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  • Writer's pictureScuba Steve

Haleiwa Trench (Oahu North Shore)

A guide for scuba diving or snorkeling Haleiwa Trench on the north shore of Oahu.

Turtle in Haleiwa Trench
Photo Credit: Steven Apsley
 

Overview

Location Type: Shore Dive (North Shore)

GPS Address: Hale'iwa Ali'i Beach Park, 66-167 Haleiwa Rd, Haleiwa, HI 96712

Difficultly: Moderate, but advanced (due to depth). It is suitable for snorkeling as well!

Average Depth: 30 feet entry, 90 feet max depth

Ideal Wave Conditions: Less than 2 foot waves; entry and exit is hazardous with medium+ waves). This site is generally only diveable from APR - OCT. Large north shore waves make this site unsuitable during the winter time.

Amenities: Beach park showers and bathrooms

Parking: The beach park usually has enough parking, but it can get crowded during the summer. The parking lot closes at 10:00 PM, so keep that in mind for night dives.

Family-Friendly: This is a great spot to bring the family to hang out on the beach or in Hale'iwa town while you're doing your dive. This is also a decent snorkeling spot, but make sure you have a dive flag/float with you since you're near a boat harbor.

 

Entry and Exit: The entry and exit for this dive is located to the west of the parking lot. You'll follow a trail (with the harbor building on your right) to a small beach area. From there it's a shallow entry into the ocean (about ankle/knee depth) and you'll walk about 75 - 100 meters. Continue walking out and it will eventually get to waist deep, then gradually drop to approximately 30 feet before you hit the trench. When visibility and lighting conditions are good, you can see the trench from shore as a dark spot in the water. You'll definitely want dive booties to walk out during low tide; you can snorkel/surface swim out if the tide is high enough.


Summary:

Hale'iwa trench is a manmade trench that was blasted out during WWII and intended to hide submarines. This is an out-and-back dive that can reach depths of about 90 feet deep. When conditions are good, you'll have decent visibility all through the trench and it's a great place to train the Advanced Open Water Deep Dive. Make sure you bring a flashlight to check out all the nooks and crannies in the wall and a dive watch to monitor your no-deco time.


From the entry point, you'll walk out southwest about 75 - 100 meters. You'll reach the first reef where it will go from waist deep down to about 30 feet, then drops to about 60 feet when you hit the trench. There is a small reef and turtle cleaning station on the top of the reef just past the entry (at about 25 - 30 feet deep). The trench starts about 200 meters from the shore.


The best way to do this dive is to follow the wall of the trench north from the bottom. You'll reach about 90 feet max on the bottom, so watch your no-deco time. There is not much to see in terms of coral at the bottom of the trench, but you'll occasionally see some turtles cruising around at different depths and the occasional shark. The wall itself does have plenty of small nooks and areas to explore with nudis, octopus, and other small creatures.. Be sure to bring a flashlight with you to see what critters might be hiding.


Once you reach the end of the trench (you'll know because it will shallow up quickly), turn around and follow the wall back along the top. You should stay shallow (about 15 - 25 foot depth) to make sure you have a safe dive profile. There are some nice reef formations, turtle cleaning stations, and occasionally a manta ray that cruises by in the summer.


 

SAFETY CONSIDERATIONS:

  • There can be strong currents in the area and you should plan your dive accordingly! This dive site is not suitable in the winter during high waves or poor visibility.

  • Watch your no-deco time! The trench goes down to 90 feet, and if you aren't watching your no-deco time, you can end up exceeding your limits.

  • Boat traffic and small recreational craft frequent this area all the time. State regulation requires you to use a dive flag.

  • Frequent fishing spot, watch for hooks and active fishing lines in the water.

  • If entering a cave or nook, assume there is an eel, sea urchin, or other creature inside, and take care not to disturb them!

 

Gear Rental:

Since this dive is further on the north side of the island, we recommend renting gear and tanks from Surf N Sea if you didn't rent from a dive shop in town. They are the only dive shop on the North Shore right now.


After the Dive:

On the north side of the island, we like to hang out in the historic Hale'iwa town after our dives to grab lunch and shave ice. Hale'iwa has some fun shops, art galleries, and an overall fun vibe.


Eat/Drink:

  • If you're looking for a nicer sit down and eat option, Hawe'iwa Beach House is the way to go. Their dining room faces the ocean so you get a great view, and they offer delicious food and drinks with a unique touch. Their catch of the day is usually my go-to.

  • Big Wave Shrimp Truck is one of my favorites on the island. They serve a delicious garlic shrimp plate (a local favorite) and have a pretty good coconut shrimp too.

  • I know everyone loves Matsumoto's Shave Ice, but the line takes forever. My favorite spot for quality shave ice (without the long wait) is Kaimana Shave Ice. They have all my favorite flavors (melona, banana, and coconut) as well as the extras like mochi and sno cap.


 

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