Diving Maui

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Maui, USA

Honolua-Bay-Maui_2.jpg
Peacock in MauiMaui Hawaii Map2School of Stripes in Maui3Copyright Mike Severns Diving5

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Country: USA  Area: Hawaii

Water Temp: 21 - 27°C (70 - 81°F)

Visibility: 15 - 50m (49 - 164 ft)

Depth Range: 5 - 40m (16 - 131 ft)

Coral spawning (daytime) April to July

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There are main reasons why visitor come, relaxation, sun, and beaches and of Scuba Diving.  When the rest of the world is freezing, if asked where they would rather be, the answer is, the Hawaiian Islands.

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Maui is two connected mountains with beautiful beaches along the shoreline, as well as cooler rural areas up on the mountainsides. At higher elevations there are native plants and birds unique to Hawaii. At the 10,000-foot summit of one of the mountains (Haleakala) is an eroded depression with spectacular views and colorful cinder cones and native alpine plants found only on Maui. Maui has activities for seemingly everyone and for people of all ages.

Maui is one of the very most exotic places in the world, with first class exotic resorts, activities including fishing, diving, snorkelling, kayaking and so much more. From the moment you first arrive to the day you leave, visitors find themselves already planning their return. Maui is an escape from reality to a dream only found on this island. There is diving for all experience levels. People who come here specifically to dive find a variety of diving. There is shore diving along the entire leeward coast, there is boat diving to sites along the coast of Maui, and there are boat dives to the offshore islands of Molokini Crater, Lanai and Molokai. Depending on the sea conditions at the particular time you are here, all or only some of these options might be available. Interesting sea life can be seen on all of these excursions. Maui has large sea turtle populations, wonderful macro-life and sometimes manta rays and eagle rays. Molokini Crater is a marine preserve with excellent visibility and vibrant coral reef. Lanai has dramatic lava tubes and Molokai has the possibility of seeing hammerhead sharks. Hawaii in general has a more stark appearance than the Caribbean because of its volcanic underwater landscape and lack of soft corals. However, Hawaii’s isolation has resulted in about 25% of the marine life being unique to Hawaii. That means that 25% of the marine life species can only be seen in Hawaii and not anywhere else on the planet. In addition, there are special times of year when the whales can be heard on the dives, or when the coral is spawning during the day.

Colorful Hinalea aki lolo -Lolo means "lazy fish" in the native language, Credit

Marine Conservation

There are multiple marine life conservations groups and projects covering the waters of Maui. They work to preserve the coral reefs, whales, and turtles specifically, as well as other forms of life. Maui has a locally-funded day-use mooring program so that Maui boaters can tie up to moorings instead of anchoring. There are three marine conservation areas on Maui – Honolua Bay Marine Life Conservation District, the Kahekili Herbivore Fisheries Management Area, and Ahihi-Kinau Natural Area Reserve.  An offshore islet, Molokini Crater, is Maui’s premier marine preserve. It has been protected from fishing and taking of marine life for 37 years and moorings have been installed to prevent damage from anchoring. Because it sits 3 miles offshore, the water quality is excellent, and the coral reef is in exceptional health. People have been commenting on the beauty and health of Molokini’s coral reef for over 100 years.

Climate

The weather on Maui is what many people dream of when they think of a tropical island – sunny and warm with cooling trade winds. If you don’t want a hint of rain, then stay at the south end in Kihei or Wailea, or up in Lahaina. If you don’t mind a mist or sprinkle, then Kaanapali or north of there would be perfect.

The weather on Maui is always in the 60’s C (80’s F), however if you’re looking for the driest and warmest beach weather, then May-September should be your target months. Although these times are the most popular, the reality is that Maui is fantastic all year long. Average water temperatures range between 75°F and 80°F).

Other year round Marine life

Green sea turtles hauling out on beach to rest.

 

Information & Photos kindly provided by: Mike Severns Diving

There are multiple marine life conservations groups and projects covering the waters of Maui. They work to preserve the coral reefs, whales, and turtles specifically, as well as other forms of life.
 
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Maui has some of the best diving in the world, if not the world, with most diving being done in the South Island including Molokini Crater as well as in the West Maui.

