Diving in Kauai - Bluewater Dive Travel


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Known as the 'Garden Island', the Hawaiian island of Kauai offers dramatic and rich experiences both above and below the waterline. Scuba diving in Kauai is not to be missed and is a great addition to an adventure vacation.



Scuba diving in Kaui is exclusively land-based, and although there are no dive-specific resorts, there are several local dive operators linked to the hotels.

Kauai is known for its charming guesthouses and B&Bs, however, there are also plenty of larger resorts and some luxury options in the areas of North Shore (Princeville), East Side (Coconut Coast), Lihue (Kalapaki), South Shore (Poipu), and West Side (Waimea).



As Hawaii's fourth-largest and northernmost island, Kauai's lush green landscape, jagged cliffs, and dramatic waterfalls offer a breathtaking alternative take on the tropical paradise state. Such exciting scenery offers a wealth of outdoor activities, with even the views providing a thrilling experience. Below the waves, thriving coral gardens match the flourishing topside jungle, while unique lava and rock formations create a stunning underwater topography within reach of even the newest of divers.

The marine life found in Kauai's waters is equally exciting, in particular divers will thrill at the large numbers of green turtles (honu), dolphins, and a plethora of reef fish and critters. There are also several turtle and whitetip reef shark cleaning stations dotted around the island. Many of Hawaii's endemic species can be found in Kauai's warm tropical waters.

Check out Hawaii's other popular diving destinations, Kona and Maui

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These are the main dive areas in Kauai:

North Shore

Excellent for novice scuba divers and snorkelers, the reefs off Kee Beach and Haena Beach Park offer wide, easy reef areas full of life. Anini Beach has a great sheltered lagoon area.

East Side

Lydgate Beach Park on the island's East Side has a protected snorkeling lagoon, perfect for families and young children. 

South Shore

While the South Shore can experience strong swells and currents at certain times of the year, Poipu Beach State Park has ideal areas for snorkelers and divers.

West Side

Less visited and so in pristine condition, the West Side sites are particularly nutrient-rich and so marine life is abundant.

Niihau (The Forbidden Island)

To the west of Kauai, the island of Niihau and neighboring Lehua Rock offer some big ocean diving that's only accessible when the channel conditions allow. This massive pinnacle attracts big ocean visitors such as manta rays and humpback whales in the winter, and seals and sharks throughout the summer. Large baitballs attract schools of feeding jacks, barracuda, and even the endangered Hawaiian monk seal.

There are also some awesome drift dives around the coast of Niihau, and the lack of visitors means the marine life is curious and plentiful. Drifting through lava tubes and caves the best of Hawaii's spectacular marine life can be spotted here. 

Kauai Dive Travel Guide Kauai Dive Travel Guide



It's possible to go scuba diving in Kauai at any time of year, although the water temperatures do tend to drop off over the winter. 

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Kauai is one of Hawaii's less-dived islands, perhaps because there are so many other adventure activities to enjoy. However, this undiscovered paradise has a huge variety of marine life and some exciting underwater topography to explore. An ancient offshore barrier reef to the north boasts amazing visibility and deep cracks, fissures in the rock, pinnacles, and lava tubes. Shallow coastal caves and swim-throughs provide a hide-out for all manner of critters while sheltered lagoons and inner reefs are a playground for all manner of tropical fish including many endemic species. There are also many heavily encrusted coral gardens of both hard and soft coral, as well as large fields of algae that sustain the abundant local green turtle population.

Here are some of the rarer and endemic species you can expect to spot diving Kauai:

  • Hawaiian monk seal
  • Manta ray
  • Eagle ray
  • Humpback whale
  • Grey reef shark
  • Tinkers butterflyfish
  • Bicolor anthias
  • Black-striped coris
  • Hawaiian conger eel
  • Red-striped pipefish
  • Ghost shrimp
  • Dragon wrasse
  • Indigo dartfish
  • Long-nosed hawkfish
  • Wild boarfish
  • Frogfish
  • Green lionfish
  • Gilded triggerfish
  • Various hermit crabs and lobster
  • Nudibranchs

Kauai Dive Travel Guide Kauai Dive Travel Guide Kauai Dive Travel Guide



The majority of dive sites are just off-shore and so are accessed by boat. Operators use RHIBs or speedboats to access both the inshore sites and the more distant dive areas. 

Diving packages are often bespoke and can be tailored to individual requirements due to the weather and small group numbers.



  • Water temperature: 75-80oF (24-27oC).
  • Visibility: 75-100ft (255-30m) but can vary depending on rainfall and run-off.
  • Depth Range: 10-130ft (3-40m).
  • Diving Difficulty: Suitable for all abilities, including snorkelers.



Hale o Honu (House of the Turtles)

Easy surface conditions and minimal current make this relaxed but bountiful dive a favorite amongst locals and visitors. It's home to the island's busiest turtle cleaning station where dozens of surgeonfish feast on the algae-coated shells of green turtles. There are also plenty of other critters to find here, such as nudibranchs, octopus, scorpionfish, moray eels, spiny lobster, and some bright reef fish thrown into the mix.

Amber's Arches

One of the deeper sites that can experience strong currents and choppy surface conditions. Stunning topography sets off large orange cup corals and strands of black coral that hide rare species such as the long-nosed hawkfish, ghost shrimp, sponge crabs, and plenty of bicolor anthias. 


An awesome drift dive along a huge ledge between 40 and 80 feet. The marine life here is endless, and keen eyes will spot everything from the tiniest critters, shrimps, nudibranchs, and pipefish through to large predators such as the white-tipped reef shark, scalloped hammerheads, and tiger sharks There are also numerous rare and endemic species hiding in the nooks and crannies of the wall. 

