Exploring Tiger Shark Island with Island Divers Hawaii

Our group of PADI students poses with the rocky shore of east Oahu in the background – Photo: Matt Standal

There’s an old saying about the east side of Hawaii’s most populated island, Oahu. Locals claim the area is tiger shark hunting grounds. The shore is studded with sharp cliffs and few access points. Seals haul out here. Huge underwater dropoffs and surges make the ocean very dangerous.

Only a few major beaches are maintained in the area. Of them, Makapu’u Beach is perhaps best known. The beach is popular for boogie boarding, and it faces two rocky islets that are protected as seabird sanctuaries.

The area is not well known for scuba diving. The most common access is from shore, requiring a calm day with no waves and surface swims of various lengths to reach deeper water and coral life.

My crew, Captain Scott Williams and PADI instructor Chris Liles, were insistent that we map a new dive site here during a calm period in November. We motored from the Island Divers dock in Hawaii Kai, out past Sandy’s Beach and Kalama Valley, past Maka’pu’u Light House and near the two rocky islets: Rabbit Island and Tiger Shark Island.

What we found was amazingly-well preserved plate coral and rocky fish habitat that you just don’t see many places in Hawaii.

A friendly Green Turtle followed Diver Michelle Osgood the whole way! He must have liked her – Photo: Matt Standal

A school of Moorish Idols adopts a camouflage pattern after my flash fires – Photo: Matt Standal