Positive. Lahaina Divers location near Kaanapali; the long hours their dive shop is open; runs to Molokini and Lanai; and availability of Nitrox.
Neutral. large boats with snorkelers; 6:30AM checkin and hour boat rides for Molokini; and small tanks.
Summary. While Lahaina divers is by definition a cattle boat operation, it provides divers staying in north and west Maui an opportunity to dive Molokini without the long drive.
Lahaina Divers is a large operation and is the only dive operator to run regular trips to Molokini Crater out of the Lahaina and Kaanapali area.
They operate two boats, each bristling with rows of scuba tanks, out of Lahaina Harbor behind Banyan Tree Park at the south end of Lahaina.
Lahaina Divers Dive ShopLahaina Divers' main business location is their full service Maui dive shop on Dickinson Street in Lahaina - about four blocks from their large boats at Lahaina harbor.
Due to the early departure of charters and to accommodate late arriving divers looking to get on a charter the next morning, the shop opens early in the morning (around 6AM) and stays open late, often until around 9PM at night.
In addition to selling a wide range of equipment, the dive shop also rents most any dive equipment as well as tanks for pick up for self guided shore diving.
With onsite scuba training facilities, Lahaina Divers offers an extensive range of training including their own custom PADI specialty, the Hawaiian Eco Naturalist. What makes the training at Lahaina divers competitive is that many of their PADI specialties are available for a modest ($39) upgrade to their normal charter prices.
If you complete any training with Lahaina Divers, you get a 10% discount on all future dive charters with them. I took advantage of this discount when we returned there last January.
Maui, Molokini & Lanai Scuba Diving CostLahaina Divers runs an extensive schedule of dive charters to Molokini, Lanai and West Maui.
As is the case generally in Hawaii, expect to pay more for two tank dive trips than at most US or Caribbean destinations. Their two tank charters run $109 to $149 depending on destination.
I personally tried the a three island package (Molokini, Lanai and Maui) for $330 and felt like it was a good value.
They also offer multi dive packages that include air tanks for shore diving.
Lanai & Molokini Scuba Diving ChartersLahaina Divers runs regularly scheduled morning two tank charters to Molokini Crater both inside and back wall drift dives.
They also go regularly to various sites off the island of Lanai (the sites change seasonally based upon prevailing wind and conditions)
Most of these trips leave dock at around 7AM due to the long boat rides (about an hour each way) and winds which tend to pickup during the day. Divers muster a the dive shop at 630AM for check in, equipment drop off and complimentary pastries and walk over en masse to the boat about 4 blocks away.
All gear is loaded in a truck at the shop and transported to the boat by LD staff who set up equipment on tanks for the divers.
As there are typically as many as 20 divers or more on each trip along with a variable number of snorkelers, it is always a good idea to identify your gear and locate your tanks at the shop if you are using anything other than their standard (small) 72 cu. ft. tanks.
We used nitrox, which is a $12 to $15 per tank charge depending on oxygen content, but getting any tanks at or above 32% is nearly impossible. Using nitrox does get upgraded to a full 80 cu. ft tank. They also offer 100 cu. ft. air tanks. LD staff also setup your equipment to new tanks between dives, which is a nice touch, just let them know when you are taking your BC off if you have special tanks.
Usually, depending on the number of divers as well as students, the divers will be divided into two or more groups to conduct guided dive profiles.
As we used nitrox 80 cu ft tanks while the bulk of the boat used the standard 72s, and as one of us was completing training on many of the dives, my wife and I were allowed to be our own group along with our assigned instructor for many dives.
We were also allowed to be the first group off the boat and the last on which was a nice accommodation as it added a good fifteen to twenty minutes per dive and made it feel much less restrictive than the typical cattle boat approach. The lesson I learned from my previous experience with Lahaina Divers was that paying extra for nitrox and training ensured special service on the boat.
Also, encounters with spotted dolphin pods are possible year round.
Food. In addition to complimentary pastries provided at the shop prior to departing for the boat, a selection of soft drinks and water is offered during the entire trip and a selection of deli sandwiches are provided on the surface interval between dives. On the return trip, gourmet cookies serve as a sweet topping to the dives.
Turtle Reef Scuba Diving Charters
They also make afternoon two tank trips to West Maui sites, collectively known as Turtle Reef. These boats leave around 1PM and as the name implies, these locations, while not having the awesome visibility of Molokini or lava swim thrus of Lanai, do come with a good chance of seeing turtles.
Also, what we experienced last January is that intense downpours on the island can drop the conditions on Maui dive sites to chocolate milk and so afternoon trips may be redirected to Molokini Crater at no extra charge. While no sandwiches are offered, the afternoon charters do include drinks and end with the gourmet cookies.
Maui Shore DivingAdditionally, the shop is a good source of information regarding shore diving locations and the best conditions and will allow divers to rinse and stow their gear in the shop so you do not have to lug it back and forth from the hotel.
Their costs for renting tanks is surprising cheap in relation to all other costs for diving and so taking advantage of all the good shore diving on Maui is a fairly economical option if you bring your own equipment and have transportation (Preferably a Jeep or other four wheel drive)
Maui PADI Training
LD offers a complete curriculum of PADI training from open water through instructor. As I mentioned earlier, their niche is offering many PADI specialties requiring two tank check out dives for only $39 over the price of the particular two tank charter.
One of the specialties that they offer is their own customized version of the PADI eco naturalist that they call the Hawaiian Eco Naturalist. It requires 3 dives (two charters) to complete, but it provides a wealth of information on the many species of fish and creatures that are unique to Hawaii. My wife and I both took this course on separate trips and both loved it. My wife ended up getting her PADI Master Diver certification from LD as well.
Summary: Lahaina Divers ReviewLahaina Divers is a large operator and operates large boats and as such, is by definition a cattle boat operation. That said, it does provide convenience for divers staying in West/North Maui (Lahaina, Kaanapali and points North) as it saves the thirty or more mile drive to be able to dive Molokini.
By upgrading to nitrox and/ or training during the charters, divers can take advantage of the special treatment afforded and get the most bottom time possible.
Maui Scuba DivingA note on diving in Maui. As my wife and I found out on our last trip, seasonal changes can affect shore diving conditions drastically. While the winter months offer the chance for hearing whale songs, the winter storms and the accompanying changes in wind patterns can greatly reduce visibility and bring big waves making many shore entries quite challenging.
End of Lahaina Divers Review by Bill Lawler
Maui Scuba Diving VideosThis Maui scuba diving video is a Molokini crater dive on a Maui Dive Shop trip. Click on the PLAY button in image below to view the video.