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ShutterFish

Hawaii - The straight scoop please

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Hi-

 

I've got a business trip to Honululu, Hawaii on the week of July 30th. The question - is the diving any good there and what area would you recommend? My husband and I like live aboards as well as shore diving. We most recently dove the Andaman Islands on the Ocean Rover in February. Before that it was shore based on Cozumel. We've been to PNG twice as well as Fiji and Oz in the Pacific.

 

We are trying to decide if it's worth it to plan a week of diving there.

 

Looking for any advice you can give.

 

Thanks!

Cheri

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I'm sure there are lots of people on here from the states so would have done a lot of diving in Hawaii, I'm from the Uk, i've spent 6 weeks in hawaii from july last year. I've also dived in Fiji, the fijian reefs are a lot more colourful but everyplace has its own unique element to it and i enjoyed some of the dives i did on the big island- did the manta dive and twilight dive. there are some interesting lava tubes on the north shore of oahu. good thing is in july the sea state is generally flat and so excellent for diving. compared to fiji there are so many turtles, i dived and snorkelled off kauai at the beach where the napali trail starts and saw about 25 turtles on one dive, amazing. also captain cook bay on big island is a place we went and saw lots of spinner dolphins which was fun. hope you manage to get some good dives in- once your out of honululu which is like any other large city it is a lovely place.

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Cheri:

 

1. Once you have dove the south pacific, all else is on a lower scale.

2. Don't go to Hawaii to dive; but if you're there, do a few dives.

3. Hawaii is some what like Sea of Cortez - lots of fish; hard rock/lava bottom.

4. If you're on Kona, do the manta night dive; lots of stuff in the water - back scatter and tourists divers; but still awe inspiring! :D

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Shutterfish, this thread might also help you. Follow the link about "other dive operations", it is an eye opener.

 

All the best, James

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I go on frequent business trips to Oahu. AAA did a good job. The Pinnacles was a nice dive site. Lots to see. If you're into colorful soft corals you'll be disappointed. If you like turtles, sharks, morays, octopus, and fish that aren't shy at all, you'll have fun diving around Oahu. Some of my best fish and eel portraits have come from there. I'm going back next week and will likely try and shore dive at Shark's Cove. I've also "heard" that the outer rim of the Hanauma Crater is nice but quite a hike to get into.

Although its across the street from the beach, I thought staying at the Marriott was a lot better than the Sheraton Waikiki. The Sheraton was right on the water but like many of the hotels in that area the beach was really small and crowded. In contrast, the Marriott was right across from the public beaches which weren't so crowded...go figure. In any case the shops and places to eat were all right there and convenient. However, I would stay away from the restaurant inside the Marriott, for breakfast it was terrible.

If I were staying over for awhile, I would choose a liveaboard and dive the other islands. Kauai is supposed to have some unspoiled diving places that don't see divers that often. After diving around Oahu I wouldn't vacation there; however, if you're there already there are some interesting sites like the pinnacles or the budha statue in the watersports park bay at the end of Hawaiikai drive, Sharks Cove etc that are worth investigating. Turtle beach is a cool topside visit.

 

Mahalo,

Gary

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Cheri:

 

1. Once you have dove the south pacific, all else is on a lower scale.

2. Don't go to Hawaii to dive; but if you're there, do a few dives.

3. Hawaii is some what like Sea of Cortez - lots of fish; hard rock/lava bottom.

4. If you're on Kona, do the manta night dive; lots of stuff in the water - back scatter and tourists divers; but still awe inspiring! :D

 

Well said. My wife and I went to Maui last year. We had a great time; it's a beautiful place with lots to do, but I wouldn't go just for diving. The biggest issue I had was that most operators were geared for novice divers (I've never gotten basic dive instruction as part of a briefing before), not experienced photographers. Many sites are also pretty worn out - inside of Molokini is just sad. We finally found an operator we liked, and also ended up doing a number of shore dives (the old collapsed pier is a great one, lots of turtles and fish, a few sharks), which were a lot of fun. We definitely did more than a few dives, but then it doesn't take a whole lot to make me happy underwater.

 

Tim

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All,

 

Wow... I didn't expect this kind of reaction from this crowd. Let's see if I can give a bit of a different perspective.

