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Dive Review of Lahaina Divers/Aston Maui Kaanapali Villas in
Hawaii/Maui, Molokai, Lanai, Molokini

Lahaina Divers/Aston Maui Kaanapali Villas , Apr, 2010,

by Nick Phelps, CA, US ( 1 report). Report 5463.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 1 stars Food 3 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 5 stars
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving 5 stars
Snorkeling 5 stars
Value for $$ 5 stars
Beginners 5 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments Lahaina Divers is a FIRST CLASS dive operation. This was my first time with them. I chose LD for a number of reasons. They dive at Molokai, Molokini, and Lanai. They offer increasing discounts the more you dive with them (their base one day rates are comparable to or cheaper than the other local operators). They have large boats with experienced crews and DMs. I stayed at Aston Maui Kaanapali Villas (my only mistake of the trip) which was 10-15 minutes north of LD's shop.

LD's boats Dominion and Dauntless can take 24 divers but were only half full including DMs on my most crowded dive. I'm sure this was because my vacation fell between spring break and summer vacation for most schools. There were usually 8-10 divers with 2 DMs. Aluminum 72s are standard but did not limit my dive time; they were always 3000-3100 psi. Nitrox is available; the mix was always accurate. There are camera rinse tanks on board and equipment rinse tanks at the shop which was 4 blocks from the dock. Overnight gear storage is available at the shop if you are diving the next day. Sandwiches, chips, cookies, fruit, and water provided between dives.

All trips started with a personal welcome and check-in followed by a safety talk by the crew and the standard Coast Guard safety recording required by law. All dives were preceded by a good dive profile that accurately described what to expect. On the easier dives, divers were divided into groups according to skill level with the more advanced divers allowed to go off on their own if they wished. Roll call was taken after each dive and before we left to return to port. The only small thing I could fault them for was not always "buddying up" single divers. I was solo this trip and so buddied up on my own.

Day 1 - Maui "Turtle Reef" - 40 ft visibility and 75 F at depth
This was the most disappointing day but it was not the fault of LD. The weather was just clearing up after a week of stormy weather and 4 of the divers were on a Discover Scuba dive.
Dive 1 was Jodo Mission. I went with the 2 other divers on the boat because they were certified and talked a good game. The lead diver swan so fast that he scared all the fish away. At first I thought it was because he wanted to get to a particular part of the reed. Unfortunately he never slowed down. We saw a turtle cleaning station, a few eels, and a bunch of juvenile fish. Max depth was 33 ft; bottom time was 65 minutes.
Dive 2 was the Shark Pit. The girl was cold and didn't do the second dive so I lead the guy. We saw a lot more but it was still disappointing. The guy insisted on leading the last third of the dive and so we saw nothing. I began to wonder if I had made a mistake coming to Maui because there seemed to be a real lack of mature fish and there just wasn't much to see other than coral. Max depth was 42 ft; bottom time was 49 minutes.

Day 2 - Lanai - 50+ ft visibility and 74 F at depth
This was much better. The trip over and back was very calm and the weather was sunny and nearly perfect. Dive 1 was Cathedral I. It was fun to go into the collapsed lava tube that makes up the Cathedral. Some of the other divers had poor fin control so the visibility got bad as they stirred up the sediment. The DM Chelsea was great. Reef was very healthy with lots of fish as well as a lobster, eels, and nudibranchs (my favorites). Max depth was 45 ft; bottom time was 49 minutes on 32% nitrox.
Dive 2 was Sergeant Major. More of the same. Max depth was 61 ft; bottom time was 47 minutes on 32% nitrox.

Day 3 - Maui "Turtle Reef" shore dive on my own.
Dive 1 was Honolua Bay. I was fully suited up but only went under for a few minutes to document an injured turtle. There wasn't anything else that I couldn't see from the surface. I snorkeled along the right hand (North East) side of the bay as far as the point. Great place for snorkeling or shore dive but go early because commercial party boats full of inexperienced snorkelers show up around midday. The surf was up so visibility was 35-40 ft.
Dive 2 was Kahekili Park (Old Airport). This is a really healthy reef with lots of coral, fish, and critters. Great place for snorkeling or shore dive. It's like one long safety stop; I got hungry and came up with 1450 psi. Visibility was 50+ ft. Max depth was 22 ft; bottom time was 66 minutes.

