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Scuba Diving in Kona – Ultimate Guide

by Max
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Scuba Diving in Kona - Ultimate Guide

The island’s clear waters and abundance of sea life make it a heaven for divers of all levels.

In this guide, we’ll explore some of the best scuba diving spots in Kona, as well as provide helpful tips for those new to the sport. So, dive into this guide and plan your next Kona scuba diving adventure!

Why It Is Great for Scuba Diving in Kona

Kona is world-renowned for its scuba diving. The clear, warm waters off the coast of Kona attract divers from all over the globe. Kona is home to a vibrant and diverse array of marine life, making it a perfect place to scuba dive.

There are many reasons why Kona is great for scuba diving. First, the water temperature in Kona is very consistent, hovering around 80 degrees Fahrenheit all year round. This makes for comfortable diving conditions no matter when you visit. Second, the visibility in Kona is excellent, often exceeding 100 feet. This allows you to see a wide variety of marine life while diving.

Third, the diversity of marine life in Kona is truly impressive. You can see everything from tropical fish to whales while diving in Kona. And fourth, there are many different dive sites to choose from in Kona, so you can always find a new and exciting place to explore. Finally, the people who live and work in Kona are passionate about diving and are always happy to share their knowledge with visitors.

Kona’s Best Diving Spots

Kona is world-renowned for its clear, warm waters and diverse marine life. Its underwater cliffs, caves and lava formations make for some of the most interesting diving in Hawaii.

Here are some of our favorite diving spots in Kona:

Manta Ray Night Dive

One of the most unique dives in Kona, this dive lets you swim with giant manta rays at night. The rays are attracted to the light from the divers’ torches, making for an unforgettable experience.

You can spend an hour watching manta rays glide gracefully above, lighted by the headlights of passing boats as they feast on plankton. Big Bertha, the biggest reef manta in Kona, has a wing span of 14 feet, which is wider than some of the diving boats. Manta rays are enormous, yet despite their appearance, they are harmless.

If you want to dodge the crowds at one of the Big Island’s most popular attractions—the Night Manta Snorkel in Kona—you’ll have to go under the water. From below, divers have a bird’s-eye view of the action and may even see manta rays cruising straight above as they gorge themselves on tiny copepods.

This dive is suitable for divers of all experience levels, from veterans to new certification holders; however, if it has been some time since your last dive and you feel you may need to brush up on your abilities, we suggest doing so throughout the day. As the dive of a lifetime unfolds above you, the last thing you want to be doing is adjusting your buoyancy or fumbling with your equipment.

Honaunau Bay

Two Step is a common name for this area because it is so beginner-friendly. Even snorkelers may view everything from yellow tang, octopuses, green turtles, triggerfish, rays, and reef sharks in the vast coral garden that spreads for hundreds of yards offshore.

However, only a small percentage of people really dive into the bay’s depths to see what lies to the north. At 70 feet, the sloping walls reach a sandy bottom in the form of a horseshoe. Scuba divers here could be lucky enough to see a rare Tinker’s butterflyfish or a pod of spinner dolphins playing in the waves above them.

Using the wall’s arc as a guide, getting from one place to another is easy. Dive sites south of the bay provide access to underwater structures formed by Mauna Loa lava flows several hundred years ago. The two-tiered lava structure that gives the spot its name makes getting into the water a snap.

You can spend your surface interval lounging on the beach or touring the nearby Pu’uhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park, which has the grounds of the palace of the ancient chief of the Honaunau Ahupua’a and a haven of refuge dating back 400 years.

Crescent Beach

Probably because incoming fishermen clean their catch right outside the port, shark sightings are rather typical at this location. On a lucky dive, you could even see Laverne, the 16-foot tiger who is Kona’s biggest tourist attraction. However, contrary to popular belief, Crescent Beach is not an empty wilderness where only enormous predators dare to go.

Marine life abounds from the shallows right off the shore to depths of about 80 feet, with tropical reef fishes, nudibranchs, octopuses, and eels making their homes amid the colorful finger corals and lava formations. This is a common hangout for dolphins, rays, turtles, barracudas, reef sharks, and jacks. Once you reach the beach, getting into the water is simple.

