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Dive Review of Dive Makai/Kona Coast Resort in
Hawaii/Big Island of Hawai'i

Dive Makai/Kona Coast Resort, Aug, 2006,

by James A. Heimer, TX, United States (Contributor Contributor 15 reports). Report 2643.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 251-500 dives
Where else diving Indonesia, Malaysia, Tahiti, Mexico (both coasts), N & S California, Texas, Bahamas, Cayman Islands, Belize, Honduras, Australia, USVI, BVI
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas calm
Water Temp 77 to 81 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 50 to 80 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile ?
Enforced diving restrictions All dives were guided (see write-up) limited to 110'; could dive computer profile to 500 psi in tank
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks None Mantas 1 or 2
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles None Whales None
Corals 4 stars Tropical Fish 4 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 Boat had small rinse tank for cameras and dry storage during transit to and from dive sites; dive operation did not have onshore base

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

Accommodations 5 stars Food 5 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving 4 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 4 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments When we were last on the Big Island in 2005 we dove with Kona Coast Divers, which has since been acquired by Jack's Diving Locker. Since they were booked, we turned to a small operation, Dive Makai, and couldn't have been more pleased.

You meet the Dive Makai boat at the marina north of Kailua Kona and south of the airport. The boat is on a trailer, and they load your gear and set up your tanks before putting the boat in the water. It is a 30 footer and accommodates 12 divers plus 3 crew. There is a covered cabin over half the deck and a dry area under the deck in the bow. Although we thought the boat would be cramped, Dive Makai had optimized the equipment storage, seating, and process of getting in and out of the water so that everything went very smoothly. We got a very good safety brief, boat brief, and thorough dive site briefings (with photos from the fish ID book) for each site.

The first dive set was an afternoon dive with a total of eight divers followed by a manta ray dive at Garden Eel Cove. The dives are guided and it is well worthwhile to follow the guide, who knows the area and where to find everything discussed in the briefing. The pace is slow enough for photographers, which my wife and I are, but the whole dive is packed with things to see. On the first dive the highlights were a small free-swimming manta ray, harlequin shrimp, several leaf scorpion fish (look like frogfish, for those used to the Caribbean), and several species of moray eels, plus the garden eels and the usual tropicals.

The second dive was the night manta ray dive. Our boat was joined by four others for a total of 40 or so divers, but the dive shops involved had coordinated this very popular dive and it went off well. The divers formed a large circle in 35 feet of water around a light array and aimed their lights toward the surface; the snorkelers aimed their lights down - then the mantas appeared to swoop and scoop though the krill attracted by the lights, passing in and out of the circle of divers - sometimes only a foot (felt like less) over our heads. We had a fourteen footer and a ten footer doing summersaults right in front of us for an entire hour - they were still at it when we reached the limit on our air.

We did two dives the following morning (with only one other couple on the boat - Jack's was booked solid again) at the Big Arch and Manta Bay. No mantas, but we were buzzed by two eagle rays and encountered six species of morays (not six eels, six species!!!), plus the myriad species of butterfly fish, trigger and surgeon fish and the rarer angel fish unique to Hawai'i.

Dave, Mike, and Jan proved to be excellent dive masters with encyclopedic knowledge of the local waters and the ability to find really unique marine life on the dives. We got some valuable photo tips (which we always try to do) and learned a lot about Hawai'ian waters. The dive operation was well run, and you felt like you were part of the Dive Makai family on the boat.

I usually dive with a shorty 2 mm in the Caribbean, but was glad I had a full 2 mm / 3 mm wet suit - a hood is advisable if you get cold easily. Because the boat is compact, bring your gear to the boat in a mesh bag and have a dry bag for your clothes while diving, so that you can keep everything together. The boat provides snacks, juice, water and soft drinks between dives.
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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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