Diving the Kihei Boat Ramp

When people ask me what my favorite dive is, I tell them, “The one I have not done yet!” (Yes, I yell at them).

If you have dived all the regular spots, this could be true for you too.   Whether you’re a local with countless dives in your logbook or a regular visitor looking for something off the beaten path, you’ve still got plenty of choices with the shore diving Maui has to offer.     

While the most popular dive sites are popular for a reason, there are lots of less frequented (and great!) places to scuba dive on Maui.

This is the first installment of a series of blogs that I am going to do about alternative dive sites: Where they are, how to enter and exit, where to go once you get in, and what you may expect to see on your dives.
The Kihei Boat Ramp is one such spot.  While it is unsafe and illegal to cross the boat channel on the right side, there is a small beach to the left of the boat ramp and its sea wall/jetty does not see any boat traffic. (Fellow Divers, the usual disclaimers are in effect here.  Though I am telling you how I did these dives, it is each diver’s responsibility to know and abide by local laws, as well as to manage their own dive planning, air consumption and emergency procedures. Also, this site is in an area where boat traffic is common, so plan accordingly). 

The entry is of moderate difficulty to an average shore diver.  As you enter the water, there is a small patch of sand for fin donning. From there, I just roll over (belly down) and kick out.  The rocks are about six inches below, but as long as you are streamlined, it is relatively easy to swim through this area. The rocky patch opens up just past the jetty and that is a great place to drop your flag. Exiting seems slightly harder to me, in that the water movement is somewhat harder to kick against on the way in. I consider this to be a “moderately difficult” entry/exit only because all the others here in Kihei are so easy.  However, it’s worth the effort as there is lots and lots of reef out there and the more I dive it the more I enjoy it.  

Listed below are a few options that make for fun exploratory dives at this site.

Option 1: Take a 240 degree heading on your compass and head out from there.  The coral is in good condition and is currently home to several turtles. The reef has some really interesting formations and it goes and goes until about 48 feet deep.  Out in the grass, I found a very small and unusual scorpion fish, a sap sucking sea slug and lots of cool little fish. Once I turned around, I headed north just a bit and then headed back at 45 degrees.   When I got back to about 13 feet deep, I surfaced and found myself about 15 yards from my flag.  The whole dive was just over 90 minutes, but a shorter dive would have been just as much fun.

Option 2: Kick out to about 20 feet deep and then turn to 180 degrees and go until you hit the south edge of the reef.  Follow the edge (about a 270 heading) until you get to about 2000 psi.  You can then turn north until about 1600 psi and then head east until you hit the north edge of the reef. You can then follow that back in (see map). The reef is shaped like a wedge and both the north and south edges take you back close to your flag drop area.

Option 3: This one is for those of you who are really good on air.  Follow the south edge of the reef out and at 48 feet deep there is a small piece of coral about 20 feet south of the reef that has all kinds of cool critters on it.  Then out past the south edge of reef, in 54 feet of water, there is a satellite reef slightly larger than a VW Beetle. It seems that this is a great place for life to congregate.  While there, my dive buddy Kelly and I saw a school of parrotfish, a yellow leaf scorpion a dynamic duo of white leaf scorpions as well as a psychedelic wrasse!  In addition, on the west edge of the main reef, we saw one of the largest tiger cowries I have seen on Maui and a galactic scorpionfish on a nice piece of cauliflower coral. There was more, but I’ll leave it up to you to go out and make your own discoveries.

I also did a night dive there and realized that parking is readily available anytime after about 1:00 in the afternoon (when the boats are all back in). In the mornings, I drop my gear off at the entry area and then park in the upper gravel lot.  

During the night dive, we saw cool stuff including some spotfin scorpionfish, a variety of eels, and a spanish dancer with its very own resident shrimp on top.

On the way back in, I also noticed that the boat ramp has some serious flood lights, which are on at night. You can use these as a reference point as you come back in towards shore.  As you get closer, these lights do get blocked out by the jetty, so I highly recommend making sure you have at least one really good marker light on your flag to help you navigate.  The only other things that you should watch for on entry/exit are fishing lines since the seawall is a popular spot for the local fishermen.

The facilities include a shower but the bathrooms are currently out of commission. 

Obviously, going to a new and unfamiliar dive site requires a bit more planning, and compass handling skills are always important. If you are uncomfortable with the idea of trying out a new place on your own, you could always take our Navigation Specialty to get you ready for your underwater adventures!  Want an easier option?  I can take you there on a guided dive.

Are you into diving Maui’s less-known dive sites? If so, share your favorites here or just ask for Curly when you call to sign up for a guided dive!