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Scuba Diving Kauai - The Most Spectacular Diving Sites



Scuba diving Kauai (the oldest of the main Hawaiian Islands) depends on the weather. South coast is the busiest dive spot during winter. Probably the most famous place here - Caverns, near the resort of Poipu Beach Resort. Covered with lush tropical vegetation, Kauai is often called the "Garden Isle." There are a variety of daily diving activities as the schedule changes with the seasons. Shore dives, boat dives and night dives vary according to the weather and wave conditions.

The oldest and most northerly in the chain of the Hawaiian archipelago, Kauai embodies all the best features that tourists expect to see in Hawaii: golden beaches, secluded coves, beautiful cliffs along the coast, emerald valleys, rivers and waterfalls.


Scuba Diving Kauai


Scuba Diving Kauai: General Information

Three main resort areas of Kauai (East Kauai, North Coast, West Kauai) are located in a quite different climate regions. There are almost all hotels and resorts of the island. North and East are on the "windward" side of the island. These regions have a lot of rainfall and, as a consequence, are the greenest part of Kauai. South and West are on the "leeward" side of Kauai, getting less rain. There are a lot of sun, beautiful beaches are waiting the guests and variety of water sports.

About 44% of the coastline of Kauai are beaches. Its length is much more than on any other Hawaiian island. The most popular beaches are in the north and south of Kauai. They are often crowded by visitors on weekends. Large waves and underwater currents are distinctive characteristics of many beaches on the island. And beaches along Na Pali Coast are the most dangerous in this concern.

Poipu Beach - one of the most popular beaches of Kauai. Essentially, it consists of two separate bays, separated by a foreland. Lava breakwater protects the beach from high waves from the left side. There is a open bay on the right side. It is as a popular surf spot in summer, when the waves are gaining altitude. But this place is not for beginners. There are good reefs for diving, swimming and snorkelling, and plenty of good fishing spots.

Anini Beach - one of the safest swimming beaches of Kauai. Narrow reef protects the beach that is longer than 2 km from the high waves. Anini reef along the beach is the largest in Hawaii. However, scuba diving is not very marvelous - marine life is something to be desired. Due to the vast reef, Anini Beach has the softest waves on the north shore of Kauai and it is one of the few beaches where you swim in the winter when other northern beaches take big waves.
But calm conditions for swimming inside reefs can be deceptive. Channels which are located inside this reef can have a strong underwater currents. Therefore, in the winter, it is better to swim in the inland areas of reefs off the coast. Do not be tempted by scuba diving Kauai in the deeper waters of the reef.

Tunnels Beach - one of the best beaches in Kauai. Here is good swimming and snorkelling in the calm summer months. Scuba diving in the winter is also possible, depending on the ocean conditions. Surrounding mountains and coral reefs create particularly beautiful background for the beach.

Kee Beach is close to Tunnels Beach. Ocean is calm in summer. In winter, the number of days favorable for safe swimming is greatly reduced. If Kee beach takes too big waves - you may continue swimming and scuba diving in Tunnels beach, which is more protected by reef.

Haena Beach is surrounded by verdant cliffs and is located on the northern coast of the island. Beach appears in many American movies. It is easy to understand why Hollywood is so fond of Haena Beach with its grainy golden sand and clear turquoise waters. Summer months bring calm waves for swimming and snorkeling, powerful waves attract surfers in winter.

Scuba diving Kauai highly depends on weather and ocean conditions. Scuba diving in winter moves to south coast, when ocean is calmer. Probably the most famous place here - Caverns, near the resort of Poipu Beach Resort. In summer storm subsides on the North Shore. And one of the most spectacular dive sites there is Kee Beach - one of the most picturesque beaches on the island. Another good place - reefs of Tunnels Beach but, again, only in the quiet summer months!

