Scuba Diving Oahu

Scuba Diving Oahu: The Ultimate Guide

Hawaii’s third-largest island and home to the majority of its cultured inhabitants, Oahu is aptly named ‘The Gathering Place’. Oahu has something for everyone, from big-city hustle and bustle to serene beachside towns.

Oahu is diverse in culture and offers a great variety when it comes to exploring. You’ll find atmospheric bars and restaurants along with an abundance of activities to take part in, making Oahu an ideal vacation choice for all the family.

With over 40 named dive sites to choose from, Oahu is a great choice for scuba divers too! Scuba diving Oahu boasts a rich variety of dive sites with something to suit every level of diver. Not only that, the tropical Pacific waters of Hawaii make it home to hundreds of species of tropical fish as well as great diving conditions.

Scuba Diving Oahu

What’s Good About Oahu Diving?

It’s no secret that Hawaii is something of a tropical paradise and a bucket list destination among many travelers. Here are some of the things that we think make Oahu a great destination for scuba diving.

Great Water Conditions

Located far out in the Pacific ocean, Hawaii is home to some tropical and diverse conditions. You’ll find something to suit all divers from more experienced to complete beginner.

The tropical waters offer great visibility and feel comfortably warm year-round making it great for first-timers.

Tropical Marine Life

Due to Hawaii’s tropical conditions, you’ll find a plethora of species of colorful tropical fish to admire as you explore the reefs and wrecks. The wildlife is well protected here, so expect to see no shortage of marine life.

You’ll have the opportunity to night-dive with rays, swim with Galapagos sharks, and spot various whales and dolphins on a diving trip in Oahu!

Diversity in Dive Sites

Oahu is home to over 40 named dive sites. You’ll have the opportunity to explore a variety of reefs and wrecks full of tropical marine life and vibrant corals. You’ll also have the unique opportunity to swim through lava tubes.

There’s something to cater for all levels of diver here with varying conditions. depths, an difficulties!

Oahu Scuba Certification

Scuba Certification

There’s no requirement to be certified to dive the waters of Hawaii. Moreover, there are many tour operators that cater to those of all levels of ability, no problem for a first-time diver. Thanks to the favorable conditions that the tropical Hawaiian waters offer, there are plenty of beginner-friendly and easily accessible dive sites to get your flippers wet for the first time.

Having said that, it’s always recommended to get scuba certified to give yourself the best, most enjoyable diving experience possible. While you’ll have a great time scuba diving Oahu as a first-time diver, there’s a lot you can miss out on without the extra confidence and diving experience, such as the more challenging cenotes and wrecks.

In addition, becoming scuba certified will help you feel more comfortable and confident underwater. This leads to maximum enjoyment and safety from your diving experience and something worth considering.

Oahu Scuba Diving Requirements

Scuba Diving Safety

Hawaii doesn’t have any specific laws or regulations with regards to diving that you need to know about if you’re diving with a tour operator. Though, vessel operators must use diver down flags when diving in Hawaii. As always, tour operators state that you must be in good physical condition and have some swimming ability. Children must be at least 10 years old to scuba dive with a tour operator.

With that said, it’s always highly recommended to have a dive buddy when you’re out scuba diving in the waters of Hawaii, as it is anywhere else. This is particularly the case if you’re out diving without a tour operator or guide. In this situation, it’s also good practice to make use of diver down flags.

Best Diving Sites in Oahu

With over 40 sites to choose from, there’ll always be something new to explore on a dive trip to Oahu. Though, that gives you the problem of choosing which is the best to visit with limited time! To help, here are some of our favorite Oahu dive sites.

YO-257 Shipwreck


On the south shore of Oahu, Hawaii, over 115 feet down lies a US Navy oiler boat, the YO-257. Intentionally sunk after fulfilling her duties to battleship groups, this artificial reef offers quite the challenge to scuba divers.

She is definitely a dive for more advanced divers: her sharp points, and the strong currents surrounding her serve as a deterrent to all but experienced divers. The YO-257 is also a fun dive to see the small submarines of the Atlantic Submarine cruise around – but definitely exercise caution with them.

Teeming with cool sea life, you won’t be disappointed at how this sunk ship has blossomed into a great reef. Along with puffer fish, white tip reef sharks, and eagle rays most famous to the YO-257 is the gorgeous Hawaiian green sea turtles. 

If this sounds ideal to you, be sure to check out our recommended diving package experience below!

Electric Beach

Cozumel Dive

With waters year-round from between 70° – 80° at a site nestled along a shore, the Electric Beach dive site is great for any level of dive experience. The power plant that sits across the road from this beach provides an interesting feature to the dive: there are great tubes that the namesake of the beach uses for water supply that is fun to explore. 

Most of the reef offers clear waters and especially warm due to the power plant’s tubes. This has invited a great deal of sealife to build their various homes here. While you will see butterfly fish, Hawaiian green sea turtles, and octopus, you will likely find plenty of eel darting in and out of their little cave homes among the coral.

Do exercise caution as theft among the parked vehicles has been a common problem at this site – so lock up and don’t leave your valuables to be captured by parking lot pirates!

Magic Island

Vibrant Coral

Magic Island is another great dive for those just starting out, especially with its easy entry and exit. The lagoon is a man-made feature, designed to give divers and their families a fun place to play near the Waikiki downtown area. Magic Island provides a great learning experience for those beginning their diving adventures.

For those seeking a more experienced dive, there are some great open water spots just out of the channel. Visibility in the open water is clearer, as the lagoon itself is also a great place for snorkelers and swimmers.

There is still plenty of awesome sea life to be seen in the lagoon proper. There have been those beautiful sea turtles, a variety of types of Nudibranch, and the truly unique looking frogfish spotted along the sand of this shallow dive. 

Check out our recommended experience below for more details.

Best Time to go Diving in Oahu

There’s no bad time to dive the tropical water of Hawaii, boasting warm water with great conditions year-round. Hawaii has something to offer every diver no matter what the time of year. Around Oahu, you’ll find water temperatures between 75 and 80ºF.

The most popular time to dive in Hawaii is in summer between July and August. You’ll find brilliant blue waters with impeccable visibility and comfortable temperatures.

In the winter between November and April, you’ll find that cooler surface temperature causes the closure of some sites. That said, you’ll have the best chance of spotting migrating whales at this time!

How Much Does Scuba Diving Cost in Oahu?

If you’re looking at booking a dive package experience through a tour company in Oahu, you’ll find prices between $100-$200. The prices generally include gear rental and levy’s so there are no extra fees.

In addition, a PADI Open Water Certification will set you back around $600, if that’s what you’re looking for.

Scuba Diving Gear in Oahu

Scuba Gear

There are plenty of dive shops situated on the bustling island of Oahu. This means gear rental is always an option.

It’s worth noting, you’re left with one less thing to think about when going with a diving package from a guided tour operator as all equipment and gear are included.

However, buying your own gear might be ideal for you if you’re a more keen and experienced diver!

Be sure to check out our buyer’s guides if you’re looking for scuba gear. There you’ll find all of our top recommendations for a range of scuba gear.

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