Review Date AVG ShoreDiving Site
06/12/2012 3.08 Keauhou Bay The Big Island, Hawaiian Islands
This is not the most pristine dive site on the Big Island but, if you are reasonably fortunate, it is the home of Kona's Free Manta Dive, day or night. The nearby Keauhou Sheraton Hotel continues to shine lights out on the surf at night (just as the Kona Surf before it) which attracts the mantas. These mantas are still around during the daylight hours and utilize several cleaning stations in the bay. Their presence is fairly predictable. Use the directions given by previous posters. Across the street from the parking lot is a sidewalk with railing that leads down to the rocky shore. I get in and out right at the end of the trail just a bit to the left of where someone has stuck a length of PVC pipe into the rocks to support their fishing pole. Entry is tricky, so wait for a wave to rise up, jump and maintain a GIANT stride. Once in the water head left toward the mouth of the bay. I surface swim to maximize time with the mantas. Swim out just far enough to where you can see the reef turn to sand channel. Follow this dividing line out. Go out to where you are roughly parallel to the hotels big, flat observation platform. Below you should see that this part of the reef has become fairly barren but populated with hundreds of small, stubby-spined urchins. This is where the cleaning stations are that the mantas frequent. If you don't see them from the surface, drop down and continue to swim seaward as they orbit a fairly broad area. If you get skunked, head away from the sand channel and explore the reef, which is prettiest out here. Inside the bay is a lot of 'harbor junk' as well as what looks like stuff left over from construction. This whole area is full of life despite the human element. I've seen octopus, dolphins, whitetip reef sharks, eagle rays and all the usual tropicals here. The return trip is at your discretion and needs to be based on whether or not you want to surface swim back or not. I usually climb out where I got in, but some folks like to swim to the little sand beach at the far inside of the bay. This dive requires a bit of experience with shore diving from rocky areas. However, the wonder of seeing the mantas is worth it. If you do see the mantas, observe them from a distance initially to get a feel for the path they're taking from cleaning station to cleaning station. Then settle down on the coral rubble bottom (check for urchins) and enjoy the show. Don't try to touch them as this subjects them to infections. Also, touching them will immediately end the show as the spooked manta will leave immediately and take its friends along. Also, don't try to ride them. These are not the big pelagics you see in photos that allow divers to mug them. If you're nice to these mantas, they will be nice to you and let you take all the photos you like and give you great memories.
08/03/2004 3.35 Kukio Bay The Big Island, Hawaiian Islands
My wife and I love to dive here in the summer although it takes some resolve to surface swim out to the drop-off. The water in the small cove remains between 2 and 4 feet for a long way out and only begins to get deeper as you approach the mini-wall. Going in at high tide is a good idea. There is a wonderful lava tube that can be accessed by descending through a skylight located between the two rocks breaking the surface farthest from shore. The tube is packed with Big Scale Soldier fish and also hosts Slipper Lobster, various eels and several uncommon Blue Dragon nudibranchs. Outside the tube, you can turn either left or right along the wall and have a good dive and never getting deeper than 50 feet. Going to the right will lead you to a shallower, sandy area where we've seen Spotted Eagle Rays as well as big Horned Helmet shells. Going to the left takes you slightly deeper and there are lots of overhangs on the wall where Green Sea Turtles can be found sleeping. Out this way we have run into Blue fin Trevally, Whitetipped Reef Sharks, and, on one occasion, a Manta. The big draw is the macro invertebrate life that is found here - lots of shells, crabs and nudibranchs. The surface intervals are spent on a truly gorgeous beach that is uncrowded and well-maintained. The bathrooms are always clean and have the deluxe motion sensor type toilets and sinks. Luxury shore diving by Big Island standards! Outside the restrooms are showers to rinse off your gear and yourselves. This is a great place to take a picnic lunch and spend the day diving and relaxing.
01/22/2003 4.31 Mile Marker 4 The Big Island, Hawaiian Islands
A great dive site in the summer but a hit-or-miss proposition in the winter when NW swells drive the surf right into this little cove. In Summer 2002, a parking lot was added just north of this site by the county. You can gear up in this lot and walk down a narrow path to the entry. This is nice because parking is limited along the wall on Ali'i Drive. An added bonus is the shower & toilets @ the north end of the lot (for adjacent Magic Sands Beach Park). Once in the water, the best variety of terrain is to the left (south). There is a series of lava tubes, canyons, and caverns in this direction. Outstanding variety of tropical reef fish here. Saw 6 Green Sea Turtles on a single dive in this area. Lots of Whitemouth, Undulated, & Yellowmargin Morays. You can stay shallow & explore the reef tops or go 40 to 60' and check out the canyons. In a couple of caverns you can see uncommon Wavy Cave Sponges on the wall. This is a good place to find mollusks like Tiger Cowries, Leopard Cones, Triton's Trumpets & Day Octopi. Heading straight out can also be a good dive. In the shallows you can spot Lagoon Triggerfish and Dragon Wrasse. In around 20', my wife & I once saw 2 White-tip Reef Sharks tucked under a ledge. Further out, on the sand flats I've seen big Horned Helmet shells, Kona Crabs, and Blackside Razorfish that dive headfirst into the sand when you approach. Bluefin Trevally patrol out here also. The sand flats are also home to a couple colonies of Antler Coral each standing around 3 feet above the otherwise featureless terrain. When exiting the water, it's best to wait for any sets to pass. The bottom is really rocky and uneven and just a relatively small wave can knock you over. Likewise, the path that leads up to Ali'i Drive is strewn with loose coral rock that can easily make you lose your footing.
01/20/2003 3.96 Place of Refuge The Big Island, Hawaiian Islands
As a Big Island resident, I've found Honaunau to be one of the best sites on the island. The diversity of marine life here is amazing. Green Sea Turtles can be seen every day. Other big animals I've seen at this site include Manta Rays, Eagle Rays, White-Tip Reef Sharks and (on numerous occasions) Spinner Dolphins. The entry here is easy and convenient. A natural Two-Step formed in the lava rock that you can giant-stride off of. Exit from the Two-Step is also easy but I recommend wearing gloves as Rock-Boring Urchins are on the step. The entire shoreline is lava rock and entry/exit anywhere but the Two-Step is dangerous for the diver & bad for the littoral environment. You can go as deep as you want here. At 130' on the north end of the bay is a rock on sand bottom that is alive with Bicolor & Longfin Anthias. The shallow reef has numerous cleaning stations which allow great photo ops as the colorful reef fish spread their fins to be cleaned. The drop-off has impressive plate coral formations. It's best to get there early as this relatively small bay can get crowded. Also ascend with extra caution. In addition to motorized craft from the boat landing, this bay is home to a local canoe club. You can't hear an outrigger coming! Also, this general area is sacred to the Hawaiians and some common-sense respect for the land & the water should be observed. Don't litter and don't impose your values on the locals. Spearfishing is occasionally practiced here as it has been for centuries without damage to the ecological balance. It is a local custom that will be vigorously defended if challenged. With the variety of depth, terrain and marine life, this is a good place for a two-tanker. Especially if you are making the trip from Kailua-Kona or the Kohala resort areas.