Hawaii diving reviews_ chapbook 2004

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Hawaii diving reviews_ chapbook 2004 Powered By Docstoc
					      Central & Western Pacific

      busily printing. There are no accommo-     that’s usually better than the
      dations on either boat or shore for pho-   Caribbean — around 100 feet —
      tographers aside from a big set of         and air temperatures in the low
      shelves that could be used to work on      80s. Water temperatures hit the
      cameras. The boat ride could be fatal to   very low 70s in January and
      your camera; the driver only knows 2       February ... From mid-December
      speeds — full stop and full out, which     to mid-February, squalls can last
      means that with the slightest wind in      several days; otherwise the cli-
      the lagoon, both you and your camera       mate’s pleasant and unoppressive
      will spend most of the 20 minute trip      year-round. ... There are plenty of
      airborne, only occasionally crashing       condos available everywhere
      down into the boat.                        (many with cars, which you’ll
                                                 need since the dive boats are not
      HAWAII                                     berthed at hotels); ask your dive
                                                 shop to find you a place; they
      Hawaiian guides have developed             often have good prices.
      great skill in finding the unique:
      On the big island of Hawaii,               Kauai
      Spanish dancers, rare juveniles,
      and lionfish are regulars. Kailua-         Bubbles Below, January 2003, Nikki
      Kona is filled with trendy shops to        Mahan, Bellevue, WA. Experience:
      extract dollars from tourists in           501-1,000 dives. Vis: 60 to 80 feet.
      tacky hula shirts. The diving is           Water: 78 F, surge. Linda and her crew
      mostly lava flow dives with rela-          make diving Kuaui a lot of fun, no
      tively low coral cover. Sea turtles        matter what the experience level.
      belly-up to boats of snorkelers to         Divers go up as they run low on air, so
      be fed lettuce, dogfood, or “tur-          light breathers are not hampered by
      tle chow”. ... There’s excellent           time limits. The turtle cleaning stations
      access to good shore diving. …             are so wonderful. We saw many turtles
      Kauai has special trips available          on each dive. The mandarin shrimp are
      only in the summer. ... Maui’s div-        so cute.
      ing is often to the backside of            (www.bubblesbelowkauai.com)
      Molokini or Lanai and boats leave
      at 7 a.m., or earlier. ... Develop-        Bubbles Below, Lae Nani
      ment in Honolulu has burned out            Condominium Resort, February
      most Oahu diving, but go to the            2003, William Edwards, Placerville,
      northside. ... Some reefs are bar-         CA. Dives logged: 210. Vis: 70 to 100
      ren due to commercial collection           feet. Water: 65 to 70 F. Dive restric-
      for aquariums. There are few soft          tions enforced: a five-minute safety
      corals and dull hard corals, but           stop. Dive staff is friendly and knowl-
      colorful, plentiful, and unusual           edgeable. Anthony, our divemaster, was
      fish make the diving interesting.          extremely good at finding small crit-
      ... Expect clear water, visibility         ters. I dove with them on two different

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days, and the first day was cloudy and      Upon entering the water, however, we
rainy and visibility was poor. The crew     saw the same rusted metal pipe and
tried several different sites until they    half of a dead lobster that we had seen
found the best one for the conditions of    on the first dive. The divemaster then
the day. We saw lots of turtles — up to     said that our first dive was “House of
eight at one time. And there were plen-     Turtles, east” and this was “House of
ty of tropical fish including a couple of   Turtles, west”. To us, it was the same
4-foot black jacks, who were friendly.      spot. All together the dives were safe
We even saw some whales from the            and uneventful, also unremarkable. The
dive boat between dives, not more than      attempt to fool us about the second
50 feet from the boat. Our condomini-       location was disappointing, especially
um unit in Kapaa was clean, and every       coming from a highly recommended
room had a nice ocean view. The com-        (and expensive ) operation.
plex had three barbecues at our dispos-
al, and we used them several times.         Bubbles Below, August 2003, LeRoy
The biggest draw back is the resort is      Anderson, Salt Lake City, UT.
about 35 minutes away from Port             Experience:251-500 dives. Vis: 60 to
Allen, where the dive boat docks.           150 feet. Water: 75 to 80 F, choppy. The
                                            quality of the dive staff was first rate.
Bubbles Below, June 2003, Greg              Good dive briefings and excellent guid-
Dixon (gdixon@satx.rr.com), San             ed service. Bubbles Below did an awe-
Antonio, TX. Experience: 101-250            some job, making guided diving enjoy-
dives. Vis: 30 to 50 feet. Water: 78 F,     able even though I am used to diving
choppy. Bubbles Below was recom-            with my own agenda. The diving was
mended by a dive operator on another        fascinating for me, quite a different
island for moderate to advanced divers.     seascape compared to that in the
On the trip, we discovered that the         Caribbean, but equally enjoyable and
range was from beginner (first dive         fascinating. The numbers of butterfly
after cert.) to advanced. The shore         fish, large surgeon fish, and what
facilities were none (a van in the park-    appeared to be yellow and blue striped
ing lot). The boat was adequate for the     grunts was quite striking, and though
total of eight divers, though there were    there was less coral than I am used to, it
no real areas for photo setup. Three of     was obvious that the underwater envi-
the tanks were discovered to be under       ronment was healthier than that in Palau
filled before we got underway. The first    or in the Caribbean, as the coral that
dive was adequate, no outstanding dis-      was around Kauai seemed in good
coveries or visuals. The divemaster and     shape. Leaf scorpion fish and frogfish,
boat captain were competent and             as well as many types of reef fish kept
friendly. We left the first location,       the diving interesting, and we saw more
sailed around for a few minutes, then       turtles around Kauai than anywhere else
returned to the exact same location as      I’ve visited, with Little Cayman being
the first dive. My wife asked about this    perhaps equal in turtle interactions.
and was told that she was mistaken.         Around Ni’ihau, I can only echo the

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      official report given in Undercurrent          from the shop to the docks, where you
      this year, this was world class diving,        jump in for the ride to the dive shop.
      with multiple monk seal interactions,          The boats are small but are fine with
      whitetip shark sightings, tuna and rain-       six divers. They have plenty of water
      bow runners diving in and out of a large       and snacks for between-dive munchies.
      bait ball, clouds of butterfly fish, and the   If you are planning a trip to Kauai,
      most fascinating seascape formations,          make sure you do it during the time
      with multiple caves, swim throughs,            period they go out to Niihua. We were
      dramatic pinnacles, canyons, and bot-          not there at the right time, but everyone
      tomless vertical walls, and visibility eas-    we talked to said that this is the best
      ily 150 feet, probably more like 200           diving on all the islands. The winter
      feet, easily the best visibility I’ve ever     swells are too big to go there in the
      encountered. Currents were mild to             winter; call ahead and check when they
      nonexistent, though the surface during         begin those trips. It bothered me that
      the morning dives was a bit choppy.            they anchored in some spots. While
      The water was calm during the after-           diving, I noticed spots where coral had
      noon in Ni’ihau. It was a rough boat           been broken from anchors. As it is,
      ride back from Ni’ihau to Kauai, but           Kauai is hurting for coral, but this just
      well worth it. The underwater environ-         makes a bad thing worse. It would be
      ment was like nowhere else I’ve ever           nice to see the dive companies on the
      been, which made it quite interesting          island set moorings on more of the
      for me. Minimal accommodations for             dive spots, or just drift them.
      photographers, though the dive crew            (www.fathom-five.com)
      was helpful.
                                                     Kona
      Fathom Five, January 2003, Marc
      Massari (marcmass@earthlink.net),              Aloha Dive Co., March 2003, Bob
      Redondo Beach, CA. Experience:                 Greaves, Bonita, CA. Dives logged:
      501-1,000 dives. Vis: 70 to 90 feet.           300+. Vis: 90 to 100 feet. Water: 77 F.
      Water: 72 to 74 F, choppy. From my             My sixth year of diving with Mike
      research in Undercurrent, I decided to         Nakachi and Earl. Most often two trips
      call Bubbles Below as soon as we               per year. My first dive with whales —
      arrived. Unfortunately, they were on           an unforgettable moment and dive.
      vacation, so they referred us to Fathom        Humpback and calf, plus all the sounds
      Five. We met with the owner, George,           the other whales make. Mike and Earl
      and signed up for a couple of days of          took all the time required to get their
      diving. George is a character, and if          guests into the best underwater location
      you are an experienced diver he will           to see whales, plus on another dive to
      personally take you out on an advanced         witness 14 manta rays feeding on the
      trip. Those were the dives to be on.           surface. Stayed again at the King K
      Fathom Five was a pleasure to dive             Kona Beach hotel, which has a few
      with. They took care of all of your gear       years but is perfectly fine.
      and were helpful. The boats are towed          (www.alohadive.com)

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Aloha Dive Company, Royal Kona             walking distance of everything, and is
Resort, September 2003, Richard J.         a great value.
Troberman (tmanlaw@aol.com),
Seattle, WA. Experience: 101-250           Big Island Divers, September 2002,
dives. Vis: 100 feet. Water: 80 to 82 F,   Francine Alexander, Cathedral
calm. There are several good dive          City, CA. Vis: 100 feet. Water: 81 F.
companies in Kona, including Dive          Dives accrued: 500+. Dive restrictions
Makai and Sandwich Isle Divers, but        enforced: depth. New boat is nice. Best
Aloha Dive Company stands head and         service for your dollar. Capt. Jim is
shoulders above them all. The owner,       much fun, and Capt. Mike is too. Both
Mike Nakachi, is a native born             are great boat drivers. Diving was con-
Hawaiian who knows these waters like       sistently good. Saw beautiful manta ray
the back of his hand. Mike and first       in full daylight. Wow!!
mate Earl Kam take a maximum of six        (www.bigislanddivers.com)
divers per trip. Unlike most of the
other dive operators, Aloha does not       Dive Makai Hawaii, October 2002,
depart from the Kona pier. Instead,        Bill Mashek (rubicon@sonic.net),
they meet the divers at Honokahau          Forestville, CA. Experience: 501-
Harbor (north) or Keahou Bay (south)       1,000 dives. Vis: 70+ feet. Water: 78 to
depending on where the dives are           79 F, choppy. Serious divers don’t real-
planned for the day. This allows them      ly need to spend a lot of money on
to go to more remote sites (without a      dive boats on the big island because
long boat ride) that are not typically     there are so many places you can shore
visited by other dive boats. Although      dive. Garret at Kahalu’u Bay Beach
Mike is at his best with experienced       Rentals was a wealth of information
divers, Aloha caters to all levels.        about local shore dives in Kona. The
Before the boat departs, Mike will ask     folks at Nautilus Dive Shop in Hilo
the divers what they want to see, and      were informative also. Every where
then he will try to accommodate their      you go you can expect to see turtles
requests. Mike’s enthusiasm for div-       and lots of fish. My 12-year-old son
ing is contagious, and his goal is to      was certified two weeks before we
make each diving experience as             arrived in Hawaii. I read about Dive
enjoyable as possible. During three        Makai in Undercurrent, and all their
days, we saw two hammerhead sharks,        reviews were especially positive. I was
several grays and white tips, a monk       not disappointed. They did a compre-
seal, a large pelagic manta ray, several   hensive pre-dive overview. They were
eagle rays, schools of bottlenose dol-     supportive of my son’s first dives, and
phins, octopus, turtles, frogfish, and     allowed us to dive as long as we had
several rare endemic reef fish. The        air. Was professional but still had
Royal Kona Resort is an older hotel        “hang loose” attitudes. Mostly critter
(built in the ’60s) that has been refur-   oriented on the dives, so we learned a
bished. Its conveniently located on the    lot about the local sea life.
waterfront at the edge of town, within     (www.divemakai.com)

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      Eco-Adventures, May 2003, Beverly           ping and walking around on the coral
      Leonard, Spicewood, TX.                     as well as stirring up the bottom. I was
      Experience: 251-500 dives. Vis: 80 to       quite disgusted that the DMs would let
      90 feet. Water: 77 to 79 F, calm. We        this happen. I watched as a couple of
      were all impressed with the diving off      new divers trashed and thrashed
      of the Big Island. Eco-Adventures did       around. My attitude would most likely
      an amazing job of taking us to unusual      be different if mantas had shown up;
      places, giving detailed, written, and       now I feel like I need a refund! We
      clear briefings, and showing us things      dove the following day with Jacks
      that we had never seen before. Diving       Dive Locker as well. Two dives that
      within lava fields and tubes was unusual    were one, not much better than the
      and special. At the night manta ray dive,   night before, the second dive being the
      we had 11 mantas swimming around us.        best of the two at Golden Arches.
      Eco also provided us with sandwiches        (www.jacksdivinglocker.com)
      between dives, not just sliced oranges;
      their operation is superb.                  Kona Coast Divers, August 2002,
      (www.ecodive.com)                           Arthur Tyler, Frederick, MD. Vis:
                                                  100 to 200 feet. Water: 80 to 83 F. We
      Jack’s Dive Locker, July 2003, Jerry        stayed in our timeshare. Kona Coast
      (dhamberg@remc7.k12.mi.us),                 Divers are the best dive operation I
      Holland, MI. Experience: 501-1,000          have experienced to date.
      dives. Vis: 60 to 70 feet. Water: 80 to     (www.konacoastdivers.com)
      90 F, choppy. It was a chance that
      there might be mantas, but there were       Kona Honu Divers, November 2002,
      no sightings. The coral was not in          Linda Gustafson, Odessa, WA.
      great shape; some was damaged due to        Awesome boat — bigger than the rest
      divers. The manta dive is first dive in     with a nice set up for diving. Also has a
      the daylight, then dove later after dark    head on board. Glenn, the owner, was
      with lights the DMs have placed on          wonderful to work with. There were
      the bottom. We were quite disappoint-       five of us diving this time with 11
      ed with the dive site. Not much to look     snorkelers who did only the night
      at, volcanic boulders and a bit of coral    manta ray dive. Glenn would ask us
      and a few fish, very few. The reason-       where we wanted to go and what we
      ing that has gone into the manta dive       wanted to see. Many times we changed
      is that divers will be accustomed to the    plans because the surge was making the
      area if it is dove in the day, which is     vis worse, but always we had great
      reasonable. The problem then is that        dives. We did two drift dives that were
      the DMs tell those that aren’t sure         wonderful. He didn’t need to fill the
      about their weights that they should        boat to take us out. We dove with five
      add a couple of pounds, so that when        of us almost the entire week. The night
      the mantas show up they will stay on        manta ray dive was great. Glenn set up
      the bottom. The problem here is divers      the lights, so the snorkelers could enjoy
      that are now overweighted are step-         them along with those who just wanted

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to ride in the boat. Jim Wing dove with      conditions were not the best, so we did-
us and did a great video of the dive. He     n’t sit around waiting for them.
also worked with the three of us on tak-     However, we did see parrot fish spin-
ing pictures underwater, whether they        ning their mucous cocoons for the night,
were stills or video. Glenn just sent me     boxfish, squirrelfish, etc., etc., plus Glen
a picture of what they saw the follow-       was always pointing things out to us.
ing week — a whale shark. One day            Some divers, with a buddy, did their
we did the first dive, and then Mimi,        own thing. Central lights were set up
the boat captain, ran the boat out about     below the boat making getting lost diffi-
five miles to see if we could spot pilot     cult. My dive buddy remained at Kona
whales. Three times the dolphins came        and got five days of diving for the price
within 20 feet of us as we did our dives.    of four and picked his days over the
And the pods were huge. Always fresh         next two weeks. A little less expensive
fruit and water, plus juice and cookies.     then others.
(www.konahonudivers.com)
                                             Kona Honu Divers, March 2003,
Kona Honu Divers, February 2003,             Mike Vision, Annapolis, MD. Dives
Bob Kaszynski (rkasz@attbi.com),             logged: Lately 27. (1961-1964, U.S.
Kittery, ME. Dives logged: 78. Vis: 80       Naval Diving & Salvage). Vis: 85 to
to 100 feet. Water: 76 to 78 F. Dive         100 feet. Water: 77 to 84 F. Kona Honu
restrictions enforced: 500 psi return. A     Divers is a new and extremely well
somewhat new dive operation that             equipped operation. I had the five-day,
brings class, organization, and safety.      10 two-tank dive package off the best
Glen and Maggie Anderson have put            dive boat (46 feet) on the island.
together a professional operation that       Owner and divemaster Glenn Anderson
sets the standard. The boat, Kona Honu,      is extremely knowledgeable, patient,
is the best day dive boat I’ve ever been     and he as well as all of his employees
on (even the head smelled clean). It was     has a “can do,” positive attitude. All
efficient, well organized, and easy to get   dives are briefed excellently, and the
around. Also employed was the DAN            divers’ safety is paramount. All types
tag system for more busy dives. They         of underwater sights including lava
have nitrox and the rental equipment is      tubes, caves, arches, and of course gor-
new, to include heavy aluminum 80            geous coral. The crew handled all of
tanks. We took a sunset/night dive with      the equipment, and their preparations
hopes of swimming with the manta             were excellent. My package for the
rays. Good briefing at the dock before       five days was $310, plus tax and a
boarding, a safety briefing on board,        rental fee for all five days of $10 (BCD
and an excellent fish and coral briefing     and regulator). Whale and spinner dol-
on the way out. The crew was helpful         phin watching was enjoyed en route to
with the gear but could be more friendly     the dive sites.
and conversant. The boat was well laid
out. Glen took us out to find mantas, but    Mauna Kea Divers, Paniolo Greens,
no luck. He had warned us earlier that       October 2002, Larry & Fawn

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      Lovecchio (lovecchio@frontier.net),           Kona, August 2002, Rebecca
      Ignacio, CO. Experience: 101-250              Maldonado (rmaldonado@westernu
      dives. Vis: 30 to 60 feet. Water: 82 F,       .edu), La Verne, CA. Experience:
      choppy, surge. There was quite a surge        101-250 dives. Vis: 50 to 100 feet.
      in the rough seas due to the consistent       Water: 80 to 82 F, calm. Our second
      winds, thus lowering visibility signifi-      dive trip to Kona in which we used
      cantly. Puako, normally a good shore          Pacific Rim Divers (they came highly
      dive location, was inaccessible. We did       rated in Undercurrent). Pacific Rim
      make one entry and were rewarded with         Divers uses a six-pack boat, so the
      green sea turtles as curious as we were.      service is personalized. Patrice is a
      Some fascinating lava tubes are in this       great divemaster and is able to work
      area. Mahukona, in the northern part of       with both novice as well as experi-
      the island, is an easy shore dive off an      enced divers. They are accommodating
      old railroad pier. This site has interest-    to what the divers want to see and do.
      ing u/w topography especially south of        We requested turtles, sharks, and lava
      the mooring buoy. There’s an outdoor          tubes and got all three, with some dol-
      shower for rinsing off. Probably the best     phin pods thrown in for fun. The sur-
      site is Place of Refuge, a popular site       face-interval brownies are worth writ-
      south of Kailua-Kona in a protected           ing about, too.
      cove. Pods of dolphins frequent the           (www.pacificrimdivers.com)
      area, as well as myriads of small tropi-
      cals and a turtle cleaning station with       Pacific Rim Divers, Country Club
      two turtles getting their daily massage.      Villas, April 2003, William Hall
      Due to the shallow depths, expect long        (denali@whidbey.net), Oak Harbor,
      dives if you go on your own. Kayaking         WA. Experience: 251-500 dives. Vis: 50
      and snorkeling at Kealekekua or Cook          to 200 feet. Water: 75 to 78 F, calm.
      Bay were lots of fun. Spinner dolphins        Best 6-pack dive operation I’ve ever
      put on quite a show with their acrobatics     been on. The boat is a good size for 6
      near our kayak. Even a baby one was           divers though it could perhaps use more
      trying out the aerial spins. Aloha            shade. The diving is fantastic and the
      Kayaks across from the Shell gas station      surface interval snacks are wonderful.
      had good rental prices. We were there         Patrice makes brownies every day so
      during the Ironman Triathlon and paid         there are always fresh homemade
      grossly inflated car rental prices to drive   brownies plus fruit, veggies, and cook-
      in increased traffic. The “Aloha” spirit      ies along with water and juices. She
      does exist, and people are courteous.         knows the area well and will find crit-
      Mauna Kea Divers shop was rarely open,        ters for you if you ask. Some of the ani-
      and it’s difficult to get tanks; the owner    mal life is season specific so if you want
      seems like he’s lost interest in running      to see whales try the late winter/early
      his business and had a negative attitude.     spring. I’ve heard them many times but
      (www.maunakeadivers.com)                      never had an underwater encounter.
                                                    Turtles and eels are often abundant and
      Pacific Rim Divers, Worldmark at              sharks are around regularly. The fish life

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is healthy and colorful. We stayed at a     relatively older but in good shape, I
wonderful condo at the Kona Country         guess). No computers available, and no
Club. Very reasonable with 2 br/2 ba        dive tables, so we just followed the
and a huge lanai off of the master bed-     leader. Since we never went deeper
room and living room, overlooking the       than 60 feet, and came up with about
18th fairway with a nice view of the        1,000 lbs each time, getting bent was
ocean and sunsets. Kona is growing in       never an issue. Dive one — we were
leaps and bounds. Still, a great place to   supposed to dive Cathedral 2, but the
dive with lots of surface things to do,     surge was too great when we got there,
also. Take a day and see some wonder-       so we did some other dive. There were
ful volcanic activity and/or the southern   five divers in the group (all mid-experi-
most point of the United States. There      enced), two dive guides. No fish. No
are fewer beaches on the Big Island.        coral. Some sand. Bo-ring. Between
Lots of sun and nice ocean breezes. Our     dives, there were towels (which we
condo was air conditioned but we never      brought from our rooms) and water.
turned it on.                               Nice people. Dive two — Cathedral 1.
                                            A nice lava formation, tubes and caves
Lanai                                       with lots of openings and light. Some
                                            surge (one hole is a suck-through
Trilogy Divers, September 2002,             which is fun). Saw an alligator fish.
Richard Troop, Malibu, CA.                  Some butterfly fish. An unhappy octo-
Experience: 101-250 dives. Vis: 25 to       pus (our dive guide struggled to pull
50 feet. Water: 80 to 84 F, choppy,         him out of his hiding place). One of
surge. We have generally been unim-         our divers disappeared, so our dive
pressed with the quality of the coral       guide went looking for him, and we
and quantity of fish in Hawaii              were urged to an early ascent. The cost
(although we do like the dive op on the     was about $150 pp for the two-tank
big Island — dive Makai). We went for       dive. So, if you’re tired of golfing (the
a few days to play some golf and get        golf was really good, although I did
away from the hassles of L.A., mostly       lose a lot of balls on Manili), and the
at Manili Bay on Lanai. Lanai is great,     scenery at the pool is not up to par,
feels remote (not as remote as Loma         diving is in the end always fun, even in
Loma but nice and quiet). The food          places like HI and FL. I didn’t see any
and service are five-star. Once there,      setups on the boat for photos. But no
we noticed a brochure for Trilogy           one had a camera, so maybe I missed
(which boasted that Lanai was rated as      it. No real problem, since the dives
one of the top 10 dive sites of the         were pretty unmemorable.
world) and decided to take their two-
tank afternoon dive (this misses all the
boats from Maui, who come in the
                                            Maui
morning when the area is reportedly a       B & B Scuba, March 2003, Paul and
zoo). We had left all of our gear at        Cindy Pruitt, Half Moon Bay, CA.
home, so it was all rental (Scubapro,       Experience: 51-100 dives. Vis: 50 to

                                                                                        375
      Central & Western Pacific

      120 feet. Water: 56 to 71 F, calm,          feeding was spectacular. We had a
      choppy, surge. My husband and I had a       great time. The boat has a large storage
      fabulous time diving with B&B Scuba         area for cameras before diving and dip
      of Kihei, Hawaii. We each took train-       tubs with fresh water shower rinse for
      ing with Brad Varney at different lev-      after. The tables were usually used for
      els. My husband is an advanced diver        food and masks so cameras went on
      and was seeking Rescue Diver training,      the shelf at the helm.
      while I was a total novice. Both of us      (www.bbscuba.com)
      received individualized attention tai-
      lored to our needs and experience.          Ed Robinson’s, March 2003, Gary
      Brad is not only extremely competent,       & Marie Scheidt (diverdown@
      with years of experience, he is a natu-     netusa1.net), Hartford City, IN.
      ral teacher, instilling confidence in a     Experience: 251-500 dives. Vis: 60 to
      nervous novice and offering constant        100 feet. Water: 75 to 76 F, calm.
      encouragement. He made the entire           Second dive trip with Ed Robinson;
      experience enjoyable, as well as            five experienced divers, two new divers.
      intensely educational. My husband’s         Gave good briefing, handled gear, and
      expectations were different from mine       were fun to dive with. Good experience
      and equally well met. Brad’s extensive      for the new divers, made to feel at ease
      experience gave him the first hand          in boat and in water. Gave good tours,
      knowledge needed to make the PADI           pointed out fish, eels, etc. Four of us
      Rescue Diving training more than facts      shot video and 35 mm and were never
      and drills. The rest of the team at B&B     rushed. Divemaster John did great job
      were friendly and helpful, always mak-      during the three trips. All staff members
      ing us feel comfortable and at ease.        on the boat did an excellent job. Fun for
      Divemaster Greg’s sense of humor and        all levels of divers, and will dive with
      encouragement and Blesi’s skill as a        them again when we return to Maui.
      naturalist enhanced each dive. We dove      Well-run, diver/customer oriented oper-
      with the crew for three days (six loca-     ation. One camera bucket for three-tank
      tions), so when Brad was involved with      dive, none on others. Have to put cam-
      training the remainder of the divers on     eras under bench.
      the boat (five to six people), we           (www.mauiscuba.com/erd1.htm)
      enjoyed Blesi in the lead, pointing out
      the animal life, and Greg sweeping the      Ed Robinson’s Diving Adventures,
      rear. I felt most confident when Greg       May 2003, Lewis and Barbara
      was around, as he was quick to observe      Smith (bsmith2186@aol.com),
      and help with any problem. B&B              Somerset, MA. Dives logged: Lewis
      caters to the “locals,” not doing much      235, Barbara 102. Vis: 60 to 70 feet.
      advertising. They leave the dock in         Water: 74 to 76 F. During the month of
      Kihei at 6 a.m. to get the best moorings    May 2003, we visited three of the
      in Molokini crater. We were always          Hawaiian islands and dove on two of
      there first with the best site and smooth   them. Kailua-Kona with Jack’s Diving
      water. Seeing “fields” of garden eels       Locker and Maui with Ed Robinson’s

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                                                   Central & Western Pacific

Diving Adventures. By far, Ed                great Hawaiian marine life including
Robinson’s operation is the better of        mantas, dolphin, turtles, and many fish
the two. They asked “what do you             and invertebrates some rare. UW
want to see” and then showed us. We          Photography Comments: Very limited
saw five of the largest Hawaiian green       accommodations for photographers.
turtles on the deck of wreck St.             Only one of 2 boats had a small fresh
Anthony off Molokini crater. Several         water rinse tank.
large white tipped sharks and a 2-foot
yellow trumpet fish. Loads of different      Ed Robinson’s, Maui Dreams Dive
small species. Boat is launched from         Company/Shores of Maui, August
trailer at marina. Divemasters Amy and       2003, Leo Dioguardi (dioguardi@
Greg outstanding.                            att.net), Apollo Beach, FL.
                                             Experience: 251-500 dives. Vis: 60 to
Ed Robinson’s, August 2003, Joe              100 feet. Water: 82 F, calm, no cur-
Spears (spearsjg@bellsouth.net),             rents. We did one dive with Ed
Conover, NC. Experience: 101-250             Robinson at Molokini, which was
dives. Vis: 60 to 110 feet. Water: 79 to     excellent as always. For the rest of the
80 F, choppy. Although they advertise        trip, our group decided to rent tanks
that they cater to the experienced diver     from Maui Dreams in Kihei and dive
there is no Nitrox available. When I         the beaches. We found the beach dives
asked about this they responded, “we         great, turtles on every dive, some
are not a dive shop.” I brought my own       approached us. We found several frog-
for days with several dives but received     fish, lots of eels and interesting lava
no credit for bringing all of my own         formations. The Shores of Maui is a
equipment. Paid for a premier dive           quiet condo, walking distance from
with 4:1 ratio of divers to guide but did    numerous stores and restaurants and it
not know that Ed Robinson office per-        has a pool and BBQ area. Restaurants
sonnel do not count in the ratio thus by     are expensive, but the food is good and
my count the ratio was really 5:1.           you can cook in a few nights to save a
Scheduled to dive Lanai on the first         buck. Maui beach diving is the best. I
day but they changed the location upon       think it even has Bonaire beat.
my arrival with no explanation other         (www.mauidreamsdiveco.com)
than “they decided.” They said I would
not be penalized with the 48 hour can-       Lahaina Divers, July 2002, Dick &
cellation policy if I decided not to go. I   Nancy Berg, Irvine, CA. My wife
had a new dive guide each day of div-        and I have been divers for many years.
ing. Safety and dive briefings were too      Friends of ours were renewing their
long. They set up your gear for you          wedding vows on their 25th anniversary
(not a great thing to me) and provide        on Maui, so we took our dive gear
drinks, pineapple, sandwiches, cookies,      along, just in case. Most of our diving
etc., as appropriate for the dive. Diving    has been in the Caribbean, Caymans,
was good. During the 9 dives I made          Honduras, Belize, Bonaire, and others
with them, I was able to see lots of         too numerous to mention. Prior to 1985

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      Central & Western Pacific

      we had made many trips to Hawaii and         Our second trip with them. Many days
      had enjoyed the experience. Lahaina          of rain before we arrived which made
      Divers ads in all the dive publications      vis less than it usually is, but they
      boast their wonderful boats, the 43-foot     worked hard to get us great dive sights
      Reliant, and the 50-foot Endeavor. We        and all cleared up soon.
      were on the Endeavor which is “certi-        (www.mikesevernsdiving.com)
      fied for 49 passengers, but carries no
      more than 24 divers.” This, by far, is the   Mike Severns Diving, Hyatt Regency
      worst dive boat we have ever been on.        Maui, February 2003, John & Nancy
      It may carry 24 divers, but there is no      Nakamura (john_nak@hotmail.com),
      where for anyone to sit, let alone gear      Littleton, CO. Experience: 101-250
      up. This is truly a cattle boat operation,   dives. Vis: 60 to 150 feet. Water: 76 to
      realizing that most the customers are        78 F, calm, no currents. First found out
      tourists and will be gone in a couple of     about Mike Severns Diving through the
      days, so I guess Lahaina Divers could-       Chapbook. To us, Undercurrent is an
      n’t care less. They counted out three        outstanding investment for those that
      teams of about eight divers, and we did      dive. Like having a trusted friend give
      the Cathedrals. What a joke! We were         an honest personal report on a dive
      the second team in, and it was so            experience, the must-do’s, and the
      mucked up you couldn’t see anything if       gotcha’s, prior to you going yourself.
      you wanted to. Then, exiting the water       For those going to Maui, this is a top-
      and entering the boat, none of the crew      notch operation and should be your
      was there to assist you to get back on       first consideration. Like when you
      the boat. When you went up the ladder,       come to Denver, and want great beef,
      there is no handle or rail to grab, so you   I’ll send you to Brooks Steak House. If
      end up crawling along the swim plate         you want the “USDA Prime” of diving
      on all fours, until you find a place on      in Maui, you may have other options,
      the floor to take your tank off. Their       but you can’t go wrong with MSD.
      rates are right up there. One two-tank       When the owner leads the dive, you
      trip was enough for us.                      can be assured that the one with the
      (www.lahainadivers.com)                      primary vested interest in your cus-
                                                   tomer satisfaction, will do everything
      Mike Severns Diving, October                 within reason (and safety) to assure
      2002, Chrys Martin, Portland, OR.            that your money has been well spent.
      Experience: 51-100 dives. Vis: 50 to         Pauline Fiene (marine biologist with
      100 feet. Water: 78 to 80 F, choppy.         thousands of Maui dives is the primary
      Mike Sevrens has a topnotch dive             owner (bought out her partner/ex-hus-
      operation. They know more about              band, Mike). She maintains a superb
      marine life than any one we’ve ever          staff, from boat captain, Vici, to the
      gone diving with. The owners are             various divemasters (been out with
      marine biologists, and they have well-       Andy and Tara). Totally professional
      educated, long-serving staff who are         attitude, but still fun, and treat you like
      fun and share their love of the ocean.       you’re part of the family. They’ve been

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                                                 Central & Western Pacific

leading dives for 20-some-plus years,      a juvenile manta ray (~6ft wing-to-
and it shows with their knowledge of       wing) showed up at the surface
the area. (www.mikesevernsdiving.com).     throughout our 3-minute safety stop.
The boat meets early at the Kihei boat     Once Nancy completed her safety stop,
ramp (about 50 mins. from Kaanapali),      she slowly ascended to the surface,
but the seas are usually nice and calm     keeping her eye out for the manta, and
at that time of day. They set up and       it gave her a “front-row” experience, as
verify all your equipment for you.         it headed straight at her, mouth wide
Once on the boat, they greet you with      open, and only veered away at the last
Kona coffee/juice/water, fresh fruit,      moment (literally 24 inches away from
and great pastries from a local bakery.    bumping into her mask). Our second
They ask if there is something specific    dive was at the “AMTRAC” (Army
you want to see, and do their best to      vehicle). We descended to six green
accommodate you. Once we were out          sea turtles. Lots of interesting close-
at the outer wall of Molokini, Vici        up stuff. The humpback singing was
carefully surveyed the water currents      amazing. Pauline sells (and signs) her
(we asked about it and she said she        books once you return back to the
wanted to make sure we would be fine       dock in Kihei. Her books are a great
underwater — don’t want a                  way to learn more about Molokini
current/surge pushing us into or away      and Hawaii diving. Safety — even
from the wall; and that she would be       though this time there were only eight
fine above water — do not want the         of us on board, they still did a verbal
boat banging into the wall). Pauline       roll call. Dive times — the exact
provides a thorough, patient dive brief-   opposite of diving in Grand Cayman.
ing (along with pictures from her          No more large boats with 22 other
book) on exactly the things to keep an     divers, hearing our dive profile is
eye out for during your time under         “100 feet, 20 minutes,” and returning
water. She establishes specific hand-      to the boat with 1,900 PSI. On MSD,
signals for things she will point out to   you and your partner basically dive
you during the dive. Our first dive was    your air. We’ve had multiple 60+
on the outer wall (great viz, 100+).       minute dives, where you’re glad your
With various rock ledges and steep         air was running out because you’re
drop-offs, there are plenty of places to   starting to get cold! Dive groups —
explore for critters, and you should       they try and place similarly experi-
also be monitoring the deep blue for       enced divers together. In this case,
large pelagics. We heard (but didn’t       four-and-four. The DM lights — each
see) humpbacks throughout the dive.        of the DMs carry a monster 100-watt
Pauline led the dive, and made sure we     cave diving light. Great for seeing
saw her specialty, nudibranchs (she has    true color at 100 feet down, and in
discovered new species and has one         dark spaces. The relaxed atmosphere
named after her). We also held a           — unlike Cayman operators (where
crown-of-thorns. The highlight was at      you set your watch on them getting
the end of the dive. We were ~30ft, and    you back before 12:30p), MSD feels

                                                                                      379
      Central & Western Pacific

      relaxed and not at all rushed, which is    supposed to be stressing a foot prob-
      why you’re in Hawaii in the first place,   lem! We dove with juvenile manta rays
      right? Hyatt Regency. Stayed there five    on three dives at Uloa Beach, both day
      times. Top level at Hyatt, so get          and night dives. Saw three at one time,
      “Platinum” treatment. Good Kaanapali       feeding, looping, just awe inspiring to
      location, five min. drive to Lahaina.      watch! The turtles were feeling neglect-
                                                 ed and seemed to be trying to get our
      Octopus Reef, February 2003, Kyle          attention. Lots of other creatures to see
      O’Malley, Le Center, MN. Dives             with Rene’s guidance, huge anemone
      logged: around 150. Vis: 25 to 40 feet.    crab, octopus, frog fish, and large num-
      Water: 75 to 77 F. Made one shore dive     bers of eels and fish. Rene also guided
      with Rene after a couple of days of        us on a cave tour at Makena Landing
      heavy waves that resulted in less than     where we found a sleeping white-tip
      optimum conditions. Rene gave the          reef shark, surfaced inside a cave, and
      option of cancelling, but I took one       explored a beautiful sponge-encrusted
      dive, and she reduced the bill accord-     lava tube. Beautiful whale songs to be
      ingly from a scheduled two dives. Did      heard underwater as well.
      a shore dive from Ulua Beach just
      South of Wailea. Not a real exciting       Octopus Reef, June 2003, Greg
      location, but I had told her I needed an   Dixon (gdixon@satx.rr.com), San
      easy spot with a nice beach for my         Antonio, TX. Experience: 101-250
      wife and two kids to play/snorkel while    dives. Vis: 15 to 30 feet. Water: 78 F,
      we did the dive. Usual reef suspects       choppy. We contacted Octopus Reef
      but not in great numbers; did find an      by e-mail before our trip and booked a
      ell pushing 4 feet that posed well for     two-tank shore (twilight/night) dive.
      some pictures. Rene provided excel-        We were met at the shore site by Rene
      lent, one-on-one service that made         and Lynn, the instructors and owners
      Octopus Reef’s guide service an out-       of Octopus Reef. There were three of
      standing value. Stayed at Kaanapali        us diving, two beginner/intermediate
      Shores condos — a great place.             and one advanced diver. After a thor-
      (www.octopusreef.com)                      ough briefing, the less experienced
                                                 divers entered the water comfortably
      Octopus Reef, February 2003, Mary          with the assistance of the instructors,
      Stiles, Los Gatos, CA. Experience:         and we had one of the best dives any
      51-100 dives. Water: 74 F, calm.           of us have had. Rene led the group,
      Returned to Maui to dive with Rene of      and Lynn followed up. Both were
      Octopus Reef, who as always was the        excellent at finding the tiniest of crit-
      ultimate dive guide, accommodating to      ters and pointing out everything to be
      our schedule, providing equipment in       seen. They constantly checked on both
      good working order, helping with           of the less experienced divers and
      minor problems with our equipment,         both of them reported being the most
      even carrying my BC and tank up and        comfortable dive (and learning experi-
      down from the beach since I wasn’t         ence) that they have had.

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                                                   Central & Western Pacific

Unfortunately, two of us were unable         sure that you see and enjoy as much as
to do the second dive for other rea-         possible. The dives are geared com-
sons, but the third diver is still talking   pletely to your desires and skill level,
about her dive two weeks later. Rene         with extensive pre-dive briefings, lots
and Lynn made the beginners relaxed,         of underwater communication to fill
while not boring an experienced diver.       you in on what you’re seeing, and even
This is a five-star+ operation, and a        post-dive debriefings, all with no rush-
model for dive operators everywhere          ing. Since you’re not going as part of a
for both safety and competence.              larger group, you always dive your
                                             own profile. Snacks are just that —
Octopus Reef, June 2003, William             snacks. If you need more than a gra-
Wilson (william.wilson01@                    nola bar and juice between dives, bring
adelphia.net), Del Mar, CA.                  it yourself. The magical dives we had
Experience: Over 1,000 dives. Vis: 50        with them featured a pair of spotted
to 100 feet. Water: 80 to 82 F, choppy.      eagle rays feeding together, turtles
Small group or individual guided shore       being cleaned of algae at cleaning sta-
dive at several sites. The guide was         tions, and more frogfish than one has a
well informed, knew the biology and          right to expect. After only three days of
oceanography and conveyed it in an           diving they seemed like old friends.
understandable way. There was no             Our subscription to Undercurrent was
agenda, except to see what was there         worth it if the only thing that ever
and learn all I wanted to know.              came of it was finding Octopus Reef.

Octopus Reef, September 2003, Jeff           Octopus Reef, September 2003, Pat
Stephenson & Avis Durgan                     Delaplane (mauimermaid@earthlink
(stephenson@mindspring.com),                 .net), Santa Rosa, CA. Experience:
Redmond, WA. Experience: 25 dives.           251-500 dives. Vis: 40 to 60 feet.
Vis: 40 to 70 ft. Water: 78 to 81 F,         Water: 79 to 80 F, calm. I got solo cer-
choppy. Octopus Reef is better termed        tified by Rene Umberger (808) 875-
a “dive training and guide service”          0183, Rene is the only person in
than a “dive operation.” It is as person-    Hawaii who offers it. The only other
alized a dive experience as it is possi-     place in the U.S.A. I found was an
ble to have. After doing Nitrox certifi-     operation in Orlando, Florida. I did
cation with Lynn (they train at all lev-     this solo certification for several rea-
els), we dove with her for two days and      sons. The main one being that it gives
with Rene for one. The two of us with        me credibility for what I have been
one of them on custom shore-dive             doing all along for several years. Now
tours, for a price that’s equivalent to      my mother and friends don’t have to
what you’d pay for a seat on a cattle        worry about me and any dive boat cap-
boat. Both Lynn and Rene are knowl-          tain doesn’t need to worry if I am
edgeable about the marine life, enthusi-     down there alone finishing a roll of
astic about diving and the wonders of        film after my buddy surfaces. Rene is
the ocean, and dedicated to making           an excellent instructor. The course

