Niihau - "The Forbidden Island"

The diving here is unquestionably world class, even the most spoiled of divers cant help but awe at the humbling beauty of Niihau. The incredible beauty is directly attributable to the fact that Niihau is truly forbidden to any would be tourists, however, you will be accompanied by the original guides to this island and their knowledge of the sites is unsurpassed. The following is an excerpt from the log of an Oahu instructor.

Dive #1 Vertical Awareness 70-130+ Intermediate to Expert

The water was magnificent and the life flourished. With well over two hundred dives on Oahu, I still saw countless fish I had never seen before. The coral thrived and I dared not touch a thing. For the last twenty minutes of the dive a resident male monk seal watched us as we watched and photographed him. For the last five minutes of this dive I was alone as everybody else was out of air. I was able to approach within ten feet of this seal and for that time we both watched each other with much inquisitiveness. He made vocal sounds much like a growling dog and I returned my own vocalizations. These five minutes I will never forget for if you ever have the honor of a one-on-one interspecies encounter with a wild non-human animal you will surely know what I mean. This creature is not visited with much regularity aside from those lucky few who get to dive there. I am quite sure he is still thinking of me as I very much am of him, and considering that there are only approximately twelve hundred of his kind left in the world today, I may well be one of the very last to have that kind of exchange, forever. I feel truly privileged and honored.

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DIVE #2 Silhouettes 40-75ft. Intermediate to Advanced

This dive had one hell of an act to follow but it in no way left anything more to be desired. I soon realized that every dive here is magical. The spot is as of now still unnamed. I will call it "Silhouettes" however. We descended about seventy five feet over the ledge of a massive cavern. Within the cavern was a huge collection of black coral. Like nothing I have seen even in the best pictures of Hawaii. Long winding bands and fans which I didn't even know existed in Hawaii. It was like a mini underwater forest. Within the caverns were massive live tiger cowries. I counted over fifteen out in the open. Swimming from one huge overhang and cavern to another, I led the way through a massive arch/cavern and mid-way through witnessed a sight forever embedded in memory. Silhouetted through the other side of this cavern against a backdrop of the most brilliant blue 100 ft. plus visibility was countless gray, black tip and white tip sharks. My guess puts the number at about twenty five sharks total. The whole group swam through the opening and was enveloped by the sharks which ranged from 2ft. to 6ft. It was one of those Discovery Channel, National Geographic type moments. Truly humbling. Many pictures taken and sadness due to the hook and lines still attached to two or three of the sharks. The clearest example of human exploitation and disregard I witnessed in this virgin environment." You will not soon forget the diving found here, and only a privileged few have ever the opportunity. Weather conditions are the ultimate decision maker on whether you get to join that elite few, if mother nature smiles on you, two days here are planned, with three tanks each day.

Dive #3 Keyhole 60-100ft. Intermediate to Advanced

"Keyhole" was our final dive site. It's name is due to the natural keyhole groove cut out of Lehua Crater which adjoins Niihau. It is perhaps 100ft. above the ocean at it's peak. Your descent begins at the base of this geographical formation. While descending you look up through the crystal clear water to this incredible natural configuration. This dive exposed me to yet another lifelong memory, due to the sheer beauty I witnessed. I saw fish in numbers that would compare to a swarm of bees. Thriving life everywhere, and always in the back of your mind the anticipation of being visited by creatures from the deep such as Whale Sharks, Manta Rays or perhaps a Basking, Thresher, Tiger or even a Great White. For they all live and visit there, and I will visit there again as soon as possible and I will continue to daydream until I do.

Keeping in mind the massive environmental destruction humans lay claim to, it continued to be a terribly bittersweet feeling for me to see what all of the Hawaiian Islands used to look like. Having a prize Blue Crevalle swim within 2ft. of my mask and pose long enough for me to take two pictures when at many site she would have been shot at a third that size. I began to realize that the end of my dive parallels the end of life as we know it as it existed for eons and all that I witnessed within these three dives may soon be gone.


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