The path to the entrance is a bit of a slog, so bring diving boots. Leave your vehicle just outside the gate, at the fuel dock, on the harbor’s southern side. Put on your gear and continue down the paved road for another 175 yards until you reach the lava. Getting to the beach from there requires traveling an additional 150 yards through lava rock.

Since you’ll be walking through the boat channel of a busy port, you should carry a buoy (it’s the law!) and double check your equipment and companions before setting off.

Black Water Dive

The Black Water Dive is for the sort of diver who thinks that this is the height of enjoyment. During this dive, you will go far from the reefs off the Kona coast, past the place where the shelf starts its precipitous decline to -18,000 feet, and into the vast pelagic depths.

Although this may seem like a nightmare come true, the vast majority of divers who attempt the Black Water Dive describe the experience as peaceful and otherworldly, similar to that of being in outer space. You and your friends can hover in an empty space below the surface, staring at ancient animals pass by as they are briefly lighted by your dive light.

You might see the nightly activity of larval-stage marine organisms like jellyfish and siphonophores, cephalopods, and even the rarer, larger midnight feeding on this dive. It’s like venturing into the great unknown, with new species of creatures being found on a regular basis.

Not for the faint of heart; most dive shops will not let you in until you have completed at least 25 night dives. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance if you meet the requirements and are willing to try something different.

AuAu Crater

The steep wall dive in this hidden volcanic crater is a prime example of the extraordinary underwater geology to be found throughout the Hawaiian Islands. Some of the largest pelagics, such as oceanic whitetip sharks and hammerhead sharks, may be seen between 30 and 200 feet of depth.

Garden Eel Cove at Makako Bay

The shelf in this bay begins at around 20 feet and gradually declines for another 50 to 100 yards to 40 feet, when the drop-off begins.

In the distance, you can see a sand bottom, and the reef abruptly terminates there. You’ll witness garden eels swimming about to a steady beat as you explore this aquatic world.

On afternoon dives at this location, you may see manta rays and dolphins. The fun truly starts as the sun goes down. Divers and snorkelers lure manta rays to their underwater lights so they may feast on the plankton they attract.

Kona Lava Tube

Many great dives start here. The first lava cavern has a rather shallow entry, beginning at about 20 feet. The entryway has the form of a huge arch, allowing visitors to gaze down onto the dancing sunlight on the cave floor below.

When you first enter the cavern, look up at the skylights or into the pukas (holes) in the cavern walls to take in the awe-inspiring natural architecture. The lava cave ends in a tight outlet. Leave at the right time, and you may ride the wave of people leaving.

The dive master will next take you to the site’s second structure, Skull Cave, a large lava cavern with plenty of areas to explore. Use your dive light to see the bright sponges that line the cavern walls and the spiny lobsters that hide in the cracks.

This natural formation looks like something out of a Pirates of the Caribbean film, with its “skull” and “eye sockets”. Whitetip reef sharks, moray eels, and vibrant reef species may all be found here.

Arches

One of the most impressive lava arches on the Kona Coast may be seen at this location. The first “golden” arch is a treat to swim through and investigate because it is populated by a big school of brilliant yellow reef fish.

You’ll need a dive light to see your way between the pukas (holes) and the roof of this vast and deep tunnel of lava rock.

When you’ve finished exploring the arch and the coral walls around it, your dive guide will take you across the reef to a second arch and then back to the boat along the drop-off.

Triggerfish, whitemouth moray eels, and rockmover wrasses all thrive in this area. Aside from dolphin pods, Commerson’s frogfish and leaf scorpionfish have been seen at this location on rare occasions.

Best Dive Shops in Kona, Hawaii

There are dozens of dive shops in Kona, so it can be tough to choose where to go. To help you out, we’ve put together a list of our top picks for the best dive shops in Kona.

Seaquest Scuba Adventures

Seaquest Scuba Adventures is a great dive shop in Kona. They offer a wide range of diving courses and trips, both for beginners and experienced divers.

The staff at Seaquest are incredibly friendly and knowledgeable, and they always go the extra mile to make sure their customers have a great experience. They also have a convenient location right in downtown Kona.

Jack’s Diving Locker

It is another great option for scuba diving in Kona. They offer a wide range of courses and trips, as well as equipment rentals and repairs.

The staff at Jack’s are professional and experienced, and they’re always happy to help their customers with anything they need. Their downtown Kona location is also very convenient.

