In October 2017 Tropical Storm Nate pitched the USS Kittwake on its side and up against the reef.
As a result, diving the USS Kittiwake shipwreck now provides an entirely different scuba diving experience. Previously she rested squarely on her keel, much like she was still sailing on the surface of the sea. However, she now looks and feels much more like a shipwreck.
Furthermore, navigation in the interior of the ship is more interesting. Likewise the feel of the ship has changed completely. The angle of the decks, walls and ceilings challenge your orientation and gives you the sense of a “true shipwreck”. Coral and algae continue to grow, and more fishes can be seen in and around the ship.
If you are wreck certified, shaft alley and the lower decks offer great opportunities for exploration. With numerous entry and egress points diving the USS Kittiwake is safe and quite interesting. Furthermore, the ship provides a great opportunity for training on wreck diving and exploration.
Whether you are a recreational or beginning diver to an experienced wreck diver, diving the USS Kittiwake offers a wonderful scuba diving adventure.
Diving the USS Kittiwake – History
The government of Grand Cayman sank the USS Kittiwake just off Seven
Mile Beach in 2011. Previously, the ship had a 54-year career in the US Navy as a submarine rescue ship. This ship utilized scuba divers throughout her career in the US Navy. Now, fittingly, she serves scuba divers in the Cayman Islands.
The USS Kittiwake Shipwreck has matured gracefully since she has been sunk. Though the logo is all but gone in the engine room, mirrors are gone or broken, and the upper part of the ship trimmed to prevent hazards on the surface, the wreck maintains an elegant grace.
While diving the USS Kittiwake you will find the lower shaft alley and other areas in the lower part of the ship are a bit more difficult to navigate. However, this again makes the dive a bit more alluring and challenging. Entry into the lower portions of the ship requires a shipwreck certification and should not be entered without the requisite training.
In conclusion, I hope you can go to Grand Cayman and take the opportunity for diving the USS Kittiwake. It will be a memorable experience.
View my complete gallery of the USS Kittiwake prior to your dives to get the most from the experience.
Back in Maui and I cannot wait for my first Scalloped HammerheadShark dive off of Molokai. We come back here each year for this dive and it is one of my favorite dives on the planet. The rich biodiversity of this dive site, the great topography and of course, the Scalloped Hammerheads.
I have been diving on this site now for over 10 years and it never gets old. It is an advanced dive and the seas can be quite rough but oh, what a dive. If you get the chance to dive here, I highly recommend it.
I dive the site with Lahaina Divers, which is the only dive operator on Maui that goes to this site. Lahaina Divers is a great dive company, extremely professional and competent with a number of diver professionals that have been on Maui for a number of years.
Mokuhooniki rock is situated off the northeastern point of Molokai in the Pailolo Channel. The trip takes about an hour from of Lahaina Harbor. You do a two-tank dive on the site with a surface interval of about 45 minutes. I dive this on Nitrox to help with bottom time, especially given the short surface interval. This will also allow you to descend to depth when needed for that perfect shot. The dive site ranges from 60 to 110 feet although at the end of the dive you could be in water that is over 150 feet.
The Scalloped Hammerhead Shark, Sphyrna lewini is an amazing creature. The adult can reach up to 14 feet in length but those found around Mokuhooniki rock tend to be around 6 to 10 feet in length. They typically can be found swimming alone or in small groups of 2 and 3s. However, there are times when these sharks begin to gather especially towards the summer where you can see dozens swimming together on this site.
shark with their GoPro hoping for that amazing shot. The result, of this behavior, is the shark will turn and swim away and deny the rest of the dive group a chance to interact with the shark. The best way to observe most sharks is to stay still or move slowly. The Scalloped Hammerhead is curious and if your dive group is still and chill you may well get an encounter you will never forget. I have had these marvelous sharks circle me for over 7 minutes on on a dive. But again, your group typically needs to be very relaxed to be able to get these sharks interact with you and the rest of your dive buddies.
