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Diving Hawaii

Hawaii offers a range of diving sites for the novice or enthusiast.

Divers in Hawaii see a picturesque underwater ecosystem. [©Jupiter Images, 2009]
©Jupiter Images, 2009
Divers in Hawaii see a picturesque underwater ecosystem.

Diving Hawaii

A diving Hawaii experience can be booked off many of the 132 islands in the island chain. The four islands most frequently visited -- Oahu, Maui, Kauai and Hawaii -- have numerous dive sites that showcase a thriving underwater ecosystem. According to HawaiiScubaDiving.com, other islands like Niihau, Molokai and Lanai are typically dived by more experienced divers. Diving off the island of Kahoolawe requires a charter dive boat.

There are a number of diving companies throughout Hawaii that outfit divers and charter boats to dive sites as well as recommend diving sites. Many companies in Hawaii offer scuba training for people looking to dive for the first time. Hawaii diving clubs regularly organize boat and shore dives for members who pay a regular membership fee.

Hawaii Diving Sites

There are dive sites all around the island of Oahu. The east side of the island has the most dive sites, but they can be affected by trade winds. The west side of the island usually has better visibility, because it lies outside the area usually affected by trade winds. Waters on the north side of the island are only calm during summer months. All around the island are a number of shipwrecks, reefs and other underwater geological formations as well as a variety of wildlife, including sea turtles. Dive companies operate all over the island.

The east side of Kauai, like Oahu, is subject to trade winds and is rarely visited by divers. Water off the west side of the island showcases coral formations and abundant underwater wildlife, including sharks and other large fish. Accessibility to some of the better Kauai dive sites is often dependent on weather conditions, according to the Dive Kauai Scuba Center. Some dive companies on the island offer access to the island of Niihau, which has dives appropriate for experienced divers.

The west coast of Maui, protected from the wind, has a variety of dive sites for all levels of expertise. Sites like Molokini, Black Rock and Five Caves are home to underwater geological formations and a variety of wildlife. Maui features a number of popular shore dive sites that run to depths of 40 to 50 feet. This depth, according to Maui Scuba Diving, is where the majority of Hawaiian marine life is seen. Animals like fish, eels, turtles, sharks and rays populate dive sites along Maui.

Hawaii, the biggest island in the Hawaiian island chain, has dives in waters of supreme clarity, with visibility exceeding 100 feet. The island offers sites with multiple underwater lava formations and proximity to dolphins and whales. Many dives are accessible by boat or from shore.

Hawaii Diving Companies and Training

Dive companies operate on most of the main islands in Hawaii and offer services like guided dives, dive instruction, training and charter services. Many companies offer PADI certification. PADI, the Professional Association of Diving Instructors, is the world's leading scuba diving training association. Even people who have never been diving can begin to learn the activity within minutes with the help of a certified instructor. After introductory dives, divers may take scuba diving lessons and eventually take a course that confers international scuba certification. Full open water dive certification can be achieved in as few as three days. Classes involve book studying as well as hands-on learning, but dive companies may mail study materials to vacationers before they visit Hawaii to speed up the certification process.

Dive companies offer training and different diving experiences. The Waikiki Diving Center on Oahu offers a number of dives, including chartered dives and PADI certification. Maui Dreams Dive Co. provides guided dives, sales, rentals and a variety of instructional services, including scuba and open water diving, photography classes and instructor courses. Kona Honu Divers on the island of Hawaii offers certification, chartered dives, dolphin swims and reef snorkeling trips.

Hawaii Diving Clubs

Diving clubs in Hawaii offer a number of benefits to members, including discounts on diving trips or lessons and regularly scheduled dive trips. Clubs also offer a way to meet other people interested in diving and may arrange trips to dive sites outside of Hawaii.

Diving clubs operate on multiple Hawaiian Islands and may have different specialty membership focuses. The Oahu Scuba Diving Club organizes weekly dives and secures member discounts on gear rental and certification courses. Membership may be bought by Hawaiian residents or non-residents. The Sea Lancers Diving Club on Oahu caters to active Department of Defense and U.S. military members, retirees and their families. Members of the Kona Underwater Photographic Society share a love of underwater photography and organize dives for that purpose on the island of Hawaii.

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