Pearl Harbor isn’t the first destination that most divers think of when they think of SCUBA Diving in Hawaii. Hanauma Bay, Kaneohe Bay, Maui or Molokai are very famous and popular.
The Pearl Harbor Wall is tropical diving at its best. This is an easy and enjoyable dive. You can snorkel at the surface, or SCUBA dive down to 60 feet. This is a good dive for beginners.
The real attraction of Pearl Harbor for me is the historic wreckage from the World War II attack by the Japanese Navy.
I had the good luck to be able to spend a couple of months on Oahu in 1983. I was there attending the Navy SCUBA School.
While I did spend lots of time in the water during school I didn’t get to see much. We did most of our training in the locks at the submarine base. The water was murky and the surface was oily with bilge waste and oil leaking from the Arizona.
We actually had to scrub ourselves with Comet powder to get the oil off when we got out of the water.
The real treat for me was when I was off duty and able to explore the harbor and the rest of Oahu. Of course, my first trip was to Hanauma Bay, which was spectacular.
I was staying in a barracks on Ford Island. It didn’t take me long to discover that I could easily explore the harbor around the island.
The USS Arizona is the most famous of the sunken ships in the harbor and there is a beautiful memorial erected over the wreck. I could not resist exploring because it was so close to the shore of Ford Island. Of course I stayed away when tours were being conducted.
I felt a bit spooked and awestruck by the experience. As a diver the thought of being trapped underwater until your air runs out is especially frightening. God bless those brave souls who lost their lives that day.
The Utah is equally close to the shore of Ford Island on the opposite side. I spent more time around the Utah than any other wreck. She was not so famous and there’s much less traffic there.
Today, there are many dive charters operating in Pearl Harbor. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to explore these memorials as I did. And that’s as it should be. But you can see lots of historic wreckage elsewhere in the harbor.
You should not limit yourself just to the Harbor. There are many historic wrecks around the island. There’s the Mahi shipwreck or the YO257 shipwreck. There’s a WWII Corsair airplane and the story is the pilot survived and still lives on Molokai.
There are thousands of options for SCUBA diving in Hawaii. If you go off the beaten path you just might be surprised. And please take the time to visit the Arizona Memorial and pay your respects.
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