Hawaii diving reviews_ chapbook 2008 by chenmeixiu

VIEWS: 33 PAGES: 26

									   haWaii                                    Central and Western Pacific
HawaII                                       do their darnedest to find it and almost
                                             always are successful. Mike and Earl
Hawaiian guides have developed               have spent their lives on the island and
great skill in finding the unique:           know every inch of it. Great variety and
On the big island of Hawaii, Span-           we always see something spectacular.
ish dancers, rare juveniles, and             Big Island Water Sports, September
lionfish are regulars. Diving is             2006, Ron Steedman (rlumenator@
mostly lava flow dives with little           aol.com), Cape Coral, FL. Experience:
coral cover, but the tropical fish           101-250 dives. Vis: 60 to 90 Feet. Water:
are colorful, unique, and generally          78 to 80 F, calm. Due to our arrival
plentiful. There’s access to good            time on a cruise, we had no option
shore diving. Kauai reef diving              other than to use the cruise ship dive
is passable, but the attraction is           operation. Although the dive operation
unique trips available only in the           itself was good, there was the normal
summer. Maui’s diving is often to            problem in diving with a cruise; too
the backside of Molokini or Lanai            many inexperienced divers, preventing
and boats leave at 7 a.m. or earlier.        the divemaster from doing much of
Turtles are common, the occasional           anything other than preventing them
white tip shark adds to the fun,             from getting lost or drowning. We were
and the reef fish are colorful. Most         disappointed with the lack or corals
reefs around Honolulu and Oahu               and gorgonians, and just the overall un-
have declined considerably, but              derwater topography. We dove Golden
there is some decent diving toward           Arches and Golden Eel sites, and did
the north side. Hawaii has virtu-            get to see fish we dont normally see in
ally no controls over divers who             Florida or the Caribbean, such as Pica-
collect reef fish for aquariums. Nine        sso triggers, kole and yellow tangs, bird
months a year expect clear water,            nose wrasses, a school of needlefish,
visibility that’s usually better than        and also a crown of thorns, and some
the Caribbean — around 100 feet              variations of other fish. Black sand
— and air temperatures in the low            was unusual. The Hawaiian Islands are
80s. Water temperatures hit the low          beautiful and well worth a visit.
70s in January and February when
storms can last several days and cut         Dive Makai, September 2006, Peter
visibility. There are condos for rent        Tsugawa (petertsugawa@earthlink.
everywhere and you’ll need a car             net), Emeryville, CA. Experience:
since dive boats are not berthed at          251-500 dives. Vis: 75 to 150 Feet.
hotels.                                      Water: 77 to 80 F, calm, surge. After
                                             emails and phone conversations with
Hawaii                                       Tom Shockley (the original owner), I
                                             was sold. All of the guides and Mike
Aloha, Mauna Loa Village, February           were fantastically friendly, very service-
2007, Julie Arismendi (juliearismen-         oriented, gave very detailed briefings
di@yahoo.com), Clements, CA. Experi-         of each site and, most importantly, the
ence: 350 dives. Vis: 80 to 100 feet. Wa-    fish we would try to see. I learned more
ter: 67 to 78 F, calm and flat, choppy, no   about fish on this trip than all my years
currents. Best operator for experienced      of diving. We saw things not many
divers in Hawaii. If you want it, they’ll    other dive operators would have been

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able to point out (blue stripe pipefish,      water, tang, and snacks (Costco cookies,
Whitley’s boxfish, gigantic pregnant          carrots, trail mix, and chex mix) are
frogfish and male side kick, etc.) Slow-      provided. They will keep BC/reg, mask/
paced dives (great for photographers)         fins when diving multiple days, but you
and I averaged 60-75 minute dives well        must take wet gear off boat. They rinse
within safe recreational diving param-        gear daily, and your wet stuff if you
eters and computer NDL. They were a           want to wait. Boat is ideal for diving
great group and Tom found a great new         and is trailered. You meet in the Hono-
owner to carry on the traditions he had       kohau Harbor parking lot and wait for
established over the years. It’s not a fan-   launch at one of two boat ramps. They
cy operation, no shop, limited snacks,        use steel 80 cu. ft. tanks and start you
but a very fun group to dive with and         with six less lbs than you normally use.
outstanding service. They rinse and           Of our 13 dives, only one was less than
store gear for multiple dive days. I had      an hour. We got back about 12:30 to 1
just switched from my trusty N5 system        p.m. from 2-tank days and at 5:30 p.m.
to a dual strobe digital system and Dive      from the 3-tank. Humane pee rule is
Makai and Kona combination was                briefed. If you pee in your wetsuit, they
about as good as it gets for learning a       ask you remove your wetsuit and boots
new system. Very slow and stopped div-        before moving off the back of the boat
ing pace, very small groups (as low as        and then rinse yourself and wet gear in
2-6 max per guide), great pre-dive fish       the ocean. Rear deck area is large with
identification briefings and extended         two ladders, so this isn’t too tough to
bottom time at your ability.                  do. Make sure you visit the seahorse
                                              aqua farm (www.seahorse.com) about
Dive Makai, Kona Coast Resort, Phase          5 miles from the harbor. They run tours
II, June 2007, Lee Fenner (lee.scuba@         M-F and you can make 2 p.m. tour
yahoo.com), Beachwood, OH. Experi-            after diving. Reservations are required.
ence: 101-250 dives. Vis: 50 to 75 Feet.      Kona coast underwater topography is
Water: 75 to 79 F, calm, surge. Dive          beautiful, with lava swim-throughs and
Makai is a high quality operation. Their      pinnacles. Not fishy and large critter
website information is accurate. Boat         sightings are rare. Standard reef fish
takes maximum of 12; 10 on adventure          with some endemic to Hawaii. Saw
(3-tank) days. Dives are guided, with         three sharks and three turtles over the
max. group size of six. Divemasters and       six days. Dolphin schools were spotted
owner, Mike (who also dives and drives        on surface. Despite surge most of the
the boat some days), are extremely            time (down to about 20 ft), condi-
friendly, fun, and safety-conscious; but      tions are great for beginners and those
do not impose time limits. They guide         wanting nice, easy, peaceful dives. Kona
using a nice, slow pace and make sure         Coast Resort is about 7 miles south of
everyone sees the critters. We dove with      Kailua-Kona and is a timeshare com-
them six days in row. Manta Ray 2-tank        plex surrounded by golf courses. Some
night dive is a must! 1st dive is late        units have ocean view. Units are superb
afternoon fam dive for area orienta-          and kept up in near-immaculate condi-
tion. 2nd dive starts after dark. We saw      tion! Medium-sized rinse tub on boat
two mantas up close and personal. We          (also used for lights). Dry area upfront.
watched them and a friendly moray
eel for 30 minutes before finishing the       Dive Makai, Kona Coast Resort (time-
hour dive with a tour. Towels, dry area,      share), August 2007, James A. Heimer

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   haWaii                                    Central and Western Pacific
(jmsjnk@earthlink.net), Houston,             master on her day off diving from the
TX. Experience: 251-500 dives. Vis: 50       boat. UW Photography Comments:
to 70 Feet. Water: 78 to 82 F, calm, no      Small rinse bucket and fresh water hose
currents. Dive Makai operates out of         on boat for cameras; storage was under
Honokohau Harbor. You meet them              seats — no camera table. No shore
for the two-tank morning dives at 7:30       facilities available, but could use boat
a.m. (trade winds make afternoon div-        wash-down area for quick rinse after
ing uncomfortable, so dive operators         the dive.
prefer to get an early start and get back
before the seas pick up). You drive up       DiveTek, June 2007, Peter Korn
to their trailered 34 boat, load your gear   (korn@chutzpah.org), Oakland, CA.
on board, then walk to the boat launch       Experience: 51-100 dives. Vis: 50 to 100
to board the boat once it is in the          Feet. Water: 78 to 82 F, calm. DiveTek
water. Most of the dive sites are within     was fabulous. For a small extra fee,
a 20-minute boat ride, and the crew          they provided steel tanks for my wife
will tailor the selection to the interests   and me (96 cu. ft. for me, 116 cu. ft. for
of the divers (macro photography, for        her — different sizes by my request).
example). Most dives we did were in          They were especially accommodating
the 60- to 80-foot range, with most of       of my wife’s needs (she has rheumatoid
the sea life of interest shallower. We saw   arthritis, and they allowed her to walk
frog fish, about four species of morays,     down into the water via their stairs, and
and multitudes of the colorful wrasse        then helped her don her pre-weighted
and butterfly fish for which Hawaii is       BC; the reverse returning from the
noted. The three crew give detailed dive     dive). They checked in with us a fair
briefings, and one or two will guide the     amount at first (good as my wife is still
group, although you have the opportu-        a fairly new diver), then cut back from
nity of dive your own profile and stop       that as we demonstrated our compe-
to do photography. The Manta Dive is         tence. Large and nice boat, especially in
definitely a staged event. Divers (and       relation to the number of divers (space
snorkelers) from several dive operations     for ~40 tanks behind the benches, half
assemble in Garden Eel Cove near the         covered). The first day there were three
airport on their respective boats at dusk    staff (our guide Janice, the owner Keith,
(Dive Makai does an afternoon dive as a      and the boat captain), four diving
prelude to the night Manta Dive), then       customers, and one staff friend diving
enter the water and add their dive lights    (with a rebreather). Second day my wife
to a light array placed in the middle of     and I were the only paying customers,
a sand patch in about 35 feet of water.      with two staff (same guide and captain)
At least six put on a real performance as    and the same rebreathing staff friend.
they looped and swooped through the          Another accommodation for us: instead
soup of plankton attracted by the lights.    of their usual 7:30 am departure time,
We concluded this night dive by fol-         they departed at 9 am, allowing us time
lowing several hungry morays hunting         to drive the 90 minutes to Kona from
on the reef — the yellow tang popula-        our family’s place in Naahlehu (we were
tion took a hit. As an indication of how     the first to book, so our desire set the
good Dive Makai is, on the second day        departure time). My one minor com-
of diving we had five tourists on board,     plaint: our wetsuits didn’t get enough
three locals, and one Dive Makai dive        of a rinse by the staff, especially as we
                                             left them overnight for the second dive.