Day 4 - Molokai - 40-50 ft visibility and 73 F at depth
This trip is definitely for advanced, experienced divers. There were 10 ft swells on the out-bound leg, during the dives, and even higher seas on the return trip. Current wasn't bad but it picked up in the channel between Molokai and Mokoho'oniki which is a small group of rocks on the SE side of the island. All divers were staged at the aft of the boat and entered the water as a group. Both exits used a trailing buoy line to help us get to the ladder in 10+ foot swells.
Dive 1 was off Mokoho'oniki and included Fish Rain. Lots of fish at Fish Rain. I saw 3 individual hammerhead sharks and 1 thresher shark from a distance as we got to depth. Current wasn't a problem but was present. Max depth was 93 ft; bottom time was 48 minutes on 31% nitrox.
Dive 2 was off Mokoho'oniki and was a little closer to the channel with Molokai. I saw a school of 10-12 hammerheads cruise slowly by. The largest was probably 9 ft. Spectacular! Individual Hammerheads were seen at other points in the dive. There was more current but it wasn't a problem. I'm sure it's why we saw more sharks on the second dive. Max depth was 98 ft; bottom time was 39 minutes on 31% nitrox.
When I made my reservations I was told that the max O2 available for this trip was 28%. I was surprised and pleased when I was given 31%.

Day 5 - Molokini back side - 75+ ft visibility and 74 F at depth
It was a fantastic day with nearly flat seas and almost no current. Unfortunately the lack of current meant that there weren't any large pelagics and only a few of the larger deep water fish.
Dive 1 was Reef's End. Great creatures like a blue dragon nudibranch and a banded pillow crab. Max depth was 102 ft; bottom time was 49 minutes.
Dive 2 was Flying Sea Cliffs. More great creatures like a large sponge crab, eels, and lobster and some decent sized trevally. Max depth was 87 ft; bottom time was 44 minutes.

Day 6 - Maui "Turtle Reef"
Dive 1 was a daytime shore dive on Mala Wharf. I was going to make a night dive with LD here so I wanted to make this dive for comparison. It's interesting to see the collapsed wharf but it got a little boring. I saw a good sized giant frogfish. There were supposed to be some white tip reef sharks that hang out under some of the larger slabs, but I never found them. Max depth was 23 ft; bottom time was 50 minutes.
Dive 2 was with LD on Manta Point which is off Ukumehame Park. On the cruise out we saw a mother Pacific humpback whale with its baby slapping their tails and raising their pectoral fins out of the water. The captain got as close as he dared and stopped the boat for as long as the show went on which was about 5 minutes. Kudos to LD for doing this. Once in the water after 1630 we saw manta rays. At one point there were 2 pairs with each swimming in circles around their mate. Another great diving moment! There reef was healthy and had lots of fish, etc. Max depth was 38 ft; bottom time was 54 minutes.
Dive 3 was a night dive at Mala Wharf. LD provided dive lights. This was much more interesting than during the day. There were different kinds of lobsters, crabs, and shrimp as well as a giant frog fish and conger eels. Max depth was 25 ft; bottom time was 54 minutes.

Day 7 - Maui "Turtle Reef"
Dive 1 was a shore dive at Manta Point. I wanted to see more mantas but got out too late in the morning. They tend to come in during the morning and evening. It was at least a 300 yard surface swim to get out to the reef from Ukumehame Park. I wouldn't recommend it unless you are a strong swimmer. Max depth was 44 ft; bottom time was 57 minutes.

LD rented me a tank, weights, and the required dive flag for my shore dives for $17. They were reasonable but definitely wanted everything back around the 24 hour mark.

My ratings have to be considered in context. Certainly advanced divers will be disappointed and bored with almost all of the Maui “Turtle Reef” dives but beginners will love them. Advanced divers will love the Molokai dive but beginners shouldn’t even consider getting on the boat. Molokini and Lanai will probably satisfy both.

The service and attitude rating of 5 stars is for Lahaina Divers, not Aston Maui Kaanapali Villas (see below). The environmental sensitivity rating of 5 stars is also for Lahaina Divers; Maui is a mixed bag in this category with some very good and some very bad.

Note that there is no rating low enough for Aston Maui Kaanapali Villas in my humble opinion. Nice location but completed bush league operation. Their main lobby is sealed off and under construction although they don’t share this bit of information. There was construction noise and a lot of parking was taken up by worker’s pick up trucks. They charge an additional $13/day facilities fee. Basics like the coffee maker and screen doors were broken. Cheap cabinets and dirty carpet were part of their premium service.
Websites Lahaina Divers   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 101-250 dives
Where else diving Bahamas, Big Island Hawaii, Cook Islands, Cozumel and Yucatan, Florida, Northern California, Missouri, Roatan
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, windy, cloudy Seas calm, choppy, surge, currents
Water Temp 73-75°F / 23-24°C Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 30-75 Ft/ 9-23 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions No DECO diving. Nitrox depth limits.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas 1 or 2
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales > 2
Corals 4 stars Tropical Fish 4 stars
Small Critters 4 stars Large Fish 2 stars
Large Pelagics 5 stars

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 Fairly standard. Rinse tank on boat.
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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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