Hawaii, the Big Island
Dive Makai, 1995. "Dive Makai was fantastic. Divemasters were extremely knowledgeable; gave good briefings that were more than 'go 20 yards and turn left.' Explained fish behavior and educated you about what to look for. I felt that I was in an extremely well run marine biology class. Let you dive computers, and were flexible. I would never consider using anyone else." P.A.P., New York, NY
Dive Makai, Royal Waikoloan, January, 1995. "Best dive guides I have had. Can transform an average dive into a good dive because of little critters, juveniles, teens, and adult fish. Missed a whale shark by two days. Still saw tarpons, turtles, octopi, moray eels. Big island is worth the visit with volcanoes. No shop, reserve by phone. Sometimes hard to reach. . . . Excellent restaurants especially in Waimea. Good hotel." H. Hosek, Sherman, TX
Dive Makai, March, 1995. "Good stuff: Alexis and Amy great. Knew where the critters were and had excellent briefing. Saw a good variety of coral and fish, although nothing big. Heard whales in water but didn't see any. Went out with only two; had a lot of personal attention, great dive operation. Great diving. Computers only $2 extra. . . . Bad stuff: While we were off gassing on the boat before our second dive a diver came swimming up to our boat. He said he was with Kona Coast divers and they left him; tried to radio them and they didn't have their radio on. After our dive on our way to shore saw Kona Coast boat and signaled them. They said they had all of their divers didn't even know he was missing." Jim Shipaila, Grand Rapids, MI
Dive Makai, May, 1995. "The best and most knowledgeable of anyone we've dived with. They taught us about the fish and surroundings we were to see and had their own personal photo album to refer to. They had great betweendive snacks. The fish life more than makes up for the lack of coral. Turtles in cleaning stations and laying in black sand with garden eels all around us were special treats. Water 78 degrees, visibility 80 100 ft. . . . Stayed in condos, got tips from locals on places to eat. Food was reasonable and excellent. Excellent island trips to Volcano National Park. Remember your dive light if you intend to stay after sundown." Kathleen Hegeman, Henrietta, NY
Dive Makai, Royal Kona Resort, June, 1995. "Lisa, Tom, Amy and other staff are really excellent. They give the best dive briefings you could imagine. They are excellent at knowing where the critters are (turtle cleaning station, rare zebra eels, frog-fish, leaffish). Very service oriented. Night dive had five mantas. Dive boat is small but well equipped. Groups size is limited, so dives are not crowded. Royal Kona Resort was excellent value and only a few minutes from dive pier." John Crossley, Midvale, UT
Dive Makai, July, 1995. "Great boat, good briefings, good sites, adequate snacks. 79 degree water, all dives guided, vis 80100." Les Alan Levinowitz, Brooklyn, NY
Eco Adventures, December, 1994. "Seas choppy, surge, no currents; water temperature 75°; visibility 6070 feet; could not dive own profile; liberal in enforcing adherence to depth limits. Mike Farmer is an excellent diver and guide. I liked how he pointed out the fish/creatures without disturbing them, and controlled the number of divers who come for a closer look. His wife is an excellent videographer; she is completely unobtrusive, but gets great shots. Nice boat, too. They help a large group to have individual experiences. Good sandwiches, too." Anon.