Scuba Diving Kauai: Diving Conditions

Temperatures in Hawaii vary little, remaining in the 80s most of the year. From November through March, occasional cool spells drop temperatures down into the low 70s (rarely into the 60s). Winds become more variable, and storms are more likely. Water temperatures vary from the low 70s to the mid 80s. The weather is warmest and driest from May to October, with persistent winds. There is no set hurricane season as there is in the Caribbean. The tourist off-season is from September to early December and again from mid-April to early June. Humpback season is from November to May.


Scuba Diving Kauai: Marine Flora & Fauna

  • Hawaiian Spinner Dolphin;
  • manta rays;
  • parrotfish, or uhu;
  • needlefish and butterflyfish;
  • triggerfish and filefish;
  • Green Sea Turtle;
  • scorpionfish;
  • spiny sea urchins;
  • hammerhead sharks;
  • black-tip reef and white-tip reef sharks;
  • cone shells;
  • Portuguese Man-o’-War floating marine jellyfish
Scuba Diving Kauai: marine life



Scuba Diving Kauai: Scuba Diving Centres


Bubbles Below Kauai Down Under Dive Team Na Pali Coast Seasport Divers
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Just a few Dive Shops in Kauai (click on TripAdvisor icon to read divers' reviews)


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Scuba Diving Kauai: The Best Scuba Diving Locations

The best and safest dive sites are accessed by boat on the South Shore of the island, right off the shores of Poipu. Beginners may prefer shore dives, which are best at Koloa Landing on the South Shore year-round and Makua (Tunnels) Beach on the North Shore in the calm summer months. For the advanced diver, the island of Niihau—across an open ocean channel in deep and crystal clear waters.

Scuba diving Kauai offers a variety of dive sites for beginners and experienced divers. Boat dives, night dives and other dive tours offer plenty of tropical fish, reef creatures, dolphins and honu (Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles) to discover. Experienced divers will generally find more thrilling spots on the east and west shores, while those new to scuba should start on the north or south shores (Hanalei, Kee Beach, or Poipu Beach). More advanced dives include cave exploration and lava tubes.

We've listed below some of the most famous dive sites on Kauai.


Sheraton Caverns

  • Skill level: beginner, intermediate, advanced;
  • Depth: 35 to 70 feet;
  • Wildlife: lots of turtles, and everything else that lives in the ocean

Sheraton Caverns is on the south shore of Kaua'i just west of Poipu. Ancient blown-out lava tubes now consisting of gorgeous archways and overhangs is also the home to many of Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles. Sheraton Caverns has got the most popular boat diving site on Kauai. Located about 400 yards off the Sheraton Kauai this site offers something for everyone. Archways and partial overhangs give this site some of the most spectacular scenery found underwater.
Large whitemouth moray eels, conger eels, octopus, frogfish, spiny and slipper lobsters, shrimp, and a variety of Hawaiian reef fish all reside at this dive site. It's a dive you won't soon forget!


Brennekes Ledge

  • Skill level: intermediate, advanced;
  • Depth: 60 to 100 feet;
  • Wildlife: everything, including humpbacks whales, Grey reef sharks, Black coral, Giant tuna and all the small creatures

A lava shelf on the southeast shore of Kaua'i just east of Poipu. It extends for several miles parallel to shore and has a wall which drops to 90 feet. With its location so close to the point the currents here can rip. Mostly done as a drift, this site is one of the best there is on Kauai. The only down side to this site is the currents.
Large branches of black coral, long-nosed hawkfish hiding amoungst the black coral hang from the may overhangs. Large schools of Ta'ape, turtles, cowries, lobsters, moray eels and a resident white tip reef shark also grace this dive site. On top of the reef there are lots of cauliflower coral, octopus, and a variety of reef fish.


Ice Box

  • Skill level: intermediate, advanced;
  • Depth: 60 to 95 feet;
  • Wildlife: Soldier fish, whiskered boar fish, Black coral, Helmet conch, white tip reef sharks and turtles

Three fingered reef with occasional whitetip reef sharks, whiskered boarfish, and large schools of sea life. With lots of small caves numerous animals spend the day hiding out. Whiskered Boar fish have been seen here on a regular basis along with white tip reef sharks and turtles. Because of the shape of the site currents are not as strong here as they are at other site and the reef is diverse and interesting. Overall a good site for a moderate diver.


