Kona, February 2009: Part One

Filed under: — Anastasia @ 10:17 pm

This was my eighth visit to Hawaii, and Jeff’s fifth.

On our long weekend there last year, I wasn’t able to dive – so it had been two years since I’d dived around Kona, which is two years too long.  I was SO READY for this visit.  And Jeff was equally excited to dive someplace with clear, warm(ish) water; a nice change from our California diving.

I landed a few days before Jeff (work meeting).  The work part was productive, and the staying-in-Hawaii part was nice as always, but I was counting down the hours until the vacation part began!

Before I picked Jeff up from the airport, I went to settle into our house.  By “our house,” I mean a house belonging to some friends of ours who are getting ready to retire to Hawaii.  I’d hoped we’d be in Kona at the same time as them so we could dive together, but being allowed to stay in their wonderful home while they were back in the mainland was pretty nice too!  It’s just up the hill from the airport, a convenient distance from Kona and Honokohau Harbor, and it’s absolutely gorgeous. Our friends have done a fantastic job with the place – every part of the house is lovely, but homey at the same time.    It helps that they’re divers, so the decorations are sort of “diver chic” – lots of underwater photography on the walls and ocean-related accents, and places to rinse and hang gear after a day of diving.

Best of all, it has a lanai (balcony). This is the view:


We were also excited to discover gekkoes clambering about on the lanai, as well as one in the bathroom.  I was a little less excited to discover the tar-like substance that is gekko poo on the floor the next day, though!  At least they eat bugs (not that we saw any in the house).

I picked Jeff up Hawaii-style, meeting him at the gate with a tacky lei which I neglected to photograph.

That was Tuesday night, and our first dive wasn’t until Wednesday evening – which meant we had a morning to sleep in (unusual on dive trips).  We woke up to the distinctive sounds of morning in Hawaii: wind in the palm trees and the chatter of local birds. And fresh Kona coffee just down the street.  Life was good.

Jack’s Diving Locker has been our dive shop on every other trip to Kona, and we stuck with them this time.  After checking in at the shop, we met the evening boat leaving out of the harbor to go on the manta ray night dive.

Which is where Jeff noticed he was missing his BC.

I found this funny for two reasons.  First, he’d been gloating about how light his dive bag was compared to mine at the airport counters (42 pounds versus my 47).  Second, he’d JUST UNPACKED all his dive gear that afternoon at the house to swap it into the Jack’s mesh bags, and hadn’t noticed then either.

After a few jokes about his brain being left in California, we got him set up with a rental BC; no big deal.  And we were off!

Right outside the harbor we were swarmed by spinner dolphins leaping and twirling around the boat.  I have learned over the years that there’s no point in whipping out the camera – that’s a sure way to get them to stop.  So now I just enjoy the show!

The manta dive this year was a little different from before: we headed down south near Keahou, instead of the usual spot north of the harbor.    Our twilight dive was at a spot called Casa Caves, which does have a nice cave to swim through.  That was pretty much the highlight of the dive, though – if you can call getting wedged in a lava tube on your way out a ‘highlight’.

Luckily, the manta dive totally delivered.

Mantas feed on krill, which is attracted to lights; so a bunch of divers with bright lights make for an excellent manta party.  This was our 5th manta dive, and we only had zero mantas once.  That was last year, so the memory was fresh; I was a little apprehensive as we entered the water.  Would we be skunked again?

But as soon as Jeff and I dropped down, we saw manta rays swooping over the divers already on the bottom.  We took our stations and spent the next 50 minutes watching the rays cruise over and around all the divers.


It’s completely surreal: the lights from divers and cameramen light up the water with yellow and blue spotlights, and through it all are these enormous creatures slowly circling, twirling, and coming really, really close to your head as they scoop up their krill snacks.

Words really can’t do it justice – so how about a quick video clip?

Clip from Manta Ray Dive (0:36; 3.3 MB)

The manta rays seemed especially friendly tonight; I’ve never had to duck so often!  The manta show was going on quite close to our boat, which made for an interesting safety stop on our way back.  Divers are supposed to stay on the bottom when mantas are nearby, so that we don’t bump into them.  But as we hovered at fifteen feet under the boat, a couple of rays came over to check us out, leaving the main circle of light where the other divers were. It’s actually a bit unnerving to have a 500 pound critter playing chicken with your dive lights!

Jeff and I were the last ones on the boat, cursing the fifty-minute time limit; I would have quite happily stayed down there until my tank was dry!


  1. Lovely! Good you’ve discovered the joys (and not so joys) of geckos. They are fun aren’t they, ever try to catch one?

    I do wish I’d worked my schedule out to be able to go see you or maybe next time you have to make a point to come check out the lava again :-)

    But next time I see you I’ll probably have baby in tow. Hopefully we’ll be able to get the grandparents to babysit while we all go on a dive. Aloha!

    Comment by Julie — 3/8/2009 @ 1:19 pm

  2. So good to hear the mantas show, and boy what a show they put on! I love the loop-de-loops they were doing over your heads! What a treat!

    Comment by Dana — 3/22/2009 @ 6:49 pm

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