Mana Crack

This 11-mile long barrier reef has various sites and drop points and is dived as a long drift dive. The offshore nature of the area means accessing it is weather dependent, however, this also provides exceptional visibility and some fascinating topography to explore. This is the place to spot barracuda, eagle rays, white-tipped reef sharks, as well as some beautiful smaller species.

Koloa Landing

Really the only shore diving area on the island, this site benefits from the nutrient-rich Waikoma Stream and offers some great marine life spots. Aside from dozens of turtles, there are a variety of moray eels species, octopus, frogfish, and some endemic reef fish too. This is a great site for beginners or refresher courses.

Kauai Dive Travel Guide Kauai Dive Travel Guide



A big draw to Kauai's shores is the opportunity to spot migrating humpback whales during the winter months. The season typically starts in late December and whales can be spotted through until early May. However, bear in mind that November through February is 'big-wave surf season' and so conditions can be challenging. 

For another great whale-watching destination, check out diving in Moorea.



Scuba diving in Kauai is possible year-round with fairly consistent air temperatures ranging between 85oF (29oC) in the summer and 78oF (25oC) in the winter. Water temperatures average 74oF (23oC), reaching a peak of 80oF (27oC) in September.

During the winter months (October - April) there is often a large north swell which can affect access to the North Shore sites, however, diving is available on the opposite shore if this is the case. Hawaii is not generally affected by the hurricane season.

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The main airport in Kauai is Lihue Airport (LIH) and many airlines now offer direct flights from the US.  Alternatively, fly into Honolulu International Airport (HNL) on Oahu and then take an island-hopper the 25-minute flight across to Kauai.



There are plenty of things to do in Kauai for divers and non-divers alike. Kauai is an adventurer's paradise, with large parts of the island only accessible by sea or air. For starters take a kayak trip on the Wailua River or hike the trails in Kokee State Park. Thrill-seekers can zipline through lush jungle, explore Waimea Canyon, or take a helicopter tour around the island's dramatic coastline.

There are also many traditional villages to visit and various music and culture festivals throughout the year.

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  • Currency: US Dollar (USD).
  • Language: English and Hawaiian.
  • Time Zone: Hawaii-Aleutian Standard Time (GMT -10:00).
  • Electricity: 120V. 

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Call us today at +1-310-915-6677 or email us info@bluewaterdivetravel.com

And let us book your dream vacation! 



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Reviews (3)

Valencia, CA
United States

If you're looking for some sweet dive spots, Kauai is the place to be. Crystal clear waters, a bonanza of marine life, and the kind of underwater vistas that make your heart skip a beat. One of the raddest parts of our family's dive trip was teaming up with Fathom Five Divers.

From the get-go, these folks had us feeling stoked. Check out their website, www.fathomfive.com - it's easy to navigate and loaded with all the info you need to plan your dives, no matter your skill level.

Diving with the Fathom Five crew was all-time. One of our favorite spots was Niihau, otherwise known as the "Forbidden Island". This place was unreal, teeming with marine life that left us in awe. We also got to explore the Sheraton Caverns, a network of caves that's practically a turtle party. Every dive spot had its own vibe and Fathom Five made sure we got the best of each one.

The Fathom Five team was dialed-in when it came to safety, always keeping a watchful eye out while we were catching the sights underwater. They made us feel safe, letting us focus on soaking up the awesomeness of our dives.

So here's the bottom line: Kauai is a diver's dream and Fathom Five Divers is the ultimate dive buddy to help you uncover all the marine magic the island has to offer. No matter if you're a seasoned diver or just getting your feet wet, they've got you covered. Our family gives Kauai and Fathom Five a big 'ol thumbs up for an off-the-charts diving experience. Catch you on the next wave!

Visited on 10/2023 - Submitted on 07/30/2023
kississimmee , FL
United States

Kauai has so many dive sites it’s hard to start. Each has something unique about it that’s rare to find. Highly suggest letting Fathom Five be a tour guide so they can take you to what you wanna see. Been on 10 dives there so far and plan on going back for more. Well worth it.

Visited on 07/2023 - Submitted on 09/22/2023

I enjoyed scuba diving in Kauai throughout an extended stay on the Garden Isle. I did 14 dives in total, which became somewhat repetitive due to the time of year and dive sites visited. A few days of boat diving from Kukuiula Boat Harbor took me to dive sites Fish Bowl, Toilet Bowl, Zach's Pocket, Sheraton Caverns, and Arches. The dive boats from the harbor are large and comfortable. I also did a number of shore dives from Koloa Landing, where you enter via a mucky boat ramp. A highlight of shore diving Koloa was using DPVs (diver propulsion vehicles, aka "underwater scooters") to reach some of Kauai's best dive sites without needing a boat.

Kauai diving is not sensational, but there is some interesting topography such as the lava rock swim-throughs at Sheraton Caverns and there are lots of turtles, nudibranchs, octopus, and fish to enjoy. My favorite thing was listening to the humpback whales underwater! Although I never saw any during my dives, I did see plenty of humpbacks from the dive boats and from shore. Kauai would be a great place to get certified or try a discovery dive. Conditions and dive sites are very weather dependent, with some dive days cancelled due to high surf or low visibility. Sadly, I was there at the wrong time of year to dive Ni'ihau, where divers encounter endangered Hawaiian monk seals, whales, and sharks.

Visited on 01/2022 - Submitted on 01/22/2023


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