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Dive Review of Bubbles Below/Woodard House, Poipu Kai Resort in
Hawaii/Kauai

Bubbles Below/Woodard House, Poipu Kai Resort, May, 2004,

by Sandy Falen, KS, USA (Sr. Contributor Sr. Contributor 24 reports with 4 Helpful votes). Report 1095.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving Honduras, Belize, Los Roques, Tobago, Saba, Statia, Dominica, Grand Turk, South Caicos, Cozumel, Bonaire, Curacao, Cayman Brac, Little Cayman, Providencia, Costa Rica, Fiji
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas calm
Water Temp 73 to 76 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 50 to 150 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions None
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas None
Dolphins Schools Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 2 stars Tropical Fish 4 stars
Small Critters 4 stars Large Fish 3 stars
Large Pelagics 4 stars

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

Subject Matter 4 stars Boat Facilities N/A
Overall rating for UWP's 4 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments No specific facilities for photography.

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

Accommodations 5 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 4 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving 1 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments Be prepared for chilly water temps. The first few days, the water was no warmer than 73. Kauai diving is fascinating, but don't go expecting the coral reefs of the Caribbean. This is an algae reef, and while there's little coral, the trade-off is lots of critters, and tons of turtles. Vis around Kauai could vary from so-so to excellent, but there was always lots to see.

Linda Marsh, owner of Bubbles Below (www.bubblesbelowkauai.com) was terrific to dive with: enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and just plain fun. The members of her staff were delightful, too. They all seemed to love diving, and were happy to escort your dive, or let you do your own thing. We met at Port Allen Small Boat Harbor each morning at 7:15, with the boat returning between noon and one. A rinse bucket was provided at the dock, but I chose to take my gear home and rinse it there. Be warned that diving in Hawaii is more expensive than in the Caribbean, but you can get a pretty good multiple day discount by booking at least three days.

If you go in the summer months, don't miss the trip to Ni'ihau ("The Forbidden Island"). This is an all-day, 3-dive trip, with the 17-mile crossing taking about an hour and forty minutes. Snacks and bottled water are provided, along with Bubbles Below's famous "engine-block pizza" that's served hot after the second dive. The diving at Ni'ihau is nothing short of jaw-dropping, with vis exceeding 150', some ripping currents, sharks, turtles, monk seals, multiple variety of eels, and the geologic features that define the Hawaiian Islands: walls made of lava that layered up over the millennia like a stack of pancakes -- and swim-throughs that were formed when the interior of the hot lava flow collapsed, leaving the cooled outer crust. Anyone who says "ho hum" after diving Ni'ihau doesn't know what they're seeing -- this is truly spectacular diving that is best left to the experienced diver.

Ask to go to the "turtle cleaning station" at Hale O Honu. On this shallow reef, scores of green sea turtles hovered in the water, heads and flippers dangling limp, while tangs and other reef fish enjoyed the all-you-can-eat buffet. This dive also featured a lion-fish den, but I could scarcely pull myself away from the opportunity to float face-to-face with the turtles. The nonchalance displayed by these ancient creatures allowed me to use my close-up lense, capturing one turtle portrait after the other.

There are lots of accommodation options on Kauai, but I chose a vacation home in the Poipu Kai Resort, which was only a 20-minute drive away from Port Allen. It was an unbeatable value compared to a hotel, and included a fully-equipped kitchen, garage, patio with gas grill, and a utility room with a tub sink that was great for rinsing gear. Grantham Resorts (www.grantham-resorts.com), the booking agent, offers a wide variety of properties in all price ranges, and I give them a strong recommendation.

Restaurants are not inexpensive, but there is fabulous food to be had. For good food with a casual environment and reasonable prices, try Tomkats Grille in Old Koloa Town, and Brick Oven Pizza in Kalaheo. When you're touring western Kauai, check out Hanapepe Cafe. When you want a special dinner and exceptional service, try Plantation Gardens Restaurant and The Beach House -- both were wonderful and worth every penny. And don't miss the roadside fruit stands, where you can load up on pineapple, mango, guava, sweet corn, and other delicious produce.

Do leave time for topside touring, as Kauai is blessed with stunning scenery. The Waimea Canyon is not to be missed, but given its high elevation, visit it before your first dive day or after you've had plenty of off-gas time. And if you're adventurous enough to seek out "the end of the road" at Polihale Beach, be assured that the vision of this 17-mile long beach, wider than three football fields and dead-ending at the Na Pali Cliffs, is ample reward for the required drive down a road from hell.
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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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