Dive with Sharks and Turtles at the Ruins of Mala Wharf Pier in Maui

Mala Wharf is located on Maui’s west coast in Lahaina, and offers a great shore diving experience in Hawaii

The dive site is accessible and rewarding for divers of all levels. Mala Pier was originally a concrete boat pier that was destroyed by Hurricane Iniki in 1992. Since then, the ruins of the concrete blocks have transformed the underwater world into a striving dive site with diverse marine life. 

mala wharf swimming to the dive site

The calm and relatively shallow waters of Mala Wharf make it an ideal location for both novice and experienced divers to explore its vibrant coral structures, encounter a wide variety of marine species, and dive into the area’s fascinating history submerged beneath the waves.

Dive Site Brief Mala Wharf in Maui, Hawaii

  • Maximum depth: 30 feet (9 meters)
  • Visibility: 40 to 100 feet (12 to 30 meters)
  • Dive time: Up to 60 minutes, varying by air consumption
  • Required certification level: Open Water Diver
  • Current: Generally mild
  • Dive site category: shore dive on a collapsed pier, offering elements of both reef and wreck diving

About Mala Wharf in Maui

Mala Wharf is known for its easy access and the unique underwater environment created by the remnants of the collapsed pier. It’s one of Maui’s most popular dive sites

The site boasts a thriving ecosystem, making it a habitat for a diverse range of marine life including green sea turtles, white tip reef sharks, eels, and a variety of tropical fish. The location serves as a turtle cleaning station. Making it almost impossible to not see a famous Hawaiian sea turtle.

Fun fact: I saw my first-ever shark at Mala Wharf. It was a beautiful white-tip reef shark that even inspired a shark tattoo on my skin. See a video of the shark below.

The structure itself provides a fascinating exploration ground, with parts of the concrete pier offering swim-throughs and an artificial reef environment. This blend of natural beauty and historical intrigue makes Mala Wharf a memorable dive site.

Mala Wharf Pier Dive Plan

A dive at Mala Wharf typically starts from the shore, where divers can easily enter the water. Often – at least that’s what I had to do – meet the dive instructor at the dive site. They will bring your gear.

When walking into the water to a depth that is deep enough to swim you will swim to a descending point. Because the dive site can get crowded, there is no fixed route or point. Trust the dive guide to find the best location.

Given the site’s maximum depth of 30 feet (9 meters), divers have plenty of time to explore. The key attractions include navigating around the collapsed concrete sections and exploring the teeming, diverse marine life roaming around the pier’s remains. You will likely encounter green sea turtles, various fish species, and occasionally white tip reef sharks. 

white tip reef shark at mala wharf in maui hawaii

It’s recommended to move slowly to observe the rich aquatic life and the intricate details of the underwater environment. 

There are some swim-throughs between and under some concrete blocks. Just make sure to stick to your group and buddy, as there could be a backlog of divers at these popular spots. Some dive shops conduct a two-tank dive at Mala Ramp.

I always recommend switching it up. I was at Black Rock conducting my second dive of the day

Overall, you will explore the dive site for up to an hour and then return to the surface, and swim back to shore.

Night diving at Mala Boat Ramp

Night diving at Mala Wharf offers a distinct and thrilling experience, allowing divers to witness the nocturnal behaviors of marine life not usually visible during the day. 

Divers are likely to encounter sleeping turtles, active reef sharks, and a variety of luminescent organisms, providing a completely different perspective of the dive site with this unique backdrop. 

Night dives require additional precautions and are recommended for those with appropriate experience or under the guidance of a certified dive professional.

Marine life at Mala Wharf

Divers at Mala Wharf can anticipate vibrant underwater encounters, including the frequent sight of green sea turtles and occasional encounters of white tip reef sharks. The site’s marine biodiversity is further enriched by an array of tropical fish and elusive eels, thriving among the remnants of the wharf. 

green sea turtle at mala wharf dive site in maui hawaii

FAQs about Diving at Mala Wharf

What certification do I need to dive at Mala Wharf?

Divers of all levels can enjoy Mala Wharf. The minimum certification level is Open Water. In fact, many students get certified here. 

What’s the best time of the year to dive at Mala Wharf?

Mala Wharf can be dived year-round, with conditions varying slightly. Visibility and sea life are generally excellent throughout the year.

What kind of marine life can I expect to see?

Divers can expect to see green sea turtles, white tip reef sharks, tropical fish, and eels in the vibrant marine ecosystem.

How do I access Mala Wharf for diving?

Mala Wharf is a shore dive, easily accessible from Lahaina. Local dive shops can provide detailed directions and conditions reports.

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