The only real dive site in Kihei is the St. Anthony Wreck off the south end of Keawakapu Beach. Maui Dive Shop offers dives to this part of a massive artificial reef system twice weekly as part of a two-tank excursion combined with Molokini.
Rental and Shore Dive Operators
If you’re a certified diver who needs to rent some gear, get some gear serviced, pick up some tanks for a shore dive, or book a guided shore dive with an instructor, there are a number of different retail operators throughout Kihei. My top pick in Kihei is Maui Dreams (1993 S. Kihei Rd., 808/874-5332, 7am-6pm daily) in the shop across from the southern end of Kalama Park. These guys love to dive, and they offer a full range of excursions from scooter dives ($99) to night dives ($79) to regular introductory dives if it’s your first time trying the sport ($89). Guided shore dives for certified divers are $69. Maui Dreams is also the only PADI 5-Star Instructor Development Center in South Maui. At $399 the certification courses are more expensive than others, and it’s $499 if you haven’t already completed the academic portion online (PADI E-learning).
Inside the Azeka Makai shopping center on the ocean side of the highway, B&B Scuba (1280 S. Kihei Rd., 808/875-2861, 8am-6pm Mon.-Fri., 8am-5pm weekends) offers guided shore dives for only $59, and they can also arrange a guided kayak dive to some of the spots which would normally only be accessible by boat. They also offer night dives ($65) as well as scooter dives ($119) along the South Maui shoreline. Whereas some other operators in town focus strictly on recreational diving, these guys are a little more hardcore. In addition to offering PADI certification classes ($349), they also offer IANTD tech diving classes such as trimix, nitrox, and rebreather training. They provide basic gear rental and tank pumping.
Check out Scuba Shack (2349 S. Kihei Rd., 808/891-0500), which is tucked behind the gas station across from Kamaole I Beach. Guided dives are pricier here. Certified divers can book a guided shore dive for $85, whereas introductory divers will need to shell out $105. Certification classes last three days and are $350, and the shop also offers a full range of gear and equipment rentals.
All dive boats in Kihei leave from Kihei Boat Ramp, which is just south of Kamaole III Beach. Parking is tight in the main lot, so it’s best to head to the overflow lot on the right. The scene at the boat ramp in the morning can be kind of hectic—especially in the dark. Most boats offer coffee aboard their trips if you still need a wakeup, and most boats also offer private bathrooms if the coffee just goes right through you. Since a number of boats that leave from Kihei Boat Ramp don’t have offices, bring a credit card or cash so you can process payment on board. If you plan on diving during your time in Maui, bring your certification card.
Of all the choices in Kihei, the unanimous top pick among island locals is always Mike Severn’s (808/879-6596), Kihei’s original dive boat operation. Although a number of the other operators in Kihei all provide exceptional service, it’s impossible to beat Mike Severn’s. Since Mike Severn’s caters to seasoned divers, the instructors don’t mandate an underwater game of “follow the leader.” They give you the freedom to enjoy the dive at your own pace. Two-tank dives are $130 (plus $15 BC, regulator, and computer rental), and dives meet at 6am at the Kihei Boat Ramp aboard the 38-foot Pilikai.
Prodiver Maui (2800 S Kihei Rd., 808/875-4004) is one of the last dive boats to cap its trips at only six divers (whereas other boats will usually max at 12 divers with two instructors). The small group size guarantees a personal experience, and their 34-foot boat meets at 6am at Kihei Boat Ramp. Two-tank dives are offered at $139, and it’s an additional $15 for gear rental in the event you don’t have your own.
Also ranking among the South Maui elite, Ed Robinson’s (808/879-3584) caters to advanced divers and underwater photographers. If you’re afraid you’re going to get stuck with a group of greenhorns, you can confidently sign on with Ed Robinson’s and know that everyone aboard is relatively skilled. Meet at 6:30am at the Kihei Boat Ramp. Regular two-tank dives are offered Monday, Thursday, and Saturday for $129. More advanced two-tank drift dives are offered Sunday and Friday for the same price. A three-tank dive on Tuesday departs on a different boat. Experienced divers can join an Adventure X dive on Wednesday for $149. Ed Robinson’s has a shop in central Kihei in an industrial yard at 165 Halekuai Street that also serves as a dive museum.
In addition to offering shore dives and rental options, B&B Scuba (1280 S. Kihei Rd., 808/875-2861) also has a dive boat, which does two-tank dives out of Kihei Boat Ramp aboard the 40-foot Kilikina II. When it comes to diving, these guys don’t screw around; they’re out on the water by 5:45am, and since the goal is to beat all of the crowds and get an early start, it’s frowned upon to show up late. The payoff for the early wakeup, however, is that you reach your first dive site before any other boats are around, and if that first dive site is Molokini, there is a certain magic to having the solitude most visitors will never get to experience. You’re usually back to the dock by 10am. The wallet-friendly price of $119 is also a strong selling point.
Two outfits focusing primarily on recreational divers are Makena Coast Dive Charters (808/874-1273) and Scuba Shack (808/891-0500). Both have boats leaving from Kihei Boat Ramp, offering one dive at Molokini and one dive along the South Maui shoreline.
Excerpted from the First Edition of Moon Hawaiian Islands.