The island of Niihau and its adjacent submerged volcanic caldera of Lehua may very well provide the finest diving experience to be found in all of Hawaii.
Located 17 miles off the coast of Kauai this place is no 'walk in the park' to get to. Not only does it require a fair distance of open ocean riding to get to but tours to this area are generally limited to the summer seasons up until perhaps early October when the seas are calm enough to permit the journey. Even during the calmer periods the ocean crossing can often be difficult and it is the rare individual who does not experience some level of queasiness on the boat ride, particularly the ride back. This being said however there is generous payback for the adventurer who chooses to pay his money and take his chances.
Generally speaking, these 'certified divers only' scuba diving excursions are best reserved for the experienced divers. In fact some of the dive companies taking clients out to experience this most fantastic of dives will require participants to have dived with them on a previous occasion thus having already proven themselves for the adventures sure to come on Niihau. These are full day excursions and almost always are three tank dives.
What will you see when you get there? Get ready to do your bucket list check-off of the most coveted of Hawaii's marine animals and this indeed may happen on your first dive alone, if not in the first fifteen minutes of your first dive. Tell me of another place that you are almost guaranteed to see one of the rare and endangered Hawaiian monk seals? How about a variety of sharks including the gray reef sharks and white tips, manta rays, Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles and countless schools of tropical fish and one or two varieties of dolphins. The trip over and back may also bring with it glimpses of Sperm, Pilot or Killer Whales so these dives could well be considered 'rich with marine life'.
Setting the marine life aside, the sheer topography of the area is enough to bring a geologist to a state of euphoria. The extinct volcanic caldera of Lehua Rock in unworldly both above and below the water. From the underside it is a bit like viewing the surface of the moon from underwater and the early morning sun often provides the shimmering prism-like spectrum of colors that refract at obtuse angles creating the aura of an underwater cathedral. Sheer cliffs and escarpments abound and you are in a continuous state of astonishment as you create this once in a lifetime memory.
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