Hawaiian Divers, February, 1995. "Hawaiian Divers accommodated my needs to get back early to leave for Hilo. The divemaster buddied up with me after a short surface interval and got me back to shore on the Zodiac after my second dive. Be wary of travel companies or boat trip advertising the night manta dives. Winter is slow season and if they don't get the minimum number of divers, they canceled without letting me know." Thom. W. Warren, Salem, OR
Hawaiian Divers, June 1995. "Very accommodating. I was able to do all the dives I desired. Fantastic night manta ray (10 feet) dive." Frank Randall, Clinton, IA
Kohala Divers Ltd., October, 1994. "Turner Lett, owner/operator, is a great person, accommodating, professional and safetyconscious. No other divers on this NW side of island. Max. six people on boat, short rides to sites. First dive 90 feet, second dive 4560 feet. Good night dives, lots of critters. Great for beginners and kids. Good rental stuff; equipment well maintained. 3000 psi. No rush; easy going. Intermediate divers with computers would have fun; advanced a little hohum except the night dives with lots of small critters. On prior dives have seen sharks, whale sharks, dolphins on surface, rays. Water 7982 degrees, 40 to 80 foot vis, willing to lead dive and point out neat stuff." Thomas F. Dixon, Meridian, ID
Kona Coast Divers, Kona Surf Resort, September, 1994. "Two good daytime dives; night dive with mantas was really awesome: two 6footers and one 10footer for the hour we were in the water, swooping and circling and doing acrobatic loops right next to us. The videographer's lights attracted them, resulting in great video shots - a great dive for your money. Snorkeling in Kahaluu Beach State Park in morning before the crowd arrives was great, too." M.P. Ciecierski, Columbia, MD
Ocean Sports, Royal Waikoloan August, 1995. "Great for beginners. No one else to dive with in Waikoloa area except Red Sail Sports, but they are a cattle boat. Claire and her crew are nice, helpful. They cater those who dive once or twice a year so when they meet real divers they are thrilled. They back off a lot and can enjoy their dives. Pentagon and Turtle South are great dives." Lydia H. Klein, New York, NY
Sea Paradise, Kona Coast Resort, January, 1995. "Captain seemed impatient, but it does force the divers to get in the water fast. They wanted to be back on time, but we had a good time anyway. Dave was an excellent guide, enthusiastic, and found all the critters. . . . I wish that they would not touch them and control the number of people trying to get a closer look. Beginner divers kicking and grabbing and overweighted is not good for the creatures or this environment. Water, 75 degrees, vis 6070. No problem if you didn't strictly adhere to depth limit, but we didn't push it." Anon.
Sea Paradise, February, 1995. "Jan and the rest of Sea Paradise operation were fantastic. Despite varying dive levels on boat, bottom time was not limited (first dive 60 feet for 60 minutes, second 50 feet for 60 minutes) and they went out of their way to cater to interests. Divemasters found unusual critters, e.g., crabs, nudibranchs, leaf fish, eels, and octopus. Lava tubes were fun. Manta ray night dive was quite an experience, better than Sting Ray City. Kona Coast not teeming with fish or beautiful coral, however Sea Paradise made the diving enjoyable by their hard work, finding animals, and great attitude. Water 75 degrees." Karl Malmsley, Weston, MA
Bubbles Below, July 1994. "My main objectives were to become Nitrox certified and to try Nitrox in open water. Because of a joint venture between the Bubbles Below and the Nitrox instructor, I ended up going on the Nitrox dive with Bubbles Below. The owner/divemaster was personable and knowledgeable. The two dives consisted of diving in large reef and rock structures with many overhangs and holes, with curved and straight runs and extended about 1030 feet off the bottom. A large population of diverse and unusual fish, crustaceans, and critters live in and about these structures. . . . The boat was comfortable; cellular telephone onboard. The diving was good to excellent. What one sees when diving Hawaii is different because of the indigenous and endemic species. The personnel strive to educate one about the area and they point out many items below that would be missed. Dives limited to six persons per trip. Bring a wet suit, water temperature is cool. Everything else was very good. No complaints. Safety consciousness practiced to a high degree. Stay away from the big operators that promise you the moon, but only deliver a small piece of cheese (too many want to sell you a poor quality video tape of your dive in an anxious way). Hawaii diving (and everything else in Hawaii) is rather expensive compared to Caribbean/Mexico operations." Anon.