General Store

  • Skill level: intermediate, advanced;
  • Depth: 65 to 100 feet;
  • Wildlife: Black coral, Lemon butterfly fish, Helmet Conch, Octopus and Turtles are just some of the stuff we see here

This site is the resting place of the wreck of the "Pele" - a freighter that sank here in the late 1800's. A horseshoe shaped inlet with small lava tubes on either side gives this site lots of places for the fish to hide and because of it location in deeper waters (90 foot plus on the outside) there always a good chance for the big stuff to move through. Currents here can get a little rough, but with the inlet there always a place to "duck and hide" if they get out of hand. Sometimes done as a drift dive depending on the divers and the currents.
Swim throughs with black coral bushes and Long nose hawkfish with the company of whitetip reef sharks and bandit angelfish that can usually be seen at this site.


Turtle Bluffs

  • Skill level: intermediate, advanced;
  • Depth: 45 to 90 feet;
  • Wildlife: Turtles, Schools of Blue stripped Snappers, Black Coral and White tip Reef sharks

Located just west of General Store Turtle bluffs dive site consists of a small hill surrounded by 15 to 20 ledges on three sides. Known for the turtle cleaning station located at the top of the hill this site is loaded with fish. Most often currents are not a problem but being so far off shore it does have a tendency to catch the same stuff that General Store does. You'll find a little bit of everything, trees of black coral, intriguing rock formations teeming with marine life. Sea turtles being cleaned at the turtle cleaning station, sharks hiding under ledges and the ocassional manta ray. White tip reef sharks and an Hawaiian Morwong are just two of the many species of that inhabit.


Koloa Landing

  • Skill level: beginner, intermediate, advanced;
  • Depth: 35 to 60 feet;
  • Wildlife: Everything including dragon morays, and purple dragon nudibranchs

A horseshoe shape bay, excellent for scuba diving or advanced snorkeling. It is located on the south side of Kauai. This is probably the most popular shore scuba diving Kauai site. During most of the year, this site offers just about everything you could want from a shore dive. Easy navigation on the right or left side. Sea turtles sleep here during the day and you may find everything from monk seals to whales around this area. The only caution is during periods of high south surf (anything over 4 feet).



  • Skill level: beginner, intermediate, advanced;
  • Depth: 35 to 70 feet;
  • Wildlife: Turtles, black coral, multiple nudibranchs, and much of the everything

Premiere North Shore dive site, this site is not accessible in high northwest swell conditions. Very shallow initially but drops to 60 feet. Over the drop you will find the entrances to the tunnels. They should be entered only on scuba gear and with proper training and supervision. It is a difficult site to navigate and having a trained guide familiar with the site will improve your dive experience.
Tunnels - is a great summer location for snorkeling and diving. It was documented over 26 caverns and tubes so far with some being over 75 ft long. The current here can rip so the best time to dive is low tide and flat surf.
Another drawback is parking so be sure to carpool with your guide or ask around for a group of Sherpa's to hire to carry your gear the three miles to the beach.
White tip reef sharks use the caverns to get clean while they sleep during the day and the reef is home to turtles, black coral and multiple nudibranchs.

*Based on descriptions from Fathom Divers & Sea Sport Divers websites


Those who visited this Garden Isle and personally do scuba diving Kauai say that this place is wonderful for all types of diving: for simple tourist underwater adventures to deep sea diving. Yes, there is not a wild variety of colours, like in the Caribbean, but in warm waters around Kauai swim giant sea turtles, funny tropical fish, and larger sea creatures. In addition, on Kauai easily possible to combine diving with "on-shore" activities: nature on this island impresses with its grandeur and pristine purity!


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