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Dive Review of Dive Makai/Hilton Waikaloa in

Dive Makai/Hilton Waikaloa, Nov, 2009,

by Michael J. Sare, NM, United States ( 2 reports). Report 5292.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 101-250 dives
Where else diving Throughout Caribbean, Florida, Bahamas, Honduras, Belize, Atlantic wrecks, Hawaii, French Polynesia, Australia
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather rainy Seas calm, no currents
Water Temp 76 to 77 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 75 to 100 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions 500psi alert DM; 3 min safety stop; 300psi onboard
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

Sharks 1 or 2 Mantas Squadrons
Dolphins Schools Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 1 stars Tropical Fish 3 stars
Small Critters 4 stars Large Fish 4 stars
Large Pelagics N/A

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

Subject Matter N/A Boat Facilities N/A
Overall rating for UWP's N/A Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments [None]

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

Accommodations N/A Food N/A
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 5 stars
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 5 stars
Beginners 5 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments The Good: This was my third experience to dive with Dive Makai Charters (DMC). This trip entailed three two-tank dives which included one night dive to observe manta rays feeding on plankton. I’m happy to report that the same high standard of excellence I found in both previous diving experiences with DMC (1999 and 2006) is being maintained. Owner-operator Mike Hanley skippered the Lio Kai III on my first day of 4 dives with DM’s Allison Brandt, Ty Whidham, and Andy Lyngar. Trish Morris-Plise skippered for the afternoon/night dives with Ty as DM. Boat was only full (12 divers) for the two dives that included the Manta Ray dive. The other dives were relatively light on divers and there was room aplenty. Fellow divers’ abilities were wide ranging, from recent OW certifications to experienced divers. Dives are guided; the pace is slow giving plenty of time to observe. As divers reached their air limits, they signaled the DM who directed them to the mooring line to ascend, keeping a watchful eye on them. Diver’s with air and within NDL could remain diving as long as they wanted. A 3mm with hood was barely adequate for me to stay warm Pods of spinner dolphins escorted the boat every time we put out from Honokohau Harbor. The crew rotated in presenting boat briefs and pre-dive briefs. All briefs were professionally delivered and complete. Dive site briefs were thorough and augmented with pictures from local fish identification guides; they reflected the experience of Mike, Trish and the DM’s. Dive sites were: “Big Arch,” “Turtle Towers,” “Garden Eel Cove” (two dives, one being the Manta night dive), “Manta Ray Bay,” and “Windows.” We saw about 80% of what they pre-briefed. Highlights included: viper and yellow margin morays (including an eel being groomed by 4 cleaner-shrimp), a ridgeback slipper lobster, dragon and razorback wrasse, a juvenile rock mover (the size of a dime – “good eyes, Allison!”), a Tom Smith nudibranch, speckled scorpionfish, red-striped pipefish, commensal shrimp, wire coral gobi’s, free-swimming turtles being cleaned, two frog fish, and garden eels. Found a white-tipped reef shark sleeping under a ledge at “Turtle Towers;” the shark had a hook trailing line lodged in its jaw. “Manta Ray Bay,” very close to Honokohau Harbor entrance, was one of the most interesting dives of this trip. At this site, Ty and I found a turtle on it’s side in a crevice. By its movements, I first thought it might be stuck and struggling to free itself, but after some quiet observation, it appeared to be scratching itself on the coral. At “Windows,” Trish pointed out a helmet shell with a sea urchin nearby . . . but not for long. As we watched, the helmet shell rose, advanced, and clomped down on the urchin, trapping it for its meal. After my second dive, I developed a leak at the HP swivel to my integrated dive computer. Mike Hanley lost no time in phoning around to Kona dive shops to find one that could do a quick turn-around repair. Between morning and afternoon dive sets, I was directed to Jack’s Dive Locker where I was seen immediately by maintenance tech Joe who was waiting for me. Joe found a spring incorrectly inverted in my recently maintained gear. In and out in 5 minutes for 5 dollars . . . thanks, Joe; and thank you, Mike, for heads-up customer service. I was back in business for the afternoon dive set with time to have lunch and take a short nap. I have been diving Kona every several years since 1995. While I have read several reports of declining fish population, I wanted to see and assess the situation for myself. While I am not an expert in rigorous fish species/numbers counting having done only a few supervised surveys for REEF, my personal subjective sense is that I have to agree that the number of large schools has diminished. That said, there is still plenty to see in Kona, and I cannot think of going out with any other operator other than Dive Makai.

The Bad: Nothing!

What I Wish I Had Known Before I Left Home: Nothing I can think of. Pre-travel advice and confirmation of dive procedures provided by Kim via phone and email were succinct yet complete. The web site is accurate. There were no surprises.
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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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