Bubbles Below, January, 1995. "Kauai was disappointing, however the conditions were not good. Rain, cloudy, poor visibility. The fish life was poor. The dive sites occasionally seemed barren. The only bright aspect was the groups of turtles on almost every dive. Dive Kauai in a season other than winter. . . . People at Bubbles Below were excellent - friendly, knowledgeable, enthusiastic, but a little short on helping with a Nikonos V." Dr. Sherwin Isenberg
Bubbles Below, July, 1995. "Great boat - free computers and lights, good snacks, good briefings, good sites. 79° water, all dives guided, vis 6080." Les Alan Levinowitz, Brooklyn, NY
Bubbles Below, August, 1995. "Went to island of Niihau; three tanks $200. 100 foot guided dives, computer used, long bottom times. Snorkeled and dived with three monk seals, white tip reef sharks. Snorkeled (but not close) with pod of 20-30 spinner dolphins. Night dive saw huge Spanish Dancer nudibranchs, lion fish, turkey fish, slipper lobster. Two tank dive on S.W. area; six turtles, dive, eight turtles, octopus, harlequin shrimp. Linda is most knowledgeable even on species identification. Saw rare morwong. Several leaf scorpion fish - hard to find. Saw no lobsters." Steve Neal, Fairfield, TX
Fathom Five, Grantham Resorts, April, 1995. "Accommodations were an excellent value. No dive packages, but for $100/day you get a nice condo, no maid hassles, and close proximity to Poipu Beach. . . . Fathom Five is a poor dive operation in comparison to sites we've visited in the Caribbean. Divemaster Charlie is personable and good, but other divemasters were inconsiderate of reefs, sea life, and dive customers. Divers have no freedom, and divemasters actually pick up shells and give them to divers as souvenirs. Except for Charlie, other divemasters seemed to be generally bored with their jobs and viewed divers as a nuisance to be tolerated. Considering high price of dives, we expected better attitudes and service. Dives cost $75 per person for a half-day, two tank trip. . . . I wish I had known the bad points above - I'd have gone to the Caribbean and paid less for better diving." Greg & Nancy Earle, Sterling, VA
Mana Divers, April, 1995. "Ken Lewis is the most knowledgeable and courteous dive guide I have ever used. His knowledge of Hawaiian sea life is incredible - his briefing can be as long as half an hour if you are interested in what you will see. Ken dives with you, but respects your ability to use your computer. Spent surface interval discussing what we had seen and looking it up in his reference books if there were questions. . . . He has a warm water shower (Hawaii diving is cold.) and fruit and pop to pass the time. Ken allowed my 10 year old son to come on the boat and took him to a secluded cove to snorkel during the surface interval. Hawaii Diving is expensive - but Ken makes it easier to lay out that kind of money." Steve Kent, Mead, WA
Maui, August, 1994. "Best diving JanuaryMarch for whales. August is too crowded on Maui. John's Scuba Experience - rude. Captain Nemo's is good for tank/equipment rental and gives good, accurate profile for beach dives. Took a boat to Molokini and Lanai with Hawaiian Reef Divers. They gave multipleday diver discounts, included all gear in the price and were good to dive with, but we saw more sea life on beach dives. These sites are usually better, but were crowded. Some dive operators take boats to the good beach spots. People pay $75 to go where they could walk off the beach. Take boats only to Molokini or Lanai. Best beach dives were behind the Hyatt/Marriott (at least 10 turtles, spotted eagle ray) and Honolua Bay on north end of island. Dive left side of bay for many turtles, eels, nice 50foot wall, squid if you're lucky. Right side of bay is great for snorkelers." Pat Kinsey, Cameron Park, CA
Ed Robinson's Diving Adventure, February, 1995. "Good stuff: Overall pretty good, divemasters friendly and had a sense of humor, knew where the critters were, very windy; we were asked where we wanted to go and listened to us, dove Molokini, but was too windy for drift dive. Saw a whale on the way but not while in the water, although you could hear them. Water 7276 degrees, 5570 foot visibility. . . . Bad stuff: Had to be at boat ramp by 7:30 but didn't leave 'til almost 9 a.m. First day four to five footers - three divers fed the fish, second day seven to nine 9 footers. Robinson's only boat to venture out; no refund offered if you didn't want to get beaten to death. If I had known about south westerly winds before I left home, I wouldn't have gone. They even closed the beaches because of high winds and waves, but Robinson's went out. Seems more interested in money than safety." Jim Shipaila, Grand Rapids, MI
Ed Robinson's Diving Adventure, July, 1995. "Dive early (meet boat at 6:30 to 6:45 a.m.) because afternoon wind makes conditions rough. Excellent large boat limited to 13 divers. We often went to Molokini crater, which had 20 to 23 other boats there, but stayed to the backside or sides and never had a problem with crowds. Dive guides were good at finding eels (including tiger eel and dragon eel) sharks, octopus, frogfish, etc. Overall, the diving was much better than I had expected. . . . Ed Robinson also arranged a nice condo for just $65 a night." John Crossley, Midvale, UT
