So you’re all ready and hyped up to dive into the ocean and experience the vast and mystical life that exists below the surface. But wait. How do you decide which site will be perfect for you? Luckily, the advantage of diving Kona on the big island of Hawaii, is that it offers something for everyone. This means you will be able to find one that precisely suits your preferences and matches your Kona diving expectations. The waters off the Kona Coast are renowned by divers for their excellent visibility and the abundance of coral and marine life found just offshore. The possibilities for dives sites are endless. Underwater photographers will be awed and especially hard-pressed to choose a lens before every dive, as you might see anything from tiny nudibranchs to massive manta rays (and even the occasional whale).
Although most diving spots in the Kona area are beautiful and offer a unique fun experience, there are some that are truly magical. Here’s some of our top picks:
1. Crescent Beach
Crescent beach is one of the most popular Kona diving sites, and for good reason. Shark sightings are very common in the area, most likely due to the fact that inbound fishermen often dump their leftover chum (bait) directly above. And if you’re lucky you may even experience a close encounter with Laverne on a random dive, she’s Kona’s most famous 14-foot tiger shark. However, Crescent beach is not exactly a barren prowling ground fit only for larger predators. From right off the beach to depths of about 90 feet there exists a beautiful thriving marine ecosystem where you will be able to find tropical reef fishes, octopuses, nudibranchs, and eels living among the most vibrant finger corals and lava architecture. Dolphins, rays, barracuda, turtles, tigers and blacktip reef sharks also frequent this area. Water entry is straightforward and easy — once you make it to the beach. To access the entry point you will need go on a 150-yard hike over some rough lava terrain. It is very highly recommended that you bring a buoy since you will be within the boat channel of a fairly busy harbor.
2. Honaunau Bay in South Kona (Two-Step)
This location is well known as “Two Step” and it’s a very popular South Kona snorkelling site. On this Kona diving site, There is a lavish coral garden from 10 – 50 feet that extends hundreds of yards off the shore where even inexperienced rookie snorkelers can see anything from yellow tangs and triggerfish to green turtles, octopuses, rays and blacktips. Far fewer, however, explore beneath the surface to see what lies in the further north end of the bay. Sloping walls drop low into a horseshoe-shaped sandy bottom starting at around 80 feet. Here, the divers may be treated to the sight of multiple pods of spinner dolphins or the ambiguous Tinker’s Butterflyfish overhead. Navigation is also made fairly simple by following along the curvature of the walls. Meanwhile, On the southern side, divers can explore underwater structures and architecture that has been created by lava flows from hundreds of years ago from The Mauna Loa. Water entry is also an easy breeze because of the 2-tiered lava formation (from which the site actually gets its nickname). During your surface interval, you can go exploring the neighboring areas or just sit back and relax on the beach. Make sure you bring a dive buoy though, as fishermen in the area often make use of a slip on the inside shore of this bay.
3. Manta Ray Night Dive in The Kona Coast
One of the most beautiful and magical experiences, this dive is possibly the only dive in all of Hawaii where you will be glad to wear an extra-thick 8-millimeter wetsuit. Extra weight on your vest will help you make a speedy descent to a sandy bottom at around 35 feet. It is here that you will spend the next hour (or hours) watching mantas swim & seamlessly glide overhead with effortless finesse, brightly illuminated and attracted to the spotlights of the boats right above. Also make sure to keep an eye out for Big Bertha, whose 17-foot wingspan will easily rival the length of some of the dive boats. The lack of movement in this dive along with the shallow depth of the area makes for a dive profile that will allow even completely inexperienced beginners and infrequent divers to effortlessly stay under for at least an hour, but the extended exposure is certain to make you admire a boat with a hot shower for later.
4. The Naked Lady
A Sailboat wreck. The Naked Lady was a sailboat that burned and sank in Kailua Bay. Apparently the Naked Lady is not the vessel’s real name, simply put, the name acquired as a result of how it arrived on the bottom of the bay. As the boat sits in over 100 ft of water, It’s become the home for a number of colorful and interesting fish. Keep a lookout for leaf scorpionfish, Hawaiian green lionfish and bicolor anthias.
5. The Black Water Dive (2-3 Miles Off The Kona Coast)
Dangling off a tether 60 feet beneath a boat in 4,000 feet of water in pitch darkness is a place that sounds more like a nightmare than “fun”. But the Black Water dive is actually quite the opposite. If you are the type of diver who likes going on unique adventures, explore new things and to whom this sounds like the epitome of fun, then the Black Water Dive is for you. On this dive, you will venture a long way past the thriving reefs of the Kona coast, beyond the point at which the shelf begins its steep plummet to -18,000 feet, out into the pelagic abyss. Although this may sound intimidating to some, most divers who undertake the Black Water Dive report it as a very serene experience. You’ll have the opportunity to see multiple beautiful and rare animals ranging from perfectly clear invertebrates and larval fish to siphonophores, and even cephalopods out in the deeper areas. If you want to observe the aquatic wildlife at its purest and experience something you have never seen before, this is the dive for you.
6. Turtle Pinnacle
This dive site is located off the west coast of the Big Island and north of Kona. It is approximately halfway to the north tip of the island. This Kona diving site is especially interesting because it is a natural cleaning station for the Green Sea Turtles in the area. Divers here can get up close and personal with the tame and passive species. It is important to know though, that Green Sea Turtles are an endangered species and are hence protected by federal law, so it is important to remember to look and observe but don’t touch. Due to the extremely high activity of marine life at this spot, there’s a lot of opportunities for the underwater photography enthusiasts to capture breathtaking images here. Moreover, Turtle Pinnacle is not a very deep dive, with an average depth of only 12 meters and a maximum depth of 18 meters. Typically, the visibility at the site is excellent, ranging somewhere between 40 meters and 65 meters. The temperatures here are usually slightly cooler than the average tropical water temperatures, so it is recommended to wear either a 3 millimeter or a 5 millimeter wetsuit. To add, the current in this area is also usually light. This combination of the light current and shallow depths makes this a very fun and relaxing dive perfect for divers of any experience level.
7. Long Lava Tube
A lava tube can be defined as a cave system formed by a lava flow when its surface gradually cooled down and hardened while on the inside, the lava keeps flowing at about 1,300°C. By the time the volcano eruption stops, the lava stops flowing, and only the hardened ceiling remains. Lava tubes are found on land as well as underwater in the Hawaiian Islands. Under the water surface, this geological phenomenon has created exceptional diving sites with caverns, arches and tunnels. This Kona diving site, along with many of the other surrounding “southern” sites, hold an abundance of life. Any of these sites are well worth a visit as they are absolutely packed with various types of fish. Also, keep a lookout for sleeping turtles while you’re in the lava tubes, and some other cool finds that you normally would only find after dark.
Now that you know about some of the best and most breathtakingly beautiful Kona diving spots, What are you waiting for? Come over to us at the Kona Honu Divers and we will fulfil all of your diving needs with your enjoyment and satisfaction as our top priority. Hope to see you by the coast soon!