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Dive Review of Kohala Divers, Dive Makai/Puako Beach Condos in
Hawaii/Big Island

Kohala Divers, Dive Makai/Puako Beach Condos, Mar, 2008,

by Jonathan A. Scott, NH, USA (Reviewer Reviewer 3 reports with 1 Helpful vote). Report 3986.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 51-100 dives
Where else diving Cayman Brac, Florida Keys, Monterey, lakes in NH and VT
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, windy, dry Seas choppy, no currents
Water Temp 76 to 86 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 40 to 100 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions return at 1500
safety stop at 15ft
finish w/ 500psi
no deco
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks 1 or 2 Mantas 1 or 2
Dolphins Schools Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales >2
Corals 4 stars Tropical Fish 5 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 N/A
UW Photo Comments dedicated rinse tank on boat
no dedicated dry storage on boat
crew good at handling equipment and accommodating UWP needs/interests

Ratings and Overall Comments 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Accommodations 3 stars Food 3 stars
Service and Attitude 3 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving 3 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 4 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments Puako Beach condos were convenient to wife's conference at nearby Hapuna Beach Prince. Walk or very short drive to amazing snorkeling to see turtles, morays, exotic fish (e.g., dragon wrasse), eagle rays and more. General store next door very convenient and well stocked, featuring live feed of humpback songs from hydrophone just offshore (listen also at www.jupiterfoundation.org). Diving with Kohala Divers was fabulous. Well set up boat with full safety inventory, excellent safety and pre-dive briefings. The only dive boat/group on all the sites we visited. Many interesting swim throughs. The most amazing turtle cleaning stations off Puako. Mantas outside Crystal Cove. Spinner dolphins alongside boat daily (lucky to see one big pod from underwater as they swam by boat!). Crew does setups and lugs gear to stern for easy giant stride; return via comfortable ladder after handing up camera and fins. DMs lead groups of 6 on tour and accommodate longer bottom times and "do your own thing" opportunities for more experienced divers. Good at finding just about anything you might ask for from colorful nudibranchs to turtles or octopus and endemic fish species. Whale songs continuous on most every dive, and whales to watch en route to sites and during surface intervals. Dedicated rinse bucket for UWP; crew good with handling equipment and finding subjects if requested. Their location well north of heavily-dived Kona is a huge plus and it shows in the lack of crowding and quality of reefs and aquatic life. Also went fishing with sister operation, the Reel Pleasure, and brought back fresh Ono for several days of feasting. Visits to Waipio Valley (by horse and ATV), hiking in volcanoes, seahorse farm, tropical botanical gardens, active lava flows, Kona Brewing Company (local microbrew and great pizza), and Volcano Winery, plus amazing beaches left us altitude logistics to juggle but hard to imagine a more complete vacation in 12 days. Costco membership card saved big $$ on gas and groceries. Also did PM/Night 2-tank with Dive Makai at Garden Eel Cove to see mantas. There's nothing like this experience and Makai was fabulous for this trip, including the great time our 2 non-diving, relatively inexperienced snorkelers had at the site. We had 8 total on boat, arriving before any of the other 5 dive ops there that night, and leaving long after. Saw 6-8 mantas up close while a friendly moray used my leg, arm and neck as a platform for hunting! Meanwhile a playful squid engaged us in a stare-down. Despite the heart-pumping action, still got more than 1.25 hour b.t. on that dive with great exploration swim to watch hunting morays, slipper lobster and more, after the manta viewing. Steel tanks used by Makai are a great plus, as is twilight dive at the same site as a warm-up for the main event (the mantas didn't even wait until dark to put in appearances). Former owner Tom was super-helpful in arranging logistics for this trip with Dive Makai. Would love to dive again with either of these great operations.
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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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