A mushroom coral, Fungia scutaria, tucked away under a ledge at the Haleiwa Trench
As the summer continues to dwindle away into fall, the North Shore remains one of the best places to get in the water. Last month we explored Waimea Bay, but there are plenty of other options on the North Shore when it comes to diving and exploring. One of my favorites is the Haleiwa Trench. Whether you want to shoot big or shoot small, this is a good place to explore.
A map of the Haleiwa Trench. The diver’s flag marks the actual trench—I prefer to approach the area by going out from the right side of the building at the point.
The Trench is relatively easy to find. First navigate to Haleiwa’s Ali’i Beach Park. I usually park near the Baywatch building and walk out on the beach to the right side of the point. There is a shower
A juvenile oval chromis, Chromis ovalis, takes shelter with other fish behind vegetation in the shallows.
here for when you return and need to wash your gear and self down. The entry is a bit shallow and you will find yourself skimming along a seemingly endless shallow plateau before it gradually gets deeper. Be on the lookout. There is a lot of algal growth in the shallow areas, sometimes blocking out the nooks and crannies where juvenile critters tend to hide. Have a look around in these areas—you can often find
A leaf scorpionfish, Taenianotus triacanthus, disappears into its surroundings, looking much like the sunken leaf from its moniker.
some interesting critters hiding behind the vegetation. After a bit of swimming, the water gets a bit deeper before you literally go over a cliff. This is where the place gets its name.
The cliff drops down 70-80 feet into what is known as the Haleiwa Trench. The area around the drop is one of my favorite places. Honu abound around this margin—some on the precipice of the
A green sea turtle, Chelonia mydas, hangs out in a cubby hole in the wall of the trench.
trench and many tucked away into little shelves and pukas along the way down the trench wall. The surface around the top of the trench wall is busy with honu coming up for air. Sometimes you can find
A green sea turtle, Chelonia mydas, comes up for air after a long spell hiding in the wall of the trench.
other large things around this drop as well. On one occasion when I was SCUBA diving in this area(years and years ago), my group was visited by a Hawaiian monk seal. My buddy above me was shooting macro
A Hawaiian monk seal, Monachus schauinslandi, drops in on me and some friends. Note to self: change shorts ASAP.
and the monk seal crowded over his shoulder to see if he was seeing anything good. How my friend didn’t need to change his wetsuit after turning around and coming face to face with it at point blank
A Hawaiian swimming crab, Charybdis hawaiensis, scurries along the floor, pinchers at the ready.
range is beyond me. But the monk seal rose ten feet to the surface to get air before going on its way to the bottom of the trench to visit our other friends. I guess everyone has a schedule to keep…
What I believe to be a crescent octopus, Octopus hawaiiensis, lurking in the reef.
Although you can see some large animals in this area, it’s also fun to play around at the small end of things and shoot macro. There are plenty of small ambush predators like the arc-eye hawkfish
A stocky hawkfish, Cirrhitus pinnulatus, waiting to surprise unsuspecting fish passing by.
and the stocky hawkfish waiting around to pick off distracted fish. Hermit crabs abound as well. Flat worms and nudibranches can be found if you look for them, too. I have even seen bigfin reef squid at the area before the drop-off, so keep your eyes peeled.
A bigfin reef squid, Sepioteuthis lessoniana, swims amongst the detritus of the night.
In addition to the regular daytime diving, the nighttime diving at the trench can be exceptional as well. Go at night with friends and bring a light. Be ready to see a lot of the nighttime critters—
Two imperial nudibranches, Hypselodoris imperialis, making some more baby royals.
nudibranches, mollusks, eels, tako, crabs, etc. Either way you go, day or night, wide angle or macro, Haleiwa Trench has a lot of interesting critters to see and lots of area to explore.
A rough-spined sea urchin, Chondrocidaris gigantea, tucked into the side of the Haleiwa Trench.
A bloody hermit crab, Dardanus sanguinocarpus, drags its borrowed shell around with it.
Bright critters like the fuschia flatworm, Pseudoceros ferrugineus, can be spotted rather easily.
A spiny porcupinefish, Diodon holocanthus, works on his beauty sleep.
“You lookin’ at me? You lookin’ at me??”, a tako asks the camera in its best Robert De Niro voice.
The spines of a Crown-of-Thorns sea star, Acanthaster planci, make for great macro shots.
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