Scuba Diving The Wrecks Of Oahu, Hawaii

This article is originally publish on Scuba Diving by: Becca Hurley

Two wrecks and a sub add up to a great morning in Oahu.

YO 257 Shipwreck Oahu Hawaii

William E. Stohler

As I giant stride off Anger Management, Diamond Head volcano is directly in front of me and Waikiki Beach is off my left shoulder. Pretty spectacular, but it’s just another day with Dive Oahu: two shipwrecks before lunchtime. Our morning includes a quick 10-minute boat ride to the YO-257, followed by a shallow reef dive. If you’re lucky enough to dive the YO, you’ll be within fin kicks of another purpose-sunk artificial reef, the San Pedro. The YO-257 is the main attraction, with its mostly intact frame and partial swim-throughs.


I hear the sound of a motor revving and do a quick double take to find it’s not owner Brian Benton zooming by on his underwater scooter again, but rather an Atlantis Submarine coming by on a tour of the reef. We wave to the tourists as we see fl ash after fl ash from their cameras, photographing us in the deep blue. Benton lets me borrow his scooter — it’s only the second time I’ve used one and I love the joyride, making several laps around the 175-foot-long former Navy oiler. After cruising along the starboard deck and making my way back to the bow where my dive buddies are having a photo shoot, I catch a glimpse of movement directly above my head. It’s a giant green sea turtle; I hit “record” and video him as he floats along and chooses a resting spot in one of the many openings aboard YO-257.

If you don’t have a scooter on the dive, it’s best to have a plan before you giant-stride in. This wreck is ideal for the advanced diver, but currents can be strong. For less experienced divers, hang around the top deck and tower, which boast tons of endemic Hawaiian milletseed butterflyfish (the name refers to the small, seed-size black spots that line their lemon yellow bodies in vertical rows). For divers comfortable with a little more depth, get a glimpse of the YO in all its glory by dropping down to the sand at around 100 feet: Just sit back and take it all in, in Oahu’s amazing viz. Besides turtles, the YO also attracts eagle rays; keep your eyes peeled for schools of three or more.

By 11 a.m., I’m on the surface thinking, Where else can you dive two wrecks and see a submarine all in one dive? I’ve got time to ponder that as I head to the north shore for an afternoon of exploring to find the best surf spots and idyllic beaches this lovely island has to offer.


La Mariana Sailing Club at Ke’ehi Lagoon has a tiki décor and can be accessed by boat or car. It offers a mean mai tai and complete Hawaiian food menu.

The perfect spot for a post dive snack.

Becca Hurley

Along the Kamehameha Highway in Haleiwa, you’ll find a plethora of established food trucks from shrimp-specific eateries to hamburgers and hotdogs. The food is delicious — take your pick!

With its postcard-worthy pool in the middle of the resort, boutique Surfjack hotel brings a modern twist to surf culture, within walking distance of the popular Waikiki area.


The Surfjack Hotel pool makes quite the statement.

Becca Hurley



Purpose-sunk in 2012, this site is divable only a few days a week since it’s a training ground for the U.S. Navy. Eels, turtles and schools of reef sharks are often spotted here.

Divers can expect close encounters with marine life at the Nashua Navy Tug dive site.

Jeff Mondle

A bit farther from shore than the Waikiki-area wrecks, this site is full of life, volcanic rocks and overhangs where puffers, octopuses and schools of fish like to hide.

Located in 80 to 110 feet of water, the shorter bottom time is worth it to dive this former Chinese trader. Divers can penetrate the cargo holds and bridge, making this a dive you can repeat.

Synonymous with wreck diving in Oahu, this site is popular with photographers but can be prone to strong currents. It’s not unusual to find pelagics like sharks and mantas here.


It’s not uncommon to find 100 feet of visibility with fairly easy dive conditions. On occasion, surge and currents that wrap around Diamond Head can make specific dive sites best for advanced divers.

Milletseed Butterflyfish cover the wrecks off Oahu, Hawaii.

Jeff Mondle

A 5 mm is recommended for most divers, but the temperature can vary by season. In summer, temperatures are often in the low 80s; winter can vary from mid- to high 70s.

Rent a car, especially if you are traveling with gear. It will make your trips to and from the marina less stressful, and allow you the freedom to take off and explore after a morning dive.

Year-round; visit the islands after summer crowds have died down, from September to early December.

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Top 6 Amazing Hawaii Dive Sites

With an archipelago made up of eight islands, as well as a handful of atolls, seamounts and islets extending near 1,500 miles into the Pacific Ocean, you know the diving in Hawaii has to be good. Here are six not-to-be-missed dive sites for divers looking to find their underwater Aloha.



