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Snorkeling and Scuba Diving at Keauhou Bay (Manta Village)
The zone in front of the Kona Surf Hotel, in Keauhou on the west coast of the Big Island, was the first manta ray viewing site. The official name is Kaukalaelae Point, but most people know it as “Manta Village”. In May 2000, the Kona Surf Hotel was closed and the lights were turned off. As the plankton stopped accumulating, the manta rays stopped frequenting the area. It's not recommended to snorkel here as there is a lot of boat traffic because the channel drops off quickly. In October 2004, the resort reopened as the Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa at Keauhou Bay. James teamed up with the resort re-creating a favorable manta ray venue. A short time later, manta rays returned and many new mantas have been identified and named since.
Jun 12, 2012, 12:00 AM
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.
Originally posted on shorediving.com
Apr 14, 2009, 12:00 AM
Keauhou Bay is a nice little dive when it gets too rough other places. Park in the Sheraton parking lot and walk to the right down the path to get to the bay. Dive from near the point of the Sheraton and back in to the boat ramp. Stay on the side of the bay and no problem. Boat traffic is usually further out, but watch/listen for them. Very clear dive and they fill air tanks at Fairwinds cruises at the end of the bay.
Originally posted on shorediving.com