Back in Maui and I cannot wait for my first Scalloped HammerheadShark dive off of Molokai. We come back here each year for this dive and it is one of my favorite dives on the planet. The rich biodiversity of this dive site, the great topography and of course, the Scalloped Hammerheads.
Scalloped Hammerhead Shark, Sphyrna lewini, Molokai Hawaii, Mokuho’oniki Rock
I have been diving on this site now for over 10 years and it never gets old. It is an advanced dive and the seas can be quite rough but oh, what a dive. If you get the chance to dive here, I highly recommend it.
I dive the site with Lahaina Divers, which is the only dive operator on Maui that goes to this site. Lahaina Divers is a great dive company, extremely professional and competent with a number of diver professionals that have been on Maui for a number of years.
Mokuhooniki rock is situated off the northeastern point of Molokai in the Pailolo Channel. The trip takes about an hour from of Lahaina Harbor. You do a two-tank dive on the site with a surface interval of about 45 minutes. I dive this on Nitrox to help with bottom time, especially given the short surface interval. This will also allow you to descend to depth when needed for that perfect shot. The dive site ranges from 60 to 110 feet although at the end of the dive you could be in water that is over 150 feet.
The Scalloped Hammerhead Shark, Sphyrna lewini is an amazing creature. The adult can reach up to 14 feet in length but those found around Mokuhooniki rock tend to be around 6 to 10 feet in length. They typically can be found swimming alone or in small groups of 2 and 3s. However, there are times when these sharks begin to gather especially towards the summer where you can see dozens swimming together on this site.
Interaction – Scalloped Hammerhead Shark, Sphyrna lewini, Molokai Hawaii
shark with their GoPro hoping for that amazing shot. The result, of this behavior, is the shark will turn and swim away and deny the rest of the dive group a chance to interact with the shark. The best way to observe most sharks is to stay still or move slowly. The Scalloped Hammerhead is curious and if your dive group is still and chill you may well get an encounter you will never forget. I have had these marvelous sharks circle me for over 7 minutes on on a dive. But again, your group typically needs to be very relaxed to be able to get these sharks interact with you and the rest of your dive buddies.
I like to stay around 60 to 65 feet and look into the blue to spot the sharks. When I see some that are close or look like they may come in close I slowly descend to their depth, typically about 80 to 90 feet. However, these sharks can be anywhere in the water column so make sure you keep your head on a swivel. I like to stay on the outside of the dive group and towards Molokai on this dive. Typically, I stay about 10 meters away from Dive Master. This position allows me to better interact with the sharks without worrying as much about other divers behavior. However, you will encounter sharks close to Mokuho’oniki Rock and in the middle of the channel. So don’t worry, just keep looking and watching your dive guide.
This is amazing dive site. Take your time and enjoy.
A south swell has been running for several days with the wind blowing briskly out of the north. It is Friday morning and I am looking forward to scuba diving with the Hammerhead Shark. The dive site for today is about an hour from Lahaina Harbor across the Pailolo Channel and on the northeastern end of Molokai. This dive will take approximately five hours from the time we leave the harbor until our return.
I checked into the Lahaina Divers shop, whom I highly recommend, around 6:50 am. I have been diving with them in Maui for over 10 years. They have great boats and a skilled and highly professional crew. Lahaina Divers is the only dive operation that has a regular Hammerhead Shark dive to Molokai. After checking in, I park my car and then head down to the boat slip. After all of the divers are aboard and a short safety briefing from the crew we head for Molokai. A
Scalloped Hammerhead Shark – Encounter with 12 foot female
few of the divers on board have done this dive, including myself, many times. However, for most on board this will be their fist dive on Molokai and the first time with Hammerhead sharks.
The boat heads toward the dive site, staying close to the western shore of Maui, until we are almost directly across from the dive site. The boat then makes a sharp turn to cross the channel. The seas are running four to six feet with an occasional swell in excess of eight feet. Some first timers on the boat get a bit nervous. It takes about 25 to 30 minutes to cross over to Molokai and by that time a couple of divers on the boat that are sea sick. This channel is one of the roughest in the Hawaiian islands. Its name literally means “crazy fishermen”. Because if someone was going to go fishing across this channel they must be crazy.
Scalloped Hammerhead Shark – Exploration
The captain of the boat gives us a 10 minute warning telling us it is time to put on our gear and get ready to enter the water. We put on our wet suits, BC’s, and fins while sitting in assigned stations on the boat. The water is rough so we wait on the crew to help us stand up and move into position at the back of the boat. But, we don’t enter yet. We wait for the captain to move the boat into position and give us the signal to enter the water. The crew tells us “1 minute”, “30 seconds”, “captain divers are ready”, then we wait for the captain. The back of the boat swings round toward the islet, then the captain yells “dive, dive, dive”. Our group jumps almost in unison and we are all in the water within 15 seconds.
The surface is choppy and after making sure all divers are OK, we rapidly begin our descent. The water is light to medium blue for the first thirty to forty feet with rays of sunlight filtering around us. Then the water begins to slowly darken as we descend on the dive site know as Fish Rain. The reef is on our right and blue water is to the left. The bottom slopes gently downward from about 40 feet to around 120 feet. While I love the reef, I constantly look into the blue, hoping to see a Scalloped Hammerhead Shark.
Fish Rain is located on Mokuhooniki Rock and is one of the most bio-diverse dive sites on the planet. The density of marine species, the health of the corals and the presence of pelagics make this a must dive. But, again we have come to see the Hammerhead Shark.
Scalloped Hammerhead Shark Close Up
The dive starts out in the lee of the islet which is somewhat protected from the crazy waters of the Pailolo Channel. While this site can on rare occasion be like glass, it most often has swells of 2 to 4 feet and can grow on occasion to well over 6 feet. This is not a dive for the novice diver. This is an advanced dive and anyone thinking about going should carefully consider their level of experience and confidence.
You enter the water quickly from a moving boat a quickly descend to around 50 feet. After your dive group assembles you will slowly make you way around the Islet in an arc. The dive is a drift dive and can be one of the most difficult dives you will every make due to the entry into and exit from the water. Again this dive is not for the novice, but oh what a dive. I have been on this site dozens and dozens of times yet it never ceases to amaze me.
Scalloped Hammerhead Shark
Scalloped Hammerhead Shark In Close
The Scalloped Hammerhead (Sphyrna lewini) is a species of hammerhead shark, and part of the family Sphyrnidae. This shark can be found over continental and insular shelves and in nearby deeper water. It is found in warm temperate and tropical waters, worldwide from 46°N to 36°S. It can be found down to depths over 500 m (1,600 ft), but is most often found above 25 m (82 ft). During the day, they are more often found close to shore, and at night, they hunt further offshore. Adults are found alone, in pairs, or in small schools, while young sharks occur in larger schools. see this Wikipedia article for more details on Scalloped Hammerhead Sharks
The Scalloped Hammerhead Shark in Hawaii has been known to reach lengths of up to 13 feet however 6-8 feet is typically the average. Near Mokuhooniki Rock, the Scalloped Hammerheads tend to be adults of 6 to 8 feet with the occasional shark measuring well over 10 feet. These sharks can be found from very near the surface to about 130 ft. We see them very often cruising just off the bottom of the channel between Molokai and Mokuhooniki Rock, where the depths run typically 100 to 130 feet. We will see them in groups of 1 to 3 but many times you can see groups of 5 to 10 and occasionally many more. On my best dive here I have just under 50 Scalloped Hammerheads and have been literally surrounded as I am taking photographs.
Observing Scalloped Hammerhead Sharks
These are magnificent creatures. It is a wonderful experience to remain absolutely still in the water and observe these sharks as they interact with you. I have have had many occasions where sharks have swam with me for 10 to 15 minutes. They are curious and will come in close to you and your group if you will remember a few key things:
Keep your head on a swivel as you dive. You want to be able to spot the sharks as soon as possible so your behavior does not cause them to move away from you
When you see the sharks and you see they are heading in the general direction of your group slow down immediately and/or stop and observe their behavior
If the sharks are moving away from your group keep swimming toward them and keep looking all around. There are more than likely other sharks near by.
Stay at 40 to 60 feet when you are looking for the sharks and then drop down to their depth when you see them. This will conserve air and reduce the danger of nitrogen narcosis
When the sharks are getting close to you stay still and let them swim to you. I was getting ready for a wonderful encounter with a 12+foot female Scalloped Hammerhead Shark when a person in our dive group start swimming rapidly down towards the shark to get their “go-pro” shot. The shark simply turned away and the diver probably did not get a good shot and the rest of the dive group was denied the experience of interacting with a large hammerhead.
The Pool Is Open
As I have said before, if not my very favorite, definitely in my top five. This site has an amazing reef, tremendous bio-diversity, a very healthy reef system, does not see many divers and it has ….. Scalloped Hammerhead Sharks.
If you are an advanced diver, this site is definitely for you. Maholo nui loa and safe diving.
Knob Hill is an interesting and very nice dive site. It is fairly shallow about 55 to 60 feet (16 to 18 meters) and teeming with life.
Knob Hill, Lanai
However, it is often not possible to dive on this site due to strong currents . Knob Hill is just off the coast of Lanai by the Four Seasons Hotel. Knob Hill’s name comes from a large rock formation near the surface that is supported by four columns. This is a large dive site on the south side of Lanai that is quite exposed. While, I have been diving around Lanai for 12+ years I have only been on this site three or four times.
Rating = 3.86 out of 5
Visibility – moderate to very good
Access – Moderate; boat only and 45 to 50 minutes from Lahaina Harbor
Current – moderate strong most of time
Depth to 60 ft / 18 m
Reef health Hard / Soft Corals – Very Good
Marine species variety – Very Good
Pelagics / Mammals / Turtles / Rays – moderate to good, typical at least 1 to 3 sightings up close, sometimes many more
The only reason Knob Hill is not rated higher, is the current makes it a very difficult dive site to dive 80% of the time. Correspondingly, if the current is mild this is an awesome site.
Knob Hill Overview
Knob Hill Reef
Knob Hill has a number of swim-throughs and volcanic structures, such as the “table” above that make the site quite interesting. The marine life on the site is varied and abundant. As a matter of fact, you will almost always find large schools fish. These schools typically consist of Pennant Butterflyfishes, Dascyllus, Yellow Tangs, Sea Turtles, White-tip Reef Sharks, various eels and much more. Once the boat is on the mooring at Knob Hill, the dive master make take you on several different routes around this expansive dive site. Due to the current and infrequent visits by divers, the hard coral here is quite healthy. In addition, there is a nice swim through / cave where you can frequently find White-tip Reef Sharks. Furthermore, you can also see quite a few nudibranchs on this site and rare species such as the endemic Yellow-striped Coris and Reticulated Butterflyfish.
White-tip Reef Shark, Profile, Triaenodon obesus, (Rüppell, 1837), mano lalakea, Lanai, Hawaii
In addition, Knob Hill has a nice swim through on the site where you can many times find White-tip Reef Sharks. In fact, this shark, in particular, was quite curious and swam with me through the swim through. He even gave me a nice profile. 🙂
Scuba Diving Molokai can be awesome, especially at Mokuhooniki Rock. In fact, the reef is one of the most interesting that I have dove on anywhere on the planet. Specifically, the variety of marine species, the isolation and relatively untouched environment make this a one of a kind location. But,……we all come for the Hammerheads.
Mokuhooniiki Rock, Molokai
Mokuhooniki Rock or islet is located at 21 07′ 40″N, 156 42’20″W just off the North eastern coast of Molokai. Also known as Fish Rain, this site is one of my top ten scuba diving sites in the world.
Specifically, interacting with such a variety of marine life combined with large pelagic species makes this place special. In fact, when scuba diving Molokai Mokuhooniki Rock, you encounter Hammerhead sharks on almost every dive. Moreover, you will also see a rich and diverse ecosystem. To illustrate, large schools of Damsels, Butterflyfishes, along with Dolphins and Tiger Sharks inhabit these waters. As a matter of fact, you will be hard pressed to find other more diverse dive sites.
As I stated before, the abundance and variety of marine life in such a pristine condition are exceptional. If you are on Maui and you are an advanced diver, you simply must do this dive.
Scuba Diving Molokai – The Adventure
Spinner Dolphins Molokai Hawaii
Scuba Diving Molkai can be adventure diving at its peak. First of all, it takes about 45 minutes to an hour to go from the harbor in Lahaina to Mokuhooniiki Rock. Secondly, crossing the Pailolo (means crazy fishermen) channel alone can bring seasoned divers to their knees. It can be quite rough. This is not a beginners dive site. In fact, even if you are an advanced rated diver it can be challenging.
Thirdly, you should be extremely comfortable exiting a moving boat and reentering a moving boat in potentially rough and choppy seas. While, I have been on this site dozens of times and it can be like glass, it is extremely rare. The site can also have 6+ foot waves. I have seen divers break ribs on their reentering the boat. While others become extremely agitated and near panic on the pick up.
I remember one dive in particular where the waves, even in the lee of the rock, were running about 8 to 10 feet. While the boat came around to pick us up I was literally on the top of one wave. I was literally looking down at the captain of the boat. Who by the way, was on the top deck of a double deck dive boat. In fact, the boat was some 5 feet or so below me in the trough of a wave. With this in mind, I thought this is going to be a very interesting pickup.
But……what a great scuba diving site.
When scuba diving Molokai, you enter the dive site typically in the lee of the islet on the right above. The
Scalloped Hammerhead Shark, Sphyrna lewini, Molokai Hawaii, Moku Ho’oniki Rock
crew will let you know about ten minutes before it is time to enter the water. At this point, they will begin lining you up at the back of the boat one at a time. You will have your mask and fins on, BC inflated. In addition, you will be holding anything you want to take into the water with you, including cameras.
If you have not entered a dive site from a moving boat before this will a bit of an adventure for you. Think of it as channeling your inner Navy Seal. When you are lined up at the back of the boat, the captain will swing the boat around. When the boat points toward the islet and all divers are ready, the crew will say Divers Ready.
Dive, Dive, Dive
They will then begin counting down two minutes, one minute, etc. When the Captain gives his ok the crew will give you a signal “Dive, Dive, Dive”. Do NOT enter the water before the crew has given you the OK, and said “Dive, Dive, Dive”. At this point, divers will quickly enter the water one after the other while the boat is moving.
Typically up to 8 divers may enter in 15 to 20 seconds. You will then meet you dive guide on the surface and all begin your descent together. You are usually on the surface no more than 30 seconds before beginning your descent.
And what a wonderful descent. The islet will be on one side and you will see a gradual slope towards the bottom beneath you. The
Fish Rain, Molokai Hawaii
depth is about 100 to 110 feet in the channel but only about 50 to 60 where you will be dropped off. When scuba diving Molokai, visibility is usually very good allowing you to see 100 to 150+ feet in the distance. And at Mokuhooniiki Rock there are fish everywhere.
The dive itself is basically a half-circle around Mokuhooniiki Rock and the boat will pick you up on the other side. Dive time is usually about 50 minutes give or take depending on depth of the dive and your air consumption. If you dive Nitrox, this is a great spot to use it as you can get a little more time at depth when looking for the Hammerheads. I usually hang out to the left of the group as I don’t want to have a lot of other divers close to me when I am trying to get a shot.
Getting the Shot
The Hammerheads sharks are a bit skittish. If you or someone in your group swims rapidly towards them, they will simply move away. While scuba diving Molokai, the key is to go slow and easy and be patient. As you start your descent from the boat you will follow the slope down to around 50 feet and then do one of two things. Either start swimming out into the blue and looking for the sharks, which we do many times on the first dive, or you will begin to swim around the islet.
There can be a bit of current here but usually it is not too bad. Or if there is a ripping current it is usually going the direction of the dive once you pass the corner of the islet and it simply becomes a drift dive. When Scuba Diving Molokai, you can see anything from dolphin, to Tiger Sharks (not often), to Greys, to Hammerheads, to a Monk seal. You may also encounter a variety of rays and there have even been a few rare Humpback Whale sightings while on the dive (December to April). The abundance of various fishes and eels will blow you away. There are also many endemic species on this site so be attentive and take your time.
Getting Back on the Boat
When you surface you will stay with your dive group until the boat comes to get you. You will need a safety sausage to go on this dive and at least one of you will inflate the sausage at the end of the dive to signal the boat. If it is rough it is very important to stay as close together as possible while you are waiting to be picked up. Their could be one or max two other groups in the water, so you may have to wait several minutes to be picked up. Again be patient.
The boat will come very close to you and throw a line out to the divers. You have to swim to the line and grab a hold and then begin to slowly move up the line towards the boat. You will take off your fins while you are holding on the line and have those in one hand to give to one of the crew as they help you aboard.
If you have a camera as I do, then you will give them your camera first to the crew and then take off your fins. Then you will proceed towards the boat and use a ladder to board. Scuba diving Molokai can be quite intimidating if you have never done something like this. However, the crew is exceptionally good at what they do. Listen to them and do as they say and you will be fine. Believe me this dive will be worth it.
Rinse and Repeat
After you finish your first dive and complete your surface interval, you will basically repeat the same dive on your second dive. But there is enough scuba diving Molokai to interest you no matter how many times you dive it.
After scuba diving Molokai you get to relax on the boat ride back to Lahaina and enjoy the other adventures that Maui has to offer.
Scuba Diving Lighthouse is always a treat. It is located off the island of Lanai which provides some of the better dive sites in Maui County.
Scuba Diving Lighthouse
Lighthouse is a great dive site that is not visited often due to the distance from Maui. I dive this site with Lahaina Divers, my favorite dive shop on Maui.
This dive is usually a drift dive charter that runs each Thursday. Check out Lahaina Divers, dive schedule for more information.
It is about an hour around to this site from Lahaina Harbor. In addition, it is usually a nice boat ride, but the channel between Maui and Lanai can be rough.
Therefore, if you are prone to sea sickness, make sure to take Bonine, ginger, use the patch, etc., before you get on the boat.
Lighthouse Rating: 3.11 out of 5
Lighthouse gets its name from a structure on shore that resembles a small lighthouse.
Scuba Diving Lighthouse
This dive site has a number of large boulders strewn around the bottom and has a wide variety of marine life.
Lighthouse can get blown out by wind and current and be very cloudy. Don’t worry, the boat captain and dive master will check out the conditions prior to getting in the water.
However, the conditions on my last dive were great. In fact, the sea was very flat, the current quite mild and visibility was 100+ feet.
It was a wonderful dive. Great marine life variety and a couple of sharks.
Scuba Diving Lighthouse: What You Will See
In addition, you can typically see smaller White-tip Reef Sharks, a wide variety of butterfly fishes, Triggerfishes and more. Specifically, make sure you check in the cracks and crevices. There you can find octopus, a wide variety of eels, crabs, shrimps and other small marine life. Also, the hard corals here are healthy and in good shape. This is due to receiving a large amount of nutrient and not having many divers on the site.
Whitemouth Moray Eel
Scuba Diving Lighthouse is a treat if you are going to be on the Maui for a few days. I usually dive on Lanai two or three times during each trip and Lighthouse is often the second dive on Lahiana Divers’ Lanai drift dive.
The day begins with a short ride over to the island of Lanai for our first dive at First Cathedrals.
I am diving with Lahaina Divers, my favorite dive operator on the island. I have been diving with them for almost 10 years and they are a great choice for scuba diving Lanai.
First Cathedrals is a lava tube that rises to the surface of the ocean.
First Cathedrals, Lanai Hawaii
As the name implies, there is a large underwater dome inside the lava tube.
Basically it is a large cave with a number of openings where light shines down into the “cathedral area”.
In addition, this is one of the most popular sites for scuba diving Lanai. While I have been on the site dozens of times, I still thoroughly enjoy the dive.
The dive boat will anchor on a buoy at the edge of the dive site. From there, it is a short swim to the cathedral. The entrance into the lava tube looks small and dark, but the interior is quite large.
The “cathedral” measures approximately 60 feet in length and the height varies from 10 feet to 40 feet.
If you have ever been to a church or cathedral with stained glass windows, you probably noticed the light shining through the glass as you entered the chapel or sanctuary.
This dive site gets its name from a similar effect caused by the light shining in through the holes in the lava tube, e.g, the stain glass windows.
Another interesting feature of this dive site is the exit from the lava tube. It is fondly know as the “shotgun”, because when you exit, the surge may “shoot” you out of the cathedral as you surf the pressure wave. Especially, if the wave action is strong, it reminds me of what it must feel like to be “flushed”.
But don’t worry; the exit is wide and I go through it with my camera with no problems.
Candy Cane Shrimp off the Sheraton reef on Maui. I shot this photo on a night dive at about 40 feet. The image was taken using a Sigma 17-70 macro lens zoomed to 70mm.
Candy Cane Shrimp Black Rock, Maui Hawaii
I love night dives. They provide an opportunity to see many marine species that you do not encounter during the day. It is also a chance to see how the reef both sleeps and hunts. Shrimp, sleeping fish, hunting sharks along with many other nocturnal oriented species make night diving very different from a dive in the day.
The Candy Cane Shrimp is a colorful shrimp that inhabits the reef and can provide some very interesting photographs. I like the way the shrimp’s eyes reflect the reef. They seem to be somewhat curious and alien. In fact, the eyes of marine life make very interesting studies and provide great subject matter for photographers.
Check out other marine life photographs on my website.
Many words can be used to describe the Scalloped Hammerhead Shark. This apex hunter cruses about coastal warm temperate and tropical seas in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans between 46°N and 36°S from the surface to depths of 1,000 meters. It may enter estuaries or be found in the open ocean, in large groups in the Galapagos, Malpelo, Cocos and Revillagigedo Islands and within the Gulf of California. In Hawaii, on the island of Molokai, you can find groups of up to 60 or 70 sharks. However, at Molokai you are more likely to see solitary individuals or perhaps small groups of 4 to 10 sharks.
In March, I was diving with Lahaina Divers on Molokai and had one of the best shark dives ever, interacting with almost 40 sharks over the course of two dives. This dive site, off of Moku Ho’oniki rock on Molokai, is one of my favorite dive sites anywhere in the world. I have made dozens of dives on this site and while I thoroughly recommend it, it is not for the average recreational diver. While on many occasions this site can be reasonably calm (I have seen it where the surface is almost glass) it is one of the most unpredictable dive sites that I know. In fact, I have been waiting to get picked up by the dive boat, at this site, when I am literally looking down on the boat (a two decker by the way) from the top of a wave. The seas here can reach 10 feet in height or more and requires the diver to be experienced, confident, under control and above all willing to adhere to instructions given by the dive master and boat captain. If you are a novice diver, do not attempt to do this dive. I have seen inexperienced divers, break ribs and have extreme difficulty reentering the dive boat. So again, this is not a dive site recommended for anyone other than an advanced diver that has previous experience exiting and entering a dive boat while it is moving.
However, this is an awesome dive site. The drop off location is called Fish Rain, and has a depth of 30 to 40 feet at the entry point and as you descend and look up you will think it is literally raining fish. They are everywhere, the Hawaiian Dascyllus, all kinds of Butterflyfish, Angelfish, Moorish Idols, and many, many more. Dozens of individuals to large schools of schools of many types of fish inhabit this very unique environment. The site is to a depth of about 120 feet. The sharks can be found anywhere from a few feet from the surface to cruising about along the bottom. The site can have severe current, that can cause the inexperienced diver to rapidly consume their air supply. So again, this site is not for inexperienced divers.
When interacting with any shark, the key is patience. The Hammerhead shark in particular, is a fairly shy species and if you swim rapidly toward the shark you will more than likely not see much more than a brief glimpse. I have been on this site several times when an over anxious diver swims rapidly after every shadow they see and the rest of the divers do not see any sharks at all. However, if you are patient and slow in your approach you may be rewarded with a wonderful encounter.
On this particular dive, we entered at Fish Rain, in the “shadow” of Moku Ho’oniki that provides a fairly calm spot to exit the dive boat. As we descend I tend to stay on the outside shoulder of the dive master and about 30 to 50 feet from the nearest diver in the group. I am constantly looking out and down, hunting for the elusive Hammerhead.
In the distance is see several shadows coming in towards me at about 80 feet. I was hovering around 45 feet and dropped down slowly to “intercept” the group. As I was waiting for the group to get in range I looked back to my outside shoulder away from the rest of the divers and got a wonderful shot of this solitary shark coming in to check me out. I can tell this is going to be a wonderful dive. This particular individual swam with me at a distance of 10 to 15 feet from me for about 2 minutes and then gradually disappeared in the distance. I move quickly back up to about 50 feet to conserve my bottom time feeling awesome. We continued to drift with the current, which was really moving at this point, spotting several groups of 3 to 4 individuals and one group of eight sharks. I about 35 minutes into the dive, I saw another individual at about 100 feet and quickly dropped down to see if I could get some interesting shots. The black and white image above is of this shark at about 120 feet and while I was descending through about 100 feet. As I dropped down I kept checking around me and saw that four other individuals had now come fairly close to me from behind. I was able to get a nice shot of the “school” and when I turned back the other way there were six shots directly in front of me and a couple about 10 feet above me. Yahoo, what an awesome experience to encounter these marvelous creatures. I slowly started to ascend, to keep my computer out of deco, and watched as each of these groups faded slowly in the distance. During our two dives we counted well over 50 individual sights and estimate that we saw at least 35 individuals. It was an awesome dive and keeps me wanting to go back for more.
Getting ReadyWhen you are diving, especially in new locations, it is great to have a dive guide and especially one that knows the local area well and also understands the diving environment. When traveling to various locations around our planet, in search of that ever illusive photograph, I actively seek out local dive professionals that can help me get to those “great” spots and who can also help me understand the local conditions and what to expect on the dive. There are almost always a number of dive operators in every location from which to choose. So invest a little time to find out about local operators before your trip.
In Maui, there are a number of good companies to choose from when you dive so I thought I would profile a great smaller company that highly tailors your dive based upon your level of experience and your goals for the specific dive and your trip.
In2Scuba provides a little more personal touch as a smaller company, check out their website here – In2Scuba. This shop is located in Lahaina and is run by Ty Burnett. Ty has been diving in Maui since 2001 with various dive companies until he decided to branch out on his own. Ty is both a skilled instructor and dive guide and also an underwater photographer (a man after my own heart). Ty can provide a highly tailored dive experience and excels at providing excellent shore diving experiences.
Remember dive conditions change very rapidly and constantly so whether you dive with In2Scuba in Maui or not, please at least consult with a local company regarding conditions before you hit the water. You will certainly benefit and it will help ensure your diving is safe and enjoyable.
Dive Operator Rating Guide:
– Experience: This is the most critical criteria that I look for in a dive operator. I rate experience not just by numScuba Diving Molokaiber of years diving but also by the attention to safety given by the instructor prior to each and every dive. I know those “briefings” can get a bit boring but they are extremely important. So pay attention…you never know when you might have to react to an emergency situation.
– Knowledge: This is another key criteria for me as I want a dive guide to be at least somewhat knowledgeable regarding the marine species that we can potentially see. They should know the habits of marine creatures in their area and how to best approach these creatures so we can enjoy them but also so we do not cause additional stress to the animal. For example, I hate being on a night dive and the guide is shining his or her light directly on everything in site and causing tremendous stress on the animals and resulting in a poor experience for the diver and the creatures being observed. I don’t expect every dive master to be Jacques Cousteau but I do expect at least a minimum level of training. I should not have to lead the dive guide.
– Equipment: If you are renting gear this is also an extremely important criteria. I carry my regulator and camera gear everywhere. My BC, Fins, Wetsuit are non-essentials and can be rented reliably and usually fairly cheaply in most dive locations.
– Boat (s): This is an important criteria if you are going for locations that require a boat trip. There are many sizes of boats used by operators with various capabilities. I have been diving out of dug-out canoes in Indonesia, to luxury dive boats in Australia and Hawaii, to pontoon boats in the Caribbean. I had good diving experiences from each (even from the dug-out believe it or not). A key is the “captain” and crew and their relative experience, the level of maintenance on the boat and their attention to detail, yes it is a good idea to count the number of divers before and after a dive.
Number of divers: This is also a key criteria as I do not like to dive with “a herd”. Especially when I am shooting, having to large a group of divers can cause conditions to deteriorate considerably and waste my time. So if I am diving with larger groups, you want to make sure that they divide the groups into manageable sizes and by level of experience. Typically the more experienced divers will be in the water first. This helps to maintain conditions and also makes it more realistic for a guide to effectively manage their group.
There are other considerations that I look at as well when going to a new place to dive and one of the other key requirements would be location. I need a dive operator that is at least relatively close to where I am going to be staying as I don’t want to spend hours on the road each day just getting to the “shop”.
I hope this helps you in determining with whom you would like to dive and remember if you are heading to a specific location and would like a recommendation, just ask and I will see if I can help.
The Humpback whale season is in fully swing in Hawaii as is the Gray Whale season off the coast of Southern California may you be lucky enough to have one swim by you…
We began a two week look at Maui, Lanai and Molokai reefs with a visit to Turtle Reef on Maui. Turtle Reef is located outside and to the south of the harbor in Lahaina. Furthermore, the name of this reef actually refers to a general area of reef on the western side of Maui. The site runs from just past the harbor in Lahaina to Ukumehama Beach State Park (also know as Thousand Peaks). In fact, this large area of reef has many dive spots and is relatively shallow with most of the dive under 35 to 40 feet. This is a great spot for chilling and the reef is in very good conditions in most areas. In addition, this site is popular for refresher dives and for completing the basic dives required for scuba certification.
The site can be a bit cloudy if the seas are choppy or you have a large swell, but for the most part visibility is reasonable. It is also a good place to see a wide variety of Hawaiian marine life. This site can be accessed from boat or shore. The trip fro the harbor is just about 10 minutes so an easy ride and a great way to spend an afternoon.
Five of the world’s seven species of sea turtles make their home in Hawaii. These include the Green Sea Turtle (honu), Hawksbill (honu‘ea), Leatherback, loggerhead, and Olive Ridley. However, the green sea turtle is by far the most commonly encountered sea turtle on Hawaiian reefs. The next most common is theHawksbill. Olive ridley, Leatherback, and Loggerhead sea turtles are typically found in deeper, offshore waters. Consequently they are rarely seen by the average ocean-goer. On Maui, sea turtles are a favorite discovery of snorkelers and divers on the island’s South and West coastlines.
Up later in the week are dives on Molokini Crater, Lanai, other areas of Maui and Molokai (looking for those Hammerheads).
If you are heading Hawaii and looking for places to dive, consider these top Hawaiian dive sites. There are many great dives sites to visit. However, for me, the top Hawaiian Dive Sites are on Lanai, Molokai, Maui and the Big Island of Hawaii.
However, advanced /experienced divers must head for Molokai and Fish Rain. This is the place for Hammerheads. Fish Rain is a beautiful pinnacle that literally “rains” fish as you look for the elusive Hammerhead sharks.
Furthermore, on Maui, there are several good places. Two of my favorites are Molokini Crater and Mala Pier. You can dive Mala Pier as either a boat dive or a shore dive. However, it is really a great night dive. In fact, it is one of my favorite spots in Hawaii. Easy entry (off the boat ramp) and usually great visibility. The site almost always has sharks and turtles. Also, it has great ambient light for photography.
On the Big Island, you have to do the Manta Dive. Check out the phases of the moon (seriously) before you go. It seems that the Mantas can be seen more in the waxing and waning phases of the moon. Furthermore, you can also check on daily sightings and help determine when it is your best chance at seeing the most Manta Rays.
For information on other dive sites go to my Hawaii Dive Sites page.. and visit my website for images of fish from around the world and reviews of other great dive sites.
Bali’s coral reefon Menjangan Island hosts some of the most beautiful coral reefs in the world. Menjangan Island has been a marine preserve and protected by the Balinese government for a number of years. The island is also fairly isolated in that once you arrive at the airport you have to travel 4 to 6 hours by car to get to the resorts close to the island. This means their are few divers that explore this marvelous site that is rich with all types of marine species and you can also on special occasions come across large pelagic species such as the whale shark.
Menjangan Island Scuba Diving History
Menjangan Island, in the north-west of Bali, is where diving first really started on the island back in about 1978, under the sponsorship of the Indonesian Navy, when it arranged a get-together of the country’s main diving clubs – Possi, Ganesha, Nusantara & Triskati.
That lead to Menjangan Island establishing itself as the premier dive location in Bali and many of the attendees went on to become the pioneers of commercial dive operations across Indonesia. About a year later the Liberty wreck was explored for the first time since it had slipped down the slope at Tulamben in March 1963 and Menjangan Island was soon relegated to the background of Bali diving.
Menjangan Island, Gorgonian Fan
Menjangan Island is part of the 19,000 hectare West Bali (Bali Barat) National Park that was first established in 1982. However, the island was made a game reserve by the Balinese Council of Kings in 1950 and has been fairly well protected ever since. Both the relative difficulty of getting to the Menjangan Island from the normal tourist spots on Bali plus the fact that the site has been relatively protected since 1950 has resulted in a coral reef that is both vibrant and flourishing around the island. The Liberty wreck in Tulamben is also still a favorite dive site, but has a very high amount of diver traffic and the site has predictably shown quite a bit of wear and tear.
Getting to Menjangan Island
If you are in the Nusa Dua, Kuta or Sanur area it will normally take you around 3.5 hours assuming no bad “jams” as the locals refer to the often crowded conditions of the roads on Bali. It can take up to six hours if the roads and traffic do not cooperate. The best alternative is to stay at a local resort while diving on the north side of the island. The Matahari Beach Resort and Spa in Permuteran is one of my favorites and is located next to the Coral Project in Permuteran Bay. The hotel is definitely 4 to 5 stars and the largest of the resorts on this side of the island with excellent service, food and access to diving sites. I love the dive operator on the property, a Swiss German expat, who runs a very competent organization.
Getting to the Dive Sites
You can reach the dive sites via boats off the coast of Pemuteran Bay in front of the dive resorts or a boat from Banyuwedang Bay or perhaps the boat service run by the parks service. If you are staying at one of the resorts around Pemuteran Bay, taking the boat in front of your resort is the way to go. The boat trip is about 30 to 40 minutes and the seas are usually fairly flat as the area around Menjangan Island is fairly well protected.
Diving is great year round and even in the “rainy winter season” the visibility is normally quite clear. The island is not large and does not have much fresh water runoff that will impact visibility. There can be some current on various sites around the island so you may dive some of the sites as drift dives. Remember to listen to the instructions of your dive master and enjoy the dive.
Will you take the New Year’s Challenge? We have been extremely blessed this year and I want to wish you all a Happy New Year and a wonderful start to 2013. We are traveling in Asia for the next few weeks and hopefully getting in some great dives.
During 2013 there will be many opportunities for each of us to make a difference in the lives of people around us. Take time to consider what you have to offer and how you can impact different people in your life each and every day.
I have a vision where we can all work together to restore, preserve and protect our coral reefs. Take the New Year’s Challenge. In 2013 I will be focusing on coral reef systems and how individuals, companies and nations can:
Better understand the state of reef systems around the world
Evaluate impacts of over fishing and pollution and coastal development
Identify the reef systems that are in the highest state of danger over the next 5 to 10 years
Review and assess methods being used today to help protect and/or restore and preserve those reef systems
Create a set of tools to help educate students, parents and governments about our coral reefs and the importance of managing this incredible resource for future generations
Partner with local communities to establish one or two long-term projects that will focus on restoring and preserving a specific coral reef systems
New Year’s Challenge
Share What You Will Do in 2013 to Positively Impact Those Around You. Take the New Year’s Challenge. If you hear of interesting reef projects or have ideas on reef preservation and restoration please share them and let’s work together to help care for and nurture our reefs.
What reef system concerns you the most?
What are the biggest issues impacting this reef system?
What are you doing to help bring awareness to others about the problems and issues on this reef system?
How could others help directly or indirectly with this reef system?
What is the near and longer term outlook for this reef system?
Remember we are all responsible for the care of our oceans, take the challenge…..the pool is open.
Magical and almost mystical, the kelp forests of California provide a unique and interesting habitat that stirs and inspires the imagination. Giant Kelp Forests, Macrocystis pyrifera, thrive along the western coast of North America, South America, South Africa, Southern Australia, and New Zealand
Kelp forest, Macrocystis pyrifera, Southern California
where water temperatures typically range from 50° to 60° F (10°–15.5°C). The Giant Kelp can also thrive in depths up to 30.5 m (100 ft.) depending upon the clarity of the water and the amount of sunlight available at depth. As the largest kelp species, giant kelp attains heights up to 45.7 m (150 ft.) and in ideal conditions, giant kelp fronds can grow as much as 0.6 m (2 ft.) per day.
Swimming through these magnificent kelp forests is special. With their tree-like structures swaying gently in the current, the
Kelp forest photograph, Macrocystis pyrifera, Southern California
Giant Kelp provides a perfect habitat for a wide variety marine creatures. These life sustaining structures provide a critical foundation habitat to a number of fish, crustaceans, sea anemones, corals, jellyfishes, sea otters and much more.
Giant kelp is golden brown with rootlike holdfasts, long, branched stipes and hundreds of wrinkled blades supported by bulb-shaped pneumatocysts. It is an awesome experience to swim silently amongst these kelp forests as they gently sway with the current. The light is subdued and somewhat distorted amongst the “branches” of the Giant Kelp and resident species of fish dart to and fro. Visibility can range from a few inches to almost 60 feet depending upon the current and waves and whether the bottom is mainly sand or rock/coral. With colorful Gerabaldi swimming around you along with a number of other species this makes a really interesting dive.
Although the water temperature is cool to cold and you must wear a 5 to 7 mil wetsuit this is a dive that you should make a least once and if you are lucking enough to live along the California coast or the west coast of Latin America this should be a regular part of your diving.
I had a lot of fun putting these images together and creating some really interesting fine art and vintage photos of the Carthaginian II shipwreck in Maui Hawaii. When I dive on a particular site a number of times I tend to equate a certain feel or mood for the site. The Carthaginian II, originally a German cement transport ship, is almost 100 years old and was originally built and launched in 1920. The ship was purchased by the Lahaina Restoration Foundation and extensive refitted to make the ship resemble a 1800’s period whaling ship. The ship was
Carthaginian, At the Dock, Maui Hawaii
used as a floating museum in the harbor of Lahaina for over 30 years. Remembering the ship floating in the harbor and now seeing her laying on the sea floor just outside of the harbor brings up a certain sense of nostalgia.
Age and Mystery
What I wanted to create was a sense of the age of the ship and the purpose that she served in Maui and even in Hawaii more generally. When I dive on the ship, although she is not large, I sometimes get a sense of the “ghosts” of periods past associated with this aging wreck. The ship’s main mast collapsed in the summer of 2011 and is now situated on top of the ship. The hold is buckled significantly but makes a great shot if you lie down on the floor of the cargo hold of the ship. There are a number of
In the Hold, Carthaginian II
hard corals that have attached themselves to various portions of the wreck and you can usually find a reasonable variety of marine life on board.
To get the feel I was looking for in Vintage Carthaginian II, I choose to take a number of wide angle shots where I can see the entire ship and also a few photos where I would have interesting features that would lend themselves to a sense of age and provide a certain forlorn aspect to the photo. As many of you can appreciate, getting a great photo to work with is the first part of the endeavor and I then went to work in Photoshop to give the images the exact look
Discovery, Carthaginian II
and feel that I wanted. As I began to work
with the images I kept coming back to black and white images with good contrast with interesting textures and/or features to bring out the moodiness of the dive site. These photos will go well with whale song form the Humpbacks that you can typically hear if you dive the site from late December up to late April or May.
I hope will agree the final images for Vintage Carthaginian II provide a sense of mystery and intrigue as well as a sense of discovery. Though the ship continues to age and various parts continue to deteriorate the wreck still continue to be a
Carthaginian II Study in Abstract
great dive for a long time. The key on this dive as most dives is to go very slow. This is a small sight and while she lies at about 80 feet you still have plenty of bottom time to explore. Let you imagination run away with you and imagine the life of the whaler and the importance of whaling in the development of the Hawaiian Islands.
Manta Ray diving can be an unforgettable experience. These gentle giants are both graceful and magnificent reminders of the wonders in our oceans. Come dive with us off the coast of Hawaii and enjoy these magnificent creatures.
This Manta Ray video was shot off the coast of Kona in Hawaii. It was a marvelous dive. We saw 54 Manta Rays on two dives. 17 on a later afternoon dive and another 37 on the night dive. It was quite an experience. [jwplayer mediaid=”3837″]
Manta Ray diving can be an awesome experience. The magnificent Giant Oceanic Manta Ray, Manta birostris, is something special to experience. The largest recorded Oceanic Manta Rays was more than 25 ft (7.6m) across from wing-tip to wing-tip and weighed over 5,300 pounds (2,400 kg). Manta Rays have a short tail and no stinging spine.
Manta Rays are very acrobatic and on this dive you will be able to see them perform aerobatic flips and rolls as they glide through the water all about you.
Manta Rays were first described by Dondorff in 1798 and named Manta birostris. Other synonyms for Manta Rays include Cephalopterus vampyrus Mithchell 1824, Cepahalopterus manta Bancroft 1829, Manta americana Bancroft 1829, Ceratoptera johnii Müller & Henle 1841, Ceratoptera alfredi Krefft 1868, Brachioptilon hamiltoni Hamilton & Newman 1849, Raja manatia Bloch & Schneider 1801, Manta hamiltoni Hamilton & Newman 1849, and Manta alfredi Krefft 1868.
The Manta Ray is one of the largest fishes, and has been know to reach 9 m (29.5 ft) and weigh as much as 1,350 k (3,000 lb). The Manta Ray’s lifespan is thought to be about 20 years. They are close relatives of sharks, which are also one of their main predators along with certain types of whales. They are a close relative to the stingray, but they do not have a stinging tail.
What do you think of when you hear the term “Coral Reefs” or when someone asks “What are coral reefs”?. Some may think of the Great Barrier Reef in Australia while others may think of the reefs
Spiny Flower Coral. Mussa angulosa. Grand Cayman
surrounding the Caribbean islands or yet someone else may think of aqua-blue water and long sandy beaches surrounding their favorite island or tropical get away.
Coral reefsare definitely related to each of these but they are much, much more.
Bluestripe Snapper, Lutjanus kasmira, Molokai Hawaii
While Coral reefs cover less than one tenth of one percent of the earth’s oceans these same reefs are estimated to contain one quarter of known marine fish species (Smithsonian Institute).
Corals are tiny animals which belong to the group cnidaria (the “c” is silent). Other cnidarians include hydras, jellyfish, and sea anemones. Corals are sessile animals, meaning they are not mobile but stay fixed in one place. As corals grow and expand, they will form one three reef types:
The world of coral reefs contains one of the most diverse environments on our planet, supporting
Gorgonian Fan and Spotted Eagle Ray, Grand Cayman
more species per square meter than any other ocean ecosystem. Creatures of the Coral Reef examines the phenomenal diversity of our coral reefs which are sometimes called the rain forests of the sea. From the microscopic to the gigantic, coral reefs support and nurture a tremendous variety of creatures.
Blue Dragon, Pteraeolidia ianthina
These reef systems have been built up over thousands of years by tiny calcium-producing organisms. These Creatures of the Coral Reef have constructed a haven for countless forms of life, some of which seem totally alien in form. It is a “Star Wars” world of bright colors, ever changing patterns and odd shaped creatures that look as though they came directly from central casting. Only on the coral reef can one find living examples from nearly every group of organisms.
Creatures of the Coral Reef Overview
Scuba Diving on a coral reef gives you some idea about what it would be like to explore another planet. Drifting weightless across this diverse landscape enables you to appreciate some of the tremendous complexity and simplicity that makes up the coral reef.
Green Sea Turtle, Chelonia mydas
Man has spent a relatively modest effort scientifically exploring the world’s oceans compared to the time and money that has gone into exploring the surface of the Moon and other planets. Yet, the growing and ongoing exploration of our oceans continues to bring the discovery of new species, the identification of different environments where marine life flourishes and a little more understanding of our underwater world.
Sleepy Sponge Crab, Dromia dormia
It is a place of never-ending wonders. The world of the coral reef is also an extremely fragile environment, and it is under considerable pressure and facing real dangers to its continued existence. The distress and destruction of coral reefs has a noticeable impact on our lives from the foods we eat to the air we breathe. From the Florida
Grooved Brain Coral, Diploria labyrinthiformis
Keys to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, to the atolls of the Pacific and islands of the Indian Ocean our coral reefs need our help. If we wish to leave a healthy and thriving reef system to our children and their children we need to understand the threats to this amazing environment and understand actions that can be taken to preserve and restore our reefs. These are our oceans and the first step to helping protect coral reefs is education.
This segment provides a high-level overview of the basic types of Creatures of the Coral Reef, including:
A dive with the magnificent Giant Oceanic Manta Ray, Manta birostris, is something really special. The largest recorded Oceanic Manta Ray was more than 25 ft (7.6 m) across from wing-tip to wing-tip and weighed over 5,300 pounds (2,400 kg). Manta Rays have a short tail and no stinging spine. They are very acrobatic and you can see them perform aerobatic flips and rolls as they glide through the water. They can even leap (breach) from the water.
Manta rays have the largest brain-to-body ratio of the sharks, rays and skates (Elasmobranchii), with ratios approaching what is expected in mammals rather than in fishes.