This little island got the nickname “The Garden Island” for a reason. Known as the oldest of the inhabited islands, it features lush green topside attractions and an equally thriving underwater landscape.

DIVE SITE: Three Fingers

Named for the three fingers of lava extending to about 100 feet outside of the harbor, Three Fingers offers crystal clear waters, visibility of up to 60 feet, and a plethora of marine life making it great for divers of all skill sets. A prime spot for underwater photographers, onsite critters include wrasse, damsels, anthias, dragon morays, and even the occasional turtle or two.



From the waves of Waikiki to the iconic North Shore, Oahu offers visitors everything from the pumping life of a city to the laid-back Hawaiian vibe of days gone by.

DIVE SITE: Kahuna Canyon

This wall dive is loved by Oahu-based divers for its bowl-shaped crater that creates an almost Grand Canyon-esque feel. The open blue has been known to give way to passing sharks while the canyon itself is home to lots of life including lobster, crabs and octopus. Meanwhile, a plethora of parrotfish and unicorn tangs dash along the coral scape.



If this were high school, Maui would most likely be voted as the “Most Popular” of the Hawaiian Islands. From whale watching off Lahaina to the views of Hana highway, Maui has something for every type of traveler.

DIVE SITE: Carthaginian II

For a ship that served as a museum in the Lahaina harbor being sunk as an artificial reef system, the Carthaginian II is a Maui landmark. Resting in 97 feet of water since 2005, the wreck itself offers an abundance of life. Typically done as a two-tank dive, divers are granted almost 100 feet of visibility, minimal current, numerous ways to access the hold and a variety of fish including sergeant majors, trumpetfish, and the elusive frogfish.



There are no traffic lights on this all-natural isle that is home to fishermen and farmers. Similar to its topside physique, the pristine reef on the south shore of Molokai is untouched. Good news for divers: The reef runs 30 miles long and is lined with nearly 40 dive sites.

DIVE SITE: Fish Rain

It’s all about seeing the big guys on this advanced Molokai drift dive, hence the name. In addition to Galapagos sharks and scalloped hammerheads, the wall reef is a picturesque landscape of coral that “rains down” fish like colorful parrotfish and darting triggerfish. Other rumored visitors include tiger sharks, Hawaiian monk seals and whale sharks.



From its world-class resorts and golf courses to its raw landscape of hiking trails and untouched beaches and gardens, there are two sides to Lanai. Located just 9 miles from Maui, and listed as the smallest of the inhabited islands, makes this little gem the perfect spot for travelers who like rugged adventures and resort-like amenities.

DIVE SITE: First Cathedral

Part of a dual pinnacle, First Cathedral is a pinnacle with moorings set at 35 feet. Marine life includes turtles, reef sharks, and dolphins while smaller critters like nudibranchs, can be found in the crevices. A large arch can be found on the west side while the north side features a wall with caves and a swim through. A large cavern hits down to about 50 feet deep and boasts a 20-foot ceiling. And while the cathedral-like views are mesmerizing, exiting the cavern through the surge point from the south swells, known as Shotgun, makes for an impressive finale.



Black sand beaches, the Kona coast, aromatic lavender fields, and playful manta rays make up the island of Hawaii, known as the Big Island. Interesting fact: As a result of the effects of the volcanoes Maunakea and Maunaloa, it’s one of the rare places where you can journey through 14 different climate zones in one vacation.

DIVE SITE: Manta Night Dive

A visit to the Big Island isn’t complete without experiencing the once-in-a-lifetime manta night dive. Come day’s end, as the rest of the reef starts to tuck in for the night, the nocturnal critters make their debut to the call of dive lights. Each evening, the combination of darkness and dive lights brings in plankton and hungry manta rays. Divers kneel on the ocean floor, a dive torch in hand, for one-on-one interactions with the graceful mantas as they weave in and out of the lights in search of their dinner. Needless to say, this dive site is one for the books.

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4 Tips on How to Get Your Friends & Families Hooked on Diving

Sometimes the best dive buddy is someone you love. Often, we surface from a dive thinking, “I wish my sister could have seen that too!” Daily, we wish our friends understood what we were talking about. Sharing diving with friends and family can make the experience feel richer, so we’ve written this guide for those of you who long to spread your love of diving.

1. Inspire their inner diver

The freedom of weightlessness, the beauty of the ocean, the variety of marine life; there are countless reasons to love diving. Inspire your friends by showing them how diving has what they’re looking for. Your thrill-seeking friend might love the idea of eventually cave diving or seeing great whites. Your coworker with kids might love having a unique way to bond with their family.  Your bird-watching uncle might also love identifying fish. Whatever the reason, being excited about diving is the first step to pursuing it.

