Dives 46 through 59 we’re on the west side of the big island of Hawai’i. In August/September we were lucky enough to take a diving vacation. With the number of dives we had lined up, we decided to take advantage of our EAN certifications to avoid the post-dive exhaustion that we typically experience with regular air. With all the dives we saw a huge variety of creatures, the highlights of which were reef sharks, a moray feeding frenzy and a whale shark.
Managed to use the GoPro for the first time and not kill anyone with it. Arrived early which meant we visited the nearby state park and got to see the remnants of native fish ponds. 2 turtles and a raccoon angelfish in the shallows.
Golden Arches south
Very cool arches here. Saw an octopus, a couple of white mouth morays, a devil scorpionfish, frog fish and yellow margin moray. 15 pounds weight and only used the heated shirt on its lightest setting about half the dive. First dive ever with nitrox!
Much quicker descent but had a bit of trouble with my ears. Working theory is that since I struggled less with pulling on the wetsuit I was calm and better able to exhale to sink in spite of the lighter weight (only 14 pounds). I’m thinking one of those body suits might get me down to 12 or 13 so I stop bouncing off the bottom and only have to use my breath for buoyancy.
The site is collapsed lava tubes. Saw a snowflake moray, white margin morays, devil scorpion fish, female endemic boxfish, really big octopus, psychedelic wrasse and potters angelfish. There were a couple of huuuge nudibranchs too. But I forgot my fish ID books at home, so we’ll have to do that from the video, assuming it works out.
Today’s dives were out of Kohala.
Named for the shape of the reef. Saw a bandit fish and got lots of good video. There was a huge spotted puffer. Some really cool schooling behavior in the fish on the reef. We missed the white tip reef shark and spotted eagle ray that the German group doing their checkout dives saw. But I got to experience a boat going over my head. Really cool and weird.
Inside crystal cove
Saw an octo and 2 white mouth morays, ornate butterflies, a huge nudibranch, a juvenile leaf scorpionfish. Our guide fed an urchin to one of the big conchs and we saw the strike. The foot on those this is huge, I can see why they’re coveted for fritters. Tried to get a shot of a crown of thorns starfish with what looked like 2 black clowns on it, but our guide got in the way. Ran out of GoPro battery part way through because I’d neglected to turn off the camera between sites. This tells me that we’d be fine with a single battery so long as I remember to do that.
Today was back up north to dive with Kohala again. We were running just barely late, but it didn’t matter. My new Lycra pants made pulling on the wetsuit a breeze for the first time ever. It was so easy I almost cried. 15 pounds today. On the way out we saw dolphins, and some flying fish on the way back in.
Drift dive Black point to black caves (south)
Saw some nudibranchs, morays and pyramid angels, and went through a couple of arches. The first one had some long-antennaed crustacean – I think it was a tiny lobster. It was just hanging out in the roof of the arch and I only spotted it because of the antenna peeking out the hole. It was sooooo cool, I can’t wait to see the video to get a better view of the thing. I think it was black with spots, but the camera could get closer than me. The second arch had a smallish white mouth moray guarding the exit so we all had to avoid that. This was husbands first time really being comfortable with going underneath an overhang. It’s good and essential practice for the cenotes.
Drift dive dome to almost frog rock (north)
Some coral but pretty light on the sea life up this far north.
Today’s dives were advanced on the Imi Kai out of Kona. First was a big drift out of Touch of Grey because there’s a room there that has a bunch of grey tip reef sharks. We just saw the tail of one there, I don’t think it got it on video. But we did get a black and white coris, which is pretty rare endemic. There was also a big slipper lobster and I found a huge lobster in an arch. And we saw an actual hunting party at work. toward the end there was a white tip reef shark settling in for a nap so we saw it out swimming a bit before it laid back down. It was kind of like a dog circling before it’s nap.
