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Dive Review of Kona Ocean Adventures in
Hawaii/Kailua Kona

Kona Ocean Adventures, Feb, 2014,

by Pat Wikstrom, NC, US (Contributor Contributor 14 reports with 1 Helpful vote). Report 7553.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations N/A Food N/A
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 4 stars
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling 4 stars
Value for $$ 4 stars
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments We did two trips in February with these fine folks. The first was their morning 4 hr. dolphin snorkel trip at $169pp + tax, all gear and wetsuit included. It was worth every penny! We took off with just a family of four and my wife & I and motored out of the harbor. Within just a few minutes we started spotting whales. The captain was adept at getting us as close as allowed and anticipating the direction the whales were traveling and aligning us up with their trajectory. We made a slow journey up towards the airport and along the way saw a manta ray swimming along at the surface and several other whales spouting, tail flopping, and fin slapping. Just as we started turning around we intersected a group of over 100 spinner dolphins that played in our wake, performing leaps and spins through the air as we alternated taking pictures and getting into our snorkel gear. Once everyone was set the captain moved us out in front of the traveling pod and we plopped into the 78 degree water and waited for the dolphins to catch up. It was magical! Columns of dolphins streamed behind, alongside, and at times completely surrounded us. Our group included those that free dove down to get under the pod and those that just kicked along at the surface taking pictures and video. After all the dolphins had passed we were picked up, zipped off to get in front of the dolphins, and repeated the performance. We did four or five of these quickie snorkels. I had so much fun I lost count. During the last one a manta ray joined in just at the tail end of the dolphins and the fastest of our group kicked for all they were worth and had a memorable few minutes swimming within armís reach of the manta. What a morning Ėwhales, dolphins, and mantas on a very private tour with a couple of attractive, personable, and energetic staff.
KOA doesnít have any dedicated dock space and canít give you an exact GPS location where their boats will be waiting sitting on their trailers. The day before we did a very worthwhile trial run to make sure at 8:00 the next morning we could find the Honokohau Harbor boat ramp. Calling a couple weeks before we left home I set up our snorkel trip on Wed and a two tank afternoon dive on Fri where my wife had elected to do the included manta night adventure as a snorkel while I joined the divers down below. It turned out this wasnít unusual. Telephone calls and e-mails were promptly returned with questions answered by Laurie who I believe is one of the owners. They appear to own at least a couple of boats themselves and list a half dozen or so other staff members on their business card. Iíve lost mine so I canít name names.
Our afternoon trip was with a completely different crew who may not have been regulars with the company. Our first dive was with just one other couple. Our wives snorkeled while the husbands and guide dove at a tiger shark hang out, ďMouth of the HarborĒ. It was a fairly ho hum sort of check out dive complicated by pretty choppy surface conditions and a fair amount of surge underwater. The snorkelers were tossed around a good bit on the surface and didnít see a whole lot. 0No Tiger Sharks showed up. Coral structure was mostly healthy finger coral but with drab coloration. My log book notes a good number of colorful reef fish including Sgt. Majors, Butterflys, and Yellow Tangs; a Morey Eel, giant Pufferfish, and a Green Sea Turtle were the highlights.
We returned to the marina to drop off his wife due to sea sickness, and picked up a few other folks for the night dive. Speeding down to a location not far from the airport we joined more than a dozen other boats jostling for position surrounding the shallow sand dive site. Basically you wait till dark when a huge light array is floated out from a larger dive boat. Divers are issued powerful dive lights to shine up as we kneel on the bottom and the light array points down. Plankton and other small critters are attracted by the lights and the Manta Rays perform loop the loops in the water column scarfing up the marine bounty. KOA has a great video of the experience on their web site and the reality was every bit as fantastic. I shot video clips with a housed point and shoot and got excellent up close movies of multiple Mantas all around and right on top of me. There was a lot of surge on the site and the dive master enlisted me to hold onto an underweighted new diver who was being buffeted all over the site. She later said she would have bolted if I hadnít helped hold her in place. We ended up logging 45 minutes of manta magic at 41ft. max and when our group decided weíd had enough we surfaced to find fully half the other boats had already left.
My wifeís snorkel experience wasnít as magical. Our crew hadnít brought our own surface float and she and the other snorkelers had to swim across the dive site in the dark to get to another boat that had brought the necessary equipment. Although they also had close encounters with Mantas a couple of them got sea sick being bounced around on the surface and mostly swam back to the boat after 25 or 30 minutes while we were still going gaga over gills down below. Furthermore she felt the Capt.ís attitude and competence didnít live up to the expectations formed a couple days before on the dolphin trip. I didnít really spend enough time with him to form an opinion.
All in all Iíd give KOA 5 stars, my wife 4 ½. Better surface conditions at night would have no doubt improved her assessment. The dolphin swim was amazing and the manta night dive is truly a must do for any certified diver passing through the Big Island. Its $149 price tag- gear included and $114 snorkel is a real bargain and is a marine adventure that even non-divers can participate in and have a memorable experience.
Websites Kona Ocean Adventures   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving Bahamas; Belize; Bikini Atoll; Bonaire; California; Cancun; Cayman Brac; Little Cayman; Cocos Isl; Costa Rica; Cozumel; Cuba; Dominica; Dominican Republic; Florida- (springs, keys); Galapagos; Indonesia; Maldives; Massachusetts; N.C; Palau; Puerto Rico; Red Sea; Roatan; Saba; Socorro; South Africa
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas choppy, surge
Water Temp 77-78°F / 25-26°C Wetsuit Thickness 1
Water Visibility 40-60 Ft/ 12-18 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile ?
Enforced diving restrictions
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

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

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 small boat for small groups so no camera table. most clients had housed point & shoots
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Subscriber's Comments

By Ms Lynda Durfeein VA, US at Apr 07, 2014 21:19 EST  
During the winter months, conditions can get rough. I dove from a liveaboard and the next week with a local shop. We experienced the same surge and rough surface conditions as this writer, so be aware if you're diving Hawaii at this time of the year.
By Lee Little Haponski in TX, US at Oct 29, 2014 14:04 EST  
If you like night diving (my favorite) I recommend booking the Manta dive followed by the late night deep creatures over the 4,000' drop off! You're hanging off a line at 50' as the critters from the deep come up to feed at night. Plan on getting back near midnight - totally worth it!
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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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