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Dive Review of Kona Aggressor in
Hawaii/Kona Coast

Kona Aggressor, May, 2013,

by Peggy Goldberg, FL, US (Sr. Reviewer Sr. Reviewer 8 reports with 2 Helpful votes). Report 7170.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 5 stars Food 5 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 5 stars
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling 3 stars
Value for $$ 3 stars
Beginners 4 stars
Advanced 3 stars
Comments We dove on the Kona Aggressor along the west side of the Big Island of Hawai'i along the Kona Coast.
We have been doing Aggressors since the mid 80's and have always liked and enjoyed their boats. The crew on the KA were helpful, food was great as usual, and boat accommodations were good as usual. The KA is a catamaran, with the rooms on the same floor as the salon.
This was our third trip on this boat, the first ones being in '93 and '98. We were saddened by the terrific changes in the reef, lack of fish life - instead of schools of many species, we would see a few of a few species. No bigger fish...
On this trip, the captain decided to try and find new dive sites, and do live dives - where you had to jump in as a group, follow the guide, and come up as a group. The boat would be drifting, waiting to pick you up. In some circumstances, this could be fun and adventurous, but moving a few hundred yards from the old dive sites did not mean they were any different. I did ask, "What if I have an issue with my camera and had to come up sooner," or more (or less) importantly, depending on your view, " What if a diver has an issue?"- the answer was "You need to come up with the group, as the boat will find it too dangerous to pick up one diver". That did not sit well with me at all.
I have over 3000 dives, and take liveaboards because of their freedom to do photography and dive my own profiles in my own time...I am also responsible for myself, and have redundant rescue systems on me. In the old days, we could dive whenever we wanted- the boats would stay over a dive site for at least 2 dives, and we just had to be back before they moved. It was so nice to gear up and fall off the back of the boat in a casual, leisurely way. If we wanted a divemaster to show us things, we could do that, too. Now, even though the company line is you can dive on your own, that is not the implication from the captain and crew. They made it clear you had to dive at the time they said,so if you wanted to take a nap after lunch and do a mid afternoon dive, as opposed to one right after lunch, you couldn't. They would have 2 divemasters - one guiding, the other running drag, watching stragglers. I ended up doing fewer dives, as we wanted to dive after resting, when the light was best, and not do the almost dusk dive with poor light. Viz was not great, anyway...
I could not sit in one place, and photograph much, as with 40' visibility, the group would be out of sight in a few seconds, and we had to hustle to catch up...not fun for us.
We had done a couple of Peter Hughes boats in the past, and did not like their structured, hand held diving, so we had been sticking with the Aggressors over the years because they used to have a lot more freedom.
I guess things have changed, in this day and age with liability, we have all lost our own sense of responsibility.
I am a Captain and run my own charters, and when I explain how we have to do things, I expect people to understand and listen. So, when a captain or crew member tells me how they run things, I listen and follow instructions... doesn't mean I have to like it though...
We did have a good week, though, in spite of the above...The night Manta dive was really a hoot - lots of dive operators converged, and in an area about 35' deep, we would sit with dive lights facing up, attracting the plankton that attracted the Mantas. We saw dozens at once, zooming over and into us, with their mouths wide open feeding. I had to be careful not to have my strobe stick up too far and injure them. I got some great photos looking into the mouths and gullets of the Manta.
The other great dive was the night drift dive 2-3 miles offshore in 4,000' of water - hanging on a line at 40', with the boat drifting in the current - waiting for the night creatures to come up from the deep. Our lights shone on incredible things, many unseen before, some 15' long,and some larval critters. That was another highlight of the trip, and would have liked to do another one.
So, expect some changes in Hawai'i if it has been a while since you were there, and expect the Aggressor standard to be as good as it is known for. Just understand the old days are gone...but maybe we can change that, too. Beginner divers will especially like this trip, but so will more experienced ones as long as they understand the new rules.
Websites Kona Aggressor   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience Over 1000 dives
Where else diving All over the Caribbean, Bahamas, Cocos Island, Socorro, Fiji, Solomon Islands, caves in Florida.
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather windy, cloudy Seas calm, choppy, surge
Water Temp 78-80°F / 26-27°C Wetsuit Thickness 5
Water Visibility 30-60 Ft/ 9-18 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile ?
Enforced diving restrictions Because we did a number of live dives, they were guided, and you had to stick with the group. The other dives were still led by a guide, and we had a little more flexibility.On Nitrox MOD was 110'
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

Sharks 1 or 2 Mantas Squadrons
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles 1 or 2 Whales None
Corals 1 stars Tropical Fish 2 stars
Small Critters 2 stars Large Fish N/A
Large Pelagics 5 stars

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

Subject Matter 3 stars Boat Facilities 4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 3 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments Boat has a camera table, charging stations, rinse tanks for cameras.
I was the only one with a big rig SLR housing setup, boats now are more geared for point and shoot photographers. Am used to going in with my buddy at my own pace, finding my own subjects, doing my own dive profile.
Since Peter Hughes and Aggressor have merged, the boats are run more like a Hughes itnerary...very structured. Not as good if you are a photographer.
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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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