Love to dive? Nab one of the last three spots on my Wander Women: Dive + Yoga Retreat in Koh Tao, Thailand!
After kissing my land-lubber boyfriend goodbye in Maui and heading back to Oahu solo, the first thing I wanted to do? Get straight underwater.
After an excellent experience with Kaimana Divers four years prior, I didn’t even consider another dive shop. I called up shop owner Gabe, nabbed one of the six exclusive spots on their daily dive trips, and set my alarm for stupid-early-o’clock.
The dive group was a great one, which sounds from the gushing online reviews for Kaimana Divers like it is par for the course. There was a young military divemaster trainee working under Gabe, a badass women’s local dive club made up of Hawaiian female scientists, and me.
Our first dive of the morning, at Hundred Foot Hole, was an absolute treat. During the briefing, Gabe suggested we were likely to see a couple white tip reef sharks hanging out under a volcanic ledge — and upon descending, there they were, as if they were actors warned ahead to get to their places. After watching them move, slowly and gracefully, around the sea caverns, we eventually followed their lead and exited the other side via a swim-through.
The dive site was full of life, however sadly this was nearly my last trip ever with my My Canon PowerShot G7X and Waterproof Housing. My camera housing acted up so badly it was nearly unusable for the most of the dive. Luckily, I did manage to get a few shots here and there when the camera would reluctantly cooperate. Doubly luckily, Gabe gave me some advice on how to revive it after the fact — basically, getting some pediatric medicine syringes and using them to dig around the button o-rings and squirt some silicone in there — that gave me another several dive trips out of the set before I finally upgraded at the end of last year.
Be super careful using this method as there’s always the risk of puncturing a o-ring — in my case, the housing was basically rendered useless anyway, so if I’d caused further damage in my attempt to revive it, it would have been no loss. But proceed with caution!
And then it was time to surface! I love diving in Oahu for the simple joy of surfacing above a colorful reef to find yourself staring straight at the Waikiki skyline. I’d love to try some city diving in Miami for the same reason, too — the juxtaposition just tickles me.
Our next dive was a shallow reef garden, Rojo Reef — with no real underwater topography to follow the outline of we kind of just cruised, keeping an eye out for anything that caught our attention. We paused often to admire eels, tropical reef fish, nudibranchs, and distinctive coral formations. Oahu doesn’t have much soft coral but the hard corals at this site were healthy and strong, as far as the eye could see.
My favorite find of the day? A free-swimming sea snake! I love these shy creatures, and it’s pretty rare and fun to see one slinking along the ocean floor, looking for its next coral head to hide in.
omg nudibranchs, get a room!
It felt so good to dive! Oahu really is an underrated dive destination — with a full lineup of wrecks and reefs along the south coast, shark dives on the north shore, and turtle, sharks, and dolphins popping up everywhere for special guest appearances, I’d really love to come back at some point and fit in more than just one dive day per trip.
When I do, I’m sure it will be with Kaimana Divers. I love them right down to the name — mana is a Hawaiian word which conveys respect, power responsibility and balance while kai refers to the ocean. I can get behind that!
One thing that had changed since my last dive with Kaimana was the launch point. Trips now leave from Ke’ehi Boat Harbor, which thrilled me — it just so happens to be right next to La Mariana Sailing Club, which was on my must-do list for this particular trip.
This historic tiki bar is probably what you have in mind when you first start dreaming of Hawaii — though when you arrive, you’ll find in reality, gems like this are few and far between. If it looks really familiar, no surprise there, as it’s a frequent set for movies and tv shows set in Hawaii, most notably Hawaii Five-O. As a non-seafood eater, the menu wasn’t really for me, but I didn’t mind in the slightest — just sitting there sipping on a drink and soaking up the atmosphere was all I needed. Don’t miss a meal or a drink here after your dive trip for one of the most authentic Oahu experiences around!
Have you been diving on Oahu? What dive site should I request for my next trip?
Mahalo to Kaimana Divers for the media discount.
Confused on where we are? I’m catching up on the black hole of content from August of 2016 to April of 2017 — when I jumped forward to blog the summer of 2017 as it was happening. Right now, we’re in October of 2016 in Hawaii, and I can’t wait to turn my detailed notes and journals into blog posts from Jamaica, Thailand and Bali next! My apologies for any confusion with the timeline, and thanks for sticking with me.