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We saw eagle rays, dolphins, octopuses,       briefing. Both dives are at the same site.
nudibranchs, trumpet and cornet               The split the group in 2 and a DM led
fish, the beautiful egg roe of a Spanish      each group. Shep and Jim were knowl-
dancer, a frog fish, and of course, lots of   edgeable about the site and the sea life
eels (especially at the Garden Eel Cove       we encountered. JDL stresses conserva-
site) and other local fish. Thanks to our     tion and protection of the mantas and
larger capacity tanks, our dives lasted       careful instructions to the divers. The
from 53-74 minutes (at max depths             mantas were amazing and we could also
ranging from 54-76 feet).                     hear the whales in the distance. A little
                                              more food to eat during the surface
Jack’s Dive Locker, November 2006,            interval would have been nice since the
Jack Gullo (jgullo@carr.org), New             dive goes from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. (or tell
Windsor, MD. Experience: 251-500              you ahead of time to bring dinner).
dives. Vis: 75 to 100 Feet. Water: 75 to      They provided a half sandwich, potato
80 F, calm. Shore diving at its best. Dai-    chips and Chips Ahoy cookies. We only
ly tank rentals with unlimited fills make     saw turtles while snorkeling. We did not
diving easy. Shop provides maps of the        see any dolphins.
dive site — both on the road and in
the water. Dive, drive back to the shop,      Kohala Divers, November 2006, Lori
exchange the tank, drive and dive. Some       Pottinger, Berkeley, CA. Experience:
dive sites can only be done when the          26-50 dives. Vis: 50 to 75 Feet. Water: 79
wind is not creating huge waves. Jack’s       F, calm. Kohala Divers is a great small
is a friendly, convenient operation.          dive operation working the Kohala
                                              Coast. If you’re staying in the condos
Jack’s Diving Locker, Vacation Rental         north of Kona (or Puako rentals, as we
Home - Aloha House, February 2007,            did), this is the place to dive. They often
Craig Lazanich (clazanich@sbcglobal.          do Puako (awesome), or sites north
net), Sebastopol, CA. Experience:             of Kawaihae harbor which the Kona
51-100 dives. Vis: 50 to 75 Feet. Water:      resorts would have a long boat ride to
72 to 78 F, surge. We shore dove at           see. We were very impressed with how
Honaunau (Place of Refuge) off two            their divemaster worked with two kids
step — this was a nice dive with lots of      getting certified. The rest of the crew
coral and lots of reef fish. Kealakekua       was helpful, informative, very nice, and
Bay dive was shallow (under 35 feet)          generally took us to some interesting
— also lots of coral and reef fish. We        sites. The caveat was that we went right
rented all our gear from Jack’s Diving        after the big earthquake, so some sites
Locker for the shore diving. They pro-        were damaged that they hadn’t had a
vided site maps and directions for good       chance to visit yet. Silting and broken
shore diving. We dove off their boat          corals were the main damage. Kohala
for the night manta ray dive. They do a       Divers also rents tanks and other gear if
nice 2-tank dive and allow you to dive        you want to do your own shore diving.
your own profile while still guiding the      They gave us great service and wonder-
group. The boat is small and the head         ful tips for good spots at Puako. We’ll
stinks to high heaven. There is little        be back.
bench space and little shade. They take
a max of 12 divers and 4 snorkelers.          Kohala Divers, Waikoloa Beach Resort,
Our trip had 12 divers and 3 snorkelers.      September 2007, Michael Drumstas
They did a good job on safety and site        (mike@delphinusdiving.net), South

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   haWaii                                   Central and Western Pacific
Grafton, MA. Experience: 501-1000           tourism has dropped off significantly so
dives. Vis: 75 to 150 Feet. Water: 81 F,    the Island is manageable when it comes
calm. Kohala Divers is located in Kai-      to visiting topside attractions such as
wihae shopping center across from the       Volcano National Park, Mauna Kea,
harbor, 45 minutes north of the airport     Waipio Valley etc. Rebecca and Gregg
and town of Kona. The operation,            would point out the numerous boats
which is owned and run by Rebecca           at dive sites that were fish collectors,
and Gregg, is convenient if staying in      literally collecting thousands of fish for
the hotel district that encompasses a       export for salt water aquariums. It was
5 mile corridor around Waikoloa. We         said that upward of 30 thousand yellow
stayed in the Waikoloa Beach Resort in      tangs alone are removed monthly. We
a 2-bedroom condo, found on VRBO.           went to sites where a frog fish was seen
com, $150 per night, 5 minutes from         for weeks on end, then gone, and other
A-Bay beach. Dive shop was 15-minute        such instances where large groups of
ride. Diving was scheduled at 7:30 a.m.     tangs would congregate but then only
and boat left pretty much at 7:45 each      few remain. These people are making
morning, with dive sites determined by      a great living for themselves, but what
weather, seas, and who on the boat was      brings Hawaii more income, divers who
a return diver so as to not dive the same   stay at resorts and condos, contributing
site. We (Wife >300 dives) dove 5 days      to the local economy for a week or two
with the dive crew and were pleased         at a time, or these self-serving individu-
by their willingness to keep everyone       als who only take from a great resource
quite content. One dive was started         and contribute nothing in return? I
with a small current and the entailing      only wish the dive operators on the is-
swim back was tedious, but, according       land of Kona would band together and
to Robin, our divemaster, this was done     get legislators to enact some serious re-
so that she could locate some pelagics      strictions before the fish are decimated
for us, which she most certainly did        and divers go elsewhere. Kohala Divers
by finding three eagle rays swimming        run a tight group of employees who
in formation! Dove south of Kohala          make the diving enjoyable without that
at 6 Caves, Puako Point, Puako 38 and       “stay in a tight formation and follow
Turtle Dome . Puako 38 is a mooring         me” attitude. Once you establish that
ball and the site of the most incredible    you are a competent diver, they give you
turtle cleaning station. All sites north    the option to wander and hang back
of Waikoloa have great fish life and        doing your own thing. I am a NAUI
an extraordinary array of lava tubes        instructor and can say that their pre-
that contain fantastic marine life. Saw     dive briefings were concise, along with
white tip sharks, octopus, blue dragon      the boat briefing and emergency action
nudibranch along with two or three          plan .There were also large groups of
others in 11 dives. Helmet conch, white     dolphin that would follow the dive boat
mouth eel, pyramid butterfly fish, rock     almost daily.
movers in juvenile, adolescent and adult
stages, flame angelfish, grouper, schools   Kohala Divers, Hilton Grand Vaca-
of black durgons as well as schools of      tions Club, September 2007, Charles
yellow tangs. What Hawaii lacks in soft     W Donaldson (mail7239@gmail.com),
corals, it sure as heck makes up for in     Portland, OR. Experience: 101-250
abundant sea life. Water temp and vis is    dives. Vis: 75 to 125 Feet. Water: 72
the best in September and October, and      F, choppy. Kohala Divers is located at

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the Kawaihae Shopping Center, up            Kona Honu Divers, September 2006,
the Kohala Coast from Kona. Hilton          Ray Simpkins, Novi, MI. Experience:
Grand Vacations Club at Waikoloa            251-500 dives. Vis: 75 to 100 Feet.
is 30 minutes north of Kona and 25          Water: 77 to 80 F, calm, no currents.
minutes south of Kawaihae. Given the        Really friendly and customer-oriented.
terrible traffic conditions trying to get   Their boat is in great shape. The dive
into Kona from the north, going up the      guides knew a lot and were eager to
coast looked good to us. After research-    share. I wish I would have brought a
ing Undercurrent and Scuba Board, I         hood for the manta night dive. As for
called and reserved two days worth of       the manta dive, it is one of the most
diving for my adult son and myself.         awesome experiences of my life. I took
On our first day, we had 7 divers and       40 minutes of video and hardly had to
2 DMs. A boat briefing was conducted        edit it. We had 5 show up at our dive.
before the boat left the dock. The two      Saw a tiger shark, a few dolphins in the
refresher divers went off with their in-    distance, and lots of turtles and tons of
structor and the other DM led our two       eels. I have dove Maui and Lanai but
dives. She provided a good dive site and    they don’t compare to the Big Island.
critter briefing before the dive. Entry     Stayed in a condo and it was nice. Did
is from the back of the boat. Divers sit    the volcano thing. We only stayed for 9
down, put on their fins while the crew      nights. UW Photography Comments:
humps your BC to a location behind          had a large bucket and a table on the
you and helps you put it on. Divers         boat. No rinse tanks on land as the boat
stand up and do a giant stride into the     is docked at a marina.
water. We were advised to descend with
our buddies and hang out in the vicin-      Kona Honu Divers, Private Condo ,
ity of the boat until the DM had all        October 2006, John and Sandra Quick,
divers in the water and down. DM let        Grand Rapids, MI. Experience: 251-500
those wishing to follow on a tour of the    dives. Vis: 50 to 75 Feet. Water: 78 to
dive site. Buddy pairs dive on their own    80 F, calm, choppy, surge. Our sixth
if they wished. The North Kohala Coast      trip to the Big Island. We enjoy it for
is less visited than the area around        the endemic species encountered and
Kona and the lack of diver and other        for the topside attractions. Sometimes
impact shows in the excellent condition     we hike in Volcano National Park for a
of the coral and abundance of critters.     week and then dive week two. We typi-
On our 3rd dive we saw a flight of 3        cally rent one of the plentiful private
eagle rays that appeared unbothered.        condos. A favorite source for picking
Swim-throughs and lava tubes were           out accommodations in Hawaii is “The
available on each site and the DMs were     Big Island Revealed” by Wizard Pubs.
happy to take those who wanted to visit     They have books on Kauai and Maui
them inside. Alternative routes were        too. We usually find their recommenda-
offered for those who did not. I would      tions right-on. We like the Big Island
rate the dive operation, its equipment,     in September and October because
and especially the staff as excellent. UW   kids are back in school and the water
Photography Comments: Tank only             is about as warm as it is going to get.
for cameras; crew helpful in getting        First time diving with Kona Honu Div-
cameras in and out of water.                ers. Decided to try them after reading
                                            good reviews here. Enjoyed our week
                                            mightily. Nice operation. Roomy, clean,

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   haWaii                                      Central and Western Pacific
well-appointed boat. Friendly and pro-         showed up for the show. Kloie (they all
fessional staff. We even dove the day of       have names) did a great performance.
the earthquake, October 15, 2006, even         On several occasions Kloie brushed
though some staff had damage to their          right over the top of my children. Puts
own homes. We showed up at the boat            the whole experience at Stingray City
after the initial quake (power and water       to complete shame. Aquarium was
was disrupted at our condo...what were         the best dive and we saw some pretty
we to do?) A few other folks showed            unusual critters including a frogfish
up, so out we went. Experienced an af-         and several unusual eels. The real prize,
tershock under water which was a first         a dragon eel, eluded us on the trip. We
(hopefully last). Not really a big deal ...    also saw a pair of leaf scorpion fish.
it was a low, steady rumble like a cruise      Compared to other dive destinations
ship was parked over you, idling! Tough        in the Pacific, the subject matter was
we have 450-500 logged dives each, we          pretty limited. Did see a couple of nice
were often grouped with newbies. No            nudis, a frogfish, and a manta that was
attempt to split up experienced and            a challenge to photograph.
newer divers. We suppose that was for
dive guides benefit so they didn’t have        Kona Honu Divers, White Sands
all newbies, but it is irritating to be held   Village, June 2007, Tim Kolakowski
hostage to the person who consumes             (tkolakowski@choiceonemail.com),
air the fastest.                               Erie, PA. Experience: 251-500 dives.
                                               Vis: 75 to 100 Feet. Water: 78 F, calm. It
Kona Honu Divers, April 2007,                  had been 12 years since our last trip to
Michael Emerson (medas2005@msn.                Hawaii. The must-sees include a trip to
com), Eden Prairie, MN. Experience:            the Volcano National Park (4000+ feet)
251-500 dives. Vis: 80 to 120 Feet.            and the Moana Kea Observatory (peak
Water: 78 to 80 F, calm, choppy, surge,        13000+ feet, Visitors Center 9000 feet),
no currents. Kona Honu Divers was              and a drive to Hilo and around the is-
a first class dive operation with a nice       land (worth the time). At sea level, take
boat. We dove 6 dives. My 14-year-             the time to kayak to see the dolphins at
old daughter received her advanced             Kealakekua Bay, see the City Of Refuge
certification during the trip and the          (snorkel here also), boogie board at
instruction seemed quite thorough.             Magic Sands Beach, and snorkel right
The boat was beautiful and had great           offshore at many different beaches in
covering for those who wanted to avoid         the area. $120/night for our 2 bed-
the sun. We got to see schools of spin-        room/2 bath condo at White Sands
ner dolphins on the way to the dive            Village, 4 miles south of Kona. Check
sites almost every day. The weather was        www.sunquest-hawaii.com — they are
beautiful, although an unusual NW              a rental agent for dozens of condos,
(arctic!) wind brought in more surge           hotels, and houses. The beach resorts
than would be typical in early April. We       are 10 to 30 miles north of Kona; there
stayed in an ocean view condo which            you will spend big $. The diving was
held my family of five comfortably. The        good. Since all my diving has been in
condo was Kona Makai on Alii Drive. It         the Caribbean, even the common fish
was a bit of a drive, especially in traffic,   were new to me. More colorful than the
to get to the harbor where the boat            Caribbean, too, corals and fish both.
was. The manta night dive lived up to          Many eels, including pairs in the same
its billing even though only one manta         spot. A few turtles too. Lots of dolphins

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on the surface, and I heard the clicking      When asking about lack of marine life
underwater, but saw none. If youre a          and seeing small boats with fishing nets
Caribbean diver, you’re used to being         near the dive sites, I was told that was
picked up and dropped off ... not here.       an ongoing issue with the state to try to
I had to call around until I found Kona       stop it, along with restricting spear fish-
Honu Divers, who were able to pick            ing. I noticed were snorkel operations
me up in the morning. No one else             out swimming with the dolphins, at
would. They are an excellent operation,       least 4 different boats that had snorkel-
particularly for a newer diver. Wonder-       ers in the waters and another 4 that
ful service on the boat, excellent guides.    looked like they were waiting to jump
Lots of help available for my new digital     in as they were chasing the dolphins.
camera. The highlight was the night           The dive ops consider it harassment
Manta Dive! We saw 2, but other nights        of the dolphins (which there are laws
saw 8, 10, 12 of them, up to 14’ wing-        against). The operators get by with say-
span, giants ballet dancing through the       ing they are some type environmental
light, passing an inch from our heads!        study group or the dolphins came up to
                                              their boat. The highlight was the manta
Kona Honu Divers, August 2007,                dive. The first night we were skunked,
Scott Johnson (scottyj96@aol.com),            the other night I went out was the most
Murrieta, CA. Experience: 251-500             incredible manta dive I have ever done
dives. Vis: 50 to 100 Feet. The sixth         (I have done eight manta dives in six
time I have dove the Kona area. Kona          trips to Kona). Ten mantas plus Big
Honu Divershave the best dive guides/         Bertha came in — wow! This dive alone
instructors I have dove with in Kona,         is worth the trip to Kona. This year the
and the boat was great. But they mixed        water was a bit cool; temps ranged from
snorkelers, new and experienced divers,       79 to 81. In past years, I have enjoyed
specialty divers, etc. on the boat. One       81- to 83-degree water temps.
day we had about 20 people on the boat
plus crew. I resist using the term cattle     Kona Honu Divers, September 2007,
boat as the staff really busted their butts   Ed Neff (eneff@compassewsn.com),
trying to make you happy. If I had not        Troy, NY. Experience: 101-250 dives.
paid for the weeks dives with Kona            Vis: 100 to 150 Feet. Water: 70 to 75 F,
Honu, I would have probably gone              calm. I booked the day trip (two dives,
over to Big Island Divers. They have          with the first being a brief but complete
a smaller boat and only divers on the         refresher) and then the night dive with
boat (or the ones I’ve been on); plus,        the mantas. A large school (20+) of
you can rinse your gear and store it at       pilot whales was close to our dive sites
their shop. Kona Honu did store my            and we were able to snorkel with them.
BC and wetsuit. Kona Honu is a great          We saw at least one and maybe two
operation along with Jacks, I just like       white tip sharks swimming with the
smaller groups. Kona Honu is sup-             whales. Lots a individual pictures were
posed to have a smaller boat arriving in      taken, but no way to set up a picture
November, catering just to divers. The        exchange exists with this dive shop —
diving in Kona was nice but uneventful,       they are rethinking this for future use.
great visibility, not much in the way of      The night dives were OK. Both were at
marine life. I could tell a noticeable lack   the same site and the first was sort of an
of marine life from the previous years        orientation for the second. The second
perhaps many of the fish became sushi.        night dive was the real show. Several

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other dive operators were also at the        if conditions are not conducive to good
site. All the operators know the drill       diving. And the refreshments! Best ever,
and have a well rehearsed program.           including great deli wraps one day,
Divers in the water. Park on the bot-        brownies to die for every day, a variety
tom for 40 minutes with you lights up        of fruit, nuts, chips, etc., and a new (for
and watch the show. Those who were           us) snack: green soy beans in the pod,
snorkeling were on the surface with          to which we became addicted. Crunchy
lights pointed down. With all the light,     and delicious! The like-new boat takes
the mantas put on a show. Kneeling           a maximum of six divers, has a shaded
for 40 minutes in a crowd is getting a       area, and is well equipped for safety and
little difficult for my old knees. Reports   comfort.
in Undercurrent about this operation
are absolutely correct. This is a first      Pacific Rim Divers, August 2007, Ruth
class operation. They took my gear the       K Nelson (murnel@att.net), Tulsa,
day before the first dive, installed new     OK. Experience: Over 1000 dives. Vis:
batteries in my dive computer, deliv-        70 to 125 Feet. Water: 80 to 82 F, calm,
ered my equipment to the boat and set        no currents. One day 40 of dolphins
up all of my equipment for every dive.       stayed with us for the entire hour and
The staff carried the BC and tank to         ten minutes we were in the water.
the dive platform and confirmed that         Pacific Rim Divers is a small, personal,
everything was set before we went off        high-service dive operation. Boat takes
the platform and into the water. They        maximum of 6 divers. They serve you
washed the gear and stored it overnight      home-made brownies, fresh fruit and a
for the night dive the next day. The         host of other goodies during the surface
night dive they shot a video that could      interval. When you are finished diving,
be purchased.                                they wash your equipment. They have
                                             rental equipment and nitrox. Loved the
Pacific Rim Divers, August 2006, Patri-      diving and we all had a great time.
cia Watson (pwatson@brightok.net),
Eucha, OK. Experience: 501-1000 dives.       Kauai
Vis: 45 to 65 Feet. Water: calm, surge,
no currents. Patrice (in charge), Dave       Bubbles Below, January 2007, John
and Carlos are savvy, witty, and experi-     Andrews (jbandrews@austin.rr.com),
enced. Patrice, especially, works as hard    Austin, TX. Experience: 51-100 dives.
as any divemaster we’ve encountered          Vis: 1 to 100 Feet. Water: 72 to 75
to find the critters for you, and with       F, choppy. We went on 4 dives with
her ever on-hand slate, lets you know        Bubbles Below. The first two were
immediately what you are seeing. She         daytime dives. Our guide was Linda.
picked up a sea cucumber and carefully       She was very thorough about checking
dug a small crab out of the anal open-       our documents and equipment to make
ing to show us, then carefully put him       sure everything was in working order.
back and replaced the cucumber! From         She laid out each dive for us clearly.
years of diving the area, she knows          Linda was super-knowledgeable about
where everybody lives or can be found        the marine life in the area. We asked
at all the sites. Divers are free to go it   to see sharks, eels and turtles and she
on their own, though, if they prefer.        made sure we saw them. We also saw
(You’ll miss a lot!) She is also sensitive   many varieties of surgeonfish, triggers,
to currents, and careful to go elsewhere     tangs, butterflyfish, damselfish, etc. My

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youngest daughter is not yet certified       in winter. We encountered mantas,
so she stayed topside with Capt. Earl.       sharks, whales (both humpback and
He helped her spot turtles and other         pilot), spinner dolphins along with the
marine life on the surface. The crew was     usual Hawaiian endemic species. The
efficient and safety conscious. The boat     dive master, Joe, did a terrific job and
was nicely set up for diving and large       was extremely knowledgeable about the
enough to comfortably accommodate            critters and the topography and natural
the passengers. Bubbles Below doesn’t        history of Kauai. Peter was the captain,
take out more than 8 divers on any one       and made this a special trip. As usual,
trip. We wanted to dive Niihau. Bubbles      we were all well fed and taken care of.
Below had enough divers to fill the          We actually were able to snorkel and
boat, but decided against the trip due to    swim with the whales on the crossing
weather conditions and a stronger cur-       back to Port Allen! Lindas enthusiasm
rent in the area than is normal. Our 3rd     hasn’t waned over the years, and some-
and 4th dives were night dives. Because      how she continues to employ the best
of traffic we were about 30 minutes          dive crews.
late, but we called in and the crew held
the boat for us. We were on a different      Bubbles Below, Keahuna Planta-
vessel this time ... twin-hulled. Once       tion, September 2007, G. R. Benson
again there was lots of room and the         (gbenson@tribcsp.com), Casper, WY.
boat was well-organized. We saw plenty       Experience: 251-500 dives. Vis: 50 to
of marine life, whales, and a monk seal.     90 Feet. Water: 79 to 81 F, surge. Dive
Turtles were all over the place once         sites were varied and full of marine
again. There were many, many different       life. Lots of sharks, turtles, seals, eels,
species of fish in and around the corals.    lionfish, frogfish, Moorish idols, several
Lobsters were in abundance as well. The      species of butterflyfish, etc. (Corals
crew was great about helping with our        and sponges are not what you look
gear and making sure our diving needs        for here.) Interesting turtle ‘cleaning
were met. Bubbles Below is a family          stations’ where several 200+ lb. turtles
run operation. These guys focus on           (paying no attention to divers) allowed
dive trips only, and don’t have a store      tang to eat the algae off their shells.
front. I’ll be going out with them again     Owner of Bubbles Below, Linda (for
on a return trip to Kauai this summer.       over 20 years), knows the underwater
UW Photography Comments: Dive                environs around Kauai like no other. As
operators were fairly accommodating,         divemaster she pointed out lots of fish
although we felt a little rushed at times.   and critters indigenous to Hawaii, tell-
                                             ing us the common as well as scientific
Bubbles Below, Marriott Kauai Beach          names. Friendly and efficient crew were
Club, February 2007, Jerry and Chris-        helpful and most were knowledgeable
ty Bonnington (gjb@mtaonline.net),           too. Trips to NaPali and Ni’ihau (only
Eagle River, AK. Experience: 501-1000        available weather permitting) were
dives. Vis: 75 to 100 Feet. Water: 74 to     worth the extra time and cost, offer-
75 F, calm. This is our 8th or 9th year of   ing changes in scenery and marine life.
diving with Linda and Bubbles Below.         Boats(6 pack and 8 pack) are begin-
We were able to take a rare February         ning to show their age, but adequate.
trip to Niihau. We had an absolutely         No fresh water dunk tanks or tables for
perfect day of diving! The diving at         camera gear. They leave from Port Al-
Niihau is pristine, with great visibility    len — south shore. Good dive briefings

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before each dive. Ample water, sodas,       Seasport Divers, February 2007, Marta
cookies, candy, etc. between dives.         Arensberg (mjarens@comcast.net),
                                            Issaquah, WA. Experience: 51-100
Seasport Divers, October 2006, Roger        dives. Vis: 60 to 80 Feet. Water: 72 to
Cole (coleroger@msn.com), Genoa,            75 F, choppy, surge, no currents. Divers
NV. Experience: 51-100 dives. Vis: 40       grouped by certified or non-certified.
to 60 Feet. Water: 72 to 75 F, calm, no     Divemaster led dives, mandatory 3
currents. I had called in my reservation    min stop at 700 lbs. Excellent fish ID
a couple days before and what gear I        by divemaster throughout dive. Video
needed was ready and waiting. The DM        review at shop upon return. DVD
had me try it for fit. They verified my C   purchase available, good quality. Boat
card, loaded us into a van and we went      spacious, great Captain, clean and
to the boat. Aboard they briefed us on      safety conscious. Wonderful personnel
boat equipment, safety, etc., assigned us   at Seasport Divers, Poipu location. Meet
numbers and had a roll call. The DM         at dive shop, show c-card and rent gear
explained dive computers and related        if needed. Nitrox available for each dive.
gear. At the first dive site the condi-     Five-minute van ride to harbor where
tions were perfect — dead flat, no wind     their spacious boat, Anela Kia, takes up
or chop and below the vis was 60 feet       to 16 divers, but both trips I was on had
plus most of the time and no current.       only 6 divers on board. Plenty of space
We were assigned 5 divers per DM and        even with a full load on board. Capt.
could pretty much do our own thing          Andrew was professional and happy to
as long as we checked with the DM           accommodate us each trip. Dive mas-
occasionally for air check (good idea       ters Ryan and Nico (on trip one) and
for the newer divers). He showed us         Mike (on trip two) were excellent dive
many fish, turtles and other interest-      guides. They took the time to search
ing creatures, corals and formations.       out the usual and not so usual cast of
We were around 90 to 95 feet for 27         Hawaiian waters creatures and fish.
minutes that dive, which required a         Wonderful sightings including a purple
3-minute stop at 15 feet on the ascent.     leaf scorpion that looked like an orchid!
Back aboard we answered to roll call        Saw Indian nudibranch, Spanish dancer
and proceeded to the next site. Plenty      nudibranch egg sacks, several large
of bottled water and munchies. The          frog fish, fuchsia flat worms, octopus,
second dive was pretty much the same        tiger cowry, Hawaiian green sea turtle,
except depth was around 35 to 50 feet       fried egg nudibranch, and the list goes
for 45 minutes with a 3-minute stop at      on. The entire crew was happy to share
15 feet. This was my second year diving     their underwater world with us, new
with Seasports and I was very satisfied     diver and veteran divers alike. They
with all aspects of the operation. The      handled our personal gear with care,
equipment is very good, the crew is fan-    and explained rental gear to those in
tastic, boat is big and wide enough to      need. The Anela Kai is the largest dive
accommodate all 12 of us and our gear.      boat on the South Kauai shore. Seas-
A plus for me is the ladders on the boat.   port Divers shop has many great “divers
They slope away from the boat and           needs” available for sale.
have wide flat rungs with good rails.
Makes it much easier to get aboard for      Seasport Divers, Hanalei Bay Resort,
us older folks.                             May 2007, Nili Hudson (nili@nilihud-
                                            son.com), Los Angeles, CA. Experi-

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ence: 101-250 dives. Vis: 75 to 100 Feet.    we were entertained with stories about
Water: 75 to 82 F, surge. It has taken me    the islands history, inhabitants and
3 trips to Kauai to get to Niihau. This      folklore. Directly off of Niihau is Lehua,
is a 2-hour trip to the Forbidden Island     where we dove at Vertical Awareness,
which can only be visited certain times      Keyhole and Niihau Arches — Arches
of the year due to high seas. There are      being the most architecturally interest-
roughly 200 native Hawaiians on this         ing with swim-throughs and cave-like
privately owned island and we are            formations. Max depth was 103 feet on
forbidden to go ashore. A 3-tank dive        the first 2 dives and 68 feet on the last.
day that began at 6:00 a.m. when we          I enjoyed Seasport Divers and would
met up at the dive shop on the South         certainly give them high marks. UW
Shore in Poipu and ended at 6:00 p.m..       Photography Comments: Small bucket
I’ve dove both the South and North           on boat for rinsing. Small table but not
Shores of Kauai and have considered          designated solely for cameras so there
Hawaii slightly overrated for diving,        were potential hazards.
but, Niihau has was fabulous. There is
an overwhelming lack of coral, marine        Lanai
plants and sponges but magnificent
walls of volcanic rock with incredible       Trilogy Excursions, Four Sea-
shapes and formations, yet, there was        sons Manele Bay Resort, October
an abundance of fish. 2 of the 3 dives       2006, Wayne and Stephanie Batzer
we did were drift dives and there was        (wbatzer@prodigy.net), Waipahu, HI.
a moderate but considerable current.         Experience: 501-1000 dives. Vis: 50
Moorish idol, crown of thorns, long          to 80 Feet. Water: 81 to 82 F, choppy.
nose butterfly, porcupine pufferfish,        On Trilogy’s website were listed the
red heart sea urchin, saddle wrasse,         week’s dive activities, and advertised a
raccoon butterfly, black tip reef shark,     “Drift Dive Friday,” restricted to only
spotted eagle ray, monk seal, spinner        those divers who had dived and passed
dolphins, blackside hawkfish, manybar        muster previously during the week, or
goatfish, star pillow, tiger cowrie shell,   those who were drift dive certified. As
convict tang, pennantfish, arc-eye and       a drift dive instructor, I called Trilogy’s
longnose hawkfish, Hawaiian squir-           1-800 number for their website. It took
relfish, bluestripe snapper, orangebar       five calls before the phone was ever
surgeonfish, lei triggerfish, milletseed     answered. I explained that a group of
butterflyfish, zebra flatworm, bandit        4 of us from Oahu who were drift dive
angelfish, reticulated butterflyfish,        instructors and certified drift divers
whiteline triggerfish, eye striped,          wanted to go on the Friday drift dives.
goldring and orange spine surgeonfish,       I was questioned about our experi-
Hawaiian dascyllus! It was a glorious        ence level (over 100+ drift dives in
day with the sun shining and the seas        Palau, Pohnpei, Hawaii, etc.), and our
calm on the ride over. Unfortunately, I      familiarity with the Hawaiian waters.
experienced my first bout of sea sick-       I was told two things: bring your drift
ness on the way back; it is a rough ride     dive certification cards; book through
back, so be prepared. It was a lovely        the Manele Bay concierge. I called the
boat and the crew were somewhat              concierge, explained the desire again to
helpful and did their best to leave me       charter a 2-tank drift dive for 4 locals,
alone. The ride over was beautiful and       and the concierge booked us. Upon


282
   haWaii                                    Central and Western Pacific
arriving and checking in for the dive,       site briefing, had the OW diver come
I found out that although we were            in, and then descended without us.
booked locally, we were being booked         We followed, and he was rushing off
at the tourist rate. The concierge           yet again. We went into the cathedral
called the dive operation, and that was      behind him, he immediately exited,
resolved. Then the concierge told us a       and took off. With him nowhere in
fifth person had been booked onto our        site, we exited the cathedral and did a
charter. I noticed that he was an OW         slow circle, and found him. As soon as
diver. We were not informed of any           we reached him, he took off again. I
change to the dive plan. We went to the      saw him ascend, so gave the safety stop
first dive site after receiving the boat     sign to my companions, and exited the
briefing, and received a safety brief con-   water. As on the first dive, neither he
sisting of a few hand signals, a dive time   nor the driver helped us onto the boat
of 35 minutes at 60 feet, and a return       or with gear removal. We also were not
to boat pressure of 500 psi. I told the      assisted out of the boat at the end of the
guide that we would be nowhere near          day. Absolutely no support for under-
500 psi at that time, and he brushed it      water photography, and the dive guide
off. We descended, and the guide paid        did not bother to brief on any photog-
very close attention to the OW diver as      raphy subjects or take the time to let us
he descended, as he should, and then         do any photography, despite 3 of 4 of us
he took off like a shot, leaving us. We      traveling with cameras.
followed more slowly so we could get
photos. We caught up, and the guide          Maui
took off again, headed back to the boat
to a swim through. He and the OW             B&B Scuba, June 2007, Fiona Rattray,
diver swam through, and disappeared.         Elora, On. Experience: 251-500 dives.
We went through, took photos, and            Vis: 30 to 60 Feet. Water: 79 F, calm,
circled the coral formation. We stayed       choppy, surge. I noticed two locals
under the boat a while longer, and at        spearfishing off the beach at my condo,
55 minutes we did our safety stop, and       and they recommended B&B Scuba “in
ascended. When we got to the dock, the       a little mall behind the Taco Bell.” for
guide asked me to use the dive com-          to rent tanks and weights and get good
puter to calculate our bottom time at        directions for shore diving. They have
60 feet with a 40 minute interval. The       a dive boat, too, but I wanted to just
SUUNTO yielded 41 minutes, and the           shore dive. I did Ulua beach, Kiawapaka
guide left. He came back, pulled us off      beach, and Palauea beach, just poking
the boat, and began to lecture us about      around, taking my time and looking
exceeding the PADI standard dive tables      at critters. A good Maui “secret,” and I
and his worry about liability. I became      liked the shop’s attitude.
quite upset, as we had chartered the
                                             Ed Robinson’s Diving Adventures,
boat for the advanced dives, planned
                                             August 2006, Jeanne and Bill Downey
our dives at the appropriate depth, and
                                             (downdive@comcast.net), Baden, PA.
dived them safely. We asked the guide
                                             Experience: Over 1000 dives. Vis: 80 to
what he wanted, and he said to dive his
                                             100 Feet. Water: 82 F, calm. We dove
plan. We went out of the harbor and
                                             three days with Ed Robinson’s Div-
stopped at first cathedral. The guide
                                             ing Adventures and stayed in a pleas-
went in the water, did no safety or dive
                                             ant bungalow attached to Ed’s house

