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The Best Diving Spots In Oahu And How To Prepare

We currently live in a vast and beautiful world, one that is bursting with a variety of natural wonders, from endless deserts to lush rainforests. But did you know that some of the most magical places on earth are underwater?

Not only does the deep blue sea cover 70 percent of the planet, but it is also home to a strange and vibrant ecosystem, which is home to a selection of flamboyant and colorful creatures.

So how can you immerse yourself in this rich and diverse underwater world? By going diving of course! 

The Best Diving Spots In Oahu And How To Prepare

These days, there are numerous diving spots across the globe, where you can fully experience all that the ocean has to offer, from bountiful coral reefs to submerged shipwrecks. However, some of the best diving spots in the world can currently be found around the tropical islands of Hawaii, which is known for its array of unique fish. So if you are interested in exploring the clear waters of this exotic land, then you have come to the right place. 

Planning a diving trip can be a long and time-consuming process, as there are various factors that need to be considered before you can confirm your booking.

So to help aid you in the process, we have compiled a list of the best diving spots in Oahu, one of the many islands that form the Hawaii chain.

We have also included some important information regarding the diving spots and how you can prepare for them, from the risks you will need to overcome to the sea creatures you may encounter. 

So let’s get started…

The Best Diving Spots In Oahu

To begin our guide, we will be taking a detailed look at the best diving spots that Oahu has to offer. Each site we have chosen is rich in natural resources and will provide you with ample opportunities to experience the alien beauty of the underwater world.

Because Oahu offers many spectacular diving spots, we have also divided our list into two categories: coral reefs and shipwrecks. So that even the most daring of divers will have something to keep themselves entertained. 

Now let’s take a look at the best diving spots in Oahu!

Best Shipwreck Dives

As a popular tourist destination, Oahu is home to over ten commercial shipwrecks, which are all easily accessible and open to the public. Over the years, these shipwrecks have become magnets for sea life, accumulating a diverse variety of coral and fish. 

So if you want to explore some of the best shipwreck diving sites in the world, just take a look down below and you will find everything that you need to know. 

1. The Corsair Airplane Wreck

Location: South Oahu
Overview

Considered to be one of the most famous wrecks in Oahu, the Corsair Airplane Wreck is a small diving spot located one hour from the Hawaii Kai Marina, where it has remained since its original submersion back in 1946.

As a wreck, the plane remains almost completely intact, with the structure sporting a standing propeller and bent wing. However, this does not mean that the site does not come with its dangers, as the wreck is sometimes guarded by a very territorial moray eel. 

Situated at a maximum depth of 107’, it can take a total of fifteen minutes to reach the underwater wreck, which means this site is often categorized as a deep dive by professionals and enthusiasts alike.

Beyond this, the site is also home to a diverse range of underwater species, such as garden eels, frogfish and even a giant octopus, which has made its home in the pilot’s cockpit. 

What You Will See
  • Garden eels 
  • Frogfish 
  • Corals
  • Moray eels 
  • Octopus

2. The LCU Wreck

Location: East Oahu
Overview

Otherwise known as the Landing Craft Utility Wreck, this diving site can be found on the sandy bottom of the Pacific Ocean, where it currently rests under 85’ of water.

Surrounded on all sides by artificial reef blocks, this diving spot boasts a unique variety of sea life, with the ship itself housing white tip reef sharks and other notable species.

However, one of the best things about this particular wreck is the bottom, where you can see an array of fish swimming upside down. 

Beyond the wreck itself, the average dive tour will also take you to explore the surrounding reefs, providing you with plenty of opportunities to experience all that this unique spot has to offer.

If you are wreck specialty certified, then it is also possible to explore the ship’s interior, although this should only be done with the correct equipment and a trusted diving partner.

This site is also known for its abundance of hermit crabs and is home to one of the rarest substances in the world - black coral. 

What You Will See
  • Whitetip reef sharks 
  • Hermit crabs 
  • White-coral goby 
  • Black coral 
  • Various fish 

3. The Sea Tiger Wreck

Location: South Oahu
Overview

The next entry on our list is often ranked as one of the best diving spots in the whole of Hawaii, with the colossal wreck offering spectacular views, diverse sea life and several swim-through opportunities.

Originally submerged in 1996, the Sea Tiger stands upright under 120’ of water and offers very little in terms of coral or sponges.

However, what the vessel lacks in underwater growth it makes up for with its unique ecosystem, which now hosts a variety of creatures such as moray eels, nudibranchs and eagle rays. 

Considered one of Oahu’s premium diving sites, the vessel itself remains almost completely intact, which means it can be readily explored by any daredevil divers who are wreck certified.

However, this does not mean that the site is the safest location to explore, as the large labyrinthine structure can be very easy to get lost in, so make sure that you are always accompanied by an instructor or diving buddy. 

