View Full Version : Kona, Hawaii (Kohala Coast) - boat charter or shore dive?

09-25-2007, 10:21
Hi everyone,

Sorry if this is redundant - I've yet to read all the threads within this forum!

Heading to Hawaii this Jan, a place I'm sure many of you more experienced divers have visited. We're staying on the Kohala Coast of the big island (Fairmont Orchid specifically) and most of the lit. I've checked out says that there are great dives from shore, but outstanding boat dives through various companies.

Any recommendations either way? Could anyone be so kind as to recommend an outfit that was especially memorable and/or helpful? How about a great beach to start from?

thanks - mucho appreçiado.

High Plains Drifter
09-25-2007, 12:44
I was there a year ago last summer. We actually stayed in Kona, which (I think) is about 30 miles south of where you'll be staying. If you don't mind the drive, we used Jack's Diving Locker (http://www.jacksdivinglocker.com/welcome.htm) for all our dives and they were excellent. The signature dive (for good reason) for a lot of those operators seems to be the manta night dive. It was amazing and I'd do it again in a heartbeat.

Sorry, but we didn't do any shore diving while there.

09-25-2007, 15:46
The traffic between the Kohala coast resorts and Kailua town seems pretty bad a lot of the time. There is also road construction going on (which I suspect will change it from a 2 lane to a 4 lane parking lot.) If I were staying at the Orchid or anyplace up that way I would research the shops that leave from places north of Kailua harbor. Kona Honu & Wanna Dive leave from Honokohau. Kohala Divers leaves from Kawaihae. May be others. I don't have personal experience with any of them but have heard mostly good things.

09-26-2007, 10:41
great advice. That's the stuff you don't find on travel websites... Traffic problems! Really appreciate that info.

09-30-2007, 20:19
there's a map of dive sites in Kauai where my dad lived for like 2 years... all the non-beginner sites seem to be boat dives.... plus the sea life mentioned on all those boat dives seems waaayy more exciting than the regular abundance of fish just off the coast. i dunno if the islands all vary too much from each other as far as coastline.

11-16-2007, 13:32
If you are going to dive in the morning there will be little traffic into Kona. All the traffic is heading out of town to the resorts at that time of day. People are going to the resorts to work. If you are going to do a afternoon dive you will hit traffic going into town, but it would still be worth it because if you want to see manta's only the kona dive shops offer this. Also, a warning I had a really bad experience with Kohala Divers, so I would avoid them. If you still want to dive north of town I would recommend the Mauna Lani or other resort operators, and highly recommend shore diving. In Kona go to Jack's Locker, Honu Divers, or Big Island Divers.

11-16-2007, 15:34
I live here on the big island check out my thread under diving in the US then under hawaii then under shore diving on the big island...I got some great shore dive sites...the best diving for me is right off shore...but what i tell everybody who come out to the big island to dive you must do Manta Ray night dive it will be one of the greatest times of you life...there are three dive charters i would recomend...Jacks diving Locker and Big Island Divers if you dont want to think about anything on your dive exept swimming and breathing they are the way to go...but if you want smaller and more personal trip check out dive makai Dive Makai (http://www.divemakai.com/) they are great all they want to do is dive and then dive some more...but i would recomend shore diving over boat diving here on the big island

07-05-2008, 13:21
I'm replying to you from a villa in the Mauna Lani resort,(Fairmont is in this resort) and am renting from a local diver. The replies that say the traffic is bad to Kona is true if your from the middle of Kansas, but I live in Chicago and the traffic is worse there. People do drive right on you as... but just do your own thing and don't let them bother you.

There is a private beach that you should have access to in this resort and that's a good place to start. There is an area known as Puako about 10 min North of the resort. Drive down into the area and look for the "Shore Access" signs, you have to drive about 2 miles from the main road. There are many of these access spots and the dive boats bring there people to this area. You can have a dive shop take you but if you're an experienced diver, why pay to go where you can go for free. There is a small shop in the Waikoloa beach resort in the Queens Marketplace that can tell you some local spots. If you do dive on your own, watch for surge and tide times.

The Kohala Divers has rental equipment and this is where we get our tanks & weights, too expensive to bring them with. They are located by the Kawaihae harbor, about a 20 minute drive from the resort. The cost is $18 for tank and weight and if you need a refill the same day they refill there tanks for free. They of course will try to get you on there boats but if you don't want to, then don't, we didn't and have had great dives. I would suggest before you dive to snorkel these areas frist to get aquianted with the waters and just to know where you want to go.

The only reson to go to Kona area is for the night Manta Ray dive, but you need to go by boat. Enough for you?

Mark G.

07-06-2008, 08:27
we used Kona Honu Divers when we were there in 2006 and were very pleased with them. We would have been happy with Jack's or Big Island divers, too.... but the reason we chose Kona Honu is that me and hubby are both photographers/videographers with big rigs. We needed a bigger boat with a dedicated camera table. Smaller boats don't have a place for them and then you end up with people tripping over your camera or kicking it if they walk around. I also hate sitting on a small rocking boat for an hour surface interval...:smiley11: the KH boat is big and you can walk around and chat with the other divers between dives. Much more comfortable.!

07-06-2008, 09:48
I have dove with Big Island divers, Kona Honu and Jacks. I found Kona Honu has excellent DM's but a cattle boat (unless they have put a smaller boat in operation). Jacks is great for the Manta dive with Keller but the day time diving is Cattle Boat. Big Island divers is a smaller boat, great DM's and I have never dove with more than 6 people on their boat....For the Manta dive....Do Jacks with Keller on board then either pick Kona Honu or Big Island for your 2nd Manta dive.

I've done shore diving in a couple of spots like the City of Refuge (I think that is the name)...honestly the snorkeling was better.

Do not expect to see a lot of fish....they have all ended up on our Sushi tables over the years. Nice easy diving with great Vis.....the Manta dive is in my top 5 dives!

07-06-2008, 19:44
I went with Red Sail Sports - and was very impressed. I was not certified at this time, and signed up for a "Resort Course" (at least I think thats what it was called). This was not the first Resort Course I went on, but it definitely was the most enjoyable. I met my DM (who was my buddy) for a few hours in the pool the day before. He sized me for all my equipment and got me familiar with the basics. Then the dives the next day were amazing. So much so, that I went through my training when I got back. I know this was somewhat backwards, but I didn't have time to get certified before I went.

If you're a beginner - I would recommend them.