                                                                                         381
      Central & Western Pacific

      included 2 mornings of discussion and        while surfacing from 70 feet. Pierre
      diving and reading a book on solo div-       and Dave reacted quickly and profes-
      ing, before we got together. We dis-         sionally; got us back to shore after call-
      cussed the pros and cons of solo div-        ing for ambulance to meet us at the
      ing, safety, alternate air sources, review   dock. They resumed the dive trip and
      of the basic skills, liability. The in-      cleaned our gear and delivered it to us
      water skills included grabbing and           at the hospital. The only negative I can
      using the alternate air source along         state is that they did not put her on the
      with navigation and other basic skills       available oxygen on the boat.
      like getting out of and into your gear in
      the water and out of air ascent. Rene        Scuba Shack & Maui Dive Shop,
      had an outline of all the areas she          Fairmont Kea Lani, February 2003,
      wanted to cover which included many          Dorothy McDonald, Strongsville,
      articles written on solo diving in the       OH. Experience: 251-500 dives. Vis:
      publications. Rene is up to date on div-     50 to 200 feet. Water: 68 to 74 F. The
      ing and I would recommend her for            Kea Lani resort is beautiful. You must
      any level of instruction.                    drive to diving. There were swells and
                                                   slight current on the back wall of the
      Pro Divers of Maui, July 2003,               Molokini Crater which is a drift dive.
      John & Beth Feeney (jintstride@              Little to no current on most other
      scubadiving.com), Sperryville, VA.           dives. The visibility on the back wall
      Experience: 51-100 dives. Vis: 80 to         was at least 200 feet — a dramatic
      120 feet. Water: 77 F, no currents.          sight. We saw sharks in the distance,
      Maximum of 6 divers on a boat that           giant trevally, nudibranchs, eels, and
      would take 10-12. Any gear you didn’t        various tropical fish on this dive.
      bring, they supply new, good-quality         Other dives we also saw a variety of
      replacement at no charge. Thorough           tropicals and eels, some sights seemed
      dive briefing by Pierre who led the          to have turtles everywhere, some man-
      dive. Other crew member, Dave, fol-          tas, some sharks, a few octopuses.
      lowed our bubbles for a gentle drift         Very enjoyable diving. The dive oper-
      dive. Lots of small tropicals over the       ator we originally booked to dive with
      mostly rubble-strewn area off Molokini       had boat problems and left a message
      Crater. Several blacktip sharks and          at the resort Sunday (the day of our
      large sandy area full of garden eels. We     arrival) that we would not be able to
      had gotten an early (7 am) start to beat     dive until possibly Thursday. As a
      the bigger boats. When a boat with           result we spent a lot of time contact-
      about 20 divers arrived during our           ing other dive operators who seemed
      briefing, and they started jumping in        to be booked (we had three divers). As
      the water 150 yards away before we           a result we were not able to dive until
      could get in, we moved 1/4 mile away         Tuesday. We dove two days with
      to less picturesque area. Dive was           Scuba Shack and two days with Maui
      marred by a previously unknown med-          Dive Shop — both out of Kihea,
      ical problem my wife experienced             Maui. The Scuba Shack staff is gre-

382
                                                Central & Western Pacific

garious and helpful — even with           gear marked — something that the
problems encountered with another         folks at Scuba Shack then did for
dive operator. Their boat felt crowded,   him! Both dive operations provided
but they knew how to organize every-      between-dive snacks, drinks, even
one to keep things flowing as effi-       sandwiches for lunch. Both operations
ciently as possible. They took out        divided divers into two groups of five
snorkelers with divers. We did not        or six divers. Both operations required
have to go to the dive store each         us to stay within sight, above and
morning before the dives — we went        behind the dive guide. The back wall
directly to the boat ramp where our       of the Molokini Crater is available for
gear was loaded. The Maui Dive Shop       more advanced divers at an additional
required us to go to their dive store     price. Other dive sights were done by
each morning to turn in our releases      both operators on both days of diving.
before going to the boat ramp. They       (www.scubashack.com,
could learn some organizational skills    www.mauidiveshop.com)
from Scuba Shop. The Maui Dive
Shop had a roomier boat, and the          Shaka Divers, Traveling Shore
crew on the first day of diving was       Dive, August 2003, John Gregory
excellent, particularly Captain Scotty    (gregory_john_j@bah.com),
as well as dive guides Scot and           Folsom, CA. Experience: 26-50
Brendon. There was a different crew       dives. Vis: 50 to 100 feet. Water: 80 to
our second day with Maui Dive Shop,       82 F, calm. Shaka Divers (Doug
and the difference was noticeable —       Corbin) operates out of a modified
particularly with the helpfulness (or     school bus (Scuba Bus) along Maui’a
lack thereof) of the captain. They        southwest shoreline. www.shakadivers.
attached a computer to everyone’s         com. The Kihei/Wailea area has some
hose — even if you were already div-      great shore diving with a wide variety
ing with a computer and backup com-       of fish and many turtles. The turtles
puter (as all three of us were doing).    are quite tame allowing you to fre-
Their computer was the same type as       quently swim along next them (but
the backup computer that our friend       don’t touch them). Shaka Divers
uses. At the end of the day his backup    offers almost every type of diving
computer was missing — taken off as       from a fully equipped modified school
they gathered up all their computers.     bus, including scooter dives, photog-
They did all but accuse him of lying      raphy, night dives, etc. All equipment
when he said his was missing. They        is available. We have been on several
eventually determined that one of the     dives with him and he always shows
computers must belong to our friend       us something we have not seen
and gave one to him — he is sure that     before, or a new place we would prob-
the computer he received was not his      ably not have found. The dive groups
original, but he was happy to get at      are always small and personalized —
least a replacement for his own. This     your own guided tour.
served as a reminder to get all of his    (www.shakadivers.com)

                                                                                     383
      Central & Western Pacific

      Molokai                                      Haggerty Jr. CRNA (billy.haggerty@
                                                   cox.net), Midland, TX. Experience:
      Bill Kapuni’s Scuba Adventure,               101-250 dives. Vis: 30 to 80 feet.
      Paniola Hale, February 2003,                 Water: 76 to 78 F, choppy, surge, cur-
      William Edwards, Placerville, CA.            rents. The Outrigger Reef Hotel on
      Dives logged: 210. Vis: 40 to 60 feet.       Waikiki Beach is in the middle of
      Water: 70 to 74 F. Unfortunately, this is    everything. Great location for walking
      the only dive shop on Molokai. His boat      to shops and restaurants. Very expen-
      was adequate (a 22-foot whaler), but         sive rooms in Hawaii! The room was
      there was no cover. When I had made          clean, and all of the options in the
      my reservations, I had asked for a full      room worked, most days. (A/C, toilet
      wet suit and instead he brought me a 2       (repaired), shower (water leaked and
      mm shorty, which wasn’t enough. His          drain slow to drain), etc.) The huge
      equipment was old and in need of             pool was clean and have onsite discov-
      repair. He gave me a regulator (without      er scuba classes available. Great place
      a depth gauge) that leaked through the       for the kids. There is also an adults-
      octopus so bad I had to return to the        only sports bar and pool tables. The
      boat and get another one. He had given       food is plentiful at all of the eating
      us instructions as to where to dive, but     places on the island. Look for the free
      he did not join us in the water nor did      discount coupon books available for
      the two women with him. While I was          entree discounts and entertainment bar-
      hooking up to a new regulator, the other     gains. Definitely get to Sam Choy’s
      divers followed Kapuni’s directions and      Restaurant near Diamond Head.
      by the time I was ready they were gone.      Excellent food, though pricey — $25
      So I dove by myself. It was definitely a     to $40 per person. Dive Oahu scuba
      no restrictions operation. He never even     shop is full of helpful and talented
      mentioned depth limits or safety stops.      folks. Thanks to Brian, Greg, Jon, and
      Visibility as poor. However, I did man-      Bradley, and the captain of the 60-foot
      age to see two turtles, three eels, and      catamaran. They make the diving easy.
      two medium-sized mantas. Molokai is          They picked us up at the hotel at 7:30
      lush and green and off the beaten path.      a.m., each of three diving days. Stored
      If you’re looking for peace and quiet,       our dive gear each day in their shop
      this is the place to go. They are a little   onsite near the boat. Only a 10- to 15-
      short on restaurants, but they have gro-     minute boat ride to the wrecks and lava
      cery stores and lots of nice condomini-      fingers that you dive. Cookies and
      ums to stay in. We stayed in a nice con-     drinks between dives. Fresh water rinse
      dominium complex called Paniolo Hale.        sink handy. Nice big catamaran with a
      (www.molokai.com/kapuni)                     head. Nitrox readily available. They
                                                   dive two tanks in the a.m. and p.m., if
      Oahu                                         enough interest to fill a boat. The
                                                   wrecks were the Sea Tiger, San Pedro,
      Dive Oahu, Outrigger Reef Hotel
                                                   and the Y.O. Incredibly strong current
      Waikiki, December 2002, Billy E.
                                                   last two days of diving made it hard to

