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Dive Review of Dive Makai/Kona Coast Resort in
Hawaii/Big Island of Hawai'i

August, 2006, an Instant Reader Report by James A. Heimer, TX, United States
Contributor   (15 reports)
Report Number 2643
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
251-500 dives
Where else diving
Indonesia, Malaysia, Tahiti, Mexico (both coasts), N & S California,
Texas, Bahamas, Cayman Islands, Belize, Honduras, Australia, USVI, BVI
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

Water Temp
77   to 81    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
50   to 80    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
All dives were guided (see write-up) limited to 110'; could dive computer
profile to 500 psi in tank  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
1 or 2 
Whale Sharks
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  4 stars
Tropical Fish
4 stars  
Small Critters
  3 stars
Large Fish
3 stars  
Large Pelagics
  4 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
5 stars  
Boat Facilities
3 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
4 stars  
Shore Facilities  
Boat had small rinse tank for cameras and dry storage during transit to and
from dive sites; dive operation did not have onshore base
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  
4 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
4 stars   
4 stars    
When we were last on the Big Island in 2005 we dove with Kona Coast Divers,
which has since been acquired by Jack's Diving Locker.  Since they were
booked, we turned to a small operation, Dive Makai, and couldn't have been
more pleased.

You meet the Dive Makai boat at the marina north of Kailua Kona and south
of the airport.  The boat is on a trailer, and they load your gear and set
up your tanks before putting the boat in the water.  It is a 30 footer and
accommodates 12 divers plus 3 crew.  There is a covered cabin over half the
deck and a dry area under the deck in the bow.  Although we thought the
boat would be cramped, Dive Makai had optimized the equipment storage,
seating, and process of getting in and out of the water so that everything
went very smoothly.  We got a very good safety brief, boat brief, and
thorough dive site briefings (with photos from the fish ID book) for each

The first dive set was an afternoon dive with a total of eight divers
followed by a manta ray dive at Garden Eel Cove.  The dives are guided and
it is well worthwhile to follow the guide, who knows the area and where to
find everything discussed in the briefing.  The pace is slow enough for
photographers, which my wife and I are, but the whole dive is packed with
things to see.  On the first dive the highlights were a small free-swimming
manta ray, harlequin shrimp, several leaf scorpion fish (look like
frogfish, for those used to the Caribbean), and several species of moray
eels, plus the garden eels and the usual tropicals.

The second dive was the night manta ray dive.  Our boat was joined by four
others for a total of 40 or so divers, but the dive shops involved had
coordinated this very popular dive and it went off well.  The divers formed
a large circle in 35 feet of water around a light array and aimed their
lights toward the surface; the snorkelers aimed their lights down - then
the mantas appeared to swoop and scoop though the krill attracted by the
lights, passing in and out of the circle of divers - sometimes only a foot
(felt like less) over our heads.  We had a fourteen footer and a ten footer
doing summersaults right in front of us for an entire hour - they were
still at it when we reached the limit on our air.

We did two dives the following morning (with only one other couple on the
boat - Jack's was booked solid again) at the Big Arch and Manta Bay.  No
mantas, but we were buzzed by two eagle rays and encountered six species of
morays (not six eels, six species!!!), plus the myriad species of butterfly
fish, trigger and surgeon fish and the rarer angel fish unique to Hawai'i.

Dave, Mike, and Jan proved to be excellent dive masters with encyclopedic
knowledge of the local waters and the ability to find really unique marine
life on the dives.  We got some valuable photo tips (which we always try to
do) and learned a lot about Hawai'ian waters.  The dive operation was well
run, and you felt like you were part of the Dive Makai family on the boat.

I usually dive with a shorty 2 mm in the Caribbean, but was glad I had a
full 2 mm / 3 mm wet suit - a hood is advisable if you get cold easily. 
Because the boat is compact, bring your gear to the boat in a mesh bag and
have a dry bag for your clothes while diving, so that you can keep
everything together.  The boat provides snacks, juice, water and soft
drinks between dives.
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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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