I like to stay around 60 to 65 feet and look into the blue to spot the sharks. When I see some that are close or look like they may come in close I slowly descend to their depth, typically about 80 to 90 feet. However, these sharks can be anywhere in the water column so make sure you keep your head on a swivel. I like to stay on the outside of the dive group and towards Molokai on this dive. Typically, I stay about 10 meters away from Dive Master. This position allows me to better interact with the sharks without worrying as much about other divers behavior. However, you will encounter sharks close to Mokuho’oniki Rock and in the middle of the channel. So don’t worry, just keep looking and watching your dive guide.
This is amazing dive site. Take your time and enjoy.
Knob Hill is an interesting and very nice dive site. It is fairly shallow about 55 to 60 feet (16 to 18 meters) and teeming with life.
However, it is often not possible to dive on this site due to strong currents . Knob Hill is just off the coast of Lanai by the Four Seasons Hotel. Knob Hill’s name comes from a large rock formation near the surface that is supported by four columns. This is a large dive site on the south side of Lanai that is quite exposed. While, I have been diving around Lanai for 12+ years I have only been on this site three or four times.
Rating = 3.86 out of 5
Visibility – moderate to very good
Access – Moderate; boat only and 45 to 50 minutes from Lahaina Harbor
Current – moderate strong most of time
Depth to 60 ft / 18 m
Reef health Hard / Soft Corals – Very Good
Marine species variety – Very Good
Pelagics / Mammals / Turtles / Rays – moderate to good, typical at least 1 to 3 sightings up close, sometimes many more
The only reason Knob Hill is not rated higher, is the current makes it a very difficult dive site to dive 80% of the time. Correspondingly, if the current is mild this is an awesome site.
Knob Hill Overview
Knob Hill has a number of swim-throughs and volcanic structures, such as the “table” above that make the site quite interesting. The marine life on the site is varied and abundant. As a matter of fact, you will almost always find large schools fish. These schools typically consist of Pennant Butterflyfishes, Dascyllus, Yellow Tangs, Sea Turtles, White-tip Reef Sharks, various eels and much more. Once the boat is on the mooring at Knob Hill, the dive master make take you on several different routes around this expansive dive site. Due to the current and infrequent visits by divers, the hard coral here is quite healthy. In addition, there is a nice swim through / cave where you can frequently find White-tip Reef Sharks. Furthermore, you can also see quite a few nudibranchs on this site and rare species such as the endemic Yellow-striped Coris and Reticulated Butterflyfish.
In addition, Knob Hill has a nice swim through on the site where you can many times find White-tip Reef Sharks. In fact, this shark, in particular, was quite curious and swam with me through the swim through. He even gave me a nice profile. 🙂
Scuba Diving Molokai can be awesome, especially at Mokuhooniki Rock. In fact, the reef is one of the most interesting that I have dove on anywhere on the planet. Specifically, the variety of marine species, the isolation and relatively untouched environment make this a one of a kind location. But,……we all come for the Hammerheads.
Mokuhooniki Rock or islet is located at 21 07′ 40″N, 156 42’20″W just off the North eastern coast of Molokai. Also known as Fish Rain, this site is one of my top ten scuba diving sites in the world.
Specifically, interacting with such a variety of marine life combined with large pelagic species makes this place special. In fact, when scuba diving Molokai Mokuhooniki Rock, you encounter Hammerhead sharks on almost every dive. Moreover, you will also see a rich and diverse ecosystem. To illustrate, large schools of Damsels, Butterflyfishes, along with Dolphins and Tiger Sharks inhabit these waters. As a matter of fact, you will be hard pressed to find other more diverse dive sites.
As I stated before, the abundance and variety of marine life in such a pristine condition are exceptional. If you are on Maui and you are an advanced diver, you simply must do this dive.
Scuba Diving Molokai – The Adventure
Scuba Diving Molkai can be adventure diving at its peak. First of all, it takes about 45 minutes to an hour to go from the harbor in Lahaina to Mokuhooniiki Rock. Secondly, crossing the Pailolo (means crazy fishermen) channel alone can bring seasoned divers to their knees. It can be quite rough. This is not a beginners dive site. In fact, even if you are an advanced rated diver it can be challenging.
