Scuba Diving in Honolulu and Oahu
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Not all of Hawaii's beauty is above water. What lurks below can be just as magnificent.
While snorkeling and snuba (more on that later) provide adequate access to this underwater world, nothing gives you the freedom—or depth, quite literally—as scuba.
The diving on Oahu is comparable with any you might do in the tropics, but its uniqueness comes from the isolated environment of the Islands. There are literally hundreds of species of fish and marine life that you can find only in this chain. In fact, about 25% of Hawaii's marine life can be seen here only—nowhere else in the world. Adding to the singularity of diving off Oahu is the human history of the region. Military activities and tragedies of the 20th century filled the waters surrounding Oahu with wreckage that the ocean creatures have since turned into their homes.
Although instructors certified to license you in scuba are plentiful in the Islands, we suggest that you get your PADI certification before coming, as a week of classes may be a bit of a commitment on a short vacation. You can go on introductory dives without the certification, but the best dives require it.
Equipment, Lessons, and Tours
Captain Bruce's Hawaii. Focusing on on the island's western shore, this full-service company offers refresher and introductory dives as well as more advanced drift and night dives. Everything is provided, including transportation to and from Waikiki. Most importantly, the boat has hot showers. The company is based in the Waianae Boat Harbor. Waianae Boat Harbor, 85-491 Farrington Hwy, Waianae, HI, 96792. 808/234–7245. www.captainbruce.com. From $150 for 2-tank dives.
Hanauma Bay Dive Tours. You can guess the specialty here. This company offers introductory courses in the federally protected reserve for divers ages 12 and above. 460 Ena Rd., Honolulu, HI, 96815. 808/256–8956 or 800/505–8956. www.hanaumabaydivetours.com. From $120 (1-tank dive).
Surf 'N Sea. The North Shore headquarters for all things water-elated is also great for diving. An interesting perk—a cameraman can shoot a video of you diving. It's hard to see facial expressions under the water, but it still might be fun for those who want to prove that they took the plunge. Two-tank shore dives are the most economical choice (prices for non-certified divers are higher), but the company also offers boat dives, and in the summer, night dives are available for only slightly more. 62-595 Kamehameha Hwy., Haleiwa, HI, 96712. 800/899–7873. 808/637–3008. www.surfnsea.com. From $100 (2-tank shore dives).
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