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 Central and Western Pacific                                               haWaii
consisting of a living/dining room,          other pretty cool dive was the wreck of
full kitchen, bedroom with queen-size        the Corinthian, a fairly new wreck sunk
bed, and bath. Another bedroom and           by the Atlantis sub; our captain timed
bath can be utilized at an additional        our dive to coincide with the passing
cost. There is also an elevated deck         of the Atlantis, so we got to wave at the
from which the ocean and sunsets can         passengers. During the winter months
be viewed. Also available are a grill,       listening to the whale songs underwater
coolers, laundry, and covered park-          is a rush. We explored the island, doing
ing, all at a very reasonable price. A       several early morning hikes. And on our
two-minute walk down the street is the       last morning on Maui we experienced
main office for Ed Robinson’s Diving         our first earthquake, a 6.6 with the epi-
Adventures, also where they keep their       center off the Big Island. Airports and
two boats and another rental chalet.         electricity were disrupted throughout
Our car rental was from Maui cruis-          the Hawaiian Islands for several hours
ers, with extremely reasonable prices        — it took us an extra four hours to
and older automobiles with character         make our way from Maui to Honolulu,
that made us look like locals. We had        where we were staying overnight to
a ten-minute drive to the dock where         catch an early morning flight to Bikini.
the boats were launched; awaiting us at      There was no electricity in any of the
6:30 a.m. were a welcoming staff with        hotels, including Waikiki, which were
coffee, juice, bagels, and waiver forms.     overflowing with tourists whose flights
Departure was 7 a.m., gear was handed        were cancelled. Luckily the electric-
up to the boat and put together by the       ity came back on by 1:00 a.m. and the
staff; no more than 10 guests plus staff     airport was functional earlier than
were on each 30’ or 32’ boat. Four to six    that. When we arrived at the Honolulu
divers are grouped with a guide; each        airport at 5 a.m., it looked like a refugee
of the three guides we dove with was         camp with people sleeping everywhere,
competent and enthusiastic, looking          and there were already long lines of
for things to point out to us. Although      travelers trying to get home. Not too
we dove Molokini Crater four times, we       many trying to get to Bikini, though,
never did the same dive site twice; they     and we left on time for a fabulous week
try to give repeat customers new dives       of deep wreck diving on World War II
each time. The three-tank day the water      wrecks.
was flatter than normal so they excit-
edly took us to “Turtle Rock,” a site they   Ed Robinson’s, Marriott Ocean Club,
only get to 20 times a year, an hour and     December 2006, Hilary (OreDen@
a half away. Between dives on two-tank       aol.com, Vancouver, WA. Experi-
days we were offered fresh fruit and         ence: 51-100 dives. Vis: 50 to 200 Feet.
pastries, three-tank days also included      Water: 74 to 77 F, calm. The crew was
do-it-yourself sandwiches. Water, lem-       outstanding, both on land and in the
onade, and soda were always available.       water, and we saw more marine life
The diving is pleasant, not much coral       than we’ve ever seen on previous trips
since this is a volcanic island, but the     to Maui. They tend to dive deeper
turtle-cleaning station is pretty cool,      profiles than other operators on Maui,
and we saw several kinds of eels, two gi-    even on their 2-tank charters. A diver
ant frogfish, an eagle ray, octopus, a few   should be comfortable doing a 90-foot
sharks, and Spanish dancer eggs. An-         dive and boarding a boat in moderate
                                             seas before booking with Ed Robin-

284
   haWaii                                     Central and Western Pacific
sons. They frequently do live boat dives      We dove with Ed Robinson’s the next
and when the trade winds kick up,             day and, although we didn’t have the
reboarding the boat can be challeng-          quantity of rare and amazing sightings
ing. Ironically, our best charter started     that we did the day before, we still were
out with us not being sure we would be        treated to whale song, sharks, a close
able to dive that day. On the way out of      encounter with a hawksbill turtle, and
the harbor, the boat started overheat-        many, many creatures we had seen dur-
ing and our captain, Mark, had to shut        ing the previous week ... just not all on
down the engines. Eventually we were          the same dive.
underway again. Because the tempera-
ture was creeping up again and Mark           Ed Robinson’s, May 2007, Bob Barada
didn’t want to abort the trip, he simply      (bbarada@pacbell.net), Walnut Creek,
feathered back the ailing engine and let      CA. Experience: 501-1000 dives. Vis: 50
the other one do more work. He also           to 80 Feet. Water: 78 to 79 F, calm. Nice,
chose S. Maui off-shore sites instead of      calm water because the trade winds laid
taking us to Molokini. Our first dive         down for a few days. We dove both ends
had us dropping in on 5 spotted eagle         of Molokini and the back side. Small
rays, all of which stuck around for the       gray reef sharks, one white tip. Three
first few minutes of our dive we not          spotted eagle rays flying in forma-
only heard extremely loud and melodic         tion. Lots of fish and eels, including
whale song, but we saw a huge vari-           alligator sand eel and garden eels. One
ety of nudibranchs, leaf scorpionfish,        frogfish. Essentially drift diving format
Hawaiian lionfish, Commerson’s frog           off Molokini with the boat following
fish (2), a huge variety of shrimp,           the divers. Dove off Kihei twice. Lots of
many aggressive damselfish, and some          huge green turtles, including a well-
unique, curious pipefish. Of course this      populated cleaning station. Some fairly
is in addition to a large variety of tropi-   rare fish like turkey fish and lion fish.
cal fish and a few turtles. Our second        One octopus. Numerous nudibranchs.
dive turned out to be just as good, as we     Ed Robinson dive operation is “valet
immediately dropped down and had a            style” with them hooking up and han-
close encounter with a manta! We again        dling your gear for you. Dive masters
heard the incredible loud voices of the       found all the rare and small stuff. We
humpback whales and scanned the blue          dove Nitrox ($15 each tank) and the
water for a sighting, but of course never     Dive master diving air stayed shallower
saw one. This dive was as good as the         the second dive so he could stay down
previous one, with us finding the same        as long as we did and not approach
assortment of marine life. Everywhere         NDL limits, allowing us to utilize all
we looked there were lionfish, various        our gas. One Dive master to each 6 div-
cleaner shrimp, leaf scorpionfish, and        ers. We had lots of leaking O-rings, one
we were treated to a couple of mantis         bad enough that it shortened his dive.
shrimp — the amazing creatures that           Ed Robinson’s Maui Adventures,
our DM, Dave, found for us. There             May 2007, Roger Roth (rroth2@cinci.
were a couple of photographers. Dave          rr.com), Cincinnati, OH. Experience:
always went at a perfect (slow) pace          501-1000 dives. Vis: 70 to 100 Feet.
so that we could find, see and photo-         Water: 75 to 76 F, calm. There were
graph everything possible, and his skill      numerous turtle encounters, eels, and
at finding tiny creatures was amazing.        frogfish most every day. It was also

                                                                                   285
 Central and Western Pacific                                               haWaii
enjoyable to listen to the whale songs.      boats on trailers at the boat ramp
Molokini Crater was dived a lot as per       (every other dive operator does the
divers’ requests and it never got boring,    same), onto which gear can be loaded
whether inside the crater, on the outer      before parking nearby. When the boats
rim, or on the backside of Molokini. We      are launched, you hop aboard. Your BC
also had a number of manta encoun-           and regulator will be on a tank, with
ters. Nudibranchs were abundant,             fins, booties, mask and wet suit neatly
as were the beautiful butterflyfish,         stowed nearby, courtesy of the two-
angelfish, squirrelfish, hunting jacks,      member boat crew and two dive mas-
bannerfish, Moorish idols, sergeant          ters on board. Each boat takes a max of
majors, and surgeonfish. Ed’s crew was       12 divers, divided into two groups of
fabulous at finding flame angelfish,         six with a dive master guide for each.
harlequin shrimp, decoy scorpionfish,        Each of our three-day two-tank dives
Spanish dancer, and a juvenile milky         started at the Molokini crater, about
scorpionfish. Ed has a bOnaireof
                         new type            15 minutes from the harbor. We did
diving he calls his “Adventure X” trip,      two drift dives with current and blue
where more experienced divers are            water safety stops around the tips of the
allowed to dive their own profiles           crater, then — on the specific request
whether with a buddy or solo. Some of        of my wife with a view toward macro
these dives can also be at deeper sites      photography — did one no-current
where many operators don’t visit. When       dive with the boat anchored on the mid
I had a regulator malfunction, Ed’s crew     reef dead center on the crater. These
had an extra one onboard and mine            dives might go as deep as 100 feet, and
was switched out between dives. His          the second dives each day were done at
crews are knowledgeable about the dive       a near shore site, though at 65 feet, we
sites as well as the marine life. They are   usually were limited by bottom time,
also reef-conscious. UW Photography          not air. The visibility at the crater was
Comments: Ed Robinson has a good             in the 100-foot range, and we saw white
rinse tank onboard his boats, his crew       tip sharks in groups, eels, frogfish, a
is attentive to divers and their cameras,    flying (or helmet) gurnard, and schools
and the crew handle the cameras well.        of the more common (in Hawaii)
                                             millet, pyramid, and raccoon butterfly
Ed Robinson Dive Adventures, Hyatt           fish, plus wrasse, squirrel fish, spotted
Regency Maui, September 2007, James          grouper, and more. On the shallow
A. Heimer (jmsjnk@earthlink.net),            dives with lower visibility, we encoun-
Houston, TX. Experience: 251-500             tered large, approachable turtles, leafy
dives. Vis: 30 to 100 Feet. Water: 78 to     scorpion fish, cleaner shrimp at work
82 F, calm, currents, no currents. They      on eels, and spinner dolphins at the
go out of the Kihei Boat Ramp on West        start of the dive and a lone, curious
Maui, as do many other dive opera-           bottlenose at the end. Dive masters
tors, an hours drive from the Kaanapali      tended to overestimate the abilities of
Resort, where we were staying, and due       the divers in an attempt to offer them
to the afternoon trade winds, everyone       the most interesting diving opportuni-
starts diving at 6:30 in the morning to      ties. This resulted in one diver making
be back before the seas pick up. A 5:30      her first open ocean dive and first dive
stop at the Lahaina Safeway for coffee       after certification a drift dive in 80 feet
and donuts to go became part of the          of water and a 2 knot current with a
routine. ERDA has two 30’ aluminum

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blue water safety stop required prior        has drinks and snacks. The crew was
to recovery at the end. We doubt she         friendly and knowledgeable.
will ever put fins on again. When we
had specific requests to accommodate         Lahaina Divers, Marriott Ocean Club,
photography (e.g., no current, boat          December 2006, Hilary, Vancouver,
at anchor), they spent time at three         WA. Experience: 51-100 dives. Vis: 50
different sites evaluating conditions        to 200 Feet. Water: 74 to 76 F, calm. We
before picking one that turned out to        have been diving with Lahaina Divers
be the best dive of the trip, and they       for several years. Although we only use
would have done the same for anyone          them for our Lanai trips, due to their
who made specific interests known to         large, comfortable boats and the easy
the crew. UW Photography Comments:           crossing from Lahaina, we were very
Plastic tubs to store cameras under          disappointed on this trip and likely will
seats and rinse bucket on boat. No           not use them again. We have always
facilities on shore, except to use hose at   known that they run fairly strict depth
boat wash-down area.                         and time limits due to their charter
                                             schedule and short SIs; however, we
Extended Horizons, August 2007, Ste-         have never felt as restricted as we did
ven Rosenfeld, Westlake Village, CA.         on this trip. We did two charters with
Experience: 1000 dives. Vis: 50-100 feet.    them, and although the first one was
Water: 80 F, calm to choppy. The boat        fine, we heard some complaints from
is a 32’ vessel built for diving. There      other divers and our second charter
are tank racks with storage for dive         echoed those complaints. Our DM on
gear underneath. If your dive bag is too     our second charter treated us as if we
large, it is stored up forward until the     were newbie divers, even though he was
end of the trip. The vessel has a head on    well aware of our history with Lahaina
board and cover from the sun. The boat       Divers and our experience level. It ap-
is small but well organized. They take       peared that most of the divers on that
out 12 divers with 2 dive guides and         charter were rather new and we were
break off into 2 groups. The first trip      two of a small handful of divers who
was to Lanai, about a-45 minute boat         had our own gear. The DM asked us for
ride. We dove the First Cathedral and        our tank pressure not 10 minutes into
the second dive was at Fish Rock. Both       the dive and seemed shocked when we
were great dives with good conditions.       had over 2200 psi, but didn’t ask again
The reefs in the area appear to be in        until the end of the “tour.” We were
good shape. On another day we dove           hurried along through the cathedrals
the wreck of the Carthaginian; it was        with very little time to look for small
sunk off of Lahaina in 2005 by the At-       critters and take pictures. 30 minutes
lantis Submarine Company. The wreck          into each dive, we found ourselves
lies in about 95 feet of water on a sandy    under the boat and spent the rest of
bottom. The divers stay on the wreck         our dives there ... which turned out
when the submarine circles closely,          to be the best part of our dives. It was
exchanging photo ops with the divers.        very clear that the DMs who have been
The second dive was on the remains           around for awhile offer more personal-
of an old pier near the boat dock. We        ized service and listen to their clients’
had 100’ visibility and saw turtles and      needs, while the newer people seem to
5 eagle rays. The trips are 2-tank dives     follow a routine instead. They hurry
and run about 4-5 hours. The boat            you along the dive route, don’t find or

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point out any interesting critters (and I   formed all the first/second stage, tank
found a lot that the DM blew past), and     and BCD connections. Additionally,
are uncomfortable giving much latitude      the dives were guided with enthusiasm
to experienced divers.                      and an inclination to show a Hawai-
                                            ian newcomer everything. Hawaiian
Maui Dive Shop, Hyatt Regency               diving, it does not have Caribbean-
Maui, January 2007, Paul Schmieder          esque coral formations — they tend to
(pschmieder@sbcglobal.net), Bellville,      be shorter and more tightly grouped,
TX. Experience: 101-250 dives. Vis:         almost cauliflower-like in texture —
50 to 80 Feet. Water: 72 to 74 F, calm,     but diving here does have plenty of
choppy, no currents. On our first full      volcanic formations and an abundance
day we were strolling along Whalers         of fish. And so, on the next day I fell in
Village to buy gifts for our home folks     love with Molokini, which is a shorter
when, turning a corner, I came face to      boat ride of about 10 miles and where I
face with the northern branch of Maui       could actually hear distant whale song
Dive Shop. I signed up for a next day       while underwater and in the midst of a
2-tank trip to the Cathedrals on Lanai      host of colorful fish. I did not dive on
and, the day after that, another 2-tanker   the third day so that I would be able
to Molokini Island, a semi-submerged        to safely drive to the top of Haleakala,
volcanic crater. Because late morn-         Mauis dormant volcano, on day four. At
ing and afternoon trade winds tend to       10,023 feet in elevation it was necessary
increase choppiness, the dive groups for    to follow post-dive altitude protocol,
these trips assemble dockside at Wailea     but well worth the view.
Harbor by 6:30 am, which is just before
dawn. Coming from the U.S. central          Maui Dive Shop, June 2007, Fiona
time zone proved to be advantageous         Rattray, Elora, On. Experience: 251-500
and with our 4-hour difference in rela-     dives. Vis: 60 to 100 Feet. Water: 79
tive times the early start was enjoyable.   F, calm, choppy, no currents. Maui
As night turned into day, we were well      Dive Shop has several locations on the
on our way toward the Cathedrals on         island. I wasn’t able to get in with Mike
Lanai, which is 25 miles or about a 2       Severns, my first choice, but did get the
hour boat ride away. Maui Dive Shops        last spot on the advertised “two-tank
boat is equipped for up to 24 divers        Molokini crater” dive for the next day
but, amazingly, there were only 6 divers    with MDS. The first dive was on the
and 4 crewmembers on board. I was           crater, the second was 5 caves. There
just past the peak tourist season when      were maybe 20 divers on the Kama
theyre typically packed to capacity and,    Kai, which departed from Maalaea
otherwise, they’ll run even if there is     Harbor, not nearly as close as the Kihei
only one diver booked. Apparently, this     Boat Ramp. The ride out was a long
is their time to enjoy the wonder of div-   one. There was a 20-minute delay as
ing, as well. With just 6 divers we were    the boat needed its head pumped out;
allowed the leeway to dive and explore      again, no biggie, but if the departure
according to the pre-determined depth       time is stated as 6 a.m., it does seem like
limits and our available air as long as     forever to wait near the pumper truck
we had more than their minimum 800          while it does its job. Divers were sorted
lbs. PSI air in the tank before ascending   into three groups. Each group had a
to a safety stop at 15 feet. The crew was   divemaster, and how the system worked
exceedingly friendly, helpful and per-      was head up when you reach 800 PSI.

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Hoovers went up first, and those with        the divers off a dive boat who were also
better lungs or SAC rates stayed longer      doing the wreck. Heh heh. Shaken, not
with the divemaster. It did accommo-         stirred. The second dive was a mystery
date all levels of experience. Molokini      location, some reeflet jutting off the
Crater was fun. We went down to a            sand plain, covered in fish and inver-
sand chute that launched out into            tebrates. Eels, leaf scorpionfish, school
nothing at the drop off. Lay in the sand     of bannerfish, and so on. This was a
at 88 feet looking at garden eels for a      meditative 77-minute dive, and we still
bit. The divemaster found a frogfish.        had air to spare. Rachel is a great guide,
Also a baby whitetip shark. But why do       knows lots about the local fish life.
Hawaiian divemasters insist on writing
aloha on sea cucumbers, then holding         Mike Severns Diving, October 2006,
them up for all to see? One by one the       Bill McGrath (wfm3@cornell.edu),
other divers went up, till only one other    Chandler, AZ. Experience: 251-500
and myself gamely dived on with the          dives. Vis: 50 to 150 Feet. Water: 80
divemaster. Lots more to see with less       to 81 F, calm, choppy. Overall, this is
other divers around! The second dive         a wonderful dive operator for either
at 5 caves included a brief detour into a    advanced or beginning divers. The
lava bubble cave that had air in it. Saw     divers are broken up into small groups,
a zebra stripe moray fighting? mating?       and are led by a divemaster. He or she
with another moray. Lots of turtles.         will lead the divers on a well-guided
Water and cookies provided on boat.          tour of the underwater environment,
                                             showing the habitual locations of many
Maui Dreams, Mana Kai Condomini-             interesting, and often rare, critters.
ums, June 2007, Fiona Rattray, Elora,        The dives are preceded by a thorough
On. Experience: 251-500 dives. Vis: 60       briefing on both the underwater topol-
to 80 Feet. Water: 79 F, calm, choppy,       ogy and the likely critters to be seen.
surge. I chose Maui Dreams due to            Books with good photographs are used
Undercurrent reviews. I met Rachel at        (one of which was written by Pauline
the shop, got tanks and weights squared      Fiene, the owner) so that the divers will
away, and followed her truck and the         know what they might see. If you began
scooters to Keawapaku Beach. Park-           the dive with a buddy, both divers are
ing fills up early, but we were there at 8   expected to start up when the first diver
a.m. to catch the less windy part of the     reaches 700 psi. If you dive with some-
day. After a briefing on how to use the      one who uses air at a vastly different
scooter and review of safety procedures,     rate, this could be problematic. If you
we geared up and waded out. In about         came by yourself, they won’t arbitrarily
5 feet of water, Rachel showed me how        pair you with someone, so you will
to hop on the scooter and start and          have more flexibility. If you sip air, you
stop (this model you hold between your       can dive your own computer profile
knees and fly like Superman underwa-         without pre-set time/depth limits. We
ter). Rachel then took me on a tour of       dove Molokini Crater every day because
the reef and headed out to the St. An-       recent heavy rains made the viz poor
thony wreck. Normally this could be a        at the dive sites near shore. Late in our
45-minute swim out, but on the scooter       trip, after the rains abated, we were
it took 8 minutes max. James Bondish         able to dive the Landing Craft, the St.
to arrive at the wreck, put the scooters     Anthony’s Wreck, and 85 Foot Pinnacle.
down in the sand, and swim around            Each of these sites has its own interest-

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 Central and Western Pacific                                                haWaii
ing collection of resident critters, and    preset dive site schedule — crew polled
the divemasters made a great effort to      the divers and took requests. Molokini
point them out. The boat is meticu-         crater was a interesting site — we got
lously maintained, and takes a maxi-        there early and beat the other dive and
mum of 12 divers. The snack table is        snorkel boats. Boat leaves from Kihei
loaded with yummy fresh cookies, tasty      boat launch at 6:30 a.m. — convenient
sticky buns, and salty snacks like nuts,    to Wailea and Kihei resorts. Separate
crackers and pretzels. Fruit, soda, water   rinse tank and camera storage area
and hot coffee are also provided. The       that was clearly marked off. Divemas-
crew was friendly and fun. Each diver       ters went out of their way to point
was polled as to what he/she would like     out unique small critters and also did
to see on the dive, and that informa-       their best to let photographers get the
tion was used as one of the criteria for    pics first before others took a look and
site selection. Crew members happily        stirred up the sand.
entertained questions on local flora
and fauna. They also ascertained the        Mike Severns, April 2007, Hank Goich-
experience level of each diver so that no   man (goichphoto@earthlink.net), Los
one would be placed in a situation in       Angeles, CA. Experience: 101-250 dives.
which they might not be comfortable. I      Vis: 50 to 100 Feet. Water: 75 F, calm,
was with my girlfriend who is a newbie      currents. The first dive at Molokini Cra-
to diving. I am an Assistant Instructor     ter was beset with problems — mainly a
with a lot of experience. We were both      strong current. The dive master admit-
happy with the approach taken by Mike       ted to taking us too far and then we had
Severns Diving.                             to literally hold onto coral to get back
                                            to the boat. When I surfaced, I had no
Mike Severns, Marriott Renaissance          air but did do a safety stop at 20 feet.
Wailea Beach, March 2007, Ron Wade          We saw one shark in the distance. The
(wader1352@hotmail.com), Chicago,           other dives were uneventful; the vis at
IL. Experience: 101-250 dives. Vis: 75 to   Molokini was excellent (close to shore
100 Feet. Water: 72 to 74 F, calm. Picked   was only 40-50 feet). The operation is
Mike Severns based on other positive        still good, but having dived in Puerto
reviews on Undercurrent.org. They           Rico last year at La Parguera, I found
were a great dive operation. thorough       the diving in Maui somewhat disap-
briefings by divemasters who had a          pointing. When you can see the large
minimum of 6 years experience diving        critters. things even out a bit; however,
Maui. Provided warm cinnamon rolls,         if you do not, well, it is still fun, but not
cookies, trail mix, goldfish, pretzels,     great. The max. number on the boat
bagels, coffee, hot chocolate, water,       was 10. They meet at 6:15 at the Kihei
soda and juice. Quite a spread. focused     boat ramp. There are snacks and drinks
on safety — well equipped boat with         onboard. On the closer-in dives there
EPIRB, oxygen and first aid kit. Took       were many turtles and a large sting ray.
max of 12 divers, split into two groups     If you book 3 days of diving, you get a
of 6, each with their own divemaster.       discount.
Kept buddies together, but didn’t force
singles to buddy up. Saw lots of great      Mike Severns Diving, June 2007, Chris
indigenous sea-life, 15+ sea turtles on     Jones (cj_cos@msn.com), Colorado
one dive, could also hear the humpback      Spring, CO. Experience: 51-100 dives.
whales singing during the dives. No         Vis: 65 to 150 Feet. Water: 79 to 79 F,

290
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choppy, surge. Their guides take an         dives. I dove Molokini crater off Maui
extraordinary amount of time on pre-        for 3 days with Mike Severns Diving.
dive briefings to tell you specifically     I found them an excellent little dive
what to look for and to explain any         organization. Pauline Fiene is one of
behaviors you might expect from the         the most outstanding dive guides I have
sea life. They answer any questions, and    dived with in a 45-year dive career. Her
do not guess if they do not know. The       dives were orchestrated like an un-
dives are relaxed, with special attention   derwater ballet and her knowledge of
focused on getting all divers (in two       Hawaiian marine life was exceptional
small groups of up to 6 each) in close to   with superb, informative pre- and post-
see the small critters. There is personal   dive briefings.
follow-up after the dive to answer any
questions you have. They make every         Mike Severns Diving, June, 2007, Bill
attempt to accommodate requests; the        McCausland (wsmcc@earthlink.net).
dive sites for the day are not chosen       Sebastopol, CA. Experience: 501-1000
in advance, but only after consulta-        dives. Vis: 70 to 80 feet. Water: 78 F,
tion with their customers. There is a       calm in morning, whitecaps in after-
high chance that every first dive of the    noon. Mike Severns Diving makes
day will be out at Molokini (not a bad      world-class diving out of non-world-
thing!). Pauline (the owner) takes an       class dive sites. We were amazed at
extraordinary amount of pride in her        how good the diving was. Pauline
operation and her DMs, and it shows.        Fiene-Severns, a biologist with over
All guides have extensive experience        7,000 dives (mostly in Maui, but also
and/or backgrounds in marine biology        while doing research in Indonesia) and
or marine science. The attention to         co-author of “Molokini Island: Hawaiis
divers needs and customer service is        Premier Marine Preserve, is clearly the
outstanding. On one dive, we were dis-      best divemaster we have ever had. The
mayed by the underwater presence of         two-tank dive operation goes out and
one of our dive group (nicknamed the        comes back early to beat the afternoon
“human torpedo” or “coral smasher”).        rough seas caused by the trade winds.
When communicating this to the crew,        The operation is seamless and well-
the boat captain suited up and dove         organized. The 38-foot well-maintained
with just the two of us on the next dive!   boat has twin Volvo Penta Sterndrives
Experienced divers are trusted and          engines — no diesel fumes — and there
respected; new divers are given more        is a head and fresh water rinse. The 12
attention. Single, experienced divers are   diver maximum is divided into two
not forced to buddy up with another         divemaster-led groups. The personable
single. UW Photography Comments:            divemasters have the winning com-
A specific set-aside area for cameras       bination of being completely knowl-
and that the crew took the time to          edgeable, intelligent, and having good
hand down cameras from the boat after       social skill. They alternated providing
divers were in the water. Boat Captain      expert dive orientations that focused
Andy is knowledgeable about UWP             on the topographic features and sea
and served as a good resource for other     life of each dive site. Each divemaster
UWP.                                        was excellent. Pauline is charmed and
                                            a mistress of underwater nuances.
Mike Severns Diving, June 2007 Mike         The boat captain kept things running
Davis, New Zealand. Experience: 1400        smoothly and had a knack of piqu-

                                                                               291
 Central and Western Pacific                                                 haWaii
ing an irreverent sense of humor in           surge. Based upon feedback I saw in
everyone. We dived the Kihei-Wailea           Undercurrent, I went with Prodiver
coast, Makena Beach, and inside the           out of Wailea. Prodiver was an excel-
terraced basin and backside wall of           lent operation. They limit their boat
the crescent-shaped Molokini crater.          to 6 divers maximum and they are the
There was a WWII landing craft at one         first boat out of the Kihei boat ramp
site and a 40-foot wreck at another. We       each morning. The first dive is at the
used mooring sites on the inside of the       Molokini Crater and the second dive
Molokini and the rest were drift dives.       is usually a site near the South Maui
Corals included black (Molokini wall),        shore (our group’s second dive was at
cauliflower, finger and antler. We saw a      5 Caves). That means getting up early
lot of sea life: long-nosed butterflyfish,    since the boat leaves at 6:00 AM, but
frogfish, snapper, manybar goatfish,          it also means you beat the dozens of
juvenile yellowtail wrasse (clownfish         snorkel boats to Molokini. You also
look alikes) and various other wrasse,        get back to the ramp after the second
parrotfish, spotted boxfish (spectacu-        dive before 11:00 AM so you have the
lar looking), sea cucumber, endemic           rest of your day to do things on shore.
sergeant, scorpionfish, thornback cow-        Prodiver are professional and unlike
fish, Hawaiian squirrel fish, Hawaiian        many of the Maui cattlecar operations.
garden eels, brown anemone, lionfish,         Most people diving with them are
Hawaiian bigeye, damselfish, common           experienced so the only limit they place
chub, fantail filefish, blennies and the      on divers is to surface when you get to
endemic Ewa blenny, porcupine puff-           800 psi. The diving is not as spectacular
ers, triggerfish, gobies, mantas with         as a lot of other destinations but it is
remora attached, white tip reef sharks,       worthwhile. The visibility at Molokini
blue dragon nudibranch (intriguing            is fantastic (reliably over 100 ft). While
sighting), flatfish, yellow tang, octopus,    Maui lacks colorful corals, the fish here
trumpetfish, needlefish, jacks, lizard-       can be interesting and many are unique
fish, Hawaiian green turtles, et al. We       to Hawaii. You can expect to see a lot
thought that the turtles were on the          of turtles (although not typically at
payroll — one actually brushed me as it       Molokini). There are some reef sharks
cruised by. All the other divers were ex-     and occasional manta rays. I saw two
perienced and had dived at world-class        frogfish, at least six turtles, two octopus,
dive sites. Comfort with buoyancy con-        and three dragon morays on the second
trol is important to be able to take it all   dive. Great destination for families and
in. Dale and Rich Pounder’s B&B, Eva          nondiving activities.
Villa — privacy in a quiet Kihei-Wailea
neighborhood: a studio, two bedroom           Scuba Shack, January 2007, George
and a cottage — thats it — and a              Entwisle, Cashiers, NC. Experience:
reasonable price. There is a pool and         251-500 dives. Vis: 100 to 150 Feet. Wa-
barbeque with a non-party atmosphere.         ter: 73 to 76 F, no currents. We ended
Five minutes from the Kihei Boat Ramp         up diving our third day with another
— site of dive departures.                    dive operation because of their restric-
                                              tions on peeing. On the second day of
Prodiver, February 2007, Scott George         diving, the owners daughter told the
(scottgeo@earthlink.net), Hawthorne,          dive master to give us our dive briefing
CA. Experience: 51-100 dives. Vis: 130        before we were loaded on the boat, and
to 150 Feet. Water: 73 to 76 F, choppy,       if any one of us said anything about

292
   haWaii                                     Central and Western Pacific
peeing in your wetsuit, that the whole        and fish of the Caribbean, Alex and his
group would be taken off the boat and         team found dragon eels, giant morays
lose their day of diving. Both divemas-       and turtles to put on an Oahu show for
ters were helpful, but the owner and his      us. UW Photography Comments: The
daughter were not conducive to diving         rinse tank was stolen from the boat the
with the restrictions on peeing. If a         night before, but AAA allowed the cam-
diver is well hydrated, there is no way       eras unlimited access to the fresh water
you are going to go more than an hour         shower to rinse. Gear was handled care-
underwater without peeing.                    fully and passed to the diver after entry
                                              and quickly moved away from the stern
Oahu                                          upon entry by the crew.

AAA Diving, July 2007, Paul Pruitt            Island Divers Hawaii, April 2007,
(wyrfox@mac.com), Half Moon Bay,              David Schwab (schwabd@bunt.com),
CA. Experience: 251-500 dives. Vis:           APO, AE. Experience: 251-500 dives.
40 to 80 Feet. Water: 73 to 79 F, calm,       Vis: 10 to 25 Meters. Water: 72 to 74 F,
surge. On Oahu there seems to be a dive       calm. Dive masters were capable and
retail shop near every hotel; however,        safety conscious. Boat had divers from
a trip to the docks only finds six dive       other dive operations, so it wasn’t “our”
boats. AAA Diving (and its unique Brit        boat. Decisions on dive sites were made
transplant owner, Alex Mason) is a pro-       by the captain; I ended up diving day
fessional service that does not charter       1 and day 2 on the same sites. On day
through the dive shops. You call and ar-      3, the owner dived with us and we got
range directly, and while the boat could      to dive different sites! First dives were
hold 18 divers, he considers it full at 12.   wrecks to 30 meters; second dives were
AAA does not offer a cheap dive trip,         shallow after 40+ minute surface in-
but gives the divers what they want, in-      terval. I rented gear ... good equipment
cluding long runs to the sea mounts or        (BCs were new) and well maintained.
the signature wreck dives. His unending       Owner Matt allowed me to trade in a
British humor is sarcastic, witty, and        BC for a wing (first time for me) on my
makes surface intervals equivalent to         last day and then dived with me. Per-
London Standup. His staff is as good as       sonal attention was appreciated; I’d dive
it gets, with only certified instructors      with him in more challenging dive con-
as divemasters, so divers get on-the-         ditions. DMs generally took really good
spot lessons and advice on how to             care of the novices and too much care
improve their skills. We did four dives       of experienced divers. Once they had
on a weekday, leaving at 7:30 am for          observed that I was a frequent diver as
two tanks, a lunch break at the docks,        well as an instructor, they relaxed.. Ev-
and two-tank afternoon dives leav-            ery effort made by DMs to show critters
ing from Keehi. Alex does not accept          and other interesting sights to all divers.
credit cards, so an afternoon run to the      Super experience for novices; average to
ATM was necessary to pay the bill. The        above-average for experienced divers,
boat is almost new, CG-certified and          who just have to be patient. Great place
all emergency gear and oxygen were in         to dive with a non-diving spouse/girl/
first-class condition. Entry and exits        boyfriend or child.
are off the swim platform at the rear.
                                              Kaimana Divers, Queen Kapioloni
While Hawaii may not have the color
                                              Hotel, January 2007, Tom Carlson

