Diving Hawaii, the Big Island

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Hawaii, the Big Island, USA

Bottlenose Dolphin
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Country: USA  Area: USA

Water Temp: 21 - 27°C (70 - 81°F)

Visibility: 23 - 45m (75 - 148 ft)

Depth Range: 8 - 45m (26 - 148 ft)

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Hawaii, the “Big Island” is actually the youngest of all the Hawaiian Islands. You can find more evidence of volcanic activity from days gone by, to the present lava flows.

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The Big Island is a Scuba Diving treasure, with a host of both shore diving and boat diving opportunities available to you.Besides warm waters, sunshine and tropical paradise resorts, one main attraction on this island is the Volcano’s National Park.

 

Marine Conservation

There’s a lot of Marine Conservation going on around the island of Hawaii, from preserving the Monk Seals, to other marine animals. The coral reefs and approximately 7,000 marine forms living in them are in constant threat from over fishing, pollution, invasive species and recreation overuse.

Manta Ray, Credit

Climate

Water temperatures are usually in the mid-20°’s C (70’s F.) all year long. The only months that waters can be a little choppy are January and February. The water clarity is usually better during the winter months.

The overall best diving is from Spring until Fall.

Diving off the Kohala range on the big island of Hawaii, Credit

 
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The Diving

The Big Island and specifically Kona on the lee side of the island is where all the great diving action is located. The visibility ranges from 50 – 100 ft. or more, and there are over 600 species of underwater wildlife to observe and photograph. If wales are on your “bucket list”, January through March offers you the best chance for an under water experience with pods of Humpback Whales.

The other big draw to diving this coast is the incredible population of giant Manta Rays. You can get close to them during the day, but the real thrill is diving with them at night. The fun of diving with these spectacular creatures is their shear size, with wingspan up to 12 feet across; it’s like observing an alien invasion.

Tinker's butterflyfish, Credit

In fact, night diving in the waters off the Kona Coast is not only a special treat, but also rare. You see, what’s offered here is Black Water Dives, or Pelagic Night Dives, where you latch on to a line around 40 ft. under. The boat ride out is only 20 minutes but you will be jumping into pitch-black waters that are 9,000 ft. deep. You will be viewing thousands of undersea creatures, self-illuminated or in your lights. From shrimp larva, crabs, jellyfish and cephalopod hatchlings to octopus, squid and more, it’s quite the sight. Oh, and you can also experience a whale shark or white tip shark on occasion.

The Lava Dome: The lava dome is a volcanic rock, standing 30 ft. high, covered in plate and knob coral. It is an amazing sight to see a coral head that is hundreds of years old. Beyond the dome, coral fingers stretch out to a ledge. This is where schooling fish like to congregate, including blue dragon nudibranchs This dive is between 30-90 ft.

Greater Amberjack, and Bigeye Sca, Credit

Mauna Lani Caves / Haunted Cavern: This dive site is north of Kona and is a great dive for every diver, beginner to advanced. The caverns or “caves” can be found between 4.5m-9.1m (15-30 ft.) of water along the coral reef, which starts as a shelf, then drops off to between 9.1m-12.1m (30-40 ft.) The caves vary in size, from larger one accessible to groups of divers to small caves barely large enough for you to squeeze your tank into. There is an abundance of fish as well as sea turtles around. There are buoys sitting directly above the caves making finding them pretty easy.

Although most access this dive by boat, you can also do a shore dive from a nice sandy beach. It’s a hike from parking to the beach area, but can be done. Entering the water you will have a180m (200 yd.) swim to the site, but if traveling with snorkelers they will love the water just off the beach. The average visibility in these waters is between 15m-30m (50-100 ft.).

Another great dive site that can be reached from boat and shore is Place of Refuge south of Kona. Most divers on the island will tell you this is one of the favourite dive sites here on Hawaii. Diving depth is between 15 ft. and 100 ft., and offers something for new divers to the experienced diver. The dive starts off with gradual decline to around 35 ft. where you’ll find coral reefs and wildlife including eels, crabs other fish.

Arc eye Hawkfish, Credit

If you either come off a boat or shore north of the beach, you will find a different underwater terrain, with lava and caves to explore. Here you can spot the infamous and tasty spiney lobster.

Farther off from shore north of beach you will find yourself quickly descending to a depth of 80 ft. and a gradual easing to a sandy bottom at 100 ft.

Underwater activity found in these waters are crabs, eels, Yellow Tang, Moorish Idol, occasionally a leopard rays and Giant Manta Rays can be found hanging on the sandy bottom.

A word or two about shore diving on the island of Hawaii. There are many sites that locals and experienced divers shore dive, and a few are really good sites. That being said, for the most part it’s a good idea to dive 

with someone who knows the dive site, and probably is a local. Most of the shore diving is done south of Kona, and the waters can be a bit rougher there. That being said, you can have an excellent dive being cautious and always diving with a partner. There’s one really great dive site that stands out from many of the others, and we will give you the scoop.

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How to Get there

You can get direct flights to the airport on Hawaii, or connect through the International Airport in Honolulu.

Honolulu Airport, Credit

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Where to Eat & Drink

You’re on the Big Island of Hawaii, and what’s more Hawaiian than Poke? Some say Poke is Poke, but the “experts” all say, if you haven’t eaten at The Poke Shack, you simply haven’t had the best. We suggest you get the Poke Bowl with brown rice, seaweed salad, and get Hawaiian Healthy.

Desserts, Credit

If you’re not concerned with price, and want an excellent oceanfront seafood restaurant, then you might try Brown’s Beach House on the beautiful Hohala Coast.

You might also want to check out the Coast Grille & Oyster Bar for high quality, fresh seafood and cocktails waterfront.

If your just looking for some bar food and a nice cold beer, then it’s Humpy’s Big Island Ale House for you, located in Kona.

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Other Activities

You are on the most active volcano island and have access to spectacular sites, including active lava flows. On this island, there are two active volcano’s’, Mauna Loa and Kilauea. Visit the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and view the active crater first hand. Fear not because you will be viewing from a mile away.

For golfers, all of the Hawaiian Islands offer super fine golf, at a price.

Onomea Bay, Big Island, Credit

Family Friendly

You can find plenty of beach snorkelling for the whole family, as well as snorkel trips, including Catamaran day trips down the coast. Spending some time at the National Volcano Park is a great family adventure too. There’s also some of the best Deep Sea Fishing in the world off this coast, and plenty of Captains at their docks waiting to take you out.

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Tips

If you dare to try, ask a local to identify the naupaka plant for you.Grab a leaf, crush it and rub it inside your facemask to defog it. Congrats, you are now diving like a local.

Beautiful Sunset, Credit

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