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Dive Review of Hawaiian Scuba Shack/Bay Club at Waikoloa Beach Resort in
Hawaii/Big Island

December, 2009, an Instant Reader Report by Carol Thompson, FL, usa
Sr. Reviewer   (11 reports)
Report Number 5295
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
501-1000 dives
Where else diving
Bonaire, Curacao, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, central FL,
SE FL, FL Keys, St. Maarten, St. Lucia, St. Kitts, Turks&Caicos,
Nassau, Costa Rica, Hawaii - Maui and Big Island, Cozumel
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

sunny, windy  
Water Temp
75   to 77    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
50   to 100    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
1 or 2 
Whale Sharks
1 or 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  2 stars
Tropical Fish
3 stars  
Small Critters
  2 stars
Large Fish
1 stars  
Large Pelagics
  2 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
3 stars  
Boat Facilities
1 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
1 stars  
Shore Facilities  
1 stars  
No devoted camera table on board. We were told, however, they'd set up a
rinse container for us, but when we were on board and didn't see anything,
we asked if they'd put some water in a bin. Smith refused. He said they'd
"dump a little fresh water" over the camera during the surface
interval. Not only unaccommodating in this regard, totally unacceptable
practice for treatment of expensive UW photo equipment. Not pleased.
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
5 stars
Service and Attitude
5 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
4 stars
Dive Operation
Shore Diving  
3 stars  
3 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
2 stars    
3 stars   
2 stars    
This is NOT Charley Neal's Scuba Shack, which is on Maui. The owner of this
one, Jay Smith, wanted to be perfectly clear about that up front. Smith
drives the boat, while the "captain" is reduced to being a deck
hand. Boat leaves out of Honokohau. Smith also acts as divemaster. He was
good, finding a few small things and putting an urchin down in front of a
big conch so that we could watch the conch devour it. Disappointingly, no
whales. We heard they had made it only as far as Maui.

One big caution with this operator. Smith is a something of a moving
target. When we arrived early in our trip, we were told that the full price
is $129 per 2 tank guided trip, but if there were at least 2 other divers,
the price goes down to $119. If there were more than 2 other divers,
supposedly, it could go down "as far as $109 or even $99." This
is what Mark who runs the shop on the weekends told us. So of course, we
asked what days during the week had divers scheduled. We were told Monday
or Tuesday. We said we'd set up for Tuesday.

Guess what? No other divers, so full price. BTW, $129 is standard for most
operators on the island. 

We then set up to do the afternoon and manta night dive, which costs the
same as the morning 2 tank trip. Mark had told us that Jay is an electrical
contractor, and his lights are so much bigger and better than anyone else's
and we'd be blown away by all the mantas. When we got there, he had two
other divers working on their certification and one snorkler. No mention of
the price being lower - we were charged the full $129. When we said that we
were told it would be less, we got from Jay that instead, he would let us
take 2 tanks and weights ($11) for free for shore diving, if we booked 2
other shore dive days. And since he had 2 certs to worry about, the dive,
although full price, was unguided for us.

Two mantas on our night dive, but many other dive boats there so it got
crowded and silty from all the kicked up sand. Plus, since Jack's Diving
Locker had put out their small light set-up, Jay never cracked out his
much-vaunted lights, which was the whole reason why we were told going with
him would be totally awesome/so much better than anyone else.

My mask frame broke on our first day while snorkeling. My lenses are
prescription. Jay said he thought he could fit them in another mask. In the
meantime, Mark offered us a few options that he told us were used masks,
supposedly at a "deal" price. I found one that was a little
stronger scrip than I needed, but I thought OK - if it's a deal. Guess
what? No deal. Jay said it was brand new so it was full price. Another
moving target.

Jay found another Akona to put my lenses into. He had said at first it
would run $60 to do so. A little steep, since the other masks without
lenses in his shop seemed to run about $39. But we said OK. When we picked
it up, it had changed to $69. My husband objected. Jay reverted to his
original quote.

The boat is not well set up nor comfortable. Wherever we stood, we seemed
to always be in the way. The only shade is at the wheel, where there's only
room for one other person to stand. No marine head. Sunglasses and hats,
things you don't want to get wet, have to be locked up in a box, and it
couldn't be unlocked if the boat was moving. So most times I ended up blind
as a bat during the ride between dives. Smith said the boat would take 12,
but he never takes more than 6. I have news for him. Six would be a crowd
for this boat.

Skip the sandwiches offered. The captain/deck hand makes them, touching
everything as he does, without benefit of hand sanitizer. Not good. One of
the other divers had a sandwich and the bread was moldy. My husband had a
Coke Zero that tasted plain nasty. I looked on the bottom of the can, and
the date said "11/12/2007." More than 2 years out of date??
You've gotta be kidding...

Honokohau Harbor was a good shore dive. It was one of the sites Smith took
us on the boat, which was just drive outside the marina and stop - not what
we would have chosen had we known it was shore accessible, certainly not
for $129. Two-Step was a dependable shore dive as always, but it was a
snore. Not much in the way of interesting stuff, no schools, but several of
the usual tropical suspects in lesser numbers than in previous trips. No
turtles, which we always saw there before.

Smith prides himself on being safety conscious. But when we told him not to
get alarmed that we often buddy breathe with my husband using my octo (good
to practice) he immediately told us not to do that, that we should only do
that in cases of emergency . On our afternoon dive, we were baffled when we
saw him hanging out by the boat, all by himself, the new certs having
boarded already. He stayed down there for at least another 25 minutes after
we boarded, making my husband and me very uneasy. We thought perhaps he had
missed us when we took our safety stop and was looking for us. The captain
said no, that Smith does that "all the time" because he
"likes to breathe up all his air." Huh? Great example to set for
new certs who are instructed not to ever dive alone.

All in all, it's an OK operation, good perhaps for newbies, but it's bound
to be a bit disappointing for experienced divers.
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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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