What You Will See
  • School fish 
  • Moray eels 
  • Nudibranchs 
  • Eagle rays 
  • Starfish 

4. The YO-257 Wreck

Location: South Oahu
Overview

Another popular diving site that often finds itself on bucket lists across the world is the YO-257 Wreck, which offers extraordinary sea life and more coral growth than our previous entry.

However, this site is not known for its penetration spots, even though it does come with a swim-through area that is arguably the most beautiful in the whole of Hawaii.

When exploring this particular wreck, you will be allowed to swim straight through the stern, a weedy underworld where a large sea turtle often makes its home. 

Resting upright under 97’ of water, the YO-257 is considered to be one of Oahu’s best deep dives and is known for its impressive sights, which can be seen from the bow of the sunken vessel.

The ship was originally sunk in 1989 by the Atlantic Submarine Company and is now situated near some of Hawaii’s most notable artificial reefs.

The maximum depth of this dive will usually reach 85’, although this does not mean that you can’t hug the bottom should the opportunity arise. 

What You Will See
  • Blue octocoral 
  • Sea turtles 
  • School fish 
  • Whitetip reef sharks 
  • Sponges 
  • Various fish 

5. The Mahi Wreck

Location: West Oahu
Overview

During its heyday, this particular diving spot was home to one of the most fantastic wrecks in Hawaii, until the vessel’s bridge collapsed during a tropical storm.

However, this does not mean that you should not pay the site a visit, as it offers some of the best views and sea life in the whole of Oahu. 

Not only is the wreck home to a variety of vibrant fish and nudibranchs, but it also boasts more pufferfish than any other Hawaiian diving spot. 

Originally sunk in 1989 to become an artificial reef, the wreck has seen a lot of damage over the years and is considered unsafe for exploration, which means divers are advised to only swim around the exterior of the boat.

Resting under 95’ of water, the wreck is considered to be one of Oahu’s most famous diving sites, with the wreck also housing reef sharks and several varieties of octopus. So there will be plenty to keep you occupied when you finally pay this spot a visit. 

What You Will See
  • Nudibranchs
  • Reef sharks 
  • Pufferfish 
  • Eagle rays 
  • Octopus 
The Best Diving Spots In Oahu

Best Coral Reef Dives

Beyond its selection of shipwrecks, the island of Oahu is also home to several coral reefs that have since become popular diving destinations for tourists from all over the world.

So if you want to know more about these reefs and the various creatures you will encounter, then we have outlined everything that you need to know in the following sections. 

1. Turtle Canyon

Location: South Oahu 
Overview

For the first entry on our list, we have chosen one of Oahu’s most popular reefs, which can be located only a few minutes away from the coast.

Known as Turtle Canyon, this particular dive site is home to the highest population of sea turtles in Hawaii and is the perfect place to observe these majestic creatures in their natural habitat. 

Situated under 50 feet of water, this reef is considered a shallow dive and can be readily accessed by both snorkelers and swimmers.

When you explore this reef, you will find the sandy bottom alive with sea turtles, who are used to divers and openly accept them into their territory.

This means that you will have plenty of opportunities to snap a few selfies with the peaceful reptiles, who are perfectly comfortable with human interaction.

Beyond this, the reef ledge also overhangs a variety of underwater species, from octopuses, eels, reef sharks and dolphins. 

What You Will See
  • Sea turtles 
  • Reef sharks 
  • Octopus 
  • Moray eels 
  • Dolphins 

2. Shark’s Cove

Location: North Oahu
Overview

Located on Oahu’s northern shore, Shar’s Cove is a diving spot unlike any other and is a must-see if you are planning a summer excursion to the tropical island.

This shore dive is currently overseen by the Pupukea Marine Sanctuary and can be easily identified by its volcanic topography and distinctive sea life.

The diving site is also home to several caves and swim-throughs that offer some of the most spectacular views in Hawaii. 

Situated under 15-16 feet of water, the dive is considered a relatively easy submersion and remains a popular destination among snorkelers and scuba divers to this day.

However, you should not let the name fool you, for the site does not actually attract sharks and is instead home to a variety of nautical life. 

When exploring the various reefs and caves, you will likely encounter nudibranchs, as well as eels, rays and countless varieties of colorful fish. 

What You Will See
  • Moray eels 
  • Reef fish 
  • Eagle rays 
  • Octopus 
  • Nudibranchs

3. Makaha Caverns

Location: West Oahu 
Overview

If you want to experience all that the Pacific ocean has to offer, then we recommend taking a trip to Makaha Caverns, a professional diving site that is currently located along Oahu’s western shore.

