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"Advanced" Diving in Kona?

Discussion in 'Hawai'i' started by jpk, Jun 17, 2012.

  1. jpk

    jpk Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Hermosa Beach, CA
    8
    3
    3
    Hi All,

    My buddy and I are going to leave our cold home waters of SoCal and be in the Kona area during the first week in July. I've been researching the dive ops, and it looks like although they all offer advanced and long-range dives, all of them require a minimum group. Has anyone had good/bad experiences with any of them in terms of their more advanced dive trips? I've read through the past threads and saw a lot of general recommendations, but few talking specifically about long-range or advanced dive trips.

    The other question is that given they all have minimum group sizes, is anyone else going to be in Kona that week and interested in putting a group together? :D

    -J.P.
     
    lynch likes this.
  2. Mr Carcharodon

    Mr Carcharodon Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Southern California
    1,367
    219
    63
    Go shore diving. Get some tanks, go do your own thing. No groups are required. Just don't do a face plant getting into or out of the water since the lava is sharp. Oh and don't step on the urchins which are much farther up into the surf zone than in southern California. Also if you dive the area just outside of Honokohau harbor it is recommended not to hand feed the tiger shark.
     
  3. tracydr

    tracydr Divemaster

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: North Carolina, 3 miles from South Carolina
    2,685
    731
    113
    I would shore dive. If you want to boat dive, try Jack's Dive Locker.
     
  4. DivemasterDennis

    DivemasterDennis DivemasterDennis ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Lakewood, Colorado
    3,509
    1,532
    113
    Both Jack's and Kona Honu do a good volume and may have groups ready made that you can join for special request dives. I think your best bet is to get there and talk to these two operators. (They are about a 10 minute drive apart, at Kailua. However, their regular runs will take you to some very enjoyable sites, and since you haven't dove Kona before, don't eliminate those from you consideration. Have a great time. I wish I was going. Haven't been there since February!
    DivemasterDennis
     
  5. acooper

    acooper Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Waikoloa, Hawaii, United States
    135
    52
    0
    Boat diving is convenient, but many of the sites used by the boats out of Honokohau are so easily reached from shore. It is disconcerting to be moored over the site looking at the guys getting their gear ready on a tailgate less than 100 yards away. How much did you pay for that boat dive?

    Maybe mix it up? Try a little shore diving with the boat dives? Diving from the boat will give you a nice intro to the area. Diving from shore will stretch the budget. The guys here can give you good directions to nice sites all along the coast.
     
    Midge907 likes this.
  6. jpk

    jpk Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Hermosa Beach, CA
    8
    3
    3
    Thanks for the info, Dennis. I'll give them a call about some of the more advanced dives and see if there is a group already.

    I should have mentioned in my OP, we are definitely planning on doing a couple 2-tank AM dives, the Manta dive, as well as shore diving while we're there - I was looking for something maybe more advanced to round out the trip. We have six diving days before we set off to explore the rest of the island, so I was thinking since most ops seem to have a 3-trip discount, maybe 2 days of 2-tank AM dives and the Manta dive somewhere in there to round out the three, a day for the advanced trip, and then the rest filled in with shore diving.

    That's also good to know - it would be a little bit strange to ride a boat to a shore dive spot. I've been poking through shorediving.com as well as the old LET'S GO SHORE DIVE'N' site (thank you, Wayback machine) for spots. It sounds like Place of Refuge is a must-do; any other sites in particular that you'd recommend? I'm willing to drive a bit, so sites up north towards Kohala/Puako are definitely fair game too.

    It's OK, I'm bringing my Kevlar lobster gloves...:D
     
  7. joe8mofo

    joe8mofo Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Atlanta, GA
    439
    7
    18
    I would recommend Place of Refuge, Alua Beach (This is a very popular paid for boat diving spot), Puako Village End, Old Kona Airport Beach, and Mahukona.

    What do you mean when you say "advanced," do you mean deeper or more challenging conditions/navigation?

    if Deeper is what you mean then you would be looking at Place of Refuge, Puako Village End, and Old Kona Airport Beach for sure.

    You could easily plan on 3 dives at place of refuge and still not see it all, make sure you bring enough tanks so you don't have to run back to get them refilled as place of refuge is a bit of a drive from Kona.
     
  8. spoolin01

    spoolin01 Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: SF Bay Area, CA
    1,235
    138
    63
    The advice about shore diving is spot on. Many of the sites within 1/2 day charter of the boat harbor are also accessible from shore, though many of those also require a very serious and sober assessment of conditions before jumping off the lava - getting out if the swell has come up even just a bit can be very tricky and requires careful selection of just the right spot and timing. Pick the exit spot before getting in - it is hard to assess from the water at that angle and if there's a lot of white water on top and bubbles at the exit point. There are a lot of boat-only sites north and south of the harbor, but they are generally not so different than the ones you can get to from shore from what I've seen.

    I was there for 6 weeks in Feb/Mar, and while the big shops say they have more than 50 spots or whatever to choose from, it seemed they were hitting the same 3 or 4 spots most of the time even under great conditions - at least some of their boats were. I go with Big Island Divers, who I really like (esp. their shore gear rental policy), but at that time of the year they were doing both AM and PM dive and whale trips, and didn't offer any 3 tank long range trips - I don't know if that changes for the summer now with the whales gone. I suspect gas prices might have an effect on that as well. There are some great sites down south at Red Hill and beyond, but you'd have to ask specifically about going there.

    If conditions are really good, it's worth a day or two of boat diving for the chance to see some different spots. If the seas are up at all - and from what I can tell the big charters are pretty conservative in their tolerance of current and surge - their site selection collapses to just a couple of spots.

    It may be that you can figure out how to ensure a charter of advanced divers, and that the charter will tailor the dive correspondingly. I've found that information hard to get.

    To the list of good shore sites, I'd add anywhere from the Kaholo Ponds north to Keahole Pt (just south of the airport). The NELHA energy lab road, and the next one south (goes by a big empty golf course who's name I forget) are the access - pick a car with good ground clearance, some of the access at NELHA is paved, the rest is not. There are a couple of relatively easy access spots there - relative being the operant term!! - and some that are more challenging.

    Honaunau/Two Step has the nice quality of being both one of the best coral/fish/dolphin spots, good for two dives in a day, as well as in a class by itself when it comes to ease and safety of entry and exit.
     
  9. jpk

    jpk Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Hermosa Beach, CA
    8
    3
    3
    Thanks guys, great info!

    I don't see anything on Big Island Divers' website about shore gear rental -- what in particular do you like about it?
     
  10. spoolin01

    spoolin01 Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: SF Bay Area, CA
    1,235
    138
    63
    They took the rental info off the website some time ago. They have really good prices for extended rentals, but the main thing I like is the tank rental policy - $7 per day to keep the tank, much less at the weekly rate, and you can get air fills for $3.50-$4 with a multi-fill card purchase. When I checked around everyone else quoted a flat $10/day rate (unlimited fills) but no weekly discount. Another big difference was the weight rentals - for a few years we'd ship our weights in USPS flat rate boxes, because a couple of weeks' weight rentals was running almost $100/person - but BI has discounted their weight rates substantially for us the last couple of years.

    They seem to have a lot of different pricing schemes, depending on what you want and how long so it's probably best to just go in and ask for what you want. We've done much better than the listed rates.
     

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