2. Try it out

Before taking the plunge into a PADI Open Water class, your friend might prefer to test the waters. You can start with snorkeling—but you don’t have to stay at the surface. Skin diving and freediving are fun ways to take snorkeling to the next level. After all, the longer you spend underwater, the more you can fall in love with it.

Second, consider an introductory dive program. With Discover Scuba Diving, they will learn a few basic scuba skills and be able to experience scuba diving in confined water. After they’ve had their fun in a pool, they’ll have the option to go on an open water dive up to 40 feet (12m) deep. Since Discover Scuba happens in a few hours instead of over the course of days or weeks, it’s a great low-cost and low-commitment way for your friend to see if they want more.

3. Help them find a shop

If you have a friend that’s ready to become a diver, they might appreciate some help signing up for a course. Many non-divers aren’t sure what they should be looking for. You can help by finding a list of local dive shops and working from there. What course schedules are available? Are they happy in a group course, or would they prefer to schedule private or semi-private lessons? Does this shop rent full sets of gear, or will they need to buy some pieces of their own? By helping your friend find the perfect dive operation, you’re getting them that much closer to being a certified diver.

4. Give them space

Finally, remember not to pressure or crowd the people you want to dive with. Some people won’t be interested in even snorkeling, and pressing them on the issue won’t help. Others may be excited to dive, but feel uncomfortable having someone they know watching them learn. Respect whatever boundaries your loved ones might have.

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Top 15 Most Challenging Emergency Scenarios for Scuba Divers

Most divers are generally aware of the risks involved with scuba diving and take the proper steps to avoid them.

There are , however, times when for whatever reason things get out of whack and the unlikely may occur. You can never be too prepared and it is a great idea to at least think about potential problems and how to handle them if the “unlikely” should happen while diving .

The following article examines some of the most challenging scenarios a diver could possibly experience while diving. Each risk is examined and discussed as it relates to the possible cause, probability of occurrence as well as suggestions for avoiding them. Most importantly the piece also goes into what to actually do if you find yourself facing any one of these 15 perilous challenges while diving.

Read on for more about managing these risks below.


Pausing to make that minor adjustment to your buoyancy, you gently press the autoinflate button of your buoyancy compensator (BC). Instead of adding just a “puff” of air, the valve jams and begins to empty the contents of your cylinder into your BC. It’s think fast, or face an uncontrolled ascent.

Risk Factor: Rapid or uncontrolled ascent, with attendant risk of pressure-related injuries.

Likely Causes: Probably the most common cause of a stuck BC inflator valve is poor or neglected maintenance. Some divers just don’t give their BC the post-dive attention it deserves. If a BC is not rinsed or soaked after diving in salt water, salt crystals and mineral deposits can form that can later cause the valve to stick in the “on” position. Another potential cause of a stuck BC inflator valve is sand, silt or other sediment in the valve mechanism. This can occur if the device isn’t properly secured and drags on the bottom.

Avoidance: Proper care of your BC goes a long way toward preventing stuck inflator valves. After each dive, or each day of diving, thoroughly rinse and/or soak the BC in fresh water to dissolve any salt crystals and to remove sand, silt and other debris.

Dealing With It: The fastest way to solve the problem of a stuck inflator valve is to disconnect the low-pressure hose from the inflator. Failing that, grab the lanyard for the dump valve and hold it open. Should an unwanted ascent begin, continue venting the device, and flare your body to maximize drag and slow your ascent.

Grabbing hold of a stationary object such as an anchor line might allow you to sort the problem out and regain buoyancy control.


While making a descent you realize you’re a wee bit heavy, so you try adding air to your BC. Nothing happens, and instead you get that sinking feeling as you begin to accelerate toward the deep blue beyond.

Risk Factor: Loss of buoyancy control, uncontrolled descent, with attendant risk of exceeding depth limits.

Likely Causes: Several problems can result when an autoinflator fails to inflate a BC. The first and most obvious is that you forgot to attach the low-pressure hose to the inflator. The second is that you ran out of air, but we’ll discuss this later. A third possibility is a mechanical malfunction or failure of the inflator valve.

Avoidance: Carefully check your dive gear prior to entering the water to verify that the low-pressure hose is connected to the inflator, and then verify that the device actually works. Recheck it once you’re in the water to make certain the hose wasn’t disconnected by the force of entering the water. To avoid mechanical problems with the valve, thoroughly rinse your BC after diving, and take it to your local dive center for professional maintenance at least yearly.

