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We Answer “Which Dive Should I Do?”

Advising people on which dive to do goes beyond checking how long one has been scuba diving or how many dives were done. There is the type of dive you like, what kind underwater structures you prefer, whether you want an easy or challenging dive and more. So here is a rundown of the typical questions we hear, and some great options.

If you are a more experienced diver than your partner

Assuming your partner has already logged a few dives, there are some great options that both a well seasoned diver and newer diver will enjoy. Charters where the boat anchors at a dive site is easier for divers to get on and off the boat than a drift dive. This makes the following two charters a solid choice when a dive group has mixed skill levels.

Molokini crater, a small islet that is a partially submerged, has been designated as a marine preserve. With visibility exceeding 100 feet, you’ll encounter a wide variety of tropical fish, including yellow tang, Moorish idol, parrot fish, black triggerfish, bluefin trevally and various butterfly fish. A huge whale shark may pass by. Our dive guides will help point out some more elusive creatures such as Hawaiian garden eels, manta rays, white tip reef sharks and moray eels. You might even discover a delicate harlequin shrimp amongst the coral heads or a nudibranch in a crevice.

Words cannot accurately describe the beauty of a Lanai Cathedrals dive, home to stunning rock formations, rare corals and many endemic species found only in Hawaii. Magestic cathedral-like structures, with lacey holes in the rock and coral above, let sunlight pour into lava tubes, swim throughs and archways. Its unique topography makes Lanai a diving experience that is not to be missed. With over 35 dive sites, many of our customers do this charter more than once.

If you want something different

Diving around Maui waters usually means plenty of sunshine and abundant viewing of tropical species. But if you want a unique twist to your diving adventures, consider these two charters.

When you join a Cathaginian charter, you are not only exploring a cool sunken ship, you are also taking in an important part of Maui history. Lahaina, Maui was once the whaling capital of Hawaii, and the brig Carthaginian was modeled after a whaling ship of the era, serving as a floating museum in the harbor for many years. Purposely and carefully sunk, the Carthaginian has been slowly reclaimed by the sea and is a gathering place for ocean life. A semi-penetrable wreck, the hull is a favorite of white tip reef sharks who can often be seen resting inside. Eagle rays and dolphins are sometimes spotted passing by in the blue, while frog fish, eels, starfish and other smaller creatures stay close to the safety of the ship. Atlantis Submarine frequently runs tours that circle the ship, giving lucky divers a chance to wave at their passengers and pose for a photo with a submarine in the back drop. A second dive at our Turtle Reef site makes this afternoon charter a great value for all certified divers.

Another special experience divers seek out is vertical wall diving. We offer a great opportunity for this on the backwall of Molokini crater. Because the backwall is open to the deep ocean, a variety of pelagic marine life might swim by. In addition to schools of fish, it is not unusual to see dolphins, mantas, and sharks. November through April, there is a good chance to hear humpback whales underwater, and experience these gentle giants while going to and from the dive site.

The second drift dive takes you inside the crater itself. Molokini Crater has been a Marine Life Conservation District (MLCD) since the summer of 1977 and features the most pristine hard coral reefs in Hawaii. In addition to colorful reef fish- some found nowhere else in the world- you may see graceful rays. octopi, moray eels or white tip reef sharks. Note the backwall is a drift dive for certified divers only (age 15+) with good bouyancy control, ability to enter and exit the boat unassisted in potentially rough surface conditions, have a minimum of 25 dives logged and at least one dive with the last 6 months. 

If you want dives with more of a challenge

Experienced divers often look for new challenges to keep their skills sharp, and to have really cool adventures. We recommend these two charters for those that have been active in the sport for awhile.

First, we offer an expanded diving option to the Lanai Cathedrals area and beyond to the far side of Lanai. We call this our 3 Tank charter, and as the name implies, divers can complete 3 dives on one charter. What makes this unique is that we typically go to far less common sites (weather permitting) than typical charters. Below the surface, Lanai has some of the most amazing underwater topography. A product of the piping hot lava flows and tectonic shifts that formed the Hawaiian Islands, there are swim throughs, cliffs and diverse reef structure. When you dive where few other go to, there is an opportunity to see marine life not at other locales, including pelagic species. So if you relish getting off the beaten path, this dive is for you.

