In the morning I went out with Torpedo Tours for a two tank dive just off the Kona coast, the first at Kaiwi Point and the second at Nai’a Bay. The dives were pretty incredible with 70+ feet of visibility and tonnes of fish, coral, eels, dolphins, