I had never done a scuba dive over on the West Side of Oahu, so when Aaron's Dive Shop sent out an email promoting the Mahi Shipwreck and Makaha Caverns dive charter, I signed up immediately. It was a great decision.
We left from the Waianae Boat Harbor to head to our first dive site, the Mahi Shipwreck. So far all the dives I've done on Oahu have been near Honolulu or Hawaii Kai, with very short boat rides (15 mins). This one took a little longer (about 45 minutes), but the views of the Waianae Mountain Range from the ocean were gorgeous.
It's diving time! It was a pretty calm day, so there weren't any issues with gearing up or sea sickness.
Down we go! This wreck was at a depth of 90 feet so we would get about 30 minutes of bottom time.
The bow of the Mahi started to come into view. This boat used to be an old Navy Minesweeper and was intentionally sunk in 1982. Now it is what most wrecks become, a home for marine life and an attraction for divers.
Time to explore! Since this was just an Open Water charter, this was a non penetration wreck dive, but there was still plenty to see and explore.
I swear this wasn't staged, I just happened to check my depth gauge at this time so I included it. I know, I'm immature.
Here is a shot near the bow. The boat is actually in two pieces, so some people like to call it the Mahi Mahi.
I found this just off the port bow. I couldn't quite make out the words, but it was clearly a memorial. A really awesome and unique place to put something like that.
There were lots of holes that looked intriguing to explore, but I'm not hiking, so I followed the rules. I definitely recommend a light for this dive to expand what you can see.
The schools of fish down here were massive. I'm not sure I've ever seen that many fish together at once.
Also, they were very comfortable around such a large group of divers.
A shot looking down the stern. I really need to remember to change my field of view to get the entire wreck.
Here's a shot from the main deck with a broken mast in the background. Definitely a cool wreck.
But I was getting low on air, it was time to go towards the light.
AKA go to the rope and ascend with the other 17 divers. Yes, that's right there were 18 DIVERS on this charter. I've never been in one with more than 10 people. But Aaron's Dive Masters do an awesome job, knowing how to give people enough freedom, but also making sure they have enough control of the situation. There's a reason why they are my favorite shop to dive with on Oahu.
After another little boat ride, we arrived at dive site number two, the Makaha Caverns. This would be about a 45 foot dive, so we'd have 50 minutes of bottom time.
No rope for the descent this time. You can see the many techniques for descent in this picture.
The shapes of the reef were incredibly unique here.
But with your typical hazards of a reef. Some day I will invest in some dive gloves.
And then there's the caverns themselves. To be clear, these are not caves, just swim-throughs. But it makes for some cool lighting and a little more excitement in the dive. Our dive masters led and we followed as we looped through some of these caverns.
There were some pretty awesome things to see inside the caverns as well. This is what I can only assume to be an air pocket.
And there was some interesting coloration on the roof of the caverns as well. Apparently, these caverns are lava tubes created by the Waianae Volcano. I can only guess these colors are in some way related to that.
And of course there were some beautiful fish to see.
And this coral that looked like a clam.
And these fish feeding on the reef while the little guy stood guard.
And this rock that looks like an angry monkey. I swear I wasn't narced, this dive was only 45 feet.
One of the rarer animals I saw was this spotted moray eel. These guys always give me the creeps. They just look at you with those suspicious eyes.
But hands down the best part of this dive was my run-in with some sea turtles (called honus in Hawaii). No this guy was not about to eat that fish, he was simply enjoying himself in this little reef he calls home. I love watching them swim. They are such peaceful creatures.
And just as I turned to follow the group, this honu turned as well, coming within inches of me, no fear at all. It was one of those incredible and magical experiences that makes you feel one with the world and the creatures around you.
Check out my video of these West Side Dives!
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Also Check Out:
- Shore Diving's Post about how to do the Makaha Caverns as a shore dive