Considering how much I like visiting churches and spending spiritual time in each, you have to know that a dive site known as Cathedrals would peak my interest. I often find diving a spiritual experience but to intersect that experience with dive sites named after churches, you could see that I eagerly anticipated what was about to transpire. I was not disappointed.
Hawaii is a fun place and a great place to dive with warm clear life-filled waters filled with coral and beautiful tropical fish. It is easy to reach and accommodations range from affordable to luxury. Diving services abound. One of the most popular islands for diving is Maui. But Maui diving operations don’t always concentrate on its coastline but will often head off to the nearby island of Lanai. It is here that you will find these two dive sites — Cathedral One and Cathedral Two.
Like all the Hawaiian Islands Lanai was created through powerful volcanic forces with liquid lava flows spilling into the sea. One of the more common geological features of these lava flows is what is known as “lava tubes” — hollow cave-like features where the lava once flowed. Cavernous voids remained, some of these underwater. The Cathedrals are just such features.
Cathedral One is my favorite. The divemaster guided us through a smallish entryway that quickly opened up into a large room. It was like the front door to a church. Directly in front of me was a rock wall pot-marked with holes letting light stream in looking very much like a stain-glass window. Below it was a large boulder almost perfectly positioned as if an altar. Light also penetrated from a skylight above. You could not help but to take pause, breathe deeply, maybe even say a prayer. It was heavenly.
Cathedral Two, while not as spectacular, has a different feel. It was here that I felt I was in a mansion. The interior was two stories high and the volume massive. From the ceiling hung a black coral “chandelier.” Large entrances and exits made it easy to move in and out and comfortable for divers that might be a bit apprehensive about an overhead environment.
In each cave were interesting marine life. Schools of red soldierfish swirl about. In nooks and crannies you will find unusual crabs, slipper lobster and large moray eels.
But the main event for marine life is outside. Coral covers nearly all the rocks. Moorish Idols and other butterfly fish provide bright color. Tangs, parrotfish, damsels, wrasses, and hawkfish are also abundant. Huge schools of grunts pass over the reef. Turtles visit and octopus hide in the many reef crevices. Couple this marine life abundance with crystal clear waters and you have an excellent dive, even without entering the Cathedrals.
Outside the Cathedrals, in various locations, are underwater arches in varieties of sizes and shapes. They make for good photography framing divers and marine life. Divemasters will guide you to the best of them.
Divemaster guidance is, by the way, essential for full enjoyment of diving the Cathedrals. This is an intermediate dive with a divemaster because of the overhead environment and sometimes strong surge.
Water clarity of averages around 80 feet but is frequently much more. As you enter either of the Cathedrals, use superior buoyancy skills to keep off the bottom and silting up the visibility. Water depths are around 70 foot maximum but it does get deeper away from the island. The shallows are quite surgy and should be avoided.
I feel strongly that diving and spirituality do mix. I find myself frequently praying underwater. It is quite natural in the kelp forest and now I have a spot in Hawaii that is equally natural.