                                                                                    293
 Central and Western Pacific                                               haWaii
(tcarlson06@gmail.com), Tacoma, WA.          30-40 feet of water. Good viz, about
Experience: 26-50 dives. Vis: 60 to 100      80-100 feet, and many tropicals includ-
Feet. Water: 77 to 79 F, calm, choppy,       ing several different types of moray eels
surge, no currents. Gabe Scottie runs        and lizard fish. Max depth 55 feet; saw
his own dive business and offers a           abundant sea life at both sites. It was
personal touch not often found with          shallow so we had long bottom times at
other dive operators. He picked us up        two wonderful dive sites. The third dive
promptly at our hotel ever day and           session with Gabe was on a smaller boat
got us into some wonderful Hawaiian          out of Hawaii Kai (SE) on a 30-foot
diving. The first day we did buoyancy        boat, the Honey II. We dove Anglers
and skills checks in a pool, then did a      Reef and Koko Craters. Max depth of
two-tank shore dive; the next two days       47 feet. At Anglers Reef we saw more
with him were boat dives. He knows           green turtles, triggerfish, elegant coris,
all the boat operators and got us onto       yellow margin and white mouth mo-
and off the boats with ease. We dove the     rays, striped belly puffer, octopus and
SW, S and SE portions of Oahu with           many other tropicals. Second dive was
Gabe. We received a thorough briefing        at Koko Craters, which is named for the
on each site. Our first dive with Gabe       large volcanic Crater Kokohead, which
was a two-tank shore dive at Kahe Point      overlooks the entire Maunalua Bay area.
Beach Park (Electric Beach). There is        This was an awesome second dive of
shade, bathroom, and shower available.       the day. This is a shallow reef dive that
This is a really good shore dive site.       contains a series of small crater-shaped
This site is located next to an electric     reefs at about 35 feet deep, thus provid-
plant. There is a sandy entry point next     ing ample dive time. There are large
to the concrete wall of the plant and an     resident green sea turtles at this site,
easy surface swim out to about 15 feet       slipper lobster, as well as many schools
deep to drop down onto the coral-en-         of fish, eels. After our dives each day
crusted pipe that discharges warm cool-      with Gabe we would return to the shop
ing water from the power plant across        and it was time to get the logbooks out
the street and attracts a large variety      and start identifying the creatures we
of life. Corals and a plethora of sea life   saw. Gabe is an excellent instructor and
encompass this site with a max. depth        has such a positive attitude he is always
of about 35 feet. The scuba diving was       a pleasure to be around and to dive
fantastic and we heard the sounds of         with. Shore diving site had bathrooms
the spinner dolphins the whole time we       and showers as well as shade. Boats all
were doing scuba dives. Saw snowflake        had rinse tanks for camera stuff.
moray eel, green sea turtles, spotted
eagle ray, white tip reef shark, trigger     Oahu Scuba Divers, Ohana East Hotel,
fish, blue line snapper, sergeant major,     August 2007, Fiona Rattray, Elora, On.
Moorish idols, yellow tangs, convict         Experience: 251-500 dives. Vis: 60 to
tangs, black durgon, porcupine puffers,      100 Feet. Water: 78 F, calm, choppy. I
trumpet fish, and pencil urchins! The        chose Ohana East due to previous re-
second day we did a two-tank boat dive       ports in Undercurrent, and was happy
off the Kahala Kai, a 40-foot catamaran      with the choice. From my ocean view
at Nautilus Reef, and then off to Kewalo     room, I could actually see the ocean.
Pipe. Nautilus Reef is a series of finger    I was able to make my own meals.
reefs formed in a spiral shape in about      Stocked up on food at a supermarket
                                             Oahu Scuba Divers advertises service

294
   haWaii                                   Central and Western Pacific
with a difference. You choose the sites     provided the tank and weights for
you’d like to dive, and Lisa and Roger      shore diving. Besides divemastering,
find a charter boat to take you there       Drew shoots a video of your dive that
(they don’t have their own boat). You       you can purchase from him. There are
can rent gear from OSD if you need          a number of swim-throughs at Shark
to. Tanks filled to 3000 PSI. I requested   Cove, and Drew took me and another
the Corsair wreck and dived it on the       diver on quite a wonderful tour of the
first day. Roger pointed out octopus,       right-hand side of the cove, pointing
a stingray, morays and a type of shell      out numerous turtles, nudibranchs,
that burrows along the sand bottom.         octopus, conger eels, and other assorted
OSD picks you up from your hotel, and       critters. The second dive we did on the
takes you and your gear to whichever        left-hand side, and went on another
marina the boat is leaving from. Three      swim-through where we saw the largest
of the four days of diving were with the    fish I’d seen on Oahu — trevally? —
Enzo, great boat and captain. Either        and some other cool critters.
Lisa or Roger will divemaster, and you
get a detailed site description, wildlife   Waikiki Divers, October 2006, Roger
guide and photographer all in one. We       Cole (coleroger@msn.com), Genoa,
also dived the Sea Tiger, Turtle Canyon,    NV. Experience: 51-100 dives. Vis: 40
Kawalo Pipe, Spitting Cave, and a few       to 60 Feet. Water: 72 to 75 F, choppy,
more sites. The current on the YO was       surge. I was picked up at my hotel and
screaming, so that dive was redirected      taken to the shop where we gathered
to the Sea Tiger again, where we saw a      our gear. When the group finally
turtle napping inside the wheelhouse.       straggled in, we vanned to the dock and
Lots of sharks, endemic Hawaiian fish,      offloaded our gear. Had to wait while
and turtles overall. Lisa and Roger had     one of the DMs “taught” a group of
a nice picnic lunch prepared, complete      first timers about boat diving, gear and
with tablecloth and napkins. Two days       procedures. The boat was way too small
we ate on shore, the other day on the       for the number of divers. With fins and
boat between morning and afternoon          tanks on, my feet were under the fins of
boat dives. Lots of water, juice and        the diver across from me. The exhaust
snacks also provided by OSD. At the         fumes constantly boiled back into the
end of the day, you get dropped off at      boat and the only way to breathe was
your hotel again. Lisa and Roger are        to stand up and face into the wind. The
the nicest folks and even had Hawaiian      first site was about 35 to 40 feet for 40
tree and flower guidebooks, and gave        minutes with several sea turtles, pipe-
helpful hints on where to find topside      fish, coral heads and schooling fish. DM
attractions too. Able to rent camera        I had made us stay real close to him for
from Oahu Scuba Divers; CD of photos        some reason. I couldn’t figure why be-
burned at end of dive trip.                 cause all of us are well experienced. The
                                            other DM had the new divers. Second
ScubaDrew VideoWorks, Ohana                 dive was similar. We anchored off a reef
East Hotel, May 2007, Fiona Rattray,        teeming with sea turtles and schooling
Elora, On. Experience: 251-500 dives.       fish. Some interesting coral formations,
Vis: 40 to 60 Feet. Water: 78 F, calm,      too. Some of us held a sea turtle while
surge, no currents. I drove out to meet     the DM removed a fishhook from its
Drew in the parking lot at Shark Cove,      mouth. Quite a surge and current on
Haleiwa. I had the gear, and Drew           both dives so the air went faster than

                                                                                295
 Central and Western Pacific                                marShaLL iSLandS
normal. It contributed to less vis than      work, pick up any gear you might need,
one would expect. I booked this trip         and then drive you to the boat. If you
through the concierge at the hotel. He       have your own stuff, this is a real waste
recommended them because he’s work-          of time, so sleep in and just meet them
ing on his cert with them. Had I known,      at the boat. On two of the trips they
I would have booked elsewhere.               used 63 cubic foot tanks on the second
                                             dives, which were shallow, in order to
Waikiki Diving, January 2007, Lyn            cut bottom time. This is really tacky.
Greenhill (lyn.greenhill@yahoo.com),
Granite Bay, CA. Experience: 101-250
dives. Vis: 40 to 60 Feet. Water: 73 to 74
F, choppy, surge. Oahu diving is mostly
                                             MarsHall Islands
geared to the “intro to scuba” people,       Bikini Atoll Divers, October 2006,
based on my 6 dive trips there. They         Jeanne and Bill Downey (downdive@
are not used to experienced people           comcast.net), Baden, PA. Experience:
with good air consumption; I routinely       Over 1000 dives. Vis: 100 Feet. Water:
surfaced with 1500 psi. There are 3          84 to 86 F, calm, choppy, no currents.
main areas for diving at Oahu — west         This was our second time making
side, Waikiki, and Maunalua Bay. The         the long trek to Bikini Island; Three
west side has only a few good sites and      Americans and two Brits. From the U.S.
is a long way from Waikiki — over an         it’s time-consuming but fairly simple
hour drive. If you must go there, dive       as long as the planes fly — overnight in
with Ocean Concepts. Waikiki has some        Honolulu, catch a 7 a.m. flight that ar-
interesting spots, some prepared wrecks      rives in Majuro before lunch, overnight
and a few nice reefs. Maunalua Bay           again and catch one more early flight
has the most spots and some are very         to Bikini Atoll on the once-a-week Air
good. My personal favorites are Fantasy      Marshall flight, also arriving before
Reef, the Corsair, and Sea Cave. The         lunch and in time for your first dive
North shore is diveable only in summer,      on the deck of the Saratoga. Arrival is
and then from the shore. Most of the         actually on Eneu Island with a 20-min-
operators don’t have their own boats so      ute boat ride to Bikini Island. We were
charter space from a few boat captains.      in the water diving by 3:00 pm the
This is fine if you like mixed crowds.       day of our arrival. The operation was
Waikiki Diving has their own boat            pretty much the same this year — Jim,
which is 27’ long and can hold a maxi-       Gen, Edward, Ronnie, and the rest of
mum of 10 divers, which they launch          the dive staff are still there, along with
from Maunalua Bay. If the wind is            newcomer Rich, who previously spent 8
blowing (which is pretty much a given        years operating a dive shop in Okinawa.
in Hawaii), you’re in for a wild ride if     We did a total of 12 dives on the same
they go to the outer sites. They didn’t      wrecks as last year — the Saratoga,
have a camera bucket except on 1 of the      Nagato, Anderson, Apogon, Carlisle,
4 trips I went with them, and they also      Lamson, and Arkansas, but there is
didn’t provide any water after diving (a     now more damage to the Saratoga.
real oversight in my opinion). They did      The Saratoga bridge is starting to lean
try to accommodate our preferences for       and the hanger deck to collapse, which
sites, depending on the wind. They also      eliminated our dives through and
will pick you up at your hotel, and then     around that area. We also noticed the
take you to their shop to fill out paper-

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