The Kona Coast, along the southern edge of Hawaii’s biggest island, has caves, caverns and even lava tubes formed by its persistent volcanic activity. Try the Dome and Henry’s Cave, and for pinnacle diving, Turtle and Pyramid Pinnacles are must-sees. Jack’s Diving Locker knows the waters; www.jacksdivinglocker.com.
The Tasman Peninsula, about a 90-minute drive from the capital of Hobart, is one of the most scenic and accessible parts of the island, with the main draw for divers being the elaborate caves that lie just offshore. The mud and sandstone base of the island has eroded to form huge cave systems in Waterfall Bay, the largest and most breathtaking being Cathedral Caves. As the name suggests, it resembles an underwater church with colorful invertebrate life covering the walls. The nearly 100-year-old (but still reasonably intact) wreck of the SS Nord is also nearby, and giant kelp gardens flourish to the south.
There are also great swim-throughs, rock formations and caves surrounding Governor Island near Bicheno. Pinnacle and wall diving at sites like the Castle will give you a chance to see fur seals and penguins, and in some places, the sponge-covered walls drop from 15 to almost 100 feet. You’ll also find prolific fish life, crayfish, sea dragons and seahorses. — Michael McFadyen
Need to Know
Getting There The easiest way to get to Tasmania is to fly into Hobart International Airport (HBA). Qantas and Virgin Blue both offer frequent flights from Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. If you want to take the long road, the Spirit of Tasmania ferries (www.spiritoftasmania.com.au) run from Melbourne. Fares start at $82 for the overnight journey.
When to Go The seasons are reversed here, so December through March is the ideal time to visit when air temperatures hover around 70°F and there is less rain.
Dive Season Year-round, but the summer is the high season, when waters are warmest (about 60°F). June through September is great for Bicheno, when the winds stay offshore creating calm diving conditions.
Stay Eaglehawk offers on-site accommodations in its bunkhouse. Three-day packages include diving for $337 per person. You can also book an Eco Tour package at the Lufra Hotel (www.lufrahotel.com), with two nights accommodation, some meals and a wildlife tour for $382. In Bicheno, try Bicheno by the Bay (www.bichenobythebay.com.au), with one-bedroom bungalows from $130 per night.