The best boat dives are located in Southern Maui locations of Makena, Kihei and Wailea.

5 Caves, sometimes called 5 Graves is a good dive, although only 9-15 m. (30 – 50 ft.) you will find many caves, pinnacles and lava ridges to investigate. Wildlife includes white tipped sharks, eels, turtles and other fish.

Friendship between big & small fish in Maui, Credit

Turtle Caves is one of the best dives to see turtles up close, within its pinnacles, caves and canyons. With a maximum dive of 70 ft., you should encounter a plethora of tropical fish as well as live coral fields.

For the well-advanced diver, Hidden Pinnacle may be the challenge you are looking for, with a 120 ft. max depth. You’ll have to rely completely on your boat captain and Dive Master as to diving this spot, or not, because this site offers some intense currents. It’s named after the pinnacle, which reaches from the bottom all the way up to the surface, and is covered in coral. Photographers will have a time with this site, including activity of pyramid butterfly fish, octo coral and possibly sponges.

If diving wrecks, especially airplanes is your thing, the Hellcat Dive should interest you, because it’s a WW II F-6 Hellcat fighter sitting at a depth of around 10 m. (35 ft.)  And then there’s the Tank & Landing Craft Dive Site off the Makena Coastline and more survivors of WW II. They are both amphibious amtracs and personal assault carriers, sitting alone on the bottom, at about 60 ft., you’ll be surprised at the underwater creatures hanging around. Have your cameras ready.

A green sea turtle off Maui, Hawaii, Credit

More challenging dive are found in the Molokini locations, starting with the craters Enenue dive site, where you start by experiencing Butterfly fish and other tropical. When you get past 18 m. (60 ft.) you’ll be entering what’s known as the Shark Condo’s where you’ll find lobsters, White-tip and Maui Sharks in the caves, all the way down to 38 m. (125 ft.) Be careful around the caves, because Maui does have other sharks besides the White-tip, like the aggressive Tiger shark.

If your into it, another great dive is the Edge of the world, where you’ll find a shelf sticking out of the crater at about 15 m. (50 ft.) down. Making your way to the end of the cliff please be careful because the drop off goes all the way down to 76 m. (250 ft.) The lower depths are well known to contain some larger breeds of fish, and yes sharks.

Grey Reef Shark and Tiger Shark, Credit

For the experienced advanced diver, there’s one big dive that you need to do, and that’s the incredible wall dive on The Back Side. A combo of a drift and vertical drop to around 80 ft., where you will enjoy hanging with Giant Manta’s, Spinner Dolphins as well as white, grey and black tip sharks and other tropical swimmers. Watch you gauges, because the bottom is some 350 ft. below.

If you would like to experience shore diving you’ll need to head over to the West island, where you can find a few easily accessible spots to access the water. Keep in mind that if you can gain access to dive, snorkelers can gain access also, and the area could be crowded. One of the best is the Marriott Reef, that is easily accessed and you can dive to around 45 ft., with an abundance of fish and a whole bunch of sea turtles.

Another popular shore dive is Olowalu, and although it can get busy with snorkelers, there’s good diving to be had. There’s a large coral garden with much turtle activity, which draws the snorkelers.  Get past them and you will encounter eels, rays and octopus. You might want to keep your eyes out, because this area is kind of “Sharky”.

Playful Humpback whale in Maui, Credit

Shore Diving

Shore diving can be great or it can be impractical depending on if there happens to be large surf at the particular time you are here. If conditions are good, then there is a lot to see shore diving, such as sea turtles, eels, octopus and frogfish. Popular places are Makena Landing where there are some small caverns that white-tip reef sharks and turtles sometimes occupy; Mala Wharf, the pilings of a collapsed pier, where all sorts of varied marine life congregate, or any number of other places that a local dive shop can direct you to depending on what the conditions are when you are visiting. Some dive shops offer scooter dives as well, which take divers farther offshore than they would get on a typical shore dive.

Boat Diving

Boats leave from three locations on Maui and take divers to numerous places off of Maui or to nearby islands such as Molokini Crater, Lanai or sometimes Molokai. Most boats leave early (6-7 AM) and return around noon to avoid afternoon trade winds, which occur most days.

