Diving Black Friday

Black Friday, a phrase that brings to mind stores jammed with shoppers seeking the first Christmas sales. Not my idea of fun and something to be completely avoided if at all possible. Better to spend the day where credit cards do not work… Possibly under water?

The plan was to return to O’oma and the dive sites near the popular Pine Trees surfing breaks. The area is very good diving, with many sites and entries to choose from along a half mile of coastline, From OTEC to Kaloko. The area is popular with the dive boats as well, we were dropping into the water mere yards from the moorings used by the Honokohau diving operations. As we prepared for the dive we watched as the boats did as well, we just did it without paying $150 per person. The only disadvantage? We had to walk across 50 yards of pahoehoe lava to get to the lava, not a problem with the very gentle swell of the day. Entry was quite easy with a sheltered shallows available just in from the popular Suck ’em Up cave and dive site.

Olivier and Camera
Olivier Martin with his camera rig on the reef at O’oma
We again had a large crew… Mark, Patti, Dennis, Sky, Olivier, Pete and his two off island friends.. Isaac and Jeff. Mark and Patti took advantage of the holiday camping at O’oma to camp out on the beach for a couple nights. While parts of the beach were crowded with campers, the popular spots were those adjacent to the surf breaks. Much of the remaining shoreline was quiet, where you could have a nice stretch of sand to yourself. Not that the peace was totally uninterrupted… The rest of our crew invaded their peaceful campsite, for a time turning it into a diving base camp, with vehicles, wetsuits and tanks everywhere. But then, they did invite us.

Unfortunately, Deb did not join me, a head cold clogging her sinuses precluded diving. Of course, that meant I had two tanks for myself, a two dive day? This was the plan for all of the divers, with a surface interval spent on the beach enjoying some great company.

The first dive allowed those of us unfamiliar with the site familiarize ourselves with the terrain. I had dove at Suck ’em Up before, but that was from a boat. Fortunately some of the guys had explored the area and spent a few minutes cuing the rest of us in to the features available. The entry was fun, snokel across twenty yards of shallows, just to drop into a gaping hole. This pit opens to a good sized cave with a couple entrances at the base of the shoreline wall. A rather dramatic entry. We spent the dive exploring along the wall that lies just under the surf. Small caves and clouds of fish were common. Just enough surge to rock us around a bit and make swimming tricky in a few spots.

The find of the dive was a scorpionfish spotted by Olivier. For a moment I though he was a bit narc’d at 30ft depth, gesturing emphatically at a pile of coral rubble where I saw nothing. Then it moved. Once spotted the fish was still not very obvious. The two of us blasted away with camera gear from either side. Even in the photos you have to look twice to make out the outlines of a substantial fish.

Yellow-Spotted Guard Crab
A Yellow-Spotted Guard Crab (Trapezia flavopunctata) sits on a branch of Antler Coral (Pocillopora eydouxi)
The second dive started with a quick excursion to the front slope of the reef, dropping to around 100ft briefly to see if anything interesting was about. Fairly quiet this day and we didn’t stay long. The reef here is much the same as it is along the whole section of coastline, a steep slope of sand and coral rubble dropping into the abyss. Watch your depth here! Quite a few fish, good wire coral, and the usual denizens of the steep rubble found at the base of most Hawaiian reefs.

We returned to the shallows and the caves found just under the surf line. This is where we spent the remainder of the air in our tanks. Poking into an out of the many caves. I wandered through the Suck-Em Up cave and a couple smaller caves found nearby.

It was a day for crabs! I located a large 7-11 crab in one of the small caves, big enough for a nice meal for two. I also found several small Flat Rock Crabs, colorful little fellows feeding around the base of a large boulder. On the coral flats I found a Yellow Spotted Guard Crab relatively in the open, or at least in a large enough gap of his home Antler Coral that I could get a clean photo of this usually reclusive critter.

A great laid back day with the crew on a beautiful Hawaiian beach. Two tanks empty and a memory card filled with photos. Given the news reports of mobs, injuries and general mayhem that accompanied this Black Friday, I am glad we went with a different plan.

I did stop by Costco on the way home, for fuel and a quick bite to eat as I was there anyway. The lines were really not all that bad, not much worse than any other Saturday, with no line at all at the food service. I did go into and leave Costco while spending an entire $3.62 for a slice of pizza, polish sausage and drink. That was my idea of serious Black Friday Shopping.

Author: Andrew

An electrical engineer, amateur astronomer, and diver, living and working on the island of Hawaiʻi.

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