Aloha! Oahu – The main island – the one with Honolulu, Waikiki, and Pearl Harbor is known to the ancient Hawaiians as “The Gathering Place”. Not necessarily a designated diving destination, this island still offers good diving and tons to do during a day off from blowing bubbles.
Honolulu is this 50th. US state capitol as well as home to the international airport. The total area of the island consists of 594 sq. miles – 44 miles long and 30 miles wide with 112 miles of coastline and is easy to navigate. Oahu is also the most populated Hawaiian Island in Hawaii with over 950,000 residents.
Oahu is one of the most beautiful islands of Hawaii and certainly the most versatile. Honolulu is a sprawling city but with splendid beaches and a very luscious feel. Upon leaving the general Honolulu area and traveling to the northern side of the island the scenery is downright country with beautiful beaches and misty mountains covered by rainforests.
The north shore also boasts the biggest and best surfing in the world and is the “Mecca” of surfers from around the world. During our visit we were lucky to witness the 2004 Vans Triple Crown of Surfers and what a sight it was! What a treat to watch surfers tackle the enormous waves and pipelines while happily sitting in the sun on a beautiful beach. We also visited the North Western Wai’anae coast which is truly the best dolphin watching and snorkeling spot in all of Hawaii.
Oahu has lots to offer from enjoying the beaches and people watching to hiking, mountain biking and camping. It is also a foodie’s heaven with great restaurants and local treats. Oahu really has it all.
Diving is also popular on Oahu and can include beach dives, boat dives, multiple dive sites and dive locations, scuba certification, night dives and PADI courses. Dive sites include shipwrecks, a Corsair Fighter plane wreck, cave dives and dives to lava tubes and beautiful coral reefs. Many of the dives on Oahu are off the coast of Waikiki and the South Shore but some of the more adventurous scuba diving is off the coast of the North Shore. This is only possible when the weather conditions allow it which means in the summer.
Best Dive Sites in Oahu
Our favorite afternoon dive was Turtle Canyons, a pleasant shallow dive with gigantic green turtles laying all over the reef and lots of Octopus. Also impressive were the dives on wrecks and fighter plane. There was plenty of marine life to enjoy as well although the reefs seemed a little barren in growth.
Oahu Diving – Town Side
Close to Waikiki and with some of the best dives on the island, conditions are almost always ideal here. If you haven’t dived Oahu waters, or if it is winter, this is a great place to start.
YO-257 and San Pedro wrecks and Kewalo Pipe
The top choice for diving off Waikiki this set of dives offers the chance to visit two separate wrecks on the first dive followed by a second shallower reef dive. These two wrecks lie side by side in 75-95ft of water and are almost always the resting place of 2-10 green sea turtles on a typical day. Small white tip reef sharks are sometimes seen through the holes in the wreck and a good selection of the deeper reef fishes can be found on the reef between the wrecks. The shallower second dive is navigated easily by following a retired drain pipe seaward with finger reefs on either side. A good selection of Hawaii’s 40 species of moray eels can be seen here.
100ft Hole and Kingman’s Reef
The 100ft hole is apparently named because the bottom is actually 85ft and the major feature is a rock formation. This dive is usually done by special appointment only as the sight is fairly small and can comfortably only hold a few divers at a time. However, the single swim through and the surrounding coral formations are well worth the trip. Many large game fish are commonly spotted at this dive site. Kingman’s Reef is a series of finger reefs that are found in 30ft of water. One of the overhangs is a common baby white tip resting area. Triton’s trumpets, nudibranchs, anemone crabs, and octopus are some of usually suspects at this reef.
Sea Tiger and Turtle Canyons
The Sea Tiger is the deepest regularly dove wreck in Hawaii. Over 150ft long, this forcibly retired smuggling vessel lies in a protected area off Waikiki, and can often still be dove when other dive sites are washed out due to weather. White spotted eagle rays, large puffer fish, and scribbled filefish are often found in the water column here. A resident Commerson’s frogfish is often spotted here as well. Turtle Canyons is right off Waikiki. These finger reefs are heavily populated by schools of reef fish. Turtles feed here as well. Many types of Hawaii’s 19 species of eel are spotted here as well. Make sure to control your buoyancy well and take a close look into large coral heads, many typed of crabs, hawk fish, and blennies make their home in the protecting branches.