There is diving for all levels of certified divers off of Maui, Molokini Crater and Lanai. Maui dives include sea turtle populations, reefs, lava formations and wrecks such as the Carthaginian, the St. Anthony or some small WWII tanks or airplanes; Molokini Crater includes the healthiest coral reefs and walls, and Lanai offers dramatic lava caverns and reefs.

Liveaboard Diving

No live-aboard leaves from Maui. The only live-aboard in Hawaii leaves from the island of Hawaii (the Big Island).

Maui has some of the best diving in the world, if not the world, with most diving being done in the South Island including Molokini Crater as well as in the West Maui.

The best boat dives are located in Southern Maui locations of Makena, Kihei and Wailea.

 

5 Caves, sometimes called 5 Graves is a good dive, although only 9-15 m. (30 – 50 ft.) you will find many caves, pinnacles and lava ridges to investigate. Wildlife includes white tipped sharks, eels, turtles and other fish.

Turtle Caves is one of the best dives to see turtles up close, within its pinnacles, caves and canyons. With a maximum dive of 70 ft., you should encounter a plethora of tropical fish as well as live coral fields.

 

For the well-advanced diver, Hidden Pinnacle may be the challenge you are looking for, with a 120 ft. max depth. You’ll have to rely completely on your boat captain and Dive Master as to diving this spot, or not, because this site offers some intense currents. It’s named after the pinnacle, which reaches from the bottom all the way up to the surface, and is covered in coral. Photographers will have a time with this site, including activity of pyramid butterfly fish, octo coral and possibly sponges.

 

If diving wrecks, especially airplanes is your thing, the Hellcat Dive should interest you, because it’s a WW II F-6 Hellcat fighter sitting at a depth of around 10 m. (35 ft.)  And then there’s the Tank & Landing Craft Dive Site off the Makena Coastline and more survivors of WW II. They are both amphibious amtracs and personal assault carriers, sitting alone on the bottom, at about 60 ft., you’ll be surprised at the underwater creatures hanging around. Have your cameras ready.

 

More challenging dive are found in the Molokini locations, starting with the craters Enenue dive site, where you start by experiencing Butterfly fish and other tropical. When you get past 18 m. (60 ft.) you’ll be entering what’s known as the Shark Condo’s where you’ll find lobsters, White-tip and Maui Sharks in the caves, all the way down to 38 m. (125 ft.) Be careful around the caves, because Maui does have other sharks besides the White-tip, like the aggressive Tiger shark.

 

If your into it, another great dive is the Edge of the world, where you’ll find a shelf sticking out of the crater at about 15 m. (50 ft.) down. Making your way to the end of the cliff please be careful because the drop off goes all the way down to 76 m. (250 ft.) The lower depths are well known to contain some larger breeds of fish, and yes sharks.

 

For the experienced advanced diver, there’s one big dive that you need to do, and that’s the incredible wall dive on The Back Side. A combo of a drift and vertical drop to around 80 ft., where you will enjoy hanging with Giant Manta’s, Spinner Dolphins as well as white, grey and black tip sharks and other tropical swimmers. Watch you gauges, because the bottom is some 350 ft. below.

 

If you would like to experience shore diving you’ll need to head over to the West island, where you can find a few easily accessible spots to access the water. Keep in mind that if you can gain access to dive, snorkelers can gain access also, and the area could be crowded. One of the best is the Marriott Reef, that is easily accessed and you can dive to around 45 ft., with an abundance of fish and a whole bunch of sea turtles.

 

Another popular shore dive is Olowalu, and although it can get busy with snorkelers, there’s good diving to be had. There’s a large coral garden with much turtle activity, which draws the snorkelers.  Get past them and you will encounter eels, rays and octopus. You might want to keep your eyes out, because this area is kind of “Sharky”.

 

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How to Get There

You can either fly directly into Maui International Airport, or fly into Honolulu and take an island hopper flight. Kahului Airport is the primary airport on the island of Maui and receives both international and interisland flights.

