Most of the Kona side dive operations operate out of Honokohau Harbor, giving access to dive sites from Kailua Bay to well north of the airport. These are the operations most divers visiting the Big Island are familiar with. The diving is good around Honokohau, but can be limited, island divers know that the character of the reef is different as you move north or south.
Experienced divers will often recommend diving the Puako and North Kohala reefs. Here the shoreline is notably older, where the volcanoes have not sent lava flows into the sea for many thousands of years. The reefs have had much longer to establish themselves, resulting in heavier coral growth and rich sea life.
If you want to try the sites further north, along the Kohala Coast, you need to choose another outfit to dive with. Two local dive ops operate along the Kohala coast, Blue Wilderness and Kohala Divers. Both outfits are small businesses, locally owned and operated, the owners often on the boat with you.
Boat dives are always a treat. We generally shore dive, where the only costs are the tank fills and a little gas to drive to the site. Many sites along the Kohala Coast are easily reached from shore. There are a number of great sites that are more difficult to reach, sites for which a boat provides a nice alternative. When going with a dive boat you also have the crew to assist in rigging gear and getting in and out. They also provide drinks, snacks and friendly conversation while you wait through a surface interval between dives. A holiday treat? A mutual Christmas gift? Whatever you want to call it, we booked a dive with Denise and Dave from Blue Wilderness for a day of diving.
There were several divers beside Deb and myself. Ben, from London, had left his girlfriend back at the resort for a morning of diving. A family from Saskatchewan was escaping the winter with a couple weeks in Hawai’i and a morning of diving. The wife and daughter were simply snorkeling. The father, an ex-navy diver, was introducing his son Brett to the sport.