Known as the Garden Isle, Kauai should change its name to Hollywood's Preferred Backlot. It seems every inch of this lush island has appeared in a TV show or movie. Perhaps its two most famous natural features are the indescribable and awe-inspiring Na Pali Coast and the spectacular Waimea Canyon. In between are about a zillion waterfalls, and the wettest spot on earth, Mount Waialeale. With some of the most spectacular scenery on the planet, it's a mecca for hikers, mountain bikers, producers, adventurous types and, of course, divers.
The holy grail of diving in Hawaii, about a 45-minute boat ride away, comes with the menacing moniker of the "Forbidden Island," Ni'ihau. At sites like Ni'ihau Arches and Lehua Rock, divers frequently encounter endangered monk seals, eagle rays and blacktip sharks, as well as a busy metropolis of marine life, from huge schools of pennant, pyramid and milletseed butterflyfish to hawkfish, octopus and even rare morwongs.
Off Kauai, most of the diving is centered around Poipu Beach. Here you're (almost) guaranteed to encounter green sea turtles, often by the dozen. Sheraton Caverns lays claim to being the unofficial local hangout for these fascinating marine mammals. But they're not the only attraction. You'll also find loads of bluestripe snapper, whitetips and, for the observant, stunning nudibranchs, cowries, leaf fish, turkeyfish, triton trumpet shells and 7-11 crabs.
Top Dive Sites: Kauai
Ni'ihau Arches (Ni'ihau)
Lehua Rock (Ni'ihau)
Pyramid Point (Ni'ihau)
Vertical Awareness (Ni'ihau)