 

I started diving in Hawaii in 1979 (that's where I was certified). Since then I've dived all over the Pacific (most of Micronesia [Chuuk, Yap, Palau, Rota, Majuro], Australia, Fiji, Vanuatu, Solomons, PNG, Manihi, Rangiroa, Bora Bora, Moorea), Christmas Island, Indonesia (Lembeh, Komodo, Rajat Ampat, Bali, and East Kalimantan), Maldives, Cocos, and much of the Caribbean (although nothing recently). I'm not listing this out to sound arrogant, but rather to set the context for the following statement:

 

Good diving in Hawaii is as good as what many of the places above offer, and (in my opinion) better than virtually everything the Caribbean has to offer (and yes, I liked Little Cayman, Belize by liveaboard, the ease of diving in Bonaire, the critters of St. Vincent & GR, Cozumel, the sharks in the Bahamas [by liveaboard])). The one exception I might make to this is the fairly new "shark dives" that members of this board are raving about off of the Bahamas (with the Tigers, etc.).

 

I still choose to do a week of diving in Hawaii each year (and can't wait until by kids are old enough - this will likely be the first place they dive as well). We usually do a 1 week in Hawaii and then another 2+ weeks somewhere else. Sometimes we even combine these (Hawaii is a great place to break up a trip to Fiji, the Solomons, or Tahiti).

 

Having said this you need to get away from the crowds and find a good operator. There are so many things to do in Hawaii many of the operators feel like they are going to be competing with other activities so they optimize for efficiency (and volume) vs. quality and showing off the really unique aspects of the Hawaiian Islands.

 

Hawaii has a huge number of indigenous fish, and more relic fish species than anywhere else on earth.

 

Some of the world class diving in Hawaii (not in any particular order):

1. Nihau (The "Forbidden Island") off of Kauai. This is done as a 3 tank all day dive by two of the operators (Bubbles Below and someone else, can't recall the name) on Kauai. One of the only places in the world where you can dive (fairly regularly) with Monk Seals. The occasional Oceanic Whitetip shark as well as the amazing underwater geography (The "Arch" makes an incredible picture when schools of fish swim through it). The schools of Butterflies here are larger than most places in the pacific. Note: they only dive this in the summer during the calmest days (and even then the trip back is "an experience...")

 

2. Any of the "Fish Aggregating Devices" off of Oahu or Maui. These large Navy buoys are natural aggregation points for drifting sea life, which in turn attracts small schools of fish, which attracts larger fish and even some of the open ocean predators. Very interesting diving (sit under a buoy and wait to see what shows up). A number of operators will offer this kind of trip, but only once they are comfortable w/your skills (these devices are usually 1-3 miles offshore). Note: there are several operators now offering "chummed" dives for sharks outside the 3 mile limit in Hawaii - haven't done this yet so can't comment on the experience.

 

3. "Turtle Reef" off of the Mauni Lani Hotel, Kahala coast, Big Island. The Mauna Lani raise and release Green Sea Turtles right off their property each year on July 4th. These juveniles usually hang out on the reef for several years before venturing off. This means there is a constant 30-50 green sea turtles hanging out in one area - makes for a great dive as on average you can find 7-8 turtles on a dive, and on occasion as many as 20-25 (depending on time of year).

 

4. "South Point" on the southern tip of the Big Island (only reachable on the Aggressor). Southern point of the Hawaiian islands - stuff comes swimming buy at an amazing rate. I've personally seen sailfish, marlin, oceanic white tips, hammerheads, and 2 whale sharks here. This can be an amazing place to watch big stuff.

 

5. West coast of Molokai: very hard to get to, but you can be rewarded with schooling hammerheads (in the dozens - so not quite Cocos numbers, but still really cool). No operators currently dive this regularly, but you can charter a boat in Maui or on Molokai to get you there if you are motivated. Some of the most pristine diving I've done anywhere...

 

6. Southwest coast of Maui: if you do this with a good operator (I highly recommend Mike Severns http://www.mikesevernsdiving.com/) you'll see many of the unique underwater life in Hawaii. If there is a frogfish along the coast, they will find it. They showed me the biggest frogfish I have ever seen anywhere - literally the size of a football. They also can show you things on the inside of Molokini that most operators either don't know about or don't have the patience to find. I just did this with them again about 3 months ago and it was a great dive (2 eagle rays, lots of cleaning stations, etc.)

