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Dive Review of Kohala Divers/Mauna Lani in
Hawaii/Big Island

Kohala Divers/Mauna Lani: "Disappointing Big Island Diving", Sep, 2014,

by Cindy Edgerton, WA, US (Reviewer Reviewer 6 reports). Report 7787.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations N/A Food N/A
Service and Attitude N/A Environmental Sensitivity 2 stars
Dive Operation 3 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 3 stars
Beginners 4 stars
Advanced 3 stars
Comments We have been diving in Hawaii (Maui, Kauai and the Big Island) several times. We are "dive every day you can" divers. We prefer the Big Island due to more coral than the other Hawaiian islands, which should mean more fish. Unfortunately the prolific spear fishing in Hawaii has removed a lot of their larger fish from the reef, and aquarium collectors have taken a lot of the unusual smaller fish. It seemed even worse this year.

In the past we stayed in Kona and went diving out of Honokohau Harbor, where the operators generally go south. We wanted to do/see something different so stayed up in the Kohala area and dove with Kohala Divers (KD). We chose KD because they had a good-looking boat (adequate shade and sun areas) with a working head, plus they had a freshwater shower. Kohala Divers tries not to have more than six divers per dive guide. That worked better when the different dive-masters led us in reverse directions but often KD kept us together so in reality it was one large group of divers. While you could generally dive your own profile, they used aluminum 72 CF tanks instead of the normal aluminum 80's. They had a process where you would sit at the back of the boat to put on your fins, they would help you get your BC on, and hand you your mask which they had already de-fogged, then would help you stand so you could take a giant stride entry. The entry process worked well.

Over our three days of diving with KD, we had three different dive-masters. Every day we would go to one better dive site, and one not-so-good site. For example one of the not-so-good sites was what KD call "Alice's Wonderland" and which other operators call House 20 in the Puako area. When we later changed to dive with Blue Wilderness out of Waikoloa, they said to us, "We always see Kohala Divers at House 20 and we can't understand it. Do you know why?" We told them that KD told us they used to see a frog fish there. Blue Wilderness said there used to be two - but they haven't been seen for a long time and so they don't usually dive that site anymore. Still, KD keeps going there - in fact, we saw them there later the same week while diving with Blue Wilderness. Another problem with KD was that the dive-masters often touched the marine life to try to get animals to do things (e.g. harass an octopus to get it to move) for the divers/photographers.

Toward the end of the first dive of our third day of diving with KD, we had made it back to where the boat was anchored. After a while, the dive master asked me how much air I had left. I signaled 900 PSI. She signaled us to follow her and I thought she had something to show us, but when we got to her she showed us the boat. Then she proceeded to dive off with another customer and we heard later they went into a small lava tube that wasn't big enough for four of us.

Most of the topography up north was a gradual slope and most was not very deep. We felt the topography from Puako south was more interesting than the northern Kohala coast. But the biggest problem was the fish - we hardly saw any larger fish, and few intermediate sized fish. We did have a fairly large population of juvenile fish, especially Chevron tangs (JV Black Surgeonfish) which were all over. KD said in a normal year if they saw one Chevron tang at a site, it was unusual.

Because the diving was not that great, and especially after the third dive-master dumped us at the anchor so she could go to the lava tube with another customer, we decided to change dive ops. Please see my review of Blue Wilderness.

Websites Kohala Divers   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 251-500 dives
Where else diving Fiji, Bonaire, Palau, Hawaii
Closest Airport Kona Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas calm
Water Temp 78-81°F / 26-27°C Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 60-70 Ft/ 18-21 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions We used 72 CF tanks and dives lasted between 60 and 80 minutes.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

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

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

Subject Matter N/A Boat Facilities 2 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 3 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments They had a bucket for cameras.
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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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