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Dive Review of Molokai Fish and Dive Co./Kepuhi Beach Resort in
Hawaii/Molokai

Molokai Fish and Dive Co./Kepuhi Beach Resort: "Good trip, not so good diving", Mar, 2022,

by Ron Jyring, ND, US (Sr. Reviewer Sr. Reviewer 10 reports with 5 Helpful votes). Report 11895 has 2 Helpful votes.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 4 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 3 stars Environmental Sensitivity 1 stars
Dive Operation 2 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 1 stars
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 1 stars
Comments The one sentence short version: I cannot recommend Molokai Fish and Dive (also known as Scuba Dive Molokai).

Here’s why: My wife and I traveled to Molokai for the first time in March. Although diving was not the primary purpose, we had intended to dive 2-3 days of our weeklong trip. Even before we left home, there were issues. Emails were not returned. A few days before departure, I finally called. They said they were having email problems, but did answer my questions, so I packed our gear.

We easily found the dive shop (Molokai is small, and this is the only dive company on the island). We spoke with the owner, and got very excited! He described the pristine reefs, without even mooring sites. Instead, he told of the numerous sand patches where they could safely drop anchor. We scheduled a dive for the next morning. The two tank dives included wetsuits (we opted for 7 mm, and were glad to have them). We had brought our own regulators and BC’s, as they cost extra.

The next morning we checked in at the boat. There was a mixed group of 5 divers and maybe 7-8 snorkelers. Captain Roger was competent but appeared annoyed. As we were boarding, one diver asked if the boat was going to the same site as yesterday. Captain Roger barked, “How would I know? I wasn’t out yesterday. I don’t know where you went!” He did provide an adequate boat safety briefing (including fire extinguisher location), and then ascended to the bridge. I don’t recall seeing him again until we returned to the wharf. Maybe he was having a bad day, or maybe I was misinterpreting things. The two dive masters (one for divers and one for snorkelers) were much more pleasant. There was a cooler on board with canned drinks, a trash can, and a recycling can. There was no place for camera gear (I just held onto my small set-up), although there was a hose with fresh water for rinsing, and no place for charging batteries (though not necessary). There were no comments regarding COVID, but with the strict (at the time) vaccination requirements, and the relatively open boat and breeze, we (a biologist and a physician) had no concerns.

Molokai supposedly has 25-30 miles of fringing reef along the south coast, but we motored a LONG way to the east. I would have thought there could have been closer sites. I was seated at the back, and was exposed to much spray, engine noise, and exhaust. I could have moved, but didn’t as I had a pretty good view of whales off in the distance, so obviously it was tolerable.

After MUCH maneuvering at the first site (inexplicably VERY close to the company’s other boat with more snorkelers), we entered with giant strides off the stern into 15-20 feet of water. Right under the boat were two turtles! Unfortunately, that exciting start was almost immediately crushed when we swam past the anchor chain rubbing up and down the reef, abrading and breaking off coral. I was horrified. Now, it was a breezy day, and accidents can happen, but I’ve been diving over two decades and have never seen such abuse. Furthermore, the anchor itself did not look like one made to set in sand. I am not a sailor, but it sure looked like this must be typical: drop the anchor, wait for it to snag the reef, and then dive. I am guessing that if the turtles had not been under the boat, we would have swam away from the stern and never seen the anchor and chain. At that moment, I know we not be diving with this company again.

The rest of the dive, and the second one, were ok. Visibility was 35-50 feet. The sites were shallow, and with the wind there was a bit of surge, so that wasn’t surprising. We did see a lot of turtles, some of which swam right up to us! However, even though the reef looked healthy to my amateur eyes (no algae, and only one tiny bleached colony), there were very few fish, especially anything larger than damselfish and Moorish idols.

Getting back on the boat was a challenge. With the wind, there was a lot of chop/waves. There was a grab line attached to a ring, and a ladder floated off the stern. The procedure was to approach the stern, remove fins, ascend to ladder, step over the transom, and get seated. This was NOT easy, especially with a 7 mm suit, tank, and weights! As my wife was climbing aboard, she slipped and hit her head against the transom. (Incidentally, my wife is very fit. She is not only a triathlete, but teaches strength-training classes.). I think we should have removed our BC’s in the water, and had more direct help from the crew. I’ve dived in bouncier conditions, so recognize there are risks, but I think these could be better mitigated.

Molokai itself was very quiet, which we really liked. There is not a single stoplight on the island. Unfortunately, almost everything we had wanted to do failed to happen. The National Historic Park was closed, the Nature Conservancy appeared closed (no replies to calls and emails), and local tours were unavailable. Presumably this is due to COVID. Even more than the rest of Hawai’i, it is very expensive. There are beautiful beaches, but most are too rough for swimming or snorkeling. We did find a lot of places to hike, had a very nice time overall, and do foresee returning.

We stayed at a condominium at the Kepuhi Beach Resort that we rented through VRBO. It was very nice and quiet. The resort is located at the extreme west end of the island, but Molokai is small enough that that was never a problem. The resort itself is very interesting. Apparently it began life as a Sheraton golf resort, but now is a well-landscaped set of condos along side abandoned ones! Especially two years into COVID, and less than a month into Putin’s invasion of Ukraine with rumors of nuclear weapons, it had a rather post-apocalyptic feel (which wasn’t bad!). There were gorgeous beaches with few or no other people, but again, they were too rough for swimming and snorkeling. In the main town in the south center of the island are two small grocery stores, and a few restaurants, so no danger of starving, unless you're a very picky eater.

Based on our one day of diving, I cannot recommend Molokai as a diving destination. The reefs seemed healthy, but there was not much for fish, especially compared to the other Hawaiian islands (we’ve dived Oahu once, and Kauai, Maui, and the Big Island many times). The turtles were nice, but Cozumel also has turtles, is much cheaper, and no one drags chains across the reef. If you are going to Molokai anyway, and really want to dive, Molokai Fish and Dive is the only option, but because of that chain, which hopefully was the only time that ever happened, I don’t intend to support them again. Despite the owner’s claims, mooring sites are desperately needed to protect Molokai’s reefs.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 101-250 dives
Where else diving ND, FL Keys, Puerto Rico, Bahamas, Cozumel, Akumal, Puerto Aventuras, Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, Maui, Big Island
Closest Airport Molokai Getting There We flew American Airlines to Maui, and then a spectacular half hour commuter flight to Molokai

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, windy, dry Seas choppy, surge, no currents
Water Temp 75-77°F / 24-25°C Wetsuit Thickness 7
Water Visibility 35-50 Ft/ 11-15 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile ?
Enforced diving restrictions Dive master lead group and monitored our air supplies.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks None Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 3 stars Tropical Fish 2 stars
Small Critters 2 stars Large Fish 1 stars
Large Pelagics 1 stars

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

Subject Matter 2 stars Boat Facilities 1 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 1 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments There were no specific accommodations for UWP. No protected dry areas, and no dedicated tanks. Just a hose with fresh water for rinsing.
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Report currently has 2 Helpful votes

Subscriber's Comments

By Ms Lynda Durfee in VA, US at Apr 07, 2022 20:14 EST  
Too bad. I you had done your research, you would have stayed in Maui and gone with Lahaina Divers. Long trip, but they are VERY experienced with this very challenging area to dive. I've done the hammerhead trip about 7 or 8 times. It's always rough getting back on board. LD is one of the few outfits going to Lanai almost daily.
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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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