384
                                                  Central & Western Pacific

enjoy the entry and exits from the boat.    range. Dive sites were a relatively
If you got down to the wrecks — some        short distance from the shop. Diving
in our group were not able to and           was in small groups (3-5 divers)
aborted the dive completely — they are      grouped after reviewing your prior
in good shape structurally. The second      dive history. The typical dive was lead
“shallow” dive had a lot of surge near-     by a divemaster (one per group) who
er the beach and lava fingers. Saw tur-     handled the first 2/3 of the tour to find
tles, octopus, eels, small fish without     you the small critters and point out the
much color. The lava fingers were           highlights of the site. The remainder of
without much coral growth. Very plain.      the dive was on your own — leaving
Spotted a humpback whale during one         you with instructions to be back on
of the surface intervals. Dolphins also     board with 500 psi. You could burn out
played behind us during another. Fresh      your air — on both of the shallower
water tank for cameras.                     second dives, I logged more than an
(www.diveoahu.com)                          hour of bottom time. There were great
                                            sandwiches between dives and fresh
Ocean Concepts Scuba, July 2003,            fruit (including pineapple) after the
Gerald Canning, Reno, NV.                   dives. The boat crew and divemasters
Experience: 251-500 dives. Vis: 75 to       were top notch professionals who went
200 feet. Water: 78 to 83 F, calm. I        out of their way to be helpful. I had
had the occasion to be in Honolulu for      low expectations for the diving. It was-
other reasons but I had two days I          n’t great but it was better than I
could dive and didn’t want to miss the      expected. We didn’t have the hard and
80 degree water. Ocean Concepts             soft corals of the Caribbean, but we
Scuba was a delight. They included          did have an amazing diversity of
complementary round trip transporta-        Hawaiian fish life. Some of the fish
tion from Waikiki to their operation on     were various triggerfish, a tiger moray,
the West Shore. They picked us up on        saddled goatfish, a bird wrasse, ketail
time, were very courteous and friend-       needlefish, Moorish idol, orangspine
ly, and saved us from having to figure      unicornfish, and a peacock razorfish.
out how to get to their operation which     There was a wide selection of other
was 45 minutes away and required            fish varieties. I wouldn’t go to Oahu
going through Honolulu. The dive            just for the diving. However, Ocean
operation was a pleasant surprise. Both     Concepts Scuba will show you the
the shore safety briefing and the boat      best of Oahu diving. The boat had a
orientation and dive site briefings were    dedicated rinse tank for dive cameras.
well done and professional. Their           Dive masters would hand you your
rental equipment was new ScubaPro           camera in the water and take it back
regulators, BCs, full foot split fins and   before you got back aboard and they
UWATEC dive computers in the con-           would put it in the rinse barrel. This
sole. Everything was set up on the          was not an overnight operation so
boat at your assigned seat. Tank fills      there were no camera facilities.
were consistently in the 3,400 psi          (www.oceanconcepts.com)

                                                                                        385
      Central & Western Pacific

      Ocean Concepts, Ko Olina Beach           Dive Kiribati, Captain Cook Hotel,
      Resort, September 2003, R. Moore,        February 2003, Dorothy McDonald,
      Ph.D.(padidm@earthlink.net),             Strongsville, OH. Experience: 251-
      Vista, CA. Dives logged: 883. Vis: 75-   500 dives. Vis: 50 to 100 feet. Water:
      100 ft. Water: 81-82 F. Dive restric-    80 to 84 F. The diving on Kiribati is so
      tions enforced: time only. Good dive     good that this was our second trip, and
      operations. Guide led but let divers     we encourage anyone who enjoys div-
      with air stay down when air hogs sur-    ing and who doesn’t mind roughing it a
      faced. Nice wreck with a school of       bit to head for this unique island. There
      puffers. Eagle rays circled around       is one plane a week to/from Honolulu
      wreck. Good briefings and food for       — so you are there for the week. This
      day boat. Pick up at hotel on time (no   is a third world country where most
      island time).                            people don’t have running water and
                                               electricity and most visitors are fisher-
      KIRIBATI                                 men. The Captain Cook Hotel, the most
                                               modern place on the island, is basic but
      (CHRISTMAS ISLAND)                       comfortable. The main part of the hotel
      Christmas Island is 1,300 miles          was formerly British officers’ barracks
      due south of Hawaii, about a             (some rooms are air-conditioned).
      three-hour flight but across the         Cottages have also been built along the
      International Date Line. It’s the        beach — beautiful view — no air-con-
      world’s largest coral atoll, 45          ditioning. Pitchers of drinkable water
      miles long and between seven             and ice are put in your room’s mini-
      and 25 miles wide, although              fridge daily — the tap water is not
      lagoons make up nearly two-              drinkable. Meals at the Captain Cook
      thirds of that area. The island          are served family-style, and there is
      was named after the day in 1777          always a variety to choose from, and
      when Captain James Cook first            any evening could include tacos, baked
      happened upon it, but it                 chicken, and tuna. Food is good but not
      remained uninhabited until the           gourmet. Since fishermen and divers
      1950s, when the British chose it         leave after breakfast and don’t return
      as the site for their nuclear            until late afternoon, sandwich fixings
      weapons development and                  and fresh fruit are set out at breakfast
      induced a small Micronesian              and everyone makes their own sack
      work force from the Gilbert              lunch. Kim Andersen, an American,
      Islands to relocate there. The           runs the only dive operation. Diving is
      British pulled out, leaving behind       from one of two motorized
      a few Micronesians and a great           outrigger/catamaran type boats. Kim
      deal of debris. Today the island’s       meets you at the airport, and you can
      4,400 residents are citizens of the      expect to go diving the day you arrive.
      Republic of Kiribati (pronounced         Both times we’ve been there we were
      cure-a-BOS).                             the only divers, so basically could do
                                               whatever we liked. Shore dives can also

386

				
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