Three Maui Diving Trips That Shouldn’t Be Missed
Maui is consistently ranked as one of the best diving destinations in the world, with so many choices of unique and memorable sites available, it can be hard to know what the real “can’t miss” Maui dive sites are. That’s why we’ve decided to highlight three of the best dives the island has to offer, with something for divers of almost an experience level.
Anyone looking for a can’t miss diving experience should consider trips to Molokini’s Backwall, the Carthaginian Wreck, and Ulua Beach. While all are accessible via charter and can be handled by divers ranging from beginners to pros, however, the latter choice will be the best choice for families and the inexperienced.
Interested in finding out more? Be sure to read on for a little bit more about each location and the unique features that they offer. If learning more about these great dive sites doesn’t inspire you to slap on a diving regulator and a wetsuit and get diving, then SCUBA may not be for you.
If there is one site that we get asked about the most, it’s probably Molokini Crater. This makes sense as the almost completely submerged volcanic crater boasts calm waters that make observing its aquatic life a simple and astounding process.
While divers of all levels can comfortably traverse the shallower parts of Molokini (even snorkelers can get in on the action) those looking for more of a challenge should try adventuring around to the crater’s famed southern “backwall.” The name for this crater feature comes from the sheer drop that follows the edge of the crater hundreds of feet below into an infinitely explorable wall that is teaming with life.
Visitors to Molokini can expect to find fish that are more habituated to the presences of humans, and thus less skittish. Highlights include brightly colored tropical fish such as yellow tang, Moorish idol, and parrotfish. Other sea creatures such as eels and rays can often be found hiding out in crags or swimming over the ocean floor. Visitors to the backwall may even get to see open ocean visitors such as humpback whales or dolphins pass by.
Due to popular demand, starting in May 2022, one of the newest charter trips we will offer here at Dive Maui is our exploration of the Carthaginian II wreckage. Sitting approximately 100 feet below the surface, half a mile offshore, on the ocean’s sandy bottom rests the Carthaginian II, a ship with a long history itself that helps make it one of the most unique wreck dives in the world.
The original Carthaginian served as a floating museum for the Lahaina Restoration Foundation for many years before being wrecked on the reefs outside Lahaina in 1972. Shortly after a German cement carrier was purchased as a replacement and used by the Lahaina Restoration Foundation before being intentionally scuttled in 2005 and has slowly been reclaimed by the sea since then.
The site is accessible for divers of all levels, though you will have to deal with minimal currents while exploring the wreck. Besides exploring the open hull and peering into the engine room, witnesses will get to experience all the wildlife that has made their home in the semi-sheltered wreckage—including whitetip reef sharks!
If you’re looking for a more accessible shore dive, look no further than Ulua Beach in Wailea. The atmosphere around the roughly quarter-mile beach is friendly and congenial with families, snorkelers, boogie boarders, and divers all sharing space.
This beach is one of the best for snorkelers and shore dives, as it offers great opportunities to explore its reefs just to the north of the beach itself. The outer reef is more challenging to get to, but those who venture out to it will be rewarded with a more vibrant atmosphere and experience.
While not as crowded as some of the other beaches directly to its north and south, parking can still fill up, so it is better to get to the beach earlier rather than later.
Lastly, while some will insist that Lanai Cathedrals or Mala Warf take this spot, the truth is those sites are just as worthwhile and a strong case could be made for their inclusion here. In the end, it will depend on each diver’s personal preferences.
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And there you have it, three of the best Maui diving trips that shouldn’t be missed for your next stop on the island. There is something for everyone, from the jaw-dropping plunge of Molokini’s backwall to the eerie exploration of the wrecked Carthaginian and the friendly surroundings of Ulua Beach.
We hope you’ve enjoyed reading about Maui’s can’t miss dive sites and that you’ve learned something new along the way. Please don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions or comments you may have, our dedicated team of dive pros are always happy to assist in whatever way they can.
As always, thanks for reading, and until next time, Aloha!