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

August, 2006, an Instant Reader Report by James A. Heimer, TX, United States
Contributor   (15 reports)
Report Number 2644
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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

choppy, surge  
Water Temp
77   to 81    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
30   to 110    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
Max depth of 110 feet recommended; all dives were guided (see write-up),
could dive computer profile to 500 psi  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
Whale Sharks
> 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  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  
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):
5 stars
5 stars
Service and Attitude
5 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
Dive Operation
5 stars  
Shore Diving  
2 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
3 stars   
5 stars    
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

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

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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