I love Kaimana! I went diving with them last March (thanks to your previous review) and it was a similarly great experience. They hooked me up with a last-minute spot on their boat, there was an adorable pup onboard (!!), and our divemaster even gave me a ride to my next stop afterward. Plus, you know, the diving was great and my group was super fun. So, belated thanks for the heads up!
Aw, this makes me so happy to hear! That’s awesome Dylan — nothing makes my day like knowing one of my recommendations worked out for one of y’all 🙂
I glanced at all of your pictures first before going back to read your story afterwards, and my very first thought was just how cool it looked to have all of the buildings rising up in the background as if they belonged to a completely different world. The city appeared as such a stark contrast to the diving realm and ocean world. And then, of course, I went and read your story and saw that you commented on this exact thing haha. The juxtaposition really is sooo cool though. I love it! <3
So so cool! And as far as I know, a pretty unique experience — not that many cities have vibrant reefs and great diving conditions right offshore!
I love that you went to La Mariana Sailing Club! I went to Hawaii in 2007 and it was at the top of my must-see list – really happy to see it’s still going strong and has the same amazing atmosphere! I’m still a little bit obsessed. I didn’t dive back then (but I do now!), so I guess I’ll just have to go back 🙂
Definitely a hidden gem on Oahu! Next time I’m going with a designated driver so I can kick back and have a few tiki drinks 😉
A snake?! Yikes!! I love diving with sharks, but seeing that snake made my anxiety levels rise. 😉 We haven’t dove on Oahu (yet), I guess we should change that.
Haha it’s soooo little, and they are so shy! I swear once you actually saw it, you wouldn’t be afraid! (Well, at least I’m guessing!)
Good comment but it is NOT a snake…… rather a Magnificent Snake Eel. They are pretty rare here and VERY mellow:
Haha, oops! Good thing I’ve got you to keep me in line!
Love that you highlighted the beauty of Oahu diving! Living here, I’m a little spoiled but also always amazed that there are, after 8 years, plenty more sites for me to do along with my favorites that never get old. As you know, depending on which side you dive there are different shops to go with. I know of a few that will go to nearly all sides, depending on when you return. Tyler’s Oahu Scuba is my top recommendation however Tyler is on hiatus for a few months. He doesn’t have his own boat, so can go anywhere, and yet still makes it a personal experience. If you haven’t dived out of Hawaii Kai (Moanalua Bay), there are some fantastic sites. I’d recommend Reef Pirates Diving – six pack boat, Dan (captain, DM, manager) is fantastic. I also know a few smaller folks rather than large shops that can offer a more catered experiences. For sites, there are some awesome shore dives in the north shore (Tyler’s home turf). I also love Diving the west side of the island. Thanks for sharing the aloha for Oahu diving!
Hey Karen! Thank you so much for these awesome tips — sounds like you have a ton of experience! You go girl 🙂 Maybe we can dive together next time I’m on the island!
I love your gorgeously colourful diving photos, whenever I see them I crave a diving trip. However, I don’t have one in the pipeline which makes me a little bit sad, I guess I’ll have to browse through your photos and dream instead 🙂
I hate the feeling of not having a dive trip planned! There should be a name for such a condition 😉 Hopefully you find a good one to start dreaming of soon!
The truth is that overall I was not that impressed with Waikiki. Yes, I did love that seeing that skyline from the ocean. Sure, we had a good time, but several times I had the feeling that our time could have been better spent elsewhere, or doing something different. But, this looks fabulous! The diversity of the sealife and the brilliant colors are amazing. Seems like it would be an almost spiritual experience. If I have cause to return again, you have motivated me to try
Waikiki can be a tricky one! I understand why some people love it and some people hate it. It’s far from my favorite spot in Hawaii, but I do love that skyline 🙂
Love Gabe & Kaimana Divers! We have gone out with them several times over 2 Oahu trips and there will be many more to come since my parents are DVC at Aulani. Gabe always hooks us up with a dive trip out of the west side to give us a break from the awful morning rush hour coming into Waikiki from Aulani. And the west side diving is fabulous!
That’s so awesome to know they’ll come and get ya right out of the West Side! Will definitely keep that in mind for my next Aulani trip!