The only U.S. state made up entirely of islands, Hawaii is the vision of tropical paradise, with beaches lined with soft sand and palm trees, lovely waterfalls, lush green valleys, myths of warriors and women of unforgettable beauty, and wild volcanic peaks that pierce the clouds. The hardest part when organizing your travels to Hawaii is choosing which island you'll visit. For divers, they all possess underwater assets, and you won't want to miss any of them. We all recognize the island of Kauai from its many appearances in movies and on television. Underwater, especially off the town of Poipu, Kauai offers almost-guaranteed sea turtle encounters. And off the nearby island of Niihau the "Forbidden Island" you'll have a better than average opportunity to interact with the rare Hawaiian monk seal, a seal so rare that when one shows up on the beach, they cordon off a 20-foot zone with police tape to keep people from causing it any undue stress.
Maui offers the most variety of blue adventures in the Hawaiian chain with five distinct regions to dive. Off Lanai, swim-throughs, legions of butterflyfish and whitetip reef sharks dominate the scene, while off the West Maui town of Lahaina, you get a great wreck and a shallow-water manta cleaning station. A little out from Lahaina is the worldfamous Molokini Crater, where almost anything can and does show up. Kihei, on East Maui, piles on the shore dives with everything from World War II wrecks to macro havens. The most popular place on the planet, Waikiki on Oahu, has world-class wrecks just past the famous surf breaks, and the wrecks are crawling with giant green sea turtles. And for big thrills, head to Kona (the Big Island). Here, giant mantas feed at night, and pilot whales, dolphins, oceanic whitetips and beaked whales patrol the blue. You'll also find everything from tiny frogfish to turtle cleaning stations to light-filled lava tubes.
DESTINATION PRIMER AVERAGE WATER TEMP: 77ºF WHAT TO WEAR: 5 mm fullsuit AVERAGE VIZ: 100-plus feet WHEN TO GO: Year-round WHAT TO EXPECT: Big pelagics, lots of endemic tropicals, turtles, mantas and lava-sculpted seascapes LANGUAGE: English CURRENCY: U.S. dollar TAXES: 11.42 percent hotel tax (no sales tax) ELECTRICITY: 110V, 60 cycle TIME ZONE: Hawaiian Standard Time (GMT minus 10 hours)
MUST KNOW AIRPORT/EXIT FEES: $7 for international flights KEY GIFT: Kona coffee DON'T FORGET: A fish-ID book you'll encounter species found nowhere else on earth like the milletseed butterflyfish THE VIBE: A Polynesian paradise TOPSIDE: Breathtaking natural beauty including black-sand beaches and snow-capped volcanoes, as well as quaint towns
MUST DO On Maui, drive the Road to Hana, famed for the natural beauty of the coastline, including towering waterfalls and secret bamboo forests. Book a whale-watching excursion from November to March. View the sunrise from atop a volcano. Visit the USS Arizona Memorial on Oahu. Experience a luau. Learn to surf. On the Big Island, make an after-sunset visit to Volcanoes National Park and watch the nighttime lava flow.
FOR MORE INFORMATION SPORTDIVER.COM/HAWAII