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Dive Review of Dive Makai/Hilton Waikaloa in

November, 2009, an Instant Reader Report by Michael J. Sare, NM, United States (2 reports)
Report Number 5292
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
101-250 dives
Where else diving
Throughout Caribbean, Florida, Bahamas, Honduras, Belize, Atlantic wrecks,
Hawaii, French Polynesia, Australia
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

calm, no currents  
Water Temp
76   to 77    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
75   to 100    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
500psi alert DM; 3 min safety stop; 300psi onboard  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
1 or 2 
Whale Sharks
> 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  1 stars
Tropical Fish
3 stars  
Small Critters
  4 stars
Large Fish
4 stars  
Large Pelagics
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
Boat Facilities
Overall rating for UWP's  
Shore Facilities  
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Service and Attitude
5 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
5 stars
Dive Operation
5 stars  
Shore Diving  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
5 stars    
5 stars   
5 stars    
The Good:  This was my third experience to dive with Dive Makai Charters
(DMC).  This trip entailed three two-tank dives which included one night
dive to observe manta rays feeding on plankton.  Im happy to report that
the same high standard of excellence I found in both previous diving
experiences with DMC (1999 and 2006) is being maintained.  Owner-operator
Mike Hanley skippered the Lio Kai III on my first day of 4 dives with DMs
Allison Brandt, Ty Whidham, and Andy Lyngar.  Trish Morris-Plise skippered
for the afternoon/night dives with Ty as DM.  Boat was only full (12
divers) for the two dives that included the Manta Ray dive.  The other
dives were relatively light on divers and there was room aplenty.  Fellow
divers abilities were wide ranging, from recent OW certifications to
experienced divers.  Dives are guided; the pace is slow giving plenty of
time to observe.  As divers reached their air limits, they signaled the DM
who directed them to the mooring line to ascend, keeping a watchful eye on
them.  Divers with air and within NDL could remain diving as long as they
wanted.  A 3mm with hood was barely adequate for me to stay warm  Pods of
spinner dolphins escorted the boat every time we put out from Honokohau
Harbor.  The crew rotated in presenting boat briefs and pre-dive briefs. 
All briefs were professionally delivered and complete.  Dive site briefs
were thorough and augmented with pictures from local fish identification
guides; they reflected the experience of Mike, Trish and the DMs.  Dive
sites were: Big Arch, Turtle Towers, Garden Eel Cove (two dives, one
being the Manta night dive), Manta Ray Bay, and Windows.  We saw about
80% of what they pre-briefed.  Highlights included: viper and yellow margin
morays (including an eel being groomed by 4 cleaner-shrimp), a ridgeback
slipper lobster, dragon and razorback wrasse, a juvenile rock mover (the
size of a dime  good eyes, Allison!), a Tom Smith nudibranch, speckled
scorpionfish, red-striped pipefish, commensal shrimp, wire coral gobis,
free-swimming turtles being cleaned, two frog fish, and garden eels.  Found
a white-tipped reef shark sleeping under a ledge at Turtle Towers; the
shark had a hook trailing line lodged in its jaw.  Manta Ray Bay, very
close to Honokohau Harbor entrance, was one of the most interesting dives
of this trip. At this site, Ty and I found a turtle on its side in a
crevice.  By its movements, I first thought it might be stuck and
struggling to free itself, but after some quiet observation, it appeared to
be scratching itself on the coral.  At Windows, Trish pointed out a
helmet shell with a sea urchin nearby . . . but not for long.  As we
watched, the helmet shell rose, advanced, and clomped down on the urchin,
trapping it for its meal.  After my second dive, I developed a leak at the
HP swivel to my integrated dive computer.  Mike Hanley lost no time in
phoning around to Kona dive shops to find one that could do a quick
turn-around repair.  Between morning and afternoon dive sets, I was
directed to Jacks Dive Locker where I was seen immediately by maintenance
tech Joe who was waiting for me.  Joe found a spring incorrectly inverted
in my recently maintained gear.  In and out in 5 minutes for 5 dollars . .
. thanks, Joe; and thank you, Mike, for heads-up customer service.  I was
back in business for the afternoon dive set with time to have lunch and
take a short nap. I have been diving Kona every several years since 1995. 
While I have read several reports of declining fish population, I wanted to
see and assess the situation for myself.  While I am not an expert in
rigorous fish species/numbers counting having done only a few supervised
surveys for REEF, my personal subjective sense is that I have to agree that
the number of large schools has diminished.  That said, there is still
plenty to see in Kona, and I cannot think of going out with any other
operator other than Dive Makai.

The Bad:  Nothing!

What I Wish I Had Known Before I Left Home:  Nothing I can think of. 
Pre-travel advice and confirmation of dive procedures provided by Kim via
phone and email were succinct yet complete.  The web site is accurate. 
There were no surprises.
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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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