As enjoyable as snorkeling is, it’s never quite as good as scuba diving. Being able to float with or near aquatic life at your leisure is incredible. Flowing with the gentle currents, gliding with ease, and hovering mere inches above the sea floor while witnessing the wild underwater world is something very special. This is what lead me to Reef Pirates in Oahu.
My underwater adventures with Reef Pirates began early with a 6 am pickup from Hilton Hawaiian Village. Bursting with excitement, this was one morning where I raced my alarm clock to the punch and canceled it before it had a chance to wake up Lesley and Athena. The day had started off perfect already. Justin, my fantastic dive master who is also a PADI dive instructor, picked me up right on queue at 6 am sharp. After a quick stop to pick up 2 more divers for our trip, we were on our way to Koko Marina. Justin was quick to get us all excited and eager to begin our underwater excursions.
Once we arrived at the marina, we were greeted by our extremely capable Reef Pirates boat captain, Kathleen, in addition to another PADI dive instructor who would join us on our outing and got our gear arranged. Since I had brought my Aqualung regulator and Suunto D6i dive computer with me, I was hoping I could use them on my trip. The crew was very accommodating with this and helped me get my gear integrated with their high quality rental equipment. I instantly felt confident with my setup since I would much rather use equipment I’m more familiar with, especially while diving unfamiliar sites. Having integrated weight pockets in my BCD was also a huge plus; weight belts and Darren don’t go well together.
A quick jaunt out had us at the Corsair wreck dive site in 10 to 15 minutes. Enroute, Justin gave us a detailed briefing of the history of the Corsair and what to expect at the site. Once he secured the boat to the mooring ball, the two sets of divers rolled into the balmy 81 degree ocean blue at 8:30 am. The visibility underwater was so clear that I could see the Corsair lying 106 feet below me as soon as I stuck my head in the water. My excitement grew tenfold!
Justin confidently led our group down to the wreck and allowed us to discover the plane’s wreckage at our leisure. Having a relatively small wreck combined with 140 foot visibility and little to no currents around the wreck site allowed us to glide around the wreckage with ease while always keeping an eye on our dive buddy and dive master. Being at a depth of 106 feet didn’t allow us much bottom time yet those 15 minutes seemed like an hour of pure joy. I was able to closely inspect the Corsair, look for clues to how it must have hit the water, and watch its current inhabitants play and dance around the hollow remains of the plane. Having an early entry time allowed us to explore the Corsair wreck site completely on our own which made it all the more special and intimate.
Once back on board the boat, Kathleen took us on a relaxed course to our next way-point in order to allow us a decent surface interval so that we could enjoy more bottom time at our next dive site. Once again, Justin provided us a clear and detailed briefing of Koko Craters and what to expect in terms of wildlife, currents, and topography. During this leg of our trip, we all excitedly compared notes and told stories of our respective discoveries. Although I’m certain the dive staff have heard these stories many times over, they shared our excitement and elaborated on our findings.
Koko Craters is a relatively shallow dive of 35 feet yet it was bustling with sea life. Turtles, squid, countless colorful fish as well as a few relics call this reef home. We lazily drifted with the ebb and flow of the gentle currents for 45 minutes as we met up with more than a few friendly inhabitants.
Here are just a few of the sites you’re sure to witness at Koko Craters.
If you’re looking for an intimate, uncrowded underwater experience at some of the most famous dive sites in Oahu, look no further than Reef Pirates. Their small group sizes, best of breed dive staff, and excellent dive sites place them at the top of the pack.