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.
Molokini Crater is one of the best dives if not the best dive on Maui. This scuba diving site is only accessible via boat and is at the remnants of an extinct volcano. The crescent of the volcano “cone” rises above the sea some 165 feet. The small island lies in the Alalakeiki Channel between the islands of Kahoolawe and Maui. The opening side of the crater faces the northwest and only a short boat ride from the Wailea side of Maui. If you are interested in some of the history around Molokini Crater there is a short article written by Edward L Caum, Geology of Molokini and published in 1930. There are a couple of “plate” photographs included in the article and it is interesting to compare to the crater today. Molokini Crater has been a Marine Preserve(MLCD) since the summer of 1977 and features one of the most pristine hard coral reefs in Hawaii.
The ride from the Lahina side of the island takes about 45 minutes and if you tend to get sea sick, I would recommend driving about 45 minutes or an hour to the Wailea area where you can take a very easy boat ride to the crater.
I prefer scuba diving with Lahina Divers but you must take about a 45 minute boat ride to the Molokini crater. If you want you can use a scuba diving operator that leaves from the Wailea side of Maui. If you are staying in Wailea I would certainly recommend this, although the boats tend to be smaller and there is one operator on that side that I simply refer to as the “Scuba Nazi”. So be careful of the operator that you choose. Make sure you check out the reviews and the equipment used by each of the dive operators. The v-hull boats that leave the Wailea area can be quite cramped if the number of divers is more than 10 on the boat and on many of these there is little if any room to move around.
Access – Moderate to Moderately Difficult to reach the site; boat only (You should not take a boat from Lahaina if you get seasick – 45 minute boat ride); Much easier ride from Wailea side.
Depth to 125+ft
Visibility – good to excellent
Current – mild to extremely strong at the edges of the crater
Marine Species variety – good; normally White-tip Reef Sharks at about 110 feet on the far eastern edge of the crescent
Reef health – good to very good
Scuba Diving Molokini Crater is certainly the best boat dive on the island of Maui. You have to go to Lanai or Molokai to find better deep water scuba diving sites. The clarity of the water is usually quite good at Molokini and there are a several dive sites on the volcano on the outside of the crescent shape crater and on the inside of the crater.
Enenue – Inside eastern tip of the crescent
Middle Reef – Inside just to the east of the middle of the crescent and closer to the cone
Tako Flats – Inside on the western side of the crescent
Reef’s End – Far western end of the crescent
The Back Side – Outside or on the back of the crescent
For inside the crater I like the Eastern edge – Enenue. At about 120 feet there is a series of overhangs that tend to house several White-tip Reef Sharks. As you are swimming down and back up after visiting the “condos” there is a good variety of marine species. You will find typical butterflyfishes, wrasses, damselfishes, eels, and crustaceans all around the crater. You will also find sea turtles on a regular basis and on a very rare occasion humpback whales have been seen by scuba divers at Molokini crater.
The current can be quite strong on the outside edges of the crater, so do not go outside the crater for any reason if your group is scuba diving the “inside”. The current at the edges can take a diver quite a distance in a very short period of time. For this reason you must take a safety sausage with you on this dive and know how to use it. If you are scuba diving the inside of the crater you will rarely have much if any current and even if the seas are choppy the cone of the volcano protects the inner dive sites quite well.
In the sand flats of the crater you will often find Freckled Snake Eels, so take your time on this dive and also make sure you “look” into the distance often as you can see various types of sharks and on especially amazing dives you may even see a Humpback Whale. If you are diving in whale season (December to April/May) make sure you listen for the whale song. In February to early April I have heard literally dozens of whales singing to each other. It certainly makes the dive a lot more interesting.