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I'm debating whether to do a dive in Kona or in Jihea. Are Manta Rays a poissiblity off Maui? I see they promote them in Kona. Can anybody recommend any shops? Yes, I know most will say book both, but I'm visiting family friends so I can reserve more than maybe a day or two of diving. Thanks for all help.
Kona has a specific Manta Ray dive location where you are not guaranteed to see them, but the chances are very good that you will.
Kihei does not have a specific location that you will likely encounter Manta Rays, nor does any other area of Maui. The best diving on Maui is at Molokini Crater approx. four miles offshore from South Maui. It requires booking with a dive boat.
This is a page I put together for people that inquire about Maui diving. I hope it helps.
I don't know what kind of diving you want to do, but here are two Kona suggestions:
Jack's Diving Locker: a full shop with charter trips. Well organized and seem to have something for everyone.
Dive Makai: This boat operator is particularly good for critter lovers. Dive briefing includes what you are likely to see and what it's likely to be doing. Not a shop. A crew member, Lio Kai, frequents this board.
Maybe you can try both places. Interisland flights aren't too expensive and both places offer fantastic diving. I dive from just south of Kihei on Maui all the time and I am constantly surprised with what we see. I've seen my fair share of Mantas here too, day and night. Expect to see quite a few other cool critters too, like sea turtles, reef sharks, eagle rays, octopus', you name it. Good luck deciding!