Honolua Bay Maui, Credit

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Where to Eat & Drink

In West Maui you will find Merriman’s Kapalua, and incredible oceanfront dining establishment. The views from both inside and outside seating areas are spectacular and the food is almost totally sourced locally. Some of their favourites include keahole lobster; charred Ahi, Merrriman’s mix plate, and you just have to hell for dessert their toasted coconut crème Brulé.

Another local and visitor favourite is Sorrento’s on the Beach, especially if you're looking for an Italian flair with seafood. You will enjoy breathtaking views as you dine oceanfront, enjoying your gazpacho, beef Carpaccio, Osso Buco pot stickers, Hawaii Ahi Tuna and much more.

Sparrows in Maui, Hawaii, Credit

Last but not least another fantastic and internationally famous restaurant's Mama’s Fish House, located on the north shore. The menu at mamas is, constantly being upgraded based on the local fisherman's catch of the day along with only the finest local produced ingredients. The Ahi sashimi salad is excellent; the fresh mahi mahi stuffed with lobster and crab is to die for. And to go to lunch dinner or even a happy hour snack you must try one of their creative island cocktails.

If you're looking for a really good bar to enjoy your late afternoon or evening look no further than Milagros Food Company. Happy hour is from 1 o'clock to 5 PM every day and was voted the best happy hour on the island. Beware; they also held the largest tequila selection on the island as well.

Another great restaurant bar with a famous name is Tommy Bahamas in Wailea, and South Maui. Expect to be overwhelmed when you look at the size of the drink menu where you will surely find something tantalizing. There is also an amazing wine list offering many excellent wines from Australia, California, as well as Europe.

Also in West Maui you'll find Fleetwood’s on Front Street, a pretty upscale restaurant and bar the very relaxing upstairs where you can relax in island flair while you enjoy this Moroccan influenced rooftop bar. All through the week they offer live music as well as fantastic specialty island cocktails, including their Mojito, Mai Tyler and Fleetwood's Pimms Cup.

 

Maui Hawaii Pheasant, Credit

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Other Activities

You on one of the most beautiful islands in the world, with traditions dating back many ages, so while here you should experience one that’s unforgettable, Old Lahainu Luau. This is an authentic Hawaiian Luau. Offering not only the traditions of the culture, but also the most authentic Hawaiian food on the islands.

Beach and reef at Kawela, central Molokai, Hawaii, Credit

Of course the snorkelling is also fantastic on the island coastline, and some of the best can be part of a day sail on a catamaran dinner cruise. Another exciting adventure and perfect for video or helmet cam is riding a bike from the top of Haleakala volcano to the bottom.

If you want to continue with water sports, there isn’t much better ocean fishing than off the coast of Maui, and there are plenty of charters to help you catch a monster. Another thrill and camera moment and highly recommended, is to take a helicopter tour over the island of Maui. The charter helicopter rides will get you up close and personal to not only the tallest waterfall in the world, but inside a dormant volcano.

Family Friendly

It’s always a fun adventure with small younger children, of divers especially, to take them snorkelling to get them ready for their first dive. Another fun thing for families it to go on one of the many exciting zip line adventures.

Maui Ocean Center (aquarium), whale watching (November-April), snorkeling along shore, Pacific Whale Foundation guided tidepool exploration, surfing lessons, miniature golf, the Sugar Cane Train, zip-lining, Surfing Goat Dairy tours, nature hikes.

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Tips

When hiking wet trails to mountain waterfalls, be very attentive to “flash flood” signs, especially when it rains.

Be very careful when talking to locals about Hawaii, especially in bars or outlying areas. Many Hawaiian’s have shall we say “ill feelings” towards “mainlanders”. That being said, these issues never seem to appear with anyone associated with scuba diving.

Be very aware of what you Dive Master tells you and shows you. There are some plants as well as fish that you should avoid.

Kaanapali Beach, Maui, Hawaii, Credit

Maui has a hyperbaric chamber in town at the Maui Memorial Hospital.

The main tip that a visitor might not know is that nothing of value should be left in a parked car. Even if it is locked.

Maui has a hyperbaric chamber in town at the Maui Memorial Hospital

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