Living Ocean Scuba – Oahu Dive Sites
Out of all of the Hawaiian Islands Oahu is the place to come if you want a vacation filled with action and excitement. Oahu means “The Gathering Place” and a large percentage of Hawaii’s State population lives on this island. When you land at the Honolulu International Airport (HNL) you are on the South Shore and in the heart of Honolulu.
Living Ocean Scuba dives primarily from Kewalo Basin (South Shore near Waikiki) and at Hanauma Bay. If you have a request to dive from a different side of the island please give us a call and we will do our best to accommodate you.
Most visitors stay on the South Shore in Waikiki which is the major resort area on the island.
The only other resorts are on the West Side at the Ko’Olina and on the North Shore at the Turtle Bay Resort. While diving on the South Shore of Oahu is great year round Northern and Western shores experience high surf during winter months and are often not accessible.
Oahu’s South Shore Dive Sites
- Hanauma Bay
- Sea Tiger
- YO-257/San Pedro
- Turtle Canyons
- Horseshoe Reef
- Nautilus Reef
- Rojo Reef
- Turtle Town
- Mario World
- Kewalo Pipe
- Fantasy Reef
Living Ocean Scuba dives primarily on the South Shore out of Kewalo Basin boat harbor. Kewalo Basin Boat Harbor is only about 5 minutes outside of Waikiki which makes it easily accessible to many divers. We also do trips to Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.
Dive boats leaving from Kewalo Basin go to dives sites such as the Sea Tiger and YO-257 Shipwrecks, Turtle Canyons, Horseshoe Reef, Nautilus Reef and Kewalo Pipe. The Sea Tiger and YO-257 are the largest most impressive shipwrecks on the island. Do not miss these wrecks, especially the Sea Tiger dive site.
All of these sites lie between Diamond Head and Pearl Harbor and are less than a 30 minute boat ride from the dock.
This side of the island is fairly well protected from the trade winds by Diamond head and is normally calm and sunny making it a great place for scuba divers that can get sea sick on long rough boat trips.
If you have already been diving on the south shore and you want to dive on another side of the island just give us a call. We love to set up dive trips leaving from any side of the island by special request for groups of 4 or more.
Hanauma Bay (10-50 feet)
Hanauma Bay was declared a marine life preserve in 1967 which makes it a great site to visit during your stay in Oahu. The coral reef and abundance/diversity of marine life make this one of the best dive sites in Oahu. The fish here tend to be larger and more friendly than those found at other site because they aren’t scared of being eaten!
Hanauma Bay is the perfect location for divers and skin divers of all skill levels. All dives at Hanauma Bay are conducted from shore as state law prohibits any boats from entering the bay. The shore dive makes it a great place to bring non-diving family members who can enjoy a fun day at the beach while the divers spend some time underwater.
Living Ocean Scuba is one of only a few dive companies permitted to take groups scuba diving at Hanauma Bay. Due to the absence of dive boats and low number of scuba divers the coral reef at Hanauma Bay is the best on Oahu.
Sea Tiger (85-125 feet)
This wreck, sunk in 1999, is one of the most famous dive sites around Oahu. The Sea Tiger was taken from the Chinese by the United States Coast Guard after it had been caught engaging in illegal activities. After it was confiscated, the Sea Tiger was purchased by a private company and sunk off the coast of Waikiki to create an artificial reef. This ship is 190ft long and offers great opportunities for penetration, making it the best site to work on you wreck diver specialty course.
YO-257/San Pedro (80-100 feet)
The YO-257 was a 1940’s Oiler and is one of the most popular Scuba diving sites off the South Shore of Oahu. Sunk in 1989 just off the coast of Waikiki this shipwreck holds abundant sea life. Just a few hundred feet away from the YO-256 lies the San Pedro and often both wrecks can be explored on the same dive. Wave to the tourist on the Atlantis Submarine as you explore this amazing site. The San Pedro was a Korean owned fishing vessel and it was sunk alongside the YO-257 in 1996. The San Pedro is just under 100 feet in length and it’s a great dive. Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles are almost always present with a variety of Moray eels as well as the opportunity to see pelagic species swimming in the blue.
