be safe than sorry, and a travel insurance brand that covers scuba diving AND tons of other adventurous activities? Safety Wing is 100% the way to go when covering yourself for all of your YOLO moments
  • Not scuba certified? Discover Scuba Diving trips is the best way to get a taste of Maui scuba diving for beginners! Book a trip here with Extended Horizons to unlock the underwater world 🌊
Dolphins swim along the surface of Maui
Explore Maui’s graceful marine life through diving tours

I hope that this ultimate guide has inspired you to add scuba diving to your adventurous Maui itinerary and you get to experience the world-class diving conditions of the island. 

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *