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Franko's Dive Map of Kauai
Franko's Dive Map of Kauai, The Garden Isle was my very first map for the Hawaiian Islands. It is the first of what became four Hawaiian dive maps, which soon included Franko's Map of Oahu, The Gathering Place, Franko's Map of Maui, The Valley Isle, and then Franko's Map of Hawaii, The Big Island. However, since I didn't at that time know or think that I would one day be making things-to-see-and-do maps (such as Franko's Guide Map of Kauai), I didn't originally have the word “Dive” in the titles. It was simply “Franko's Map of Kauai, The Garden Isle” when I printed my first edition in 2000. The distinction is fairly obvious. This map, Franko's Dive Map of Kauai, is all about Kauai's fabulous underwater snorkeling and scuba diving. It is also a great road map, with the same road details that are on my guide map of Kauai. The difference is that this map has dozens of dive sites, plus a depiction of the tropical Hawaiian reef and its fish and other creatures, and the guide map has the things to see and do in Kauai.
Franko's Dive Map of Kauai has artwork depicting over 80 of the most common Hawaiian reef creatures, including everybody's favorites, the Humuhumu Nukunuku Apua'a, which is Hawaii's State Fish, and the Honu, or green sea turtle. There are also butterflyfishes, trumpetfish, eagle rays, tang, Moorish idols, octopus, lobster, seastar, and dozens more. It is of interest that I have produced Hawaiian Fish Cards as well, including one specifically for each island (Kauai, Oahu, Maui, Hawaii, Lanai, and Molokai), plus one for the Hawaiian Islands. Each has a map on one side and the reef creatures on the other. The Kauai Fish Card also has a stunning photo which is a helicopter view of the Incomparable Na Pali Coast. In fact, Franko's Kauai Dive Map also features a tiny photo of the Na Pali Coast as well.
You can't look at this map and fail to realize how beautiful Kauai and its underwater are. This is a perfect guide for Kauai diving. There is a reason that this dive map of Kauai was my first Hawaiian Islands map. It is because I love Kauai so much. I'll never forget the first time I came to Kauai, flying into Lihue from Honolulu. I looked out my window and saw the awesome mountains rise up into the clouds, and the beautiful beaches waiting for me to come . I got into my rental car and went straight to the south end at the Prince Kuhio birthplace monument, where I parked, put on my snorkel gear right there in the car, and jumped in for about two hours. In fact, there is a photo of a threadfin butterflyfish that I took on that very first snorkeling venture that I put on the map. If you turn the map over to side 2 you will see it. I saw 9 green sea turtles, a big yellow trumpetfish, a slipper lobster, lots of black sea cucumbers, and a huge variety of fish of all kinds. As I parked there were a group of four scuba divers getting themselves ready to dive in. I was in the water for 30 minutes looking at everything before they finally got in. Then, as they were diving around this shallow area, to a depth of only 20 to 25 feet, I was back and forth, up and down, in every corner of the reef for the whole hour that they were in the water. They had gotten out and put all of their scuba gear in the car and were gone before I even got out. It was winter, so the water temperature was only 74 degrees, so I was getting cold, otherwise I would have kept going. Plus, eventually I was hungry for some Hawaiian food!
I found that Kauai's shallow dive spots, such as the Prince Kuhio Park area, Poipu, Kee Beach, Anini, Tunnels and others, are probably better to dive with snorkel gear rather than scuba equipment. That is, of course, if you are a good snorkeler. I don't have a great breath holding ability, and I love to scuba dive, but this shallow diving in Kauai, completely unencumbered by scuba gear, is just so relaxing and fun. On a Kauai South Shore calm winter's day I could have spent all day. As it was I think I covered at least a half mile of territory, and took dozens of 30 to 40 second dives to look in crevices, under ledges, in and around coral heads, and to check out the fish close up. I've done the same on Oahu, Maui, Hawaii and Lanai, and it is all wonderful.
Kauai has a certain vibrant feel to it. This “vibe” and Kauai's amazing beauty makes it one of the most wonderful destinations in the world. If I was pressed to admit which Hawaiian Island I like the most, it would be hard to say, but I would be tempted to blurt out “Kauai!” When I go to Kauai for mapping purposes or just to snorkel or scuba dive, I look around at the gorgeous scenery - which is basically everywhere you go on Kauai - and it feels like an emotional, spiritual experience. Kauai is difficult to explain, and there are not enough words in any language to truly describe how it looks and feels. I love Kauai.
The Hawaiian Islands are the most remote place on earth. That is, the Hawaiian Islands are further from any continent than any other islands in the world. Since Kauai is the furthest north and west of any of the main islands, that makes it the very most remote island in the world. Diving in Kauai therefore is diving in extraordinarily remote and pristine waters.
Note that the magnificent Na Pali Coast has its share of diving experiences to offer as well. When tourists take one of Kauai's numerous and highly recommended tour boats to the Na Pali coast, the scenery is stunning. Then, when the boat is moored or anchored near some Na Pali Coast reef, the tourists don their snorkel gear and plunge into the most remote waters on earth. That is an amazing feeling. The fish life on the Na Pali coast is rich and fabulous, just like all around Kauai, but it just feels more special than any place else. If it wasn't for those tour boats, the Na Pali whitetip reef sharks, the saddleback butterflyfishes, and any number of other reef creatures would never know or care that humans exist. The Na Pali Coast visitors are also often treated to a show by spinner dolphins. They seem to like the fact that humans come exploring. It gives them a chance to show off their spinning and leaping. It is fun to watch tourists seeing dolphins for their first time as the boat cruises along. It makes the trip to Kauai that much better.
Franko's Dive Map of Kauai Side 1:
When you study Franko's Dive Map of Kauai, your eye starts go around and around this nearly-circular island. Dive spot after dive spot is studied, and then you just have to look at all of the Hawaiian reef creatures on the map, which number something like 7 dozen. The captions describe dozens of snorkeling and scuba diving spots all around Kauai, from Poipu on the south to Tunnels Beach on the north, with details of the dive sites to invite you for your own underwater exploration.
The map image of the Island of Kauai is generated by some fancy computer graphics, converting what we call “digital elevation models” into green shaded relief, so you can see the shores, the hills and the valleys exactly how they actually are. The roads were added by yours truly and then colored gold, because Kauai is so beautiful and it requires beautiful colors to do it justice. Each of the island's main points of interest are denoted as well, although full descriptions of the things to see and do are reserved for Franko's Guide Map of Kauai. Franko's Dive Map of Kauai is for diving, snorkeling, kayaking, hiking, exploring, and is generally for anyone who loves Kauai, The Garden Isle.
The ocean is depicted in beautiful turquoise colors all around Kauai, with descending colors representing the depths. Depth contours are from nautical charts of Kauai, as provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). You can see just how deep the ocean quickly becomes as you go away from shore. The result of pure inspiration, Kauai looks like a beautiful emerald jewel sitting on the ocean blue. And it really does look just so beautiful.
Going counter-clockwise around the island there are dive site descriptions. However, the number of sites to dive on the South Shore are so many that a separate detail is on side two for the map to zoom in on the area. The same is true for the North Shore. The east shore is not as dense with dive spots, but it is the most populous area of Kauai, and thus it has a separate detail on side two as well. Kayaking Kauai is another great sport and a wonderful activity for tourists. Since this watersport is also one of my personal favorites, and since I've kayaked in Kauai, I've added some brief descriptions of Kauai's fantastic choice places to rent and paddle your kayak. Below, side two of Franko's Dive Map of Kauai is described. However, on side 1 the following captions describe diving, plus kayaking:
KE'E BEACH. LAGOON 0' - 20' Beg. - Adv.Formerly a highly regarded beginner shore dive with excellent snorkeling within protective reef, but huge surf of 1999 to 2000 filled it in with silt and sand. Snorkeling is still excellent in the shallows, but caution!, extremely strong and dangerous current sweep along shore on the outside. Winter waves make good surfing but poor diving.
CANNON'S REEF 5' - 70' Beg. - Int.Shore dive at east end of Ha'ena Beach via V-shaped slit in reef. Good snorkeling. Lots of juvenile fish. Less popular than tunnels due to few underwater features.
TUNNELS REEF 5' - 65' Beg. - Adv.Good beginners dive site. Excellent advanced snorkeling. Dive in summer, surf in winter. Lava tubes and tunnels. White-tip reef sharks, green sea turtles, colorful tropical fish. Caution: High surf and poor visibility in winter.
ANINI BEACH 0' - 15' Beg.Beginner shore dive and excellent snorkeling. Large barrier reef good for windsurfers. Fish, turtles, lots of invertebrates. Park facilities. Caution: Not advisable to dive during winter surf.
ANAHOLA BAY 0' - 20' + Beg.Beginner beach dive and excellent snorkeling, especially at north or south end reefs. Nice finger corals. Zebra moray eels, lots of colorful fish, green sea turtles.
LYDGATE STATE PARK 0' - 10' Beg.Shallow beginner shore dive. Good easy snorkeling. Near resort hotel. Lots of fish. Usually small swells, but tradewinds make it choppy.
AHUKINI LANDING 15' - 70' Int. - Adv.Entry at harbor jetty in poor visibility, clears around point. Wall diving. Reef strewn with dumped WWII ordnance. Big eagle rays, turtles, scorpion fish, stingrays, octopuses and lobsters. Occasional humpbacks in season. Good place to have a guide. Caution: Tradewinds make rough conditions most of the year.
PO'IPU BEACH PARK 0' - 40' Beg. - Int.Great beginner shore dive and beginner snorkeling. Lots of tame fish of all kinds. Photogenic schools of lemon butterfly (Lau Wiliwili). Usually calm and clear.
BRENNECKE'S LEDGE 55' - 90' Int. - Adv.Boat dive to undercut ridge with lava tubes. Schools of ta'ape, squirrelfish, green sea turtles, whitetip reef sharks. Colorful coral on top of ledge. Black coral under ledge.
SHERATON CAVERNS 30' - 65' Int. - Adv.Top boat dive site around Kauai. Three lava tubes and a wall with coral. Colorful nudibranchs, turtles, whitemouth moray eels, lionfish inside lava tubes, and all kinds of tropical fish. Almost always calm and clear.
KOLOA LANDING 10' - 55' Beg. - Int.Excellent, easy shore access for beginners. Diveable year-round. Advanced snorkeling. Lots of tame, colorful fish, moray eels looking to be fed. Colorful nudibranchs. Common scuba intro dive site. Facilities.
FAST LANES 55' - 95'+ Adv.Deep boat dive over lava flow. Pennant fish. Whitetip reef sharks, yellow-eyed surgeonfish, octopuses, rare indigenous boarfish. Generally calm and clear.
BEACH HOUSE (LAWAI BEACH) 0' - 15' Beg.Beginner shore dive or "Snuba" dive. Excellent snorkeling. near beach house restaurant. Excellent for photos of colorful fish. Occasional monk seals.
TURTLE BLUFFS 40' - 90' Int. - Adv.Boat dive to rock bluff and drop-offs. Turtles' “cleaning station”. Whitetip reef sharks, indigenous boarfish, rare morwong, moray eels. Dolphins sometimes visit divers. Caution: Currents. Sometimes Rough.
CAMP ONE 15' - 52' Int. - Adv.Boat dive. Ledges, overhangs, two pinnacles and archway. Colorful Coral. Spanish dancer nudibranchs, turtles, octopuses, moray eels, lionfish.
GENERAL STORE 45' - 90' Int - Adv.Boat dive to deep drop-off and three caverns. 1892 boat anchors amongst coral at 84' bottom. Turtles, whitetip reef sharks in lava tube, octopuses, lemon butterflys, lobsters, snowflake moray eels. Caution: Currents and rough seas.
SALT POND 0' - 6' Beg.Beginner shore dive and excellent easy snorkeling. Lots of fish, moray eels. Coral reef to west.
MANA CRACK 50' - 95' int. - AdvSummer boat dive. "Van Halen V"-shaped crack runs for miles from off Nohili to Makaha Pt.. Colorful corals in virgin condition. Tons of fish of all kinds, invertebrates, green sea turtles, dolphins. Ni'ihau back-up dive site.
Somehow due to the nature of Kauai and the fact that I am a watersport nut, which includes kayaking, so I just had to include Kauai's wonderful kayaking on this map as well. Kayaking is a fantastic way to relax, exercise and to see Kauai's gorgeous scenery. Therefore, Franko's Dive Map of Kauai describes the major kayaking sites around the Graden Island. They include:
NA PALI COAST KAYAK TOURAmazing scenery. Multi-day Camping. Fishing. Snorkeling.
HANALEI RIVERJungle river cruise. Wildlife refuge. Taro farms. Buffalo.
ANINI BARRIER REEFCalm lagoon. Snorkeling. Sandy beach. Facilities
KALIHIWAI BEACH & STEAMBirdwatching. Fishing. Calm river. Superb views.
KILAUEA STREAMBirdwatching. Fishing. Hiking. Fabulous morning paddling.
ANAHOLA STREAMMountain views. Fishing. Birdwatching.
KAPA'A STREAMBig beautiful valley. Birdwatching. Fishing.
WAILUA RIVERPaddle to Fern Grotto. Long hike to Wailua Falls.
NAWILIWILI BAY. HULE'IA RIVERAncient fishpond. Views. Fishing. Birdwatching.
HANEPEPE RIVEROld town. Cliffs (Pali). Portages to higher sections. Birdwatching.
Franko's Dive Map of Kauai Side 2
The following are the captions of the flip side of my Kauai dive map. There are five main sections to side 2. The first is the North Shore, including Hanalei, the second is the East Shore, including Kapaa and Lihui, the third is the South shore, including Poipu and Port Allen, the fourth is the islet of Lehua, off of the north end of Niihau, and the fifth is the overall view of Kauai and Niihau. This view of Kauai and Niihau came out really great! The island of Niihau is seldom visited by outsiders, but the small straight between Niihau and the 0.9-mile wide, 702-foot high Lehua Island is often visited by tour boats full of snorkelers, typically doing a stop after having already been on a magnificent Na Pali Coast tour. The remoteness of Lehua is sort of scary, when it comes to jumping in the water. I know of sightings of tiger sharks there, and even a few whale sharks on rare occasion, and whitetip reef sharks commonly. The main attraction is pristine, clear water, with visibility almost always over 100 feet, and tons of reef fish on nice collections of rocky terrain and corals. I personally followed a whitetip reef shark at the dive site called “Niihau Arches” on a dive there, which was a highlight, but the dive in general was awesome. With 30 or more tourists on my Blue Dolphin tour, there were only 3 scubas divers. The rest of them snorkeled, and I'm sure they had fun, but to linger in the deeper water to explore the arches and to look into the deep was a great treat. Lehua, which is the fourth mentioned section of side two of Franko's Dive Map of Kauai, has a lot of great and diverse dive sites. In fact one of the captions reads as follows:
NOTE: This area is considered by some to the BEST diving in Hawaii. However, it is not always accessible due to ocean and weather conditions. Best in Spring and Summer.
I happened to visit there in the Fall, and the swells came in pretty big that afternoon. In fact, a few of the tourists lost their catered lunch on the way back to Port Allen! Additionally, dive sites are described for Lehua as follows:
LEHUA GARDENS 45' - 150' + Ad.Spectacular coral bottom. Spinner dolphins. Gray reef sharks. Many wrasse amongst soft coral. Teardrop butterflyfish.
KEY HOLE 0' - 80'+ Int - AdvDrift wall dive. Packs of gray sharks, jacks, huge schools of pyramid butterflyfish, black durgon everywhere. Tubastraea corals. Pelagic fish.
PYRAMID POINT 0' - 130'+ AdvSpectacular wall with cracks. Excellent snorkeling next to wall over stony coral beds. Variety of tropical fish everywhere.
VERTICAL AWARENESS 35' - 350' AdvVertical topography descends very deep. schools of tinkers butterflyfish in the deep. Tiny Hawaiian anthias. Oversize blue cravelle (Ulua).
NIIHAU ARCHES 20' - 50'+ Beg - AdvSwim-through arches formed by swirled lava with sink holes and pinnacles. Whitetip reefsharks. Vertical wall nearby. Popular with tours for scuba and snorkeling.
LEHUA SLOPE 10' - 65' Beg - AdvTucked in right below Lehua's steep volcanic slope. Popular place for tour boats to take snorkelers and scuba divers. Subject to strong currents. Eagle rays. Pelagic species. Whale sharks.
STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN 50' - 180'+ AdvBlue water diving at pinnacle with large rock step formations. Large fishes, stingrays, eagle rays.
The North Shore has several dive sites and kayaking descriptions. Hanalei and the Bali Hai area are so-o-o-o beautiful. What words can describe it? None, I guess. It is just so magnificent. Kee Beach, at the very end of the road is another favorite snorkel spot. However, I'm dubious about scuba diving at Kee Beach. For one thing, huge 50' surf came in around 1998 or 1999 and changed things a lot. Much sand and silt filled in on top of the reef and the lagoon became much more shallow. It left the shallows good for snorkeling, but kind of ruined the former glorious scuba diving. Second, the currents outside the reef are so strong they can be treacherous. A diver could find himself drifting for miles and would never be able to get back. I'd hate to go for a delightful shore dive and simply disappear!
In the winter months this area is prone to some extremely powerful surf. The same waves that make the Oahu North Shore the most famous surfing area in the world also crash into the Kauai North Shore and the Na Pali Coast. I was there for one of these biggest-waves-of-the-year events one January. The faces on the waves and the sounds of it were so scary that you would be crazy to even stand on the sand, anywhere on the beach. I hiked the famous Kalalau trail for a few miles that day. From my vantage I could see that the waves were immense and the crashes into rocks were making geyser splashes 100 feet high. It was awesome and very scary. I could see that the current was sweeping along the coast at about jogging speed. Obviously, no one was snorkeling there that day. But it was on that same day that I went around the island of Kauai, about 60 miles away, and I enjoyed calm and beautiful snorkeling in Poipu. The descriptions that are on the map in the Hanalei area are as follows:
KE'E BEACH. LAGOON 5 - 40' Beg. - Adv.Great place for snorkeling and hanging out on the beach. Winter waves make good surfing but poor diving. Caution: Dangerous currents outside.
CANNON'S REEF 5' - 70' Beg. - Int.Shore dive at East end of Ha'ena Beach via V-shaped slit in reef. Good snorkeling. Lots of juvenile fish.
TUNNELS REEF 15' - 65' Beg. - Int.Beginners dive site. Excellent snorkeling. Dive in summer, surf in winter. Lava tubes, tunnels. White-tip reef sharks, turtles.
'ANINI BEACH 0' - 15' Beg.Beginner shore dive. Excellent snorkeling. Large reef. Fish nursery. Turtles. Park facilities. Lots of sea cucumbers. Excellent windsurfing. Caution: Not advisable to dive or snorkel during Winter surf.
As for the Poipu-to-Port Allen area, or the South Shore on Franko's Dive Map of Kauai, this map zooms in on Kauai's most-dived areas, including its favorite shore dive at Koloa Landing, and favorite boat dive at Sheraton Caverns, plus my favorite, first snorkeling spot at Prince Kuhio Park. The captions describing these spots are as follows:
Favorite South Shore Area Diving:
SALT POND 0' - 6' BegShore dive. Excellent easy snorkeling. Coral reef to West. Lots of fish, moray eels, octopi, turtles.
CAMP ONE 15' - 52' Int - AdvBoat dive to ledges, overhangs, two pinnacles, and an archway. Colorful coral. Spanish dancers, turtles, lionfish.
GENERAL STORE 45' - 90' (13 - 37m) Beg - AdvBoat dive to drop-o with three caverns. 1892 boat ”Pele” anchors & coral at 84'. Whitetip reef sharks in lava tube, octopi, butterflyfish, lobsters, snowflake morays, turtles, black tree coral. Caution: Currents & rough seas.
TURTLE BLUFFS 40' - 90' Int - AdvBoat dive to rock bluff and drop-offs. Turtle “cleaning station”, where cleaner wrasse nibble and clean the shells of green sea turtles and other large customers. Whitetip reef sharks. Rare indigenous boarfish and morwong. Dolphins. Caution: Currents and rough conditions possible.
FAST LANES 50' - 90' (15 - 27m) Beg - AdvBoat dive over lava. Pennant fish,whitetips, yellow-eyed surgeonfish, octopi, turtles, eels, sea cucumbers with crabs in their mouths, black tree corals. Genrally calm.
BEACH HOUSE (aka: LAWAI BEACH) 0' - 15' (0 - 5m) BegBeginner shore dive. Excellent snorkeling. Excellent photos of colorful fish. Monk seals. "Snuba" diving spot.
BEACH HOUSE ARCH 50' -90' (15 - 27m) Beg - AdvBoat dive. Lava arch. Many turtles. Cowries & other shells everywhere. Lots of tropical fish.
PRINCE KUHIO PARK 3' - 21' (1 - 7m) BegRock. Sand entry across from Kuhio Park. Beginner scuba. Excellent snorkeling for all levels. Protected bay. Butterflyfish. Green sea turtles, morays, slipper lobsters.
KOLOA LANDING 10' - 55' (3 - 17m) Beg - IntBest shore dive on S. Kauai. Diveable year-round. Excellent advanced snorkeling. Lots of tame colorful fish, moray eels, stingrays, colorful nudibranchs, turtles. Almost always calm and clear.
SHERATON CAVERNS 30' - 65' (9 - 20m) Int - AdvTop boat dive site around Kauai. Three lava tubes and a wall. Coral. Colorful nudibranchs, turtles, whitemouth morays, lionfish in lava tubes. Fish nursery.
ICE BOX 65' - 85' (20 - 26m) Int - AdvBoat dive to deep reef with three seaward fingers. Whitetip reef sharks. Many reef fish.
PO'IPU BEACH CO. PARK 3' - 40' (1 - 12m) Beg - IntGreat beginner shore dive and beginner snorkeling. Lots of tame fish of all kinds. Photogenic schools of lemon butterfly. Usually calm & clear.
NUKUMOI PT. (aka: TORTUGAS) 15' - 50' (5 - 15m) Beg - IntBoat dive. Large population of horned helmet shells. Green sea turtles. Coral.
BRENNECKE'S LEDGE 55' - 90' (17 - 27m) Int - AdvBoat dive to undercut ridge with lava tubes. Schools of Ta'ape, squirrelfish, turtles, white tip reef sharks. Colorful corals on ledge, black coral under ledge.
The East Shore Detail on Franko's Dive Map of Kauai shows the area from Kapaa on the north to Nawiliwili Harbor on the south. It includes the airport at Lihue, plus the downtown of Kauai's government city, plus the area of Wailua and the Wailua River where tourists kayak up the river and visit fern grotto. There is a photo of a tour helicopter in front of a beautiful waterfall on the map. Kauai, if you didn't already hear, is fantastically beautiful. You may think you know how beautiful Kauai is, as I once did. Then one day you will get aboard a tour helicopter, possibly at Lihue airport, and you will take off for a one hour tour. If you have not seen Kauai from the air, you really don't understand just how incredibly beautiful it really is. That is more of a subject for my Guide Map of Kauai, but I just can't express it enough. I love Kauai, and I feel its spiritual vibe, but the air experience makes it all complete. Do it! Meanwhile, there are only two significant dive spots on the East Shore of Kauai, mainly because this is the windward side of the island and the water is so often wavy and choppy. These sites are Lydgate Park and Akukini Landing. I'm sure there is a lot of undersea life off Kauai's East Shore, but the advice of most is to dive somewhere else. The currents are also quite strong on this shore, so it is not just a casual, kids-jump-in-the-water kind of a place. It's a little too dangerous to take lightly. The two descriptions of Kauai's East Shore on the Franko Map are as follows:
LYDGATE STATE PARK 0' - 10' Beg.Shallow beginner shore dive. Good easy snorkeling. Near resort hotel. Lots of fish. Usually calm except in E wind.
AKUKINI LANDING 15' - 70' Int. - Adv.Shore entry at harbor jetty in poor visibility. Reef strewn with dumped WWII ordnance. Big eagle rays. Good place to have a guide. Caution: Tradewinds make it rough.
One of the greatest attractions on this map is not the beautiful islands, the golden roads, the ocean blues or the dive site details, but it is the Hawaiian reef creatures guide on the face of the map. My maps are waterproof, because they are printed on synthetic paper. A tourist discovered this a few years ago and I heard from a dive operator in Kauai that my maps were being taken underwater by tourists to use for fish identification. This was partially what led me to create Franko fish cards, which consist of a mini-map of the island on one side, and all of these reef creatures on the other. It is designed to go underwater. However, the map of Kauai will still hold up come rain, wind, water and about anything a customer might do to test its durability. I've been making waterproof maps since 1993, and now all kinds of companies do it. I guess it was a good idea!