 

7. Just north of Kona on the Big Island: For years Dive Makai was the best dive operator here. They would show you the truly unique animal life that no one could find (or try to find). The operation has been sold but the couple running this boat now seem to follow the same philosophy ("only two speeds: slow and stop..."). Only operation that has have ever been able to show me a Tinker's Butterflyfish (actually 3 of them together - completely unafraid of divers - these fish don't come shallow, start searching for them 110ft). All kind of critters live off the west coast of the Big Island - but you need an operator that wants to show you these unique animals, not just get you in and out of the water and back to the dock.

 

Oahu actually offers some of the best diving in Hawaii (sunken submarines, hammerheads & other sharks, etc.), but it's not readily available to tourists. That's because there are so many operators that base their business on volume. Most people dive 1 day or maybe 2 at most, so almost all of these operators just run a set schedule each week (Monday - "Landing Craft," Tuesday...). You really need "a friend w/a boat" to get to the really good diving off of Oahu.

 

- Matt (aka: One Yellow Tang - my favorite fish in Hawaii)

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Being from Colorado, I'm happy just to be wet! With that said, I just got back from a pretty good shore dive in Oahu. Granted it wasn't easy to lug the gear but once I got in and got past the barrier reef...wow. Had a great time with all the fish, squid, etc. I just missed seeing a whale. I was lugging myself out of the water when someone on shore spotted a blow....right where I had just been. This has to be one of the best kept secrets because the reef on the outside rim of the crater is the best I've seen in Oahu yet.

 

Recommendations - If you go before 7:30AM its free. Bring your own dolly, hand-truck or Scuba wheely because its a long walk down to the crater. Paved...but long. I toted my gear and was whipped before I even started diving. However, its a great place to just sit around anyway so I took a break, rented a locker ($5) for the wallet and car keys.

The dive:

Getting out isn't that tough. Directly in front of the 2nd lifeguard tower, as you walk West you'll see some buoys out near the first barrier reef. That's the entry point. There are two very long cables that go out to the edge of the crater. Makes finding your way back to the exit point really easy. I'd recommend snorkelling out most of the way and then dropping down as you get about half way. This will conserve your air. Drop down and follow the edge of the reef/and or the cable. You'll now when you've reached the outside edge.

Getting back was a little tougher. Follow the cable back to the entry. You'll know when you get close because you'll be kciking and not going anywhere. The surge and current coming out of the small protected bay really makes it tough to try and swim. Drop down, grab the cable and pull yourself in. Once the cable goes underground you'll be right in the mouth of the opening. From here you'll have to claw your way back into the protected inner reef.

So If I wasn't whipped going in the dive, coming back out I was a dying. The first time I tried this I gulped down 600lbs of air!!! Anyway, the outter reef is certainly worth it but I'd definitely bring a handtruck the next time I go.

 

Dive in,

Gary

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I just returned from a 3-tank dive with AAA. Alex and his group do a nice job. They'll let you dive the limits of your computer and take you to some nice spots. Your chances of seeing large Turtles, sharks, rays and eels is pretty good. You'll also have an opportunity to see Hawaii's indigenous fish. If you're going to dive Oahu, AAA on Sunday with their 3-tank dive will give you the flavor of Oahu Diving.

 

Gary

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I live and dive on Oahu. My wife and both agree that the Big Island, Kona side has the best diving. Lots of operators to choose from but we constantly go with Wanna-Dive, small boat but the DM- Bob will show you some endemic fish that are fantastic.

I'll be here in July so shoot me an e-mail perhaps we can either dive together or I'll put you in contact with a good operator.

Aloha

ed

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I have dove all islands and have to agree that the big island is where it is at in Hawaii.I can give you some of my personal favorites if you pm me.I have dove the Manta night dive 4 times and have been skunked 4 times.I must be bad luck.And promise to all of you I will never go on this dive again so you can see the mantas.

Here is a manta photo that I took on a beach dive last month.

post-5772-1177559390_thumb.jpg

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