Scuba Diving in Maui

Discover the seabed of Maui, a dream island in the archipelago of Hawaii perfect for diving.

Matteo Gramegna

Matteo Gramegna

8 min read

Scuba Diving in Maui

Diving in Maui | ©Richard Segal

Maui is the ideal destination for scuba diving. If you have never tried it, you can make your baptism of water in several areas of the island.

Those with more experience can take advantage of one of the diving tours organized in Maui. Given their variety, you will find them for all ages. An activity of this type cannot be missing in your list of things to see and do in Maui.

The most recommended option

Maui Scuba Diving Experience

A catamaran excursion with a stop for snorkeling

The activity takes place in Molokini, a volcanic caldera and marine sanctuary. The price includes the rental of snorkeling equipment, breakfast and lunch.

This activity is done in a three-story catamaran that departs from Maalaea and reaches the volcanic caldera of Molokini. It is estimated that this crescent-shaped crater was formed about 230,000 years ago by violent volcanic eruptions. It is a paradise for diving enthusiasts as it is home to many different species of fish.

In addition, you will also have the opportunity to explore Turtle Town and admire its native birds. To complete the experience, you can enjoy two water slides and the glass bottom observation room.

Recommended if... you wish to contemplate the marine nature in one of the most charming places in Maui.

What are the best dive sites in Maui?

Maui Snorkeling| ©gillicious
Maui Snorkeling| ©gillicious

Hawaii is a paradise and much of its coastline hosts great marine life. However, to help you decide, here are my 10 favorites.

As a warning, it should be noted that the areas dedicated to diving may differ from those indicated for snorkeling. For more information, I recommend you to read the article dedicated to snorkeling in Maui: best places, recommended tours and boat trips.

Lanai Cathedrals

Volcanic eruptions have shaped the orography of Hawaii and in some places, lava flows have created extraordinary environments.

At this site you will see arches, caves and two large rock formations reminiscent of a cathedral. Although the different spaces are large and illuminated, it is advisable to bring an underwater flashlight.

  • Required level: intermediate
  • Recommended if you want to swim among large underwater mountains.

Pailolo Channel

The channel that separates the islands of Maui and Molokai. Most divers travel here to see the sharks: gray, whitetip, hammerhead and, sporadically, whale sharks.

These deep, deep blue waters are also home to eagle rays and large schools of fish.

  • Level: medium high, several agencies ask for a minimum of logged dives (around 20/25).
  • Recommended if you are an expert diver and want to swim with sharks in Maui.

Ulua Beach

Snorkeling at Ulua Beach| ©Ian Hamel
Snorkeling at Ulua Beach| ©Ian Hamel

An easy dive with entry directly from the sandy beach. Once below the surface, you will see turtles, eels and schools of fish moving quickly in all directions. When the whales arrive in Hawaii, their song can be heard underwater.

The large cetaceans choose Hawaii's waters to breed and raise their young. They are usually in the archipelago from November to March.

For more information, I encourage you to read the post dedicated to whale watching in Maui.

  • Required level: suitable for all levels
  • Recommended if you are taking your first steps in diving.

Makena Landing

One of the most suggestive areas of Maui. Underwater are hidden caves, arches and overhanging rocks. A place like this could only become the home of thousands of species. The most famous grotto is called Bubble Cave and is frequented by numerous green turtles.

Octopuses, manta rays and white tip sharks abound in the area. Scorpion fishes and rappies also live here. As is often the case in Hawaii, visibility is almost always high.

  • Required level: intermediate
  • Recommended if you like cave diving.


The replica of a brigantine built in the shipyards of Kiel, Germany. It was sunk in 2005 to convert it into a coral surface. It is not uncommon to see whitetip sharks lurking inside the ship along with toadfish, starfish and other marine species. Typically, visibility is 100 meters.

To see it, you will need to reach Lahaina, the former capital of Hawaii. The wreck is located a few kilometers from the harbor and a short boat ride (about 10 minutes) is enough to get there. There is usually a slight current in this area but it does not hinder the diving.

  • Required level: suitable for all levels
  • Recommended if you like wrecks.

Molokini Crater

Molokini, Maui| ©Caitlyn Wisher
Molokini, Maui| ©Caitlyn Wisher

This crescent of rocks is the only survivor of an ancient volcanic eruption. Because of its shape, the waters are almost always crystal clear and the waves are rare. An estimated 250 marine species live inside the crater, some of them very rare.

You will see Freckled Snake Eel (an eel that hides in the sand), butterfly fish and much more. Visibility is excellent: over 100 meters!

  • Required level: intermediate
  • Recommended if you want to see rare species

Black Rock

An overhanging rock near the Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa at Kaanapali Beach. It is a quiet area and introductory dive classes are also organized. Marine life is abundant and varied; the famous turtles swim among the reefs along with hundreds of fish.

At Black Rock, companies like In 2 Scuba organize sunset dives.

  • Level: suitable for all levels
  • Recommended if you are looking for an easy dive

Airport Beach

A shallow water beach where coral thrives. The reefs are home to moray eels, octopus, hawksbill turtles (a species difficult to find) and schooling fish.

