Black Rock or Sheraton Reef rates average to good for scuba diving during the day, but is a bit above average when compared to other shore diving locations in the Kaanapali area. I do rate it a bit better as a night dive site. However, when Scuba Diving Maui near Kaanapali, I would recommend Mala Pier as a much better shore dive either during the day or at night if transportation is not a problem. This site can be highly variable due to current and shallowness of the dive. Visibility varies a good bit due to wave action.
Black Rock Rating: 2.84 out of 5
- Visibility – moderate and highly variable; although sometimes can be very good
- Access – Moderate, mainly because you have to carry tanks a fair distance to the beach
- Current – moderate to quite strong most of time, especially rounding the point
- Depth to 45 ft / 13 m
- Reef health Hard / Soft Corals – Moderate
- Marine species variety – Moderate
- Pelagics / Mammals / Turtles / Rays – minimal typically 1 to 3 sightings on a dive
The dive at Black Rock is quite shallow allowing for a dive that can run 60 minutes or more depending upon your air consumption. The current can be quite strong after you pass the rocky point for which the dive site receives its name, so inexperienced divers should only dive this site with a local guide. The dive shop at the Sheraton, 5 Star Scuba, is ok but the staff that I have used tends to be younger and inexperienced and I tend to brief them on how I will dive the site. So if you are an experienced diver, there is no reason you cannot do this dive on your own, but you will have to bring your own equipment or rent gear and bring it in.
Black Rock Overview
You enter Black Rock from the beach area of the Sheraton Maui Resort and Spa. You can access the beach whether you are staying at the hotel or not, but getting your gear to the beach can be an adventure. You have to park in a parking garage near the front of the hotel and then haul your gear a good distance to the beach probably about 200 meters The local dive operator on the beach, “5 Star Scuba”, does not “rent tanks” or at least they have not in the past, so you need to rent these off site, I rent typically at Lahaina Divers, and/or sign up for a guided dive from the onsite dive shop. I have been able to get the valet to sometimes take my equipment down to the beach but that usually involves a nice tip. There is a place to rinse your gear by the Scuba Diving shack and ample places to gear up prior to the dive.
Once you are geared up, the entry is quite easy, the beach is a little steep just before entering the water, but the waves are typically very small due to the protection from the cliff. During the day, there tends to be a number of snorkelers above you on this site and you need to be careful on the entry and exit.
Black Rock is quite easy if the current is not too strong. You swim out about 20 to 30 meters from the beach and then submerge and swim out and around the rocky promontory, from which you can watch “cliff diving” during the day. If there is a current you will feel it immediately as you go around the point and it will get stronger for about the next 50 meters or so and then taper off a bit. The variety of marine life is reasonable and you will almost always see several sea turtles once you round the point. This is a favorite site for many large turtles to come in for a nap. Typically you can see a large number of eels including Yellow Margin Eels, Undulated Moray Eels, Whitemouth Moray Eels, Zebra Moray Eels and others. As you head away from the beach the cliff will be to your right and open ocean on your left. The cliff has a number of crevices as you round the point that are well worth exploring as you will sometimes find a variety of shrimp, such as the rare Candy Cane Shrimp, and various types of cleaners. There also tend to be a number of Goatfish just away from the wall along with various puffer fishes, butterflyfishes and parrotfishes staying fairly close to the cliff.. The water tends to have a good bit of sand and other debris which makes photography a bit challenging so remember to keep your strobes pointed away from your subject to eliminate backscatter and shoot as close as possible. However, if the current is not too strong you can get reasonable visibility and clar
ity. As you round the point make sure you look out away from the cliff about 10 meters to 25 meters, you will sometimes find one or more rays staying virtually motionless in the current and feeding. You have to approach them very, very slowly and close to the bottom or you will cause them to move away. If they are present stop and watch them a bit before you begin the approach. I had a dive on Black Rock, in the spring of 2011, where three Manta Rays were hovering and feeding and another diver sprinted to get a closer look and needless to say that was the last that we saw of them. So again go slow, and approach very cautiously and you will tend to see more. You will be diving against the current so continue swimming out beside the cliff until you reach about 1500 PSI and then simply turn around and follow the same path back in. If for some reason you do run short on air this site is very forgiving and you can simply surface and then swim back around to where you entered, just make sure you stay wide of the point. The wave action here can be quite strong and the rocks can do a lot of damage if you were to get pushed up against them.
Overall a fun dive and I usually make it once or twice when I am in Maui and usually at night.
As in all dives I recommend going slowly and take time to appreciate the site. Black Rock can be a very enjoyable site especially as a night dive. Read other dive site reviews on my blog and see other underwater photographs on my website and follow me on Twitter @ images2inspire. The pool is open…