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Dive Review of Big Island Divers in
Hawaii/Kailua-Kona

Big Island Divers, Feb, 2011,

by Jeffrey W Garrison, VI, US (Reviewer Reviewer 3 reports). Report 5944.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 251-500 dives
Where else diving USVI, BVI, Great Barrier Reef, Saba, Statia, St Kitts, Palau, Yap, Truk, Fiji, Belize, Aruba
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, dry Seas surge
Water Temp 77 to Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 3 to 25 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile no
Enforced diving restrictions Had to go straight down, stay on the bottom at 28ft and then surface without a safety stop (see description for explanation).
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks None Mantas Squadrons
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles None Whales None
Corals N/A Tropical Fish N/A
Small Critters N/A Large Fish N/A
Large Pelagics N/A

Underwater Photography 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Subject Matter 5 stars Boat Facilities 2 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 4 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments As with most small dive boats, space was severely limited for much of anything. Setup was limited to a rinse bucket.

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

Accommodations N/A Food N/A
Service and Attitude N/A Environmental Sensitivity 5 stars
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 5 stars
Beginners 5 stars
Advanced 3 stars
Comments The night after arriving at Kona on the Big Island from the east coast, we went on a Manta dive and "Blackwater" dive with Big Island Divers. We went to the shop in the early afternoon and took care of all the necessary paperwork. They told us to be at a nearby marina at 1630.

When we showed up, we were told we could change into dive gear in the local public "facility," so we did. As soon as their boat was loaded and backed down the ramp into the water, we boarded and received our first briefing of the afternoon/evening. We were told that when we reached the dive site, we would wait until darkness set in, then divers would descend to a site that had been cleared of rocks and would shine their lights upward. The light would attract plankton, which would attract feeding Mantas. At the same time, snorkelers would shine their lights downward, adding to the spectacle. Because we'd be diving in no more than 30 feet of water, we were told to descend directly, go where the DMs placed us and stay until told to depart, ascending directly without a safety stop -- in order not to interfere with the mantas' movements.

All went as described.....almost. My wife and I rarely dive in wetsuits, as water at home has stayed above 80F the past few winters. We were using our 3mm wetsuits for the first time in years, and, as it turned out, we were underweighted. Trying to juggle the light that was put into my hand as I prepared to go over the side of the boat along with my camera and strobe, I had trouble with the surge that was rolling into the cove that night. My bride fared a bit better, but by 30 minutes into the dive, I called it quits; I had too many things on my hands -- quite literally. One of the DMs led us back to the boat, where we surfaced as directed and waited for the other divers.

The time spent underwater was awesome. The night we were there, six mantas showed up and put on quite a show. It really was exceptional. At Yap, we'd had encounters with one or two mantas at a time, but this was at night, and they came at us from out of the dark. We generally shy away from fish feeding dive trips, but this one was different. First, we were given a THOROUGH briefing on what to do and not do with the mantas. Second, we were not feeding the mantas directly; we were creating an environment where they could feed naturally. Quibble if you will as to whether I parse the issue too closely, it works for me.

After the dive, we headed back to harbor to drop off the snorkelers and divers who weren't going to do the Blackwater dive; we would also pick up several divers who were doing the latter without the manta dive. En route, my wife and I decided we weren't ready for the Blackwater dive; it was 9PM, and our bodies were telling us it was 3AM in the Atlantic time zone. The crew expressed their regrets, but understoon our plight; they offered to take our gear, rinse it for us; we could pick it up at the shop the following day.

When we went into the shop the next day to retrieve our gear and buy some t-shirts, my wife asked if we might get a refund for the Blackwater dive portion of our trip. The shop manager said he'd look into it. I'm pleased to tell you that Big Island Divers were as good as their word. In recent days a refund showed up on our credit card statement. Next trip to the Big Island, we'll go back to Big Island 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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