Thirdly, you should be extremely comfortable exiting a moving boat and reentering a moving boat in potentially rough and choppy seas. While, I have been on this site dozens of times and it can be like glass, it is extremely rare. The site can also have 6+ foot waves. I have seen divers break ribs on their reentering the boat. While others become extremely agitated and near panic on the pick up.
I remember one dive in particular where the waves, even in the lee of the rock, were running about 8 to 10 feet. While the boat came around to pick us up I was literally on the top of one wave. I was literally looking down at the captain of the boat. Who by the way, was on the top deck of a double deck dive boat. In fact, the boat was some 5 feet or so below me in the trough of a wave. With this in mind, I thought this is going to be a very interesting pickup.
But……what a great scuba diving site.
When scuba diving Molokai, you enter the dive site typically in the lee of the islet on the right above. The crew will let you know about ten minutes before it is time to enter the water. At this point, they will begin lining you up at the back of the boat one at a time. You will have your mask and fins on, BC inflated. In addition, you will be holding anything you want to take into the water with you, including cameras.
If you have not entered a dive site from a moving boat before this will a bit of an adventure for you. Think of it as channeling your inner Navy Seal. When you are lined up at the back of the boat, the captain will swing the boat around. When the boat points toward the islet and all divers are ready, the crew will say Divers Ready.
Dive, Dive, Dive
They will then begin counting down two minutes, one minute, etc. When the Captain gives his ok the crew will give you a signal “Dive, Dive, Dive”. Do NOT enter the water before the crew has given you the OK, and said “Dive, Dive, Dive”. At this point, divers will quickly enter the water one after the other while the boat is moving.
Typically up to 8 divers may enter in 15 to 20 seconds. You will then meet you dive guide on the surface and all begin your descent together. You are usually on the surface no more than 30 seconds before beginning your descent.
And what a wonderful descent. The islet will be on one side and you will see a gradual slope towards the bottom beneath you. The
depth is about 100 to 110 feet in the channel but only about 50 to 60 where you will be dropped off. When scuba diving Molokai, visibility is usually very good allowing you to see 100 to 150+ feet in the distance. And at Mokuhooniiki Rock there are fish everywhere.
The dive itself is basically a half-circle around Mokuhooniiki Rock and the boat will pick you up on the other side. Dive time is usually about 50 minutes give or take depending on depth of the dive and your air consumption. If you dive Nitrox, this is a great spot to use it as you can get a little more time at depth when looking for the Hammerheads. I usually hang out to the left of the group as I don’t want to have a lot of other divers close to me when I am trying to get a shot.
Getting the Shot
The Hammerheads sharks are a bit skittish. If you or someone in your group swims rapidly towards them, they will simply move away. While scuba diving Molokai, the key is to go slow and easy and be patient. As you start your descent from the boat you will follow the slope down to around 50 feet and then do one of two things. Either start swimming out into the blue and looking for the sharks, which we do many times on the first dive, or you will begin to swim around the islet.
There can be a bit of current here but usually it is not too bad. Or if there is a ripping current it is usually going the direction of the dive once you pass the corner of the islet and it simply becomes a drift dive. When Scuba Diving Molokai, you can see anything from dolphin, to Tiger Sharks (not often), to Greys, to Hammerheads, to a Monk seal. You may also encounter a variety of rays and there have even been a few rare Humpback Whale sightings while on the dive (December to April). The abundance of various fishes and eels will blow you away. There are also many endemic species on this site so be attentive and take your time.
Getting Back on the Boat
When you surface you will stay with your dive group until the boat comes to get you. You will need a safety sausage to go on this dive and at least one of you will inflate the sausage at the end of the dive to signal the boat. If it is rough it is very important to stay as close together as possible while you are waiting to be picked up. Their could be one or max two other groups in the water, so you may have to wait several minutes to be picked up. Again be patient.
The boat will come very close to you and throw a line out to the divers. You have to swim to the line and grab a hold and then begin to slowly move up the line towards the boat. You will take off your fins while you are holding on the line and have those in one hand to give to one of the crew as they help you aboard.
