Review Date AVG ShoreDiving Site
05/28/2001 3.44 Puako Church The Big Island, Hawaiian Islands
I actually dove a site just a couple hundred feet south of the Puako Church, but it is essentially the same area. This is turtle sanctuary and one can study these fascinating creatures sunning themselves on the lava or as they swim effortless in 20 - 60 feet of water. The entry along here and in many Northern Big Island sites can be a challenge, especially at low tide. The lava is rough on feet, footwear and gear. It is usually better to dive at high tide - but always be careful of urchins if you use skin-diving fins. Another entry challenge can be wind driven surge, though it isn't as difficult as other Hawaii sites. The swim to 40' depth is about 300 meters at high tide - I would suggest that seasoned divers put their snorkels back on and use them on the surface swim there's much to see and it will make swimming through the surge easier. Once at the 20 - 40' levels, just drop down and swim among the lava tubes that have become healthy coral walls. The yellow tang, wrasses, butterflies, other common Hawaii reef fish are prolific here - ostensibly beyond the reach of collectors in this protected area. The turtles are tolerant of divers who don't present themselves aggressively. Morays are also friendly to those divers who keep a non-threatening distance.
05/28/2001 4.03 Place of Refuge The Big Island, Hawaiian Islands
This site had the healthiest reef of the several I visited. One reviewer said it was like being inside an aquarium...that's true, though I don't like the metaphor (Hawaii is experiencing a significant problem with aquarium fish collection.) We actually snorkeled this area because the abundance of life is within 25 meters of the shore, including numerous turtles. The site is very popular and crowds can be a problem in the water and with parking, as parking is limited at the site. Yellow tangs are so plentiful here, that you have to appreciate that the area is a protected marine sanctuary free of collectors. I can only imagine that a night dive here would be phenomenal. Dive charters also frequent the area. I didn't see any larger animals.
05/28/2001 3.59 Puako Village End The Big Island, Hawaiian Islands
This site is an easier entry than Puako Church as there isn't the need to walk out on lava at low tide. Wind-blown surge can still be an issue use a snorkel for the 200 meter swim to the drop down point. The reef is very healthy and this is a popular dive site for the local dive ops. There is a mooring buoy, so be aware if you surface in this area. The visibility is generally good, but not as much as the west and south sides where there isn't as much sand. It was still about 75' on the windy, choppy day that I was there. Turtles frequent the area and the usual reef fish are plentiful. There are openings in the lava flows that provide fun swim-throughs, and interesting open mouthed caves formed by the lava tubes. The area has a large flat sandy area surface at 60' that provides for easy exploration. I swam along with a feeding turtle for about 5 minutes she didn't mind a bit. This is a better site than Puako Church.