Just off the coast of Kaka'ako Waterfront Park, this is an easily accessible shore dive if the conditions allow it. It's a bit of a surface swim to the dive point, but the effort gives you the ability to explore Horseshoe Reef, a great spot full of Honu and marine life. After you're done with your dive, you can spend some time watching the bodysurfers of Point Panic followed by a bite at one of the many restaurants Kaka'ako has to offer. Not a bad way to spend a half day.
I love the mountains, they will always be my place to go for peace and solace. But every now and then I can feel the ocean calling me for a different kind of adventure. Fortunately, in Hawaii, that is an easy call to answer. So when I was invited by some friends to do a shore dive off Honolulu, I was more than game.
Our dive spot is an area known as Point Panic, just off the coast of Kaka'ako Waterfront Park. It gets its name due to its popularity as a bodysurfing location. This area is actually legally protected for bodysurfers, no boards of any kind are allowed. Of course it requires some experience to bodysurf here as the waves can take you all the way to the rock seawall. If you don't bail out in time, you might reach a "point of panic" as you realize you may be propelled against the rocks. Gotta love how these spots get their names.
But we aren't here for bodysurfing, we are here for diving. And specifically we will be diving a site called Horseshoe Reef. Getting to the dive point is the real challenge for this dive. The reef is located just to the right of the second green buoy, that is barely visible in this picture. In order to get there, you have to surface swim all the way out. Keep in mind those green buoys are marking a boat channel, so just make sure you stay to the right of it! Dive flags are a necessity for this area.
Getting in the water isn't terrible, but it's no cake walk either. Looking towards the ocean, head left along the sidewalk until you reach these stairs. This is where you can enter. It is pretty shallow here, but you will get a decent amount of current and waves coming into the inlet. Timing is important so you don't end up sprawled on one of the rocks.
One quick look at famous Waikiki and Diamond Head. Take in the beauty while you can, because you're in for a workout. The surface swim is manageable, but tough. The current is against you the entire way out, and you may have to avoid some waves depending on where they are breaking.
It's finally descent time! The visibility isn't incredible in this area, but it was still solid.
With a little bit of exploring, we were able to find the focal point of this dive, Horseshoe Reef. You can see the shape of the horseshoe in this photo. I guess this little honu calls this reef his home.
There's a good amount of fish at this colorful reef as well. But as is typical close to shore, don't expect to see anything big. Many of the larger fish are farther offshore.
We spent some time meandering around the reef. It would have been nice to have some sort of map of the reefs to know where to explore. But with a group of 6, some current, and a boat channel nearby, we decided to travel a relatively small radius.
Overall, this is your standard Hawaii Reef. Some coral, some fish, and some honu. I wouldn't call it my favorite dive by any means, but simply being underwater is good enough for me. I did see a little reef shark briefly on the dive, but apparently I was the only one who noticed, so did I actually see it? Guess we will never know...
We made our way back to the horseshoe because that really is the highlight of the dive. There were so many honu! Not to mention, they really have no fear of humans. I'm sure the fines that protect them are part of that behavior, but I also think that they are just chill creatures. Maybe that's why I like them so much.
"Howzit bruddah? Nice talking story, but if you don't mind, I gotta go."
"There's some righteous waves to be caught."
Experiences like these never get old.
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Also Check Out:
- This site that outlines the many shore diving spots on Oahu
- This article about bodysurfing at Point Panic