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

Dive Makai/Kona Coast Resort / Marriott Waikal, Aug, 2009,

by James A Heimer, Texas, USA (Sr. Reviewer Sr. Reviewer 10 reports). Report 5038.

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

Weather sunny, dry Seas calm, choppy, surge
Water Temp 80 to 82 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 50 to 70 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
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.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks None Mantas Squadrons
Dolphins Schools Whale Sharks None
Turtles None Whales None
Corals 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
UW Photo Comments 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):

Accommodations N/A Food N/A
Service and Attitude N/A Environmental Sensitivity 4 stars
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 4 stars
Beginners 4 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments 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 bottoms.

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 capability).

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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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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