If you have a camera as I do, then you will give them your camera first to the crew and then take off your fins. Then you will proceed towards the boat and use a ladder to board. Scuba diving Molokai can be quite intimidating if you have never done something like this. However, the crew is exceptionally good at what they do. Listen to them and do as they say and you will be fine. Believe me this dive will be worth it.
Rinse and Repeat
After you finish your first dive and complete your surface interval, you will basically repeat the same dive on your second dive. But there is enough scuba diving Molokai to interest you no matter how many times you dive it.
After scuba diving Molokai you get to relax on the boat ride back to Lahaina and enjoy the other adventures that Maui has to offer.
Molokini Crater is one of my favorite dive sites in Maui County. The boat ride from Lahaina Harbor is around 45 minutes and provides spectacular scenery of the islands of Maui and Lanai. The crater has abundant hard corals on the inside and outside “wall” and provides great dive opportunities for both beginner and advanced divers. If you like a drift dive, then the outer wall dives are for you. If you like a dive taken at a more leisurely pace with lots of exploration, then the inside crater dives are great. There is a tremendous amount of marine life at the site, including anything from very small shrimps to a variety of sharks and rays, and, yes, even Humpback whales, which have been seen on very rare occasions.
There are a number of dive sites on the inside of the crater including Reef’s End, Enenui, Middle Reef, and Taco Flats. There is also a site near Enenui at about 110 feet that use to be referred to as Shark Condos, which as the name implies, is a rocky alcove where you can usually find 2 to 4 white-tip reef sharks. Unfortunately, many of the dive boats do not take divers to this depth.
From late December to early April you can usually hear the Humpback Whales singing throughout the dive, which is just awesome. I have seen a number of different sharks and rays on this site over the years and it is one of my favorite dive sites in Maui. Lots of “critters” to photograph and the coral is very healthy all around the crater.
I typically use Lahanina Divers when I go to Molokini Crater and they have always treated us very well. The captains are very experienced with the channels and conditions around Maui and manage the dives safely and efficiently. The boats are fairly roomy with ample space for gear and getting “kitted-up” prior to the dive. I have tried some of the dive operators off of Kihei, Hawaii, including the guy with the “fastest-boat on Maui”, but I find those boats a good bit smaller (they are launched from a boat ramp by Kihei) and very cramped. If you’re are staying in or near Ka’anapali or Lahaina, I highly recommend not making the drive to Kihei, but using a dive operator out of Lahaina.
We began a two week look at Maui, Lanai and Molokai reefs with a visit to Turtle Reef on Maui. Turtle Reef is located outside and to the south of the harbor in Lahaina.
Furthermore, the name of this reef actually refers to a general area of reef on the western side of Maui. The site runs from just past the harbor in Lahaina to Ukumehama Beach State Park (also know as Thousand Peaks). In fact, this large area of reef has many dive spots and is relatively shallow with most of the dive under 35 to 40 feet. This is a great spot for chilling and the reef is in very good conditions in most areas. In addition, this site is popular for refresher dives and for completing the basic dives required for scuba certification.
The site can be a bit cloudy if the seas are choppy or you have a large swell, but for the most part visibility is reasonable. It is also a good place to see a wide variety of Hawaiian marine life. This site can be accessed from boat or shore. The trip fro the harbor is just about 10 minutes so an easy ride and a great way to spend an afternoon.
Five of the world’s seven species of sea turtles make their home in Hawaii. These include the Green Sea Turtle (honu), Hawksbill (honu‘ea), Leatherback, loggerhead, and Olive Ridley. However, the green sea turtle is by far the most commonly encountered sea turtle on Hawaiian reefs. The next most common is theHawksbill. Olive ridley, Leatherback, and Loggerhead sea turtles are typically found in deeper, offshore waters. Consequently they are rarely seen by the average ocean-goer. On Maui, sea turtles are a favorite discovery of snorkelers and divers on the island’s South and West coastlines.
Up later in the week are dives on Molokini Crater, Lanai, other areas of Maui and Molokai (looking for those Hammerheads).