It is not as famous as others, but I assure you it is worth it. A highlight is the ease of parking in the area and access to the water from the coast.

  • Required level: beginner
  • Recommended if you want to make a nice dive and then enjoy the services of the area (showers, bar, etc.).

Mala Wharf

A concrete structure built in the 1920s. It was erected as a pier for passenger ships, but was quickly abandoned by the strong waves in the area.

According to the connoisseurs, the most colorful corals and fish of the island are concentrated here. It is located on the coast of Lahaina, a short distance from the Cannery shopping center.

It is also home to whitetip sharks and Hawaiian green turtles. If you want to avoid a fine, you should wear a dive flag and not park in the parking lot dedicated to boat towing. Police controls are frequent.

  • Required level: suitable for all levels
  • Recommended if you want to see a dive site off the beaten track.

Honolua Bay

The manta ray sanctuary. These sinuous marine animals usually arrive in the area in the afternoon.

They are not the only inhabitants: jacks, green turtles and countless butterfly fish swim in these waters. Important: it is not possible to dive in winter. Large waves prevent diving.

  • Required level: only for experts
  • Recommended if you have an adventurous profile

Book your diving experience in Maui

How much does a dive trip in Maui cost?

Maui| ©John Goodale
Maui| ©John Goodale

Normally, the price of a package ranges between 100$ and 200$. In case you want to book an activity that lasts two days, the price can go up to $500.

If you want to spend less, I recommend you to choose another type of activity such as, for example, a kayak tour in Maui. The price is usually less than $100.

Book your diving experience in Maui

When can you dive in Maui?

Diving day| ©Shawn Thorsson
Diving day| ©Shawn Thorsson

If this is your concern, I'll take it away right away: in Maui you can dive all year long. No matter the season, the waters of the archipelago are ready to welcome you.

Being a tropical environment, the temperature difference between winter and summer is small. To learn more about this topic, you can read the article explaining the best time to visit Maui.

Book a whale watching tour in Maui

What is the best time to dive in Maui?

Snorkeling in Maui| ©Ingunn Markiewicz
Snorkeling in Maui| ©Ingunn Markiewicz

In Maui, and in general for any underwater activity, it is preferable to be underwater from 10:00 to 14:00. In the morning, the angle of the sun is ideal and guarantees good lighting. If you are looking for an original alternative, you can also opt for a night dive.

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Do I have to wear a wetsuit?

Underwater in Maui| ©MauiLuna
Underwater in Maui| ©MauiLuna

Although the waters are warm, it is preferable to pack a wetsuit. If you visit Maui in winter you should opt for the long version (3 millimeters thick) while in summer a short one is enough.

In case you prefer to rent it, you can opt for Ali'i Adventures (75-5663 Palani Road Unit A, Kailua-Kona).

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Is it advisable to dive alone?

Maui| ©Joe
Maui| ©Joe

In general, it is preferable to do water activities with another person. There are essentially two reasons: for safety reasons and because it is usually more enjoyable.

However, some areas of Maui are characterized by calm waters and are perfect for a solo trip. One of these is Black Rock, a rocky outcrop near Ka'anapali Beach.

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Do you have to tip your dive instructor?

Snorkeling in Maui| ©greg lilly
Snorkeling in Maui| ©greg lilly

Yes, in the United States, tips are part of the remuneration of some categories of workers, including dive instructors.

As always, the amount depends on the total amount of the excursion. As a general rule, a correct tip is around $10. Clearly, if the tour lasts more days or if you spend more than one tank of oxygen, this amount is bound to increase.

Can I collect shells in Maui?

Maui| ©M I K E M O R R I S
Maui| ©M I K E M O R R I S

There are no specific laws but Hawaii is not famous for shells. Generally speaking, the impact on the marine ecosystem has to be minimal and therefore, I would leave them in their places. You also don't have to take the starfish or disturb the animals that live in the island's waters.

If you collect shells, the best place to find them is Baldwin Beach. It's located on the north shore and is known for being a family beach. The calm waters and golden sand are ideal for children.

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More tips

Maui| ©weber_sd
Maui| ©weber_sd
  • Do you know how to prevent masks from fogging up? It's easy, put it in a container with warm water mixed with dish soap. With your fingers, spread the solution all over the surface, let it act for a few minutes, rinse and repeat the operation again.
  • If you think you might get too tired swimming, I recommend that you buy a snorkeling accessory. A buoy has a double advantage: it signals your position and helps you float. On the other hand, a pair of webbed gloves will help you move faster.
  • Move slowly! Both at sea and on land, fast movements are synonymous with aggressiveness. If you want a creature to approach you, stay calm. Besides, you will enjoy the experience more.
  • Be careful when passing near coral reefs. Some species, such as the fire coral (Millepora dichotoma), contain a poison that is toxic to humans. Try not to touch them to avoid problems
  • Before you leave, or once you arrive, you should buy an underwater camera. You'll want to go home with a nice souvenir, won't you? Disposable versions are available at affordable prices

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