Dealing With It:
If the low-pressure hose is disconnected, reconnect it and your problem should be resolved. Plan “B” is to use the oral inflator to add air to your BC. (This is a skill that should be practiced.) Finally, if you’ve got that sinking feeling and can’t correct the problem quickly enough, ditch enough weight to establish neutral buoyancy.


Everything is going fine when suddenly your regulator erupts, spewing out the contents of your cylinder.

Risk Factor: Difficulty breathing, rapid exhaustion of breathing air supply.

Likely Causes: Regulator problems such as freeflow generally stem from poor regulator maintenance and are made worse by moisture in the cylinder and cold-water temperatures. As compressed air expands in the regulator, the temperature drops, which can cause moisture in the air to freeze. This in turn can unseat a valve. As regulators get cold from air expansion, ice can form on exterior components as well. Incorrectly set interstage pressure can also make a regulator prone to freeflow.

Avoidance: Proper maintenance is critical to regulator reliability. Regulators should be properly rinsed/soaked, to prevent the buildup of salt and mineral deposits that can foul up the valves. Rinse or soak your regulator after each dive, and have it serviced by a professional technician annually Before diving in cold water, make certain that the regulator has been serviced for cold water, and that the cylinder has been properly serviced and filled.

Dealing With It: While it is often possible to continue breathing from a free-flowing regulator, some divers will experience difficulty due to the torrent of bubbles. If breathing from the free-flowing regulator is not possible, switch to a redundant air source or share air with a buddy. Shut off the cylinder valve to conserve air and stop the bubbling, and make a controlled, normal ascent to the surface. You may need to orally inflate your BC if the cylinder air has been turned off.


You look down to check your depth and dive time, and your computer’s screen is blank, frozen or otherwise unreadable.

Risk Factor: Computer failures come in a variety of forms, but the net effect is usually a loss of critical dive information. A diver who suffers a dive computer failure is at risk of exceeding depth and/or no-decompression limits, or running low or out of breathing gas (lacking or inaccurate cylinder pressure data).

Likely Causes: Computer failures are rare, but they can occur. Although regular servicing is important to reliable operation, it is no guarantee against failures. Loss of battery power during a dive is one of the more commonly reported problems with dive computers.

Avoidance: Step one is to have fresh or freshly charged batteries before each dive. Beyond that, divers can be ready to deal with computer malfunctions by carrying either a backup dive computer, or backup timer and depth gauge. For those with integrated air computers, a backup cylinder pressure gauge is also in order.

Dealing With It: When a dive computer problem occurs, the general rule is to terminate the dive, unless you have a personal backup that allows you to continue safely. Don’t rely on another diver’s dive computer except as a means of monitoring your ascent rate. Remember too that switching to a new or “fresh” computer doesn’t necessarily solve the problem unless the new computer can be programmed with any dive profiles you’ve completed in the past 24 hours.


You’re roaming the reef, minding your own business, when you become buoyant.

Risk Factor: Most people welcome unexpected weight loss, but not when diving. Whether it’s a loss of a weight belt, trim weight or individual weights from a pocket belt or integrated weight system, losing weight generally leads to an uncontrolled ascent, possibly of the rapid nature. This can lead to lung over-expansion injuries such as arterial gas embolism (AGE) and can contribute to decompression sickness.

Likely Causes: Loss of weights when diving can be the result of poor or neglected maintenance, mechanical failure or poor operating procedures.

Avoidance: A thorough inspection of your weight system prior to diving is the first step in avoiding accidental weight loss. Look for telltale signs such as worn Velcro fasteners and stitching, worn buckle teeth, and faulty release mechanisms. When using a conventional weight belt, make certain that the strap length is appropriate. There should be 4-6 inches of extra strap remaining when the buckle is secured. Less than that, and there may not be enough to grip to make underwater adjustments. Too much excess strap can lead to entanglements. During the dive, monitor your weight system, and adjust the belt tension as necessary.

Dealing With It: The first step in dealing with an accidental weight loss is to counter the effect by dumping air from your BC. If you’re at the bottom and can find something to hang onto, it may be possible to retrieve and replace the lost weight and continue the dive. If an uncontrolled ascent begins, flare your body to maximize drag and slow your ascent, vent air from your BC and remember to exhale during the ascent.

The full article covers an additional 10 of these types of scenarios listed below

Out of Air
Wet-Breathing Regulator
Separated Mouthpiece
Blown Deco Stop
Can’t Find the Dive Boat
Unfamiliar Buddy
Lost Buddy
Unfamiliar Equipment
Jammed Reel
Entanglement or Entrapment

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