If you are heading Hawaii and looking for places to dive, consider these top Hawaiian dive sites. There are many great dives sites to visit. However, for me, the top Hawaiian Dive Sites are on Lanai, Molokai, Maui and the Big Island of Hawaii.
However, advanced /experienced divers must head for Molokai and Fish Rain. This is the place for Hammerheads. Fish Rain is a beautiful pinnacle that literally “rains” fish as you look for the elusive Hammerhead sharks.
Furthermore, on Maui, there are several good places. Two of my favorites are Molokini Crater and Mala Pier. You can dive Mala Pier as either a boat dive or a shore dive. However, it is really a great night dive. In fact, it is one of my favorite spots in Hawaii. Easy entry (off the boat ramp) and usually great visibility. The site almost always has sharks and turtles. Also, it has great ambient light for photography.
On the Big Island, you have to do the Manta Dive. Check out the phases of the moon (seriously) before you go. It seems that the Mantas can be seen more in the waxing and waning phases of the moon. Furthermore, you can also check on daily sightings and help determine when it is your best chance at seeing the most Manta Rays.
For information on other dive sites go to my Hawaii Dive Sites page.. and visit my website for images of fish from around the world and reviews of other great dive sites.
Bali’s coral reefon Menjangan Island hosts some of the most beautiful coral reefs in the world. Menjangan Island has been a marine preserve and protected by the Balinese government for a number of years. The island is also fairly isolated in that once you arrive at the airport you have to travel 4 to 6 hours by car to get to the resorts close to the island. This means their are few divers that explore this marvelous site that is rich with all types of marine species and you can also on special occasions come across large pelagic species such as the whale shark.
Menjangan Island Scuba Diving History
Menjangan Island, in the north-west of Bali, is where diving first really started on the island back in about 1978, under the sponsorship of the Indonesian Navy, when it arranged a get-together of the country’s main diving clubs – Possi, Ganesha, Nusantara & Triskati.
That lead to Menjangan Island establishing itself as the premier dive location in Bali and many of the attendees went on to become the pioneers of commercial dive operations across Indonesia. About a year later the Liberty wreck was explored for the first time since it had slipped down the slope at Tulamben in March 1963 and Menjangan Island was soon relegated to the background of Bali diving.
Menjangan Island is part of the 19,000 hectare West Bali (Bali Barat) National Park that was first established in 1982. However, the island was made a game reserve by the Balinese Council of Kings in 1950 and has been fairly well protected ever since. Both the relative difficulty of getting to the Menjangan Island from the normal tourist spots on Bali plus the fact that the site has been relatively protected since 1950 has resulted in a coral reef that is both vibrant and flourishing around the island. The Liberty wreck in Tulamben is also still a favorite dive site, but has a very high amount of diver traffic and the site has predictably shown quite a bit of wear and tear.
Getting to Menjangan Island
If you are in the Nusa Dua, Kuta or Sanur area it will normally take you around 3.5 hours assuming no bad “jams” as the locals refer to the often crowded conditions of the roads on Bali. It can take up to six hours if the roads and traffic do not cooperate. The best alternative is to stay at a local resort while diving on the north side of the island. The Matahari Beach Resort and Spa in Permuteran is one of my favorites and is located next to the Coral Project in Permuteran Bay. The hotel is definitely 4 to 5 stars and the largest of the resorts on this side of the island with excellent service, food and access to diving sites. I love the dive operator on the property, a Swiss German expat, who runs a very competent organization.
Getting to the Dive Sites
You can reach the dive sites via boats off the coast of Pemuteran Bay in front of the dive resorts or a boat from Banyuwedang Bay or perhaps the boat service run by the parks service. If you are staying at one of the resorts around Pemuteran Bay, taking the boat in front of your resort is the way to go. The boat trip is about 30 to 40 minutes and the seas are usually fairly flat as the area around Menjangan Island is fairly well protected.
Diving is great year round and even in the “rainy winter season” the visibility is normally quite clear. The island is not large and does not have much fresh water runoff that will impact visibility. There can be some current on various sites around the island so you may dive some of the sites as drift dives. Remember to listen to the instructions of your dive master and enjoy the dive.