The crown jewel in our adventure diving portfolio is the Hammerhead charter. We were the first to create this dive charter, and still best equipped diving outfit to consistently offer it. By speaking with fishermen and respectfully working with the local community, we learned about hammerhead shark patterns of behaviour and habitat off a pinacle called Mokuho’oniki rock. Though sightings are not guaranteed, this is one of the best opportunities you will find to view hammerhead sharks in their natural habitat.

Swimming in large groups, sometimes numbering in the hundreds, makes it easier for the sharks to obtain food and larger prey. Though aggressive hunters of marine life, hammerheads are not considered dangerous and are normally not aggressive towards humans. Diving with sharks raises awareness of the need for conservation and understanding of shark populations. There is no shark baiting done here, in order to preserve natural behavior patterns.


Though the hammerheads are what most divers would like to see, many other kinds of rare and interesting sea life has been spotted on this charter off the coast of Molokai over the years including tiger sharks, oceanic black tip sharks and even thrasher sharks. One might also spot unicorn fish, pyramid butterfly fish, yellow tangs, long nose butterfly fish, and occasionally a Hawaiian monk seal or two, as well as a host of other sea life. 

Both the 3 Tank charter and Hammerhead charter are drift dives, with the advanced restrictions mentioned above. In addition, to reach the Hammerhead dive, we must cross the tempermental Pailolo channel, where surface swell and wind conditions can change throughout the day. Please see charter pages for more information on all advanced drift dives before booking.

If you haven’t been diving in awhile or are just starting out

Not far from Lahaina harbor is an ideal spot for those wanting an easier dive. Whether you just want a sunny, relaxing afternoon with a couple of great dives, have mixed skill levels in your group or youth divers, you haven’t been out diving in a while or are recently certified, we have got the perfect spot for you: Turtle Reef. From sunken piers to coral gardens, this dive is a delight for anyone who loves marine life, in depths up to 40 feet.

Mala pier once stretched from shore far into the ocean. Now mostly collapsed underwater, it creates interesting structurs and habitat for marine life, including abundant green sea turtles. Known as Honu, turtles represent the navigator and the eternal link between man, the land and the sea in Hawaiian Mythology. You often can spot turtles lining up to have their shell cleaned of algae by black surgeon fish, yellow tang and saddleback wrasse. Shallow outcroppings make the perfect resting place to observe white tip reef sharks- one of the few species of shark that do not need to contstantly move to breath. Other commonly seen species on this trip include taco (Hawaiian octopus) and varieties of butterfly fish. This truly is a special spot for viewing a diversity of reef species in one place.

The Turtle Reef charter is where we conduct our Discover Scuba program, which gives non-certified divers the thrilling experience of diving, often for the first time, and opens up a fantastic new world of underwater exploration. 

This also the ideal locale to get your fins wet if you haven’t been diving in awhile. Many of us haven’t been traveling as much the past few years, so start out with a Turtle Reef charter, brush up on your skills, then move up to another charter during your stay, like Lanai Cathedrals or Molokini Crater. See this article on returning to scuba diving after a break for more information.

If you want something totally custom

Lahaina Divers Molokini

We would be happy to help you design your own private charter for your family, friends or corporate group! Lahaina Divers goes more places more often than any other scuba diving charter operation on Maui, and we’ve been doing so since 1978. We operate Maui’s largest, most comfortable and most reliable dive boats: Dominion and Dauntless. These custom built vessels are extremely seaworthy, and offer a comfortable surrounding for passengers to and from the dive sites. Each USCG certified twin-engine vessel is 46 feet in length, and can accommodate up to 24 divers (though we limit this to 16 – 18 per vessel for extra comfort). Contact us– let’s create something really special together!

Easy booking, real time availability

All of our charters can be securely booked online, and display a calender with real time availability, including an alert when available seats get low. We do recommend you book your charter at least a month in advance (two months in advance for peak seasons and holidays). If your plans change, you can cancel or rebook 48 hours or more from your charter date.

We look forward to seeing you out diving with us!