Considered to be one of the most breathtaking sites in the whole of Hawaii, this diving site provides ample opportunities to swim alongside some of Hawaii’s largest marine life, such as whitetip reef sharks and green turtles. 

Featuring endless caves and chambers, this dive site was originally formed by natural lava, which resulted in the creation of underwater tunnels brimming with a diverse ecosystem of tropical life.

Situated under 30 feet of water, these caves are best attended by certified divers and promise to yield some of the most unique sea creatures in the world.

So if you pay this site a visit, remember to keep an eye out for octopuses, sea turtles and five different species of eel. 

What You Will See
  • Octopus 
  • Reef sharks 
  • Green turtles 
  • Moray eels 
  • Frogfish 

4. Kahe Point

Location: West Oahu 
Overview

Otherwise known as Electric Beach, Kahe Point can be found on Oahu’s western shore, where it remains a popular destination for divers and swimmers alike.

Based near a local power plant, this site may seem somewhat insignificant when compared to the other entries on our list. However, what it lacks in diving and penetration, it makes up for in underwater wildlife.

Not only is this reef home to numerous species of tropical fish, but it also showcases some of Hawaii’s endemic oddities, such as psychedelic wrasses and even several varieties of green turtle. 

Situated under 60 feet of water, the site is also infamous for its water clarity, which offers stunning views of the surrounding reefs and marine species.

So if you want to experience some of the more obscure sea creatures that this island has to offer, then you should make sure to visit Kahe Point during your next diving excursion. 

What You Will See
  • Green turtles 
  • Reef fish 
  • Psychedelic wrasses 
  • Sponges 
  • Starfish 

The Dangers Of Diving In Oahu 

Although diving in Oahu can be an exhilarating experience, the recreational sport can also be extremely dangerous, offering various obstacles that you will have to overcome.

So to help you further understand what dangers you may encounter, we have compiled together the following list: 

Sea Life

We all know that the Pacific Ocean is home to a rich ecosystem of aquatic life, with Hawaii alone being home to some of the world’s most diverse creatures, such as gentle turtles and vibrant fish.

However, this does not mean that all sea life you encounter will be friendly, especially when you consider the various eels and sharks that populate the tropical waters.

For this reason, you should never go diving without the guidance of a professional crew, as they will be able to regulate and maintain your safety. 

Small Spaces

As you have probably noticed, many of the diving spots on our list were situated around shipwrecks or underwater caverns, which also lend themselves to a variety of different hazards.

For example, some wrecks allow you to explore their interiors, which can sometimes result in the diver getting lost or trapped in an enclosed space.

So to ensure your protection, you must never enter a wreck or cave if you are not a certified diver, for this could prove dangerous especially when diving alone. 

Decompression Sickness

This term refers to a medical condition that often plagues underwater divers, as it is caused by extreme pressure which allows the body to absorb more nitrogen.

If the pressure is not reduced at a gradual rate, then the nitrogen could begin to bubble under your skin, which can result in fatigue, paralysis and death. 

So to avoid this condition, you must always make sure that your return to the surface is separated into monitored stages, as this will help to relieve the pressure while also benefiting your body. 

How To Prepare For A Dive

If you are a first-time diver, then chances are you are probably nervous about entering the water, which is why it is important to prepare yourself before taking your first dive.

So to help aid you in this process, we have compiled a list of essential tips that every first-time diver should follow: 

1. Pay Attention To Your Instructor

If you are planning your first diving trip, then it is important that you pay attention to everything that your instructor says, as they are the ones with the experience and knowledge to keep you safe.

In the diving world, cockiness can often lead to fatal accidents, so you should never think that you know more than the professionals hired to do the job. 

2. Find A Diving Partner 

When diving for the first time, you will most likely be assigned a diving partner to make sure that you are safe.

Although this may seem like an unnecessary caution, it is important that you remain close to your partner at all times, as this will help to reduce the risk of injury or getting lost. 

3. Keep Calm & Keep Breathing

We understand that your first diving trip can be a fun and exciting experience, which can leave your body feeling tense or agitated.

So before entering the water, we recommend taking a moment to calm yourself down, otherwise, you may find it difficult to regulate your breathing after you have taken the initial plunge. 

4. Drinks Lots Of Water 

When it comes to diving in warm climates, you may find yourself becoming overworked and thirsty, which is why you should always drink plenty of water before and after your initial dive.

Although staying hydrated should be an important part of your everyday routine, it is extremely necessary when diving. 

5. Research The Diving Equipment 

Now we understand that this final point may not apply to all divers, especially if it’s your first time. However, you should always try to familiarize yourself with the diving equipment, as this can help to avoid any mistakes or errors down the road.

If you want to make sure that you have all the necessary equipment, then you can make a checklist or graph to keep track of your supplies. 

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