Ed Robinson's Diving Adventure, Grand Wailea, July, 1995. "Grand Wailea the best resort I've ever seen. Dived with Ed Robinson's. Five divers per boat, all advanced. First dive to Shark Condo at 130 feet. Saw several white tip sharks and a manta. Both were curious of us. Shallow dives with lots of turtles, nice coral and lots of eels. You must dive in the morning because the winds kick up in the afternoon. Water 7981 degrees, 60100 foot visibility. Overall, the diving was better than I expected." John & Debra Mitschrich, Phoenix, AZ
Ed Robinson's Diving Adventure, August, 1995. "Professional group. Bud and Kim are extremely good. Bud is a great captain. Dove back of Molokini - not much current; great dive. Red Hill - said they saw seal there earlier in the week but we didn't; nice dive, though. Halfhour to 45minute drive from Kaanapali." Lydia H. Klein, New York, NY
Extended Horizons, August, 1995. "Dove with them last year, had just as much fun this year. Professionals, know their job and are good at it. Help when you want; otherwise, they stay in background. Lanai has some fabulous dive sites; lots of Moorish idols, all kinds of eels (white mouth, snowflake, etc.), angels, frog fish." Lydia H. Klein, New York, NY
Lahaina Divers, Embassy Suites, September, 1994. "Three dive trip to island of Lanai; dove Second Cathedrals, Knob Hill, and Sergeant Major sites; lots of colorful reef fish; guide coaxed out sleeping white tip reef shark (2footer) and an octopus. A mediumsized turtle hung around with us at Sergeant Major and a large pod of spinner dolphins engulfed the boat as we traveled between sites. Snorkeled at Black Rock behind Sheraton Hotel on Kaanapali Beach; lots of beach divers. Quite a few types of fish here in abundance." M.P. Ciecierski, Columbia, MD
Lahaina Divers, April, 1995. "Seas choppy; water temperature 76°; vis 50100 feet; could dive own profile restrictions emphasized but never enforced. Operation is geared for novices. No provisions for photographers except a small rinse bucket. Life jackets were pointed out, but no mention of fire extinguishers, firstaid kits, or oxygen. Crew made no attempt to track dive depths or times. Dive-master was a knowledgeable old salt, but her use of tattered gear and a regulator with multiple leaks in the HP hose set a poor example. Their warnings concerning buoyancy control and coral damage were discredited by the destruction from their own anchor. 43foot Reliant handled four foot swells well and captain was good and accommodating when we spotted humpbacks. Boat is rated for 12 divers, but is crowded with more than eight. Head for Kona if you're experienced." C.L., San Diego, CA
Mike Severns' Diving, November, 1994. "Day trips were OK. Best part was the knowledgeable guides, Mrs. Severns especially. She knows the hiding places of lots of little critters including frogfish of several sizes. Boat is not comfortable and not easy to get into at the end of the dive. Diving with Mike Severns is two days max -for the small critters." Anon.
Bill Kapuri, Pau Hana Inn, June, 1995. "Bill Kapuri has the only tanks for rent and boat that caters to diving. The harbor was disappointing until the turtles and manta ray appeared. The manta made several passes. The most exciting experience was during the surface interval when we found ourselves in the middle of 40 spinner dolphins and snorkeled with them for 15 minutes." Anon.
Beach Divers Hawaii, March, 1995. "Good operation. Just received a new dive boat set up for diving, only four to six divers, no crowding. Changed tanks, had rinse tank. Dove Y0257 - sunk off Waikiki 100-110 feet deep. While exploring the wreck the Atlantis submarine came by and took our pictures. Good briefings. Sandwiches and drinks between dives. On second dive was too engrossed looking for critters, ran low on air. Divemaster James gave me his octopus, nonpanic, professional. No big stuff or very colorful corals. Water 7276 degrees, 6580 foot visibility. Could not dive own profile. Follow the divemaster." Jim Shipaila, Grand Rapids, MI
South Pacific Scuba, August, 1995. "Two different boat drivers, three different divemasters for three days of two tank diving. Hard to get used to different divemaster each day. Two seemed real new. . . . Pinnacles: saw eagle ray and white tipped shark, turtle and eels. Canyons: octopus. YO-247 wreck saw eel and turtles, usual tropicals. Fresh pineapple after dives. Hotel pickup 7:45 but not in water till after 10:30 one day. Night dive on YO-257 OK, but day dive had two or three Atlantis submarines touring around. Spent time looking at it and waiving instead of diving. One divemaster offered 24 pictures to each dive for $40/roll. Fortunately no one took him up. Boat certified for more than 12 max. that they will take. We never had more than seven divers, one day only five. Visibility 3080 feet." Steve Neal, Fairfield, TX
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