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Dive Review of Bubbles Below/Kauai Marriott in
Hawaii/Kauai & Niihau (Lehua)

Bubbles Below/Kauai Marriott, Aug, 2006,

by James A. Heimer, TX, United States (Contributor Contributor 15 reports). Report 2644.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 251-500 dives
Where else diving Indonesia, Malaysia, Australia, Mexico (both coasts), N & S California, Texas, Bahamas, Belize, Honduras, USVI, BVI, Aruba.
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas choppy, surge
Water Temp 77 to 81 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 30 to 110 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Max depth of 110 feet recommended; all dives were guided (see write-up), could dive computer profile to 500 psi
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 4 stars Tropical Fish 4 stars
Small Critters 3 stars Large Fish 4 stars
Large Pelagics 4 stars

Underwater Photography 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Subject Matter 5 stars Boat Facilities 2 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 5 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments Our boat had only the ability to rinse cameras in a fresh water shower after the dive and keep them dry and protected to and from the sites; but don't leave your camera at home!!! The marine life and underwater terrain is superb.

Ratings and Overall Comments 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Accommodations 5 stars Food 5 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving 2 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments I wanted to dive the island of Niihau about two hours by boat from Kauai on the very popular but infrequent trips there from Kauai, but the operation most often mentioned with this trip (Sea Sports) was booked for their Tuesday trip and the Friday trip was too close to my departure on Saturday. They did lay on an additional trip on Wednesday, due to demand, but by that time I had signed on with Bubbles Below for their Monday trip. This is for experienced divers - but if you are - don't miss it.

Bubbles Below operates out of Port Allen on the Southside, about 45 minutes from our hotel in Lihue. You meet one of their two boats (one 30 foot cat hull and one 32 foot conventional hull) there at 6:15 am, gear up and hit the water for the trip across. Mid way they stop for a swim call in several thousand feet of water (weather permitting - and we had nearly dead flat calm seas), then you proceed to the eroded crater that forms the small island of Lehua just off the NE point of Niihau. The dives are either deep, in current, drift dives in current, or a combination of all of the above.

Our first dive was at Vertical Awareness with the boat moored. This site features angular pillars of volcanic rock rising from 300 feet to 60 feet from the surface with intermittent currents swirling around. Visibility was 100' plus, and we were joined by a lone male monk seal who carefully examined almost every diver at very close range - a previous dive was surrounded by nearly a dozen of them.

The second dive was the Keyhole drift, named for a hole eroded through the island. You start out in a notch formed by the vertical walls of the island with cathedral-like lighting, then drift around a corner past a more sloping section, which features very small black tip reef sharks at 120 feet and eagle rays at 70, then around another corner into surging shallows at the end of the dive.

The last dive, at the Arches, was on terrain reminiscent of a sunken Atlantean city. On all the dives hundreds of brightly colored butterfly fish, Moorish idols, and other Hawai'ian tropicals accompany you.

The boat trip back is always brutal due to having to fight the wind all the way home. We had 2 - 4 foot swells, but they felt like potholes in a cement road. Even so, one of the dive masters, Joe, spent about an hour giving a seminar on the volcanic formation of the Hawai'an islands, which kept us totally mesmerized.

Our two dives on the next day were just offshore near Port Allen in a site called House of Turtles. It lived up to its name with at least a dozen turtles present for the duration of both dives - and some of the turtles were the size of VW's. Also on this dive - white tipped reef sharks, octopus, and the Hawai'ian lionfish as well as several species of moray eels.

Once again our dive masters, Joe, Mike, and Linda, exhibited a thorough knowledge of the areas and found everything they identified in the dive briefings. The dives were guided (due to the challenges on Niihau and to see everything on Kauai), but as other divers reached their limit on air, the remaining divers were free to stay down and continue exploring to their air or computer limits. Although their boats are smaller than the ones we used on the Big Island of Hawai'i (due to the engine housing protruding into the well deck), everything was organized to accommodate the divers - eight on the Niihau trip and three (!!!) of us on the turtle dive - and their equipment.

The boat carried water, sodas, and snacks. On the Niihau tip we had bagels and fruit for breakfast, hot pizza (heated on the engines) for a between dive snack, salad and sandwiches for lunch, and cookies in the afternoon. Dockside facilities to rinse gear exist, but most of the cleanup had to be done back at the hotel.

Great diving and a great operation!
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Note: The information here was reported by the author above, but has NOT been reviewed nor edited by Undercurrent prior to posting on our website. Please report any major problems by writing to us and referencing the report number above.

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