Just back from a week in Kona, and was able to get in a couple of days of purely pleasure diving while there. My husband and I usually go to Kona 2 - 3 times a year, and consider it a little corner of heaven. We've been doing this since 2001. While I've worked with dive operators in the past as onboard videographer in other parts of the world, my diving in Kona has always been purely non-commercial pleasure diving for the sheer enjoyment of it.
When in Kona, my husband and I dive with Jack's Diving Locker. We have consistently had a great experience diving with Jack's. This trip, there was a decent south swell during our first day of diving, which can make some of the sites a bit surgy. Our captain found some good dive sites in more sheltered areas with healthy corals and lots of fishes, including a fairly large frogfish (likely a Commerson's) and numerous species of moray eels. We had a blast! The second day was calmer and our dive boat left the harbor escorted by a good-sized tiger shark, which was a real treat and always a welcome sight! This day's diving included schools of raccoon butterflyfish, eagle ray, again numerous species of moray eels, huge green sea turtle, two manta rays winging their way through a good-sized school of Heller's barracuda, Hawaiian garden eels, beautiful little longfin anthias, teardrop butterflyfish, and schools of long curious cornetfish. Impressively healthy coral on all our dives, which is always heartening to me. On the surface, spinner dolphins and flying fish. Just a great day of diving!
Among the things that I appreciate most about Jack's include their professionalism, their knowledge of the area and which sites are best when the conditions are less than ideal, their longtime commitment to conservation of the marine environment through establishing day-use mooring buoys for dive boats to better protect the reefs, and their concerted work to gain legal protection of the manta rays of Hawaii.
But to me Kona is far more than just a diving destination. I also love the history and culture of the Big Island, and the many sacred sites to visit all over the island. Among my favorites are Pu'uhonua o Honaunau (Place of Refuge, also one of my favorite dive sites), Kealakekua Bay State Historical Park (also a cool dive site), and Pu'ukohola Heiau, the last great temple built by King Kamehameha.
I also love birding, and the birding tours into Hakalau Forest Wildlife Refuge offered by Hawaii Forest and Trail are fantastic. These folks also offer a tour up to the Mauna Kea observatory that I hope to do on my next trip back to the Big Island. Another of my favorite activities is traveling on horseback through the beautiful sacred Waipio Valley. And of course there's the erupting volcano and Volcano National Park which is simply off the chart.
So I'll say publicly something that I've been saying privately for years now: one of my favorite places in the whole world to visit and dive is Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii. And when diving in Kona with a dive operator, I dive with Jack's Diving Locker.
- Mary Lynn
Kona Trip Report, 8/27-9/02/11
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