We did two dives one late afternoon and saw 17 Mantas swimming along the reef and then coming to join us for a short time and then on the night dive we had 31 different Manta Rays swimming all around us. The Mantas come to feed on plankton which is attracted to light. The dive operators give individuals flashlights and also place some extra lights in the water and you simply sit in about 35 feet of water as the Mantas “fly” around you. It is certainly a memorable dive.
The breeding behavior observed for manta rays is similar to other closely related rays. Copulation occurs near the surface, no deeper than one metre below. It begins with the male chasing the female, for up to half an hour, both often closely followed by a train of hopeful suitors. Such mating trains seem to be triggered by a full moon. The male bites the pectoral fin and then moves its claspers into the cloaca, holding it there for one minute to one and a half while copulation takes place. The developing eggs remain inside the female’s body for possibly as long as 12 months and hatch internally so that she bears live young. The average litter size is two pups, and there is often a two year gap between births. (source – Wikipedia).
Adults are easily recognized by their large triangular pectoral fins and projecting cephalic fins, forward extensions of the pectoral fins that project anteriorly on either side of the head. Each cephalic fin is about twice as long as its base is wide. The length of each cephalic lobe, from tip to the mouth, is 14% of the disc width. They are rolled like spirals when swimming and flattened when eating. This ray has smooth skin, a broad,rectangular terminal mouth located at the front of the head, and a tail that lacks a spine.
I highly encourage you to take advantage of the chance to scuba dive with the Mantas the next time you are on the big island of Hawaii or if you are visiting Hanifaru, a small lagoon next to an uninhabited island in the Maldives or another Manta diving location. It is an awesome opportunity to meet some truly wonderful creatures.
The Carthaginian IIwas once used as a whaling museum in Lahaina Harbor. It is a replica of a 19th century brig similar to the ships that first brought commerce to the Hawaiian Islands. The ship was a cement carrier built in Germany in 1920 and rechristened the Carthaginian II.
Carthaginian II, Maui Hawaii
It sailed to Lahaina in 1973 where it took seven years for the historically accurate 18th century whaling ship rigging to be assembled. The Carthaginian II served as a reminder of Lahaina’s nautical heritage and was docked for many years at Lahaina Harbor. The ship was owned by the Lahaina Restoration Foundation which operated the museum on board that displayed relics of Lahaina’s historic whaling days.
Carthaginian, At the Dock, Maui Hawaii (Steven Smeltzer)
Although it had no true historical value, the Carthaginian II was one of Lahaina’s most recognizable attractions, featured in thousands of artworks and visitor photographs for over the 30 years. The ship belonged to the nonprofit Lahaina Restoration Foundation, which was spending $50,000 a year to maintain the rusting hulk. When marine engineers advised against further repairs because of the increasing costs, Atlantis was approached to claim the vessel and use it as an artificial reef which would in turn enhance the existing Atlantis submarine tours in Lahaina.
Carthaginian and Atlantis, Carthaginian, Maui Hawaii
On December 13, 2005, following two years of preparation, Atlantis Adventures sank the Carthaginian off Lahaina, Maui. This created an artificial reef that will have lasting marine life benefits. The reefing took place off Puamana which is just outside the Lahaina harbor. The 97-foot, steel-hulled vessel, sank in 95 feet of water where it will serve as an artificial reef.
Main Mast in Forward Hold, Carthaginian, Maui Hawaii
The first Carthaginian was a replica of a whaling supply vessel used for the 1966 movie “Hawaii,” based on the James Michener novel. The Lahaina Restoration Foundation purchased the wooden boat, but it sank in 1972 on its way to O’ahu for dry dock. The German vessel was acquired and was rechristened the Carthaginian II and after extensive restoration work it served the city as a floating museum for many years.
Atlantis spent approximately $350,000 on the Carthaginian II project, including preparation of environmental studies. American Marine Services was hired to handle reefing operation. Before the Carthaginian II was towed from Lahaina Harbor, entertainers from the Old Lahaina Lu’au performed “Aloha ‘Oe” and members of the Lahaina Restoration Foundation placed lei on the vessel and held signs bidding it aloha.
To prepare for the sinking, 10 tons of concrete had been loaded on board, adding to the 35 tons of material the boat already was carrying. Atlantis’ small tugboat Roxie pulled the Carthaginian II out of the harbor before transferring the operation to the larger American Islander tugboat.
Frogfish Closeup, Carthaginian II, Maui Hawaii
A flotilla of about 20 boats was waiting when the Carthaginian II arrived at Puamana, and spectators lined the shore or pulled over on Honoapi’ilani Highway to watch the spectacle. Kahu Charles Kaupu offered a Hawaiian blessing, and after a 3-ton anchor was secured to the bow and the boat was in position, patches were removed from two sets of holes that had been cut into the hull about 18 inches above the water line. Seawater was pumped into the hull, and 27 minutes later the Carthaginian was headed to the sandy bottom.
Observers let loose with applause and whoops of appreciation as the ship quietly slipped beneath the surface. Aboard the Atlantis shuttle boat three air-shattering blasts were fired from miniature brass cannon to mark the occasion.
Carthaginian II Overview
The Carthaginian II lies in about 90 feet of water of the coast of Lahina. It is about a 10 to 15 minute trip from the harbor to the dive site. The Carthaginian II was sunk approximately 10 years ago and now supports a wide variety of marine life.
Looking Through the Main Cabin, Carthaginian, Maui Hawaii
When you begin to descend from the mooring ball you will normally be able to see the outline of the ship quite easily. The visibility is usually 80+ feet and much of the time over 100+ feet. There can be some current on this site so some divers may want to descend using the mooring line. As you descend you will begin to notice more details regarding the ship and the impacts of being on the reef for about 6 years. The main mast collapsed in mid-summer 2011 and can now be seen sitting on the deck. The main cabin roof and walls have deteriorated to some degree and there are numerous holes into the hold. The access to the hold itself is quite large and easily accessible. The engine room and forward compartment is blocked by a gate but you can still get a good variety of photos in this area. The rear area of the cargo hold is fairly clear and contains a variety of fish species and crustaceans.
Pacific Trumpetfish Entering Hold, Carthaginian, Maui Hawaii
There are also a number of frogfish on the wreck. I was able to photograph five different frogfish on my last dive. These fish are extremely well placed for macro photos and can consume a lot of bottom time, but it is well worth the effort. Two frogfish were on the main deck to the rear of the main cabin and three were on the starboard side about the midships area.
You will find a wide variety of fish including, Pacific Trumpetfish, Sergeant Majors, Dascyllus, Orangespine Unicornfish, Rainbow Cleaner Wrasse, and many more.
This dive is best when there are less than ten divers in the water since the ship itself is not very large. It is a very worthwhile dive and I highly recommend it for your next trip to Maui.