The second dive started at Wacky and ended at Rabbis Rubble. Great site – a juvie flame wrasse, 2 viper eels and a yellow margin moray.
Went back out for a night coral dive instead of the traditional manta dive. So different looking at the pale colors of sleeping fish. Looking for eyes shining in response to my light meant that I was able to catch a slipper lobster and then some interesting shrimp. We didn’t get to see any parrot fish in their sacks, but sleeping fish were fun.
I don’t even know how to describe the diving today with KDC. It started with meeting a pod of dolphins right outside the harbor. There was a mom with a stubborn and playful calf that were slowly bringing up the rear – the little one kept trying to wander off and was doing spinning jumps out of the water one after the other. It was clearly practicing for some reason. So adorable.
We went back to Touch of Grey for another drift dive. I had a bit of trouble descending in the dry wetsuit so ended up with 16+1 pounds to get down. First thing we saw a whale shark cruise by. I’ve wanted to see one of those since my first Scholastic book on sharks when I was 5. That was immediately followed by a manta ray (12+ feet). Then a grey tip reef shark went swimming right by. All in the first 10 minutes. So we stopped swimming North to the room that has the grey sharks (against the current) and started drifting south. We saw a couple of eels and the banded coris with potentially a male next to it. I’ll have to check the footage to be sure. Then we got to see the white tip reef shark again. I got some great footage of it moving around, some with it headed right toward me. The group got to see a huge lobster in its cavern, but the shark was trying to get back in there to sleep so I didn’t get to see it. The shark swam straight at me getting ready to go into the cavern so I let it have that space. I got some great shots of reticulated butterflies right before heading up tot the safety stop. Then almost at the stop we saw a pelagic manta ray. Holy crap what a dive.
The second dive was at Crescent with a drift around the point. This couldn’t have been more different. A school of barracuda, amazing coral, a coronet fish, two eels in the same hole, great schools of tangs and orange surgeon fish. It took me a while to figure out what the upside down lobster shell was. Some interesting views and terrain changes as well as a couple of nudibranchs. An octo that unfortunately inked and juvenile hawaiian hogfish. A cleaning station with 2 cleaner wrasse and potentially a juvenile. There was a huge nudibranch there as well. Super interesting but so very different.
3 stooges drift south opened with a spotted eagle ray. We did a bit of a sand crawl. There was a spiral yellow thing that I’ll need to look up. It looked like a tube worm of some sort.
Teacups to LAX and back with southbound current. Started with a hidden octo. The coral (teacups) was amazing and the LAX three way cavern was pretty awesome and has a trio of nudibranchs in it. Katie told us after the dive that when I entered I surprised a puffer so much that it didn’t know what to do with itself and it just fell behind me. It didn’t actually swim, just fell. A couple brittle stars in a coral formation. Crabs on an urchin doing something bizarre. White tip reef shark with a hook in its mouth at the end. And in the last little bit I got to see a giant snail moving around searching for food. So cool.
Pipe dreams drift north
Eel feeding frenzy on tuna heads. Lots of gorgeous coral, 2 black long nose butterflies. One eel followed the camera out of its hole. Unique urchin with blue spines on it. A couple of reticulated frog fish early on.
- Max depth: 57 feet
- 58 minutes
- Max depth: 61 feet
- 66 minutes
- Max depth: 81 feet
- 58 minutes
- Max depth: 50 feet
- 63 minutes
- Max depth: 68 feet
- 51 minutes
- Max depth: 73 feet
- 50 minutes
- Max depth: 73 feet
- 47 minutes
- Max depth: 69 feet
- 57 minutes
- Max depth: 46 feet
- 75 minutes
Dive 10 – Day
- Max depth: 79 feet
- 43 minutes
- Max depth: 68 feet
- 73 minutes
Dive 12 – Last Day
- Max depth: 88 feet
- 46 minutes
- Max depth: 46 feet
- 72 minutes
- Max depth: 62 feet
- 62 minutes