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Dive Review of Dive Makai/Kona Coast Resort / Marriott Waikal in
Hawaii/Kona Coast, Big Island]

August, 2009, an Instant Reader Report by James A Heimer, Texas, USA
Sr. Reviewer   (10 reports)
Report Number 5038
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
501-1000 dives
Where else diving
Hawaii, Tahiti, Indonesia, Malaysia, Australia, California, Mexico, Texas
Gulf of Mexico, Bahamas, Honduras Bay Islands, Belize, US Virgin Islands,
Cayman Islands, Aruba, Bonaire, Norway
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

sunny, dry  
calm, choppy, surge  
Water Temp
80   to 82    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
50   to 70    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
DM preferred you follow group (max 6 divers) for first part of the dive;
when back at boat, dive with your partner for the remainder of the dive. 
Sport diving limits in effect, but many first dives of the day were 100'
plus to the bottom of reef.  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
Whale Sharks
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  4 stars
Tropical Fish
3 stars  
Small Critters
  4 stars
Large Fish
3 stars  
Large Pelagics
  4 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
5 stars  
Boat Facilities
2 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
4 stars  
Shore Facilities  
2 stars  
Boat had rinse tank for cameras (large plastic wash tub), but only camera
storage was on the carpeted cabin deck in the dry area.  Cameras could be
rinsed in boat wash down area on shore, but there was no rinse tank. 
Overall rating heavily influenced by subject matter.
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Service and Attitude
Environmental Sensitivity  
4 stars
Dive Operation
5 stars  
Shore Diving  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
4 stars    
4 stars   
4 stars    
For the fourth year in a row, we dove with Mike Henshaws Dive Makai and
once again were impressed by the avid interest in diving and the ocean
environment of the dive staff.  We had one dive master show up on her day
off to do some recreational diving on her own!

As with many operators on the Kona Coast, you meet the boat at 7:30 am at
the Honokohau Marina & Small Boat Harbor just north of the town of
Kailua and load your gear aboard the boat, which is on a trailer.  Once the
boat is launched, you get on board and proceed out of the harbor to the
dive sites, the farthest of which is some 20 minutes away.  You do two
morning dives and are back on land about 1 pm, avoiding the rough seas of
the afternoon as the tradewinds come up.  There is a day-long three dive
adventure dive package, as well as the usual two dive packages, and Dive
Makai runs two night dives in search of mantas each week.  We did two of
these, and saw about 9 mantas on one.  The second was a wash out from the
manta standpoint, but turned out to be a spectacular night dive with
octopi, squid, and several species of foraging morays.

There has been a lot of discussion about the scarcity of fish in Hawaii due
to the generally unrestricted taking allowed by the commercial aquarium
trade.  However, legislation is in place that protects about 30% of the
Kona Coast area, and both dive operators and clubs are active in trying to
get more restrictions put in place.  They are opposed by the commercial
aquarium trade, which generally involves native Hawaiian organizations, who
have a strong voice in the Hawaiian State Legislature.  Progress has been
slow, with bills pending but not going anywhere at present.  That being
said, the Hawaiian reefs are far from barren, and we saw plenty of sea life
to keep my wife and I in the water for all but three days of our two week
stay.  Of special note are the rarer endemic species like the Tinker
Butterfly, male Whitley Box Fish, Flame Angle, and Anthias, all of which we
were able to photograph.  There are schools of juvenile fish among the
coral at the top of the reef, large numbers of colorful ornate, raccoon,
and pyramid butterflies, the signature yellow tangs, moorish
idols,triggerfish, and colorful wrasse and other species that we have not
encountered in our Caribbean diving.  We also saw dolphins frequently on
the surface, and a pod joined us briefly on one dive.  The coral is not as
colorful as in the eastern Pacific, but it is plentiful on some sites,
while others feature eroded lava tubes, flows, and black lava sand

The water was warmer than we remembered it, and we were getting the same
temperature readings on our dive computers as we did in Bonaire in June.  I
resorted to a hooded vest only once near the end of our trip to supplement
my 10 year old 3 mm wetsuit (which is probably a 1 mm in heat retention

Dive Makai has a basic, but first rate dive operation, which we can
heartily recommend.  Their website is also filled with useful tips on
diving in Kona and what to do when you are out of the water.
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