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Scuba Diving in Maui: Insider Tips from a Local

Posted: May 30, 2012

There are a few things to know about scuba diving in Maui that will make your time here easier and will help you get the most out of your dives, so without further ado, here they are:

Calm Dive Conditions in Maui1. The diving here (from shore or by boat) is best early in the morning. During early morninghours, the light is good and the water is at its calmest. When you book dives here and get check-in times that range from 6-7 in the morning, it’s not because the dive operators want to torture you; the weather patterns here include trade winds that typically start coming up between 11 and 1. Once that happens, the surface becomes choppy, making entries and exits as well as boat rides against the wind less desirable. The windiest months of the year happen during summertime and with higher air temperatures, the stronger trades also make life above the surface more tolerable! That said, Maui is pretty much an early to bed, early to rise community – they don’t call 9:00 pm “Maui midnight” for nothing!

2. The shore diving here is easy and YES, you will see good stuff from shore! Most divers we meet here have only participated in boat diving (which is also great) but we want to remind you that the shoreline has a lot to offer too. The entries and exits are mostly from nice, sandy beaches, the depth changes are gradual (no steep drop-offs), and our shore dives tend to max out at about 40 feet deep, making for nice, looooooong bottom times. We offer guided shore dives every morning as well as scooter dives and both are great ways to get to know a site so you can then go back and explore on your own.

3. You are required to use a dive flag when scuba diving in Maui. When you go shore diving, you can rent one, and when you go on a boat dive, the boat operator will be responsible for displaying one. The gist of the law is that divers must mark their position with a flag and surface no more than 100 feet from their flag unless in an emergency. There is no subsurface distance requirement from the flag, which is why you will often see a collection of flags near shore where divers usually surface. The dive flag law IS enforced and since that was the briefest of descriptions, the rest of the law can be referenced here.

Diving with turtles in Maui4. Chances of seeing Turtles are good on MOST dives here! Yes, that’s right, the Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle, known here as a “honu” may just swim by and high five you as he cruises the reef. Well, maybe that’s exaggerating a bit, but they do often seem curious about divers and may actually approach you (this doesn’t happen in most other parts of the world). The important thing to remember when this happens is that they are a threatened species and are protected by law – this means no touching, petting, riding or doing anything that alters their behavior. What you CAN do is enjoy the heck out of your encounter; use good buoyancy control and enjoy getting to see this graceful creature in its natural habitat.

5. Scuba diving in Maui at night is also fun and easy! There are only a couple of companies that do night dives by boat (remember that earlier mention of Maui midnight?), but the night dives from shore are excellent, especially if you’ve already explored a site by day. And remember that wind we mentioned earlier? Well, it tends to sit down around sunset, just in time for your night dive entry! At night you can see all the critters that were concealed during the day including squids, nudibranches, and lots of invertebrates; night dives are like treasure hunts and we offer them regularly. One other thing to know about night diving in Maui is that some of the beach parks have gates that they close and lock at 8:00 p.m. Though you can still dive these sites, you’ll want to have your car parked outside the gates, especially during the summer months when the sun sets after 7:00 p.m...

So there you have it, some quick tips for scuba diving in Maui! If you’ve got questions, we are always here to answer them, and if you’ve got some quick tips of your own, feel free to post them in the comments section below!

Aloha, Rachel

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Zac Lenox
June 7, 2012 @ 4:39 pm

What a bit of info. I would like to add while you are doing your "Honu" watching make sure you closely observe how they move in the water. If you can relax like they do in the water you will enjoy it SOOOO!! much more.


Teri Leonard
June 3, 2012 @ 2:35 pm

As Rachel pointed out, the tradewinds do come up in the late morning. However, by sundown they usually subside, which makes Night Diving a great option on Maui!