Big Island Divers

Big Island Divers is another excellent choice for scuba diving in Kona. They offer both beginner and advanced courses, as well as a variety of diving trips. Like the previous two, Big Island Divers is located in downtown Kona.

Sea Paradise Hawaii

Sea Paradise Hawaii is a great option for scuba diving in Kona. They offer both beginner and advanced courses, as well as a variety of diving trips.

Best Time to Scuba Dive in Kona

The best time to scuba dive in Kona is typically between May and September when the water temperature is about 79-84 degrees Fahrenheit. The visibility during this time is also excellent, averaging about 100 feet. However, conditions in Kona allow for good diving nearly every day of the year. If you are looking to avoid the crowds, consider going in September or January, which tend to be the least crowded months.

Prices You Can Expect Per Dive with Dive Shops in Kona

When it comes to scuba diving, prices can vary greatly depending on where you go and what kind of experience you’re looking for. In general, dive shops in Kona charge between $100 and $200 for a day of diving.

If you’re looking for a more luxurious experience, there are some higher-end shops that offer private charters and custom packages. These can cost anywhere from $300 to $500 per person.

Of course, the best way to save money on scuba diving is to book a package deal that includes multiple dives, equipment rental, and other perks. Many dive shops offer discounts of 10-20% when you book a multi-day package.

What to Pack for Your Kona Scuba Diving Trip?

When packing for your Kona scuba diving trip, be sure to bring everything needed for a great diving vacation!

If you bring your own equipment, you should bring:

  • BCD
  • Regulator (incl. octopus/ secondary)
  • Mask
  • Fins
  • Dive computer (make sure the batteries are full, you bring a charger or spare batteries, and ideally bring a backup computer)
  • Depending on temperature and own comfort level a wetsuit (shorty, or 3mm/5mm/7mm full wetsuit)
  • DSMB
  • Any accessories you want to use (e.g., camera, torch, knife)

Cylinders and a weight belt can always be rented at the dive shop of your choice. Of course, if you don’t have your own equipment or don’t want to take it with you, you can rent all the equipment at one of the dive shops above.

You may also want to bring a rashguard as sun protection, a light jacket or sweater when it gets a bit chilly on the boat after diving, a hat as sun protection, and reef-safe sunscreen.

Where Should You NOT Dive in Kona?

There are a few areas where you should not dive in Kona. These include:

  • Near the beach at night – there is a higher risk of rip currents
  • In front of the lava fields – the waves and currents can be very strong

What To Do When Not Scuba Diving in Kona?

When you’re not scuba diving in Kona, there are plenty of other activities to keep you busy. You can go snorkeling, stand-up paddle boarding, kayaking, hiking, biking, and more. There’s also plenty of great shopping and dining in Kona. And don’t forget to check out the Big Island’s many pristine beaches.

FAQ

Is Kona good for scuba diving?

Absolutely! The island’s clear, calm waters offer divers of all levels a chance to explore the amazing underwater world.

No matter what your level of experience, Kona has a dive site that’s perfect for you. So come on down and see what all the fuss is about!

Can you scuba dive in Kona without certification?

No, you cannot scuba dive in Kona without certification. You can, however, participate in an introductory diving program that does not require certification. Many of the tour operators in Kona offer these types of programs.

What are the pros and cons of scuba diving in Kona?

Kona is world-renowned for its scuba diving, and there are many reasons why. The clear, warm waters offer visibility of up to 100 feet, making it ideal for both beginners and experienced divers. There is also a wide variety of dive sites to choose from, ranging from shallow reefs to deep wrecks.

However, there are a few things to keep in mind before scuba diving in Kona. First, the currents can be strong at times, so it’s important to check with the local dive shops or your hotel before heading out. Second, because Kona is such a popular destination, the waters can be crowded at times. And finally, because of the volcanic activity on the island, there is the potential for hazardous conditions, such as low visibility due to ash clouds.

What is the average water temperature in Kona?

The average water temperature in Kona is 26°C/78.8°F. However, this can vary depending on the time of year and the specific location. For example, the water may be warmer near the shoreline and cooler at deeper depths.

Final Thoughts

Kona has some of the best diving in the world, and with a little preparation, you can have an amazing experience. Now that you know all about scuba diving in Kona, what are you waiting for? Get out there and explore!

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