Visiting Hawaii is a vacation dream destination. Adding a week of diving off the big island of Hawaii is a diver’s fantasy come true. We were fortunate enough to experience the Big Island of Hawaii and the island of Oahu in October of 2018.
The Kona Aggressor, docked in the town of Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii, hosted 14 divers for a week (Saturday to Saturday) of fantastic diving, great food and comfortable accommodations.
Diving off the Aggressor allows up to 5 dives a day including night diving. Being on a live aboard takes you further down the coast line of the Big Island of Hawaii for a greater variety of dive sites. The furthest out into the ocean we traveled was 3 miles. Land was always in sight.
The first day of diving was Sunday, October 7th. We started out with an easy dive to allow everyone to acclimate and the crew to assess our skills. (Believe me, when you are on a dive boat the crew is observing you…especially the first couple of dives. (If you want to be on their “special diver” list, set up your gear backwards.) Dive depth was 42 feet, bottom time was limited to 60 minutes or 500 psi.
As the week went on the captain planned a variety of dive sites to satisfy everyone’s interest. The deepest dive offered was around 100 feet. In water with 100 feet of visibility it is easy to do without really trying. Being aware of the allure of the deep is highly important in clear warm water. To maintain your safety the Aggressor always has two dive masters in the water with the group. It is also highly recommended if not mandatory that everyone be using a computer. All divers in our group were using dive computers.
Diving in Hawaii is different from diving anywhere in the Caribbean.
The ocean floor is lava rock, the reef is mostly hard corals with little variety of colors, many lava tubes, arches and swim throughs. This, however, does not affect the amount of colorful aquatic life to be seen. In addition to very different reefs (as compared to the Caribbean), the aquatic life is a bit different as well.
Some of the interesting aquatic life included Butterfly fish, lots of eels—green Morays, spotted Morays, white mouthed Morays, White Tip sharks, crabs, Ghost and Banded Coral Shrimp, Spanish Dancers, Giant Mantas, Dolphins, Spotted Eagle Ray, turtles, Moorish Idols, and Puffer Fish.
The water temperature in the Pacific is a bit cooler than the waters of the Caribbean. The average water temperature in October was 80 degrees but varied at different dive sites from 78 to 82 degrees. The water clarity was 80 to 100 feet.
The most unique dive was done after traveling three miles out into the Pacific. It was a night dive in 3000 ft of water–maximum dive depth was 35 feet. The dive crew hung ropes over the side of the vessel for divers to hold on to and enjoy the “Pelagic Magic”.
The term Pelagic is defined as relating to or living in areas of the sea away from the land. This night dive allows the diver to witness clear gelatinous mollusks or heteropods. These are phosphorescent organisms of different shapes and sizes that ascend from the depths of the open ocean to feed in the moonlight. The unusual aquatic invertebrates ascend to shallower depths to feed on the algae and plankton. The divers shine their lights out into the water for a very unusual experience, much like seeing a 3D film in a dark IMAX theater.
Aggressor dive vessels offer divers a welcome level of comfort including warm water showers on the dive platform. Dive crew members welcome you back on the dive platform taking your gear to your dive locker and draping you with a warm towel. If you opt to take a warm shower on the dive deck, shampoo and soap were available (getting naked was optional). After night dives you were welcomed back on the boat deck with a cup of creamy hot cocoa, laced with Kalua and/or Bailey’s Irish Cream, whipped cream and chocolate sauce. Yummy!
Our after-dive adventure included exploring the Big Island and a few days on Oahu to experience the history of Pearl Harbor and the beautiful North Shore.
Hawaii has tons to offer under the water as well as on land. Hawaii is a destination that should be on everyone’s list of places to visit. One of the top things about Hawaii….no passport required!