Magical and almost mystical, the kelp forests of California provide a unique and interesting habitat that stirs and inspires the imagination. Giant Kelp Forests, Macrocystis pyrifera, thrive along the western coast of North America, South America, South Africa, Southern Australia, and New Zealand
where water temperatures typically range from 50° to 60° F (10°–15.5°C). The Giant Kelp can also thrive in depths up to 30.5 m (100 ft.) depending upon the clarity of the water and the amount of sunlight available at depth. As the largest kelp species, giant kelp attains heights up to 45.7 m (150 ft.) and in ideal conditions, giant kelp fronds can grow as much as 0.6 m (2 ft.) per day.
Swimming through these magnificent kelp forests is special. With their tree-like structures swaying gently in the current, the
Giant Kelp provides a perfect habitat for a wide variety marine creatures. These life sustaining structures provide a critical foundation habitat to a number of fish, crustaceans, sea anemones, corals, jellyfishes, sea otters and much more.
Giant kelp is golden brown with rootlike holdfasts, long, branched stipes and hundreds of wrinkled blades supported by bulb-shaped pneumatocysts. It is an awesome experience to swim silently amongst these kelp forests as they gently sway with the current. The light is subdued and somewhat distorted amongst the “branches” of the Giant Kelp and resident species of fish dart to and fro. Visibility can range from a few inches to almost 60 feet depending upon the current and waves and whether the bottom is mainly sand or rock/coral. With colorful Gerabaldi swimming around you along with a number of other species this makes a really interesting dive.
Although the water temperature is cool to cold and you must wear a 5 to 7 mil wetsuit this is a dive that you should make a least once and if you are lucking enough to live along the California coast or the west coast of Latin America this should be a regular part of your diving.
I had a lot of fun putting these images together and creating some really interesting fine art and vintage photos of the Carthaginian II shipwreck in Maui Hawaii. When I dive on a particular site a number of times I tend to equate a certain feel or mood for the site. The Carthaginian II, originally a German cement transport ship, is almost 100 years old and was originally built and launched in 1920. The ship was purchased by the Lahaina Restoration Foundation and extensive refitted to make the ship resemble a 1800’s period whaling ship. The ship was
used as a floating museum in the harbor of Lahaina for over 30 years. Remembering the ship floating in the harbor and now seeing her laying on the sea floor just outside of the harbor brings up a certain sense of nostalgia.
Age and Mystery
What I wanted to create was a sense of the age of the ship and the purpose that she served in Maui and even in Hawaii more generally. When I dive on the ship, although she is not large, I sometimes get a sense of the “ghosts” of periods past associated with this aging wreck. The ship’s main mast collapsed in the summer of 2011 and is now situated on top of the ship. The hold is buckled significantly but makes a great shot if you lie down on the floor of the cargo hold of the ship. There are a number of
hard corals that have attached themselves to various portions of the wreck and you can usually find a reasonable variety of marine life on board.
To get the feel I was looking for in Vintage Carthaginian II, I choose to take a number of wide angle shots where I can see the entire ship and also a few photos where I would have interesting features that would lend themselves to a sense of age and provide a certain forlorn aspect to the photo. As many of you can appreciate, getting a great photo to work with is the first part of the endeavor and I then went to work in Photoshop to give the images the exact look
and feel that I wanted. As I began to work
with the images I kept coming back to black and white images with good contrast with interesting textures and/or features to bring out the moodiness of the dive site. These photos will go well with whale song form the Humpbacks that you can typically hear if you dive the site from late December up to late April or May.
I hope will agree the final images for Vintage Carthaginian II provide a sense of mystery and intrigue as well as a sense of discovery. Though the ship continues to age and various parts continue to deteriorate the wreck still continue to be a
great dive for a long time. The key on this dive as most dives is to go very slow. This is a small sight and while she lies at about 80 feet you still have plenty of bottom time to explore. Let you imagination run away with you and imagine the life of the whaler and the importance of whaling in the development of the Hawaiian Islands.