Oahu is home to many different wrecks, over ten of which are entirely accessible, which means you have several choices and a lot to explore. A magnet for sea life, these wrecks have become home to many different species and are usually the best dive sites for sighting Hawaiian Stingray, Eagle Rays, White Tip Reef Sharks, and Pelagic fish.
Discovery the history of some of the most beautiful underwater wrecks in the world with Island Divers Hawaii! Anyone with the ability to dive to the depth of the wreck can dive Oahu’s wrecks, but penetration dives will require a PADI Wreck Diving Specialty Certification.
The Corsair Airplane Wreck
Probably the most famous of Oahu’s wrecks, the Corsair Airplane Wreck is small but definitely worth visiting since it is remarkably intact and such airplane wrecks are rare! It’s been down there since 1946 when the pilot ditched it after engine problems during an exercise.
The propeller stands tall, although a bit bend, and makes for awesome photos. It is entirely possible to sit in the cockpit, but sometimes it is well guarded by a huge moray, so make sure to look first! Some of the instruments and glass are still intact.
This is a deep dive with a maximum depth of 107’, which means a bottom time of about 15 minutes. Don’t worry though! That’s plenty of time to explore this wreck. Don’t forget to look out over the sand because the Cosair Airplane Wreck is surrounded by hundreds of garden eels who hover halfway out of the sand. Two large frogfish call this wreck home; one is always found on the tail wing while the other is sometimes found on the sand nearby. A large octopus is often found in the wing as well.
The LCU (Landing Craft Utility) Wreck
The Landing Craft Utility, as in military troop beach landings, lies upside down in 85’ for water on the sandy bottom of the Pacific with a huge field of artificial reef Z-blocks surrounding it. After dipping under the side of the wreck and checking out the shaded interior for resting white tips, you can also check the “bottom” of the boat, where you’ll often find fish swimming upside down.
The diving tour around the outside of the wreck on the artificial reef will complete your bottom time. There is so much marine life to be found amongst these large concrete blocks. Short penetration into the wheel house is possible, but it is very tight. If you are wreck specialty certified, have gloves, reel, two lights and a certified buddy, you can go for it but simply peering into the entrance and shining your light around should be sufficient.
White tip reef sharks often rest underneath the bow section where hair hermit crabs have also been found. South of the bow there are several pipes, the largest of which is a great spot for observing the whip-coral goby on its host. The wreck also has some of the now-rare black coral that is used to make jewelry.
The New Barge
Similar to the Baby Barge, but bigger and offering a nice swim-through for the length of the entire wreck, the New Barge is home to some monstrous turtles. These turtles never stop growing and can live up to 100 years. The turtles that make this wreck home must be close to that age.
Off to the north, about 50’ away on top of a gentle slope up to about 70’ is a huge concentrated pile of Z-blocks. This large pile of blocks holds huge schools of fish which makes it a favorite spot of local fisherman and the occasional talented spear fishing free diver. This is a fun spot to tour after you’ve checked out the wreck as it is a little shallower and increases the amount of time you can spend on-site.
The maximum depth is about 100’ but can be shallower if you stay off the bottom. The Z-blocks can be toured about 60’. This wreck can be connected in a drift dive with the Baby Barge Wreck if the conditions are right.
The Baby Barge
The reef surrounding the Baby Barge is great. However, because the Baby Barge has been steadily deteriorating since we started diving it in 2001, then penetrations we used to do are no longer possible. Yet the cavern on the deep side of the wreck is still there and it’s not unusual to find one or two white tip reef sharks sleeping in it. Turtles are usually everywhere and seeing five or more is not uncommon.
A side trip from this wreck is the “shark” cave. About 100’ to the east and down a 10’ ledge, this 15’ overhang does often shelter white tips, though it is more common to find green sea turtles there. The kick over and back is easy and shows off some of the area’s really nice reef, so when the conditions are right the divemaster often chooses to take a trip there.
The wreck lies at about 65’, but if you want to check out the cavern, the maximum depth will be 85’. It’s a great dive site for finding frog fish, Hawaiian lionfish, eels, and several species of nudibranchs.
The San Pedro Wreck
Just a stone’s throw away from the YO-257, the San Pedro is a more recent addition for Atlantis customers, and of course us divers. It is rarely done as the main wreck and is usually an extra feature of the YO-257 wreck dive. It used to offer a nice swim through, but since the bridge collapsed during a storm, it has become a great place for photo opportunities.
You can often spot one or two white tip reef sharks hiding in the wreck or next to it in one of the reef overhangs. It is also a real turtle magnet with five or more often resting on the wreck.
The Sea Tiger Wreck
Definitely one of our favorites, the Sea Tiger Wreck is big and has several swim through and penetration possibilities. Sunk in 1996 by a submarine company, the Sea Tiger doesn’t have a whole lot of coral growth but even so, schooling fish, moray eels, and nudibranchs are often found in abundance. Eagle rays are also found circling the wreck.
The Sea Tiger rests upright on a sandy bottom at 120’, but dive depth is generally between 80 and 100’. Apart from missing wood planks and some decay of the interior, this wreck is very much intact. Popular swim throughs include the cargo holds, mid-ship, and the bridge, which allow for easy entries and exits.
The Sea Tiger is Hawaii’s best wreck for penetration, but nitrogen narcosis together with a lot of silt, debris, and loose wires makes it dangerous without the right training and experience. It is big enough to get lost in!
Another favorite of ours, this wreck is often found on Rodale’s Scuba Diving Magazine Top 5 US Wrecks list. It has far more coral growth than the Sea Tiger as well as more fish and turtles. Sunk in 1989 by the Atlantic Submarine company, which is still active, so if you hear engines close by… watch out for the sub!
The YO-257 doesn’t offer too much in the way of penetration possibilities but probably has the most beautiful swim through of all the wrecks around Oahu. You can swim through the whole stern and the inside is full of blue octocoral hanging from ceiling and walls. A large turtle usually takes its rest here and doesn’t seem to mind the occasional divers passing by.
Resting upright at 97’, the YO-257 is an impressive sight with its massive bow and overall length of 175’. Maximum depth for this dive is usually around 85’, unless you’re one of those buttom-huggers.
The Mahi Wreck
Once a fantastic wreck, the Mahi’s bridge collapsed during a hurricane a couple years ago. However, it is still a dive worth taking, especially because of all the fish and nudibrachs that are always present. No where else will you see so many puffer fish in one place. Together with the Sea Tiger, it is the best site to spot schooling eagle rays.
The former minesweeper/cable layer was sunk in 1986 to become an artificial reef and has since become one of the most popular wrecks in Hawaii. Because of the collapsed bridge, divers are advised to remain on the outside of the wreck.
Resting in 95’ of water, that is often the maximum dive depth as whitetip reef sharks and octopus often hide between the bottom and the wreck. If you want a longer bottom time, the deck is between 60-80’ and there is plenty of life to keep you occupied.
The LCU West
A wreck off the Waianae coast (west Oahu), this wreck is swimming distance from the wreck listed below. Divers often find white tip reef sharks hiding under the stern or the concrete blocks under the wreck. There’s also a good reef that’s just a short swim away.
This LCU rests on a sandy bottom 90’ down and the reef is a little over 100’ away. Most divers swim over to the reef first, looking for interesting fish sightings. Divers good on air consumption can make it to the airplane wreck before having to turn around. The pilot house offers a tight but easy swim through.
The Airplane Wreck
The wing section of a Beechcraft airplane lies upside-down next to a beautiful reef. The wreck may offer good photo opportunities, but isn’t very exciting otherwise. The reef though, with walls and canyons, is absolutely worth the dive. Frog fish are often seen and plenty of eels are ever-present; corals are healthy and host a variety of critters such and crabs and Hawaiian Lionfish.
The maximum depth is between 80 and 100’, depending on your route. The top of the reef is at 60’, so those that would like to enjoy longer bottom time are welcome to stay there.
Learn more about the requirements for wreck diving and then call us to schedule a charter!