As young boys in York Beach, Maine, Dan and John Cesere kindled their shared passion for the ocean in the tide pools and cool waters along the rocky coastline. As the boys grew, their love of the ocean remained in their minds and hearts, and after college, they bought one-way tickets to Maui in pursuit of a life deeply connected to the sea.
Today, Dan and John comprise Cesere Brothers Photography, a renowned team of underwater photographers whose stunning work is displayed and enjoyed all around the world. Maui, however, remains their literal and figurative heart. Their work can be seen in their Maui-based art gallery, and the waters around the island are where they dive and photograph time and time again, rediscovering their love of the ocean – and its unforgettable beauty.
We asked Dan and John to come up with their five favourite underwater spots to photograph around Maui. Grab your scuba tank and your camera, and get ready to be amazed.
This is the best spot in Maui to dive and shoot because on any given day, the beautiful and extensive coral reefs here teem with schools of hammerheads, rays, whales, dolphins, turtles, large schools of fish and rare species. In fact, this Maui dive site is nicknamed “Fish Rain,” since there seems to be an endless torrent of fish. A highlight at this site is Moku Ho'oniki (Elephant) Rock, which, appropriately enough, attracts large sea life. The catch about this dive site is that it is tough to get to, as it often involves uncertain weather and a pretty rough boat ride that can lead to seasickness. The silver lining to this journey is that not many people get out here, making it an extra special dive!
2. First Cathedral and Second Cathedral
These distinct dive sites are each unique and beautiful in their own way. First Cathedral is a lava tube that has an amazing beam of light coming down through the tube’s ceiling, illuminating an altar-like boulder and holes on the back of the cave wall that look like stained glass windows – hence its name. Second Cathedral is a larger lava tube that doesn't necessarily have the look of a church but is just as impressive, offering a lot of swim-through options and various rooms to explore. The fish and coral life at both dive sites are some of the best you can find around Lanai, which is a beautiful and scenic 40-minute boat ride from Maui.
3. Reef's End Molokini
Reef’s End has incredibly clear water and beautiful coral. But what makes this Maui dive site extra special is the element of the unknown that exists right next to you. They call this place Reef's End because you're literally diving next to a drop-off, so while you can see the reef on one side, the other side plummets down into the deep blue sea. This section of the drop-off also has a current that brings lots of sea life to the area, including humpback whales, monk seals, dolphins, manta rays, whale sharks, other large sharks and tons of fish. Plus, it's a great place to start or end a drift dive, which increases your chances of seeing the good stuff!
4. Mala Wharf
Mala Wharf, a steel-reinforced concrete pier structure, was built in 1922 and subsequently destroyed by Hurricane Iniki in 1992. Today, the wreckage of the collapsed wharf provides makes the perfect habitat for all kinds of Maui's special sea animals, including big and small sharks, octopuses, turtles, nudibranchs, shrimps, whales, dolphins and fish galore. Basically, if you want to see a lot of animals, Mala Wharf is the dive for you. The diving here is shallow, which means lots of dive time to explore the entire structure. This is a simple boat dive and a pretty easy beach dive, and it also happens to be one of the best day or night dives around Maui.
5. Five Graves (also known as Makena Landing)
Named after an ancient Hawaiian burial site on the nearby shore, Five Graves is an amazing Maui dive spot with lava formations and tubes that you can swim through and around to get close to the sharks and turtles that make their home here. In fact, the site has been nicknamed by frequent divers as “Turtle Town” because of its large turtle population. Five Graves' best feature, though, is its diversity, as it combines all types of diving environments into one spectacular site. With its abundance of sea life and beautiful coral, this quick and easy beach dive gives a lot of opportunities for great photographs.