From the "House of the Sun," Mount Haleakala, through the remarkable beauty of the Hana Road, and offshore to the one-of-a-kind diving off Molokini Crater, Maui features a complete set of the elements that define paradise. Still relatively unfettered by mass tourism, Maui revels in its pastoral charms -- but it's not without its share of top eateries and luxury resorts. Maui is also considered to have the greatest variety of diving in the Hawaiian Islands. Abundant sea turtles and sharks, and huge numbers of fish, define the underwater landscape here. Humpback whales crowd the sea during their birthing season, often causing roadblocks with their near-shore leaps. The nearby uninhabited island of Kahoolawe is riddled with volcanic caverns. Diving the island of Molokai is like descending into a Wild West shootout thrilling, unpredictable, seat-of-your-pants kind of diving. During most dives, lemon butterflyfish accompany divers like bright yellow leaves in an autumn wind. And the night diving here is modestly described as spectacular. Spanish dancer nudibranchs often take off like magic carpets during night dives, while eels, cowries, slipper and bull's-eye lobsters and a host of other nocturnal denizens will keep your dive light humming.
Almost a second home for Maui divers is the nearby island of Lanai, which seems to exist solely for the pleasure of divers. Here you'll find the world-famous lava domes of First and Second Cathedral, where shafts of light pierce the caverns like a thousand radiant swords. Beyond that is an incredible diversity of dive sites, in which a great variety of marine creatures play out their lives around this diver's playground. The site called Pyramids gets its name from the sheer number of pyramid butterflyfish that flit around the top of the pinnacle. At another site, Fish Rock, menpachi, pipefish, viper moray, large cowries and whitetips headline a Hawaiian who's who list that will have you poring over ID books for hours after a day of diving and that's just on the reef. Look to the blue and you'll have a good chance of seeing spotted eagle rays, manta rays and passing sharks, and in season, perhaps even humpback whales.
Top Dive Sites: Maui