Corsair (105-110 feet)
The Corsair Plane Wreck is the only wreck we dive recreationally in Oahu that was not sunk intentionally. The pilot of this World War 2 era plane ditched it when he ran out of gas in 1945. The plane is in great condition and you never know what you might see swimming around it. On the wreck itself many reef fish, octopus and eels live, but because of its deep blue water location, you will have the opportunity to see larger pelagic fish if you pay attention during the dive. Look out for Kahala (Amberjack) Spotted Eagle Rays and a variety of other fish in the blue water.
LCU (65-80 feet)
The World War 2 era LCU, or Landing Craft Utility, lies upside down with space to swim underneath it. Under this wreck you might find a white tip reef shark cruising around. These sharks are calm and relaxing during the day, but at night they turn into eating machines, scouring the reef for their next meal. The cement blocks that surround the wreck also offer great structure for marine life to take hold.
Turtle Canyons (25-40 feet)
Turtle Canyons is a great dive sites for first time divers and certified divers alike. The main attraction at this dive site is the turtle cleaning station where you can see many turtles hovering above the reef being cleaned by the reef fish. These turtles are used to divers and if you take care not to scare them off they will let us hang out and observe them for quite a while! It is not abnormal to see more than 10 Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles on a dive at Turtle Canyons. This dive sites is also just off of the beautiful Waikiki Beach and the view from the boat of Diamond Head and Honolulu is great for taking some above water pictures.
Horseshoe Reef (35-50 feet)
Horseshoe Reef is named because the layout of the reef forms two horseshoes from an above view. This reef is home to many of the species of hard corals that are found in Hawaii. It is a great site to see a living coral reef and observe Pufferfish, Moorish Idols, Butterfly Fish, Trumpet Fish, Moray Eels and many other reef fish that live here in Hawaii.
Nautilus Reef (30-45 feet)
Nautilus Reef is a great reef dive site with lots of life. With large schools of snapper, giant cornetfish, moray eels, octopus and often white tip reef sharks there is plenty to see at Nautilus Reef. Located offshore from Ala Moana Beach Park this site is often done as the second dive of our shipwreck/reef or turtle/reef two tank boat diving charters.
Rojo Reef (45-60 feet)
Rojo Reef is one of our healthiest reefs on the South Shore of Oahu. It is deep enough that ocean swells do not greatly affect the bottom allowing the coral to grow beautifully. It is also just a little too deep for beginner divers, so the divers that do make it out to this reef are less likely to harm the coral. We find octopus, eels, schools of reef fish and a wide variety of other marine life at this amazing dive site.
Turtle Town (30-40 feet)
Turtle Town is located just off the the Ala Moana Beach Park and as the name implies it is an excellent dive site to find turtles! There are a few resident Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles that live right below where we tie up the boat, making it a great site for beginner divers to get a chance to see some turtles as soon as they get in the water. This is a finger reef, similar to Turtle Canyons in Waikiki, created by ancient lava flows when Oahu was born.
Mario World (35-45 feet)
Mario World is named because of the extensive pipe system that covers the area. This is a great spot to find Cowry shells and schools of huge puffer fish. Because of the depth it is great dive site for all of our divers, from students to certified divers just looking for a nice slow-paced reef dive. You will hear the dive instructors tell you to stay out of the pipes during your pre-dive briefing; they don’t want you following Mario into another world!
Kewalo Pipe (35-60 feet)
This dive site is named because of the now retired drainage pipe that is covered in coral. The best part of this dive is exploring the many reefs that lie off to the sides of the pipe and then making your way back to search for crustaceans and other marine life that has made its home next to the abandoned pipe. Certified divers can head all the way out to the end of the pipe and look for Leaf Scorpionfish, Devil Scorpionfish and Bluefin Trevally in the deeper reefs. Kewalo Pipe was laid in the 1940’s so looking at the coral growth can give you an idea of the time that it takes for the hard corals of Hawaii to grow.
Fantasy Reef (35-55 feet)
This beautiful reef is best experienced on a drift dive. Get dropped off and be amazed by the abundance of sea life surrounding you. Fantasy Reef is a favorite hangout for the Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles as well as various species of reef fish. Many of the species that are found in Hawaiian waters are not found anywhere else in the world, in fact more than 20% of the fish found here do not exist outside of the Hawaiian archipelago.