Scuba Diving Kauai
An island of mesmeric beauty, Kauai is famed for its lush fauna, textbook white sand beaches and towering cliffs. The oldest island in the Hawaiian chain, The Garden Islands’ above-water topography is matched only by its underwater landscape, an environment that has had millennia to develop into a plentiful ecosystem.
While the scuba diving in Kauai is often overlooked in comparison to Oahu and Maui, some say due to Kauai’s poorer visibility, the ‘Garden Island’ is home to a bounty of unique dives both by shore and boat. Certified divers have the thrilling prospect of encountering a myriad of aquatic flora and fauna, and not only is Kauai an exquisite location for experienced divers, but there are also plenty of opportunities for those who wish to learn and hone their diving skills. Top rated dive schools in Kauai such as Seasport Divers can safely and professionally teach you how to dive.
Kauai’s weather throughout the year is usually fantastic, and there is never a bad time to visit the island. While the rainy season runs from November to March, the above-water temperatures rarely drop below 65 degrees. Furthermore, water temperatures are extremely pleasant, ranging between 77 – 83 degrees; a short wetsuit or even just a swimsuit will be sufficient even at depth.
While the east side of Kauai is often exposed to the trade winds, the ‘wild side’ is one of the more unique areas to dive. Sites such as Anahola Drops offer divers the chance to encounter pelagic shoals of jacks and grey reef sharks, however, the most unique dive is Black Coral Arch. A deep dive, the arch is covered in prehistoric black coral and frequented by hundreds of iridescent Hawaiian Anthias.
The south and southwest coasts are the most protected of the island and are therefore where the majority of dives take place. A sanctuary for small species, many macro photographers dive here for a chance to capture frogfish, sailfin leaf Scorpionfish and pipefish. Turtle Bluffs is another site that remains popular among returning divers, ideal for both intermediate and advanced divers, the depth is no more than 100 feet, and there is often a good chance to encounter green sea turtles that arrive along the current strong ledge system to rid themselves of parasites.
One of the reasons divers tend to return to Kauai is to dive the famous Mana Crack. An 11-mile-long sunken barrier reef, the Mana Crack is the furthest offshore dive site in the state of Hawaii. Known for strong currents, the dive is for experienced divers only. All sites are negative drop dives and have no mooring lines. Once submerged the visibility is excellent, and remember to keep a constant eye on the surface and in the blue water for passing pelagics including barracuda, tuna and elasmobranches such as turtles and white-tip reef sharks. The surface interval in spectacular in itself with ethereal views of the Na Pali coastline from the water.
While there is an excess of stunning dives around Kauai, there is undoubtedly none better than Niihau. A mysterious, lone island 17.5 miles southwest of Kauai, Niihau is only accessible when winds are light. Niihau is celebrated by the few divers who have experienced her waters for the marine mega fauna that can be seen in the crystal clear depths. Humpback whales and mantas in the winter and the critically endangered Hawaiian monk seal in the summer are just a few examples of the rich marine life that dwell here.
Vertical Awareness is one of the renowned dive sites of Niihau, a vast pinnacle that ascends from hundreds of feet to just 45 feet from the surface. Huge schools of baitfish are often predated upon here by larger pelagic fish; other notable species include the endemic red lionfish, butterflyfish and the long-handed spiny lobster.