Lahaina Divers, Lahaina
The best dive sites are often found in out-of-the-way places, beyond where most venture. And most of the times, that’s exactly what keeps them unspoiled. Less human traffic usually means more prolific marine life, as at Lanai’s Barge Harbor. Located in front of the island’s main commercial port, it’s just far enough up the west coast for challenging surface conditions there to keep most commercial dive operators away.
“This is my favorite charter because we build in extra time to explore,” beams our guide, Chris Behrend, just before we drop off Lahaina Divers’ sturdy Dauntless. “And there’s so much to see.”
That promise is delivered the instant we reach the reef below. Schools of brilliant butterflyfish — raccoon, ornate and milletseed — flit about in shocking yellow contrast to the dark volcanic rock and hard-coral background. It’s an intoxicating sight, but not one to linger over too long because the sloping reef features plentiful fractures to explore, some wide enough to venture inside.
I spend a blissful 40 minutes drifting along the reef in a moderate current, navigating through arches and shining my light into cracks to spy whitetip sharks, frogfish, endemic longfin anthias and a big hairy yellow hermit crab that looks beyond surreal — all under the informative counsel of my guide, who is quick to identify it all with his slate. It’s a quality of service Lahaina Divers provides on every trip.
“We like to think that our staff is as good as they get,” says general manager Tim Means. “We’re striving for 100 percent customer satisfaction all the time.” A large part of that satisfaction, according to Means, is thanks to the comfort and capability of Lahaina Divers’ twin 46-foot dive boats.
“We go more places more times than any operator in the state of Hawaii,” he says, including Molokini Crater, West Maui, Lanai and Molokai, where Lahaina Divers offers its signature hammerhead-shark dive twice a week. As the only dive boats working out of Lahaina Harbor, the outfit is convenient to the hotels of Ka’anapali, Kapalua and other West Maui hot spots.
Says Means: “I can take you to all kinds of places. My job is to match you with what you want.”
» PADI Five Star IDC Center with PADI instruction to instructor
» Boats Dauntless and Dominion, max 24 divers each
» Guided dives most dives guided by instructor, 7- or 8-to-1 ratio
» Max dive time about one hour
» Gas mix nitrox
» Gear rental full line available, including dive computers; a nearby camera store rents underwater equipment
» Gear storage bag storage available
» Nearest airport Kahului (OGG)
» Amenities Lahaina dives Molokini, Lanai, Molokai, the Carthaginian, manta point and more; photography services available.
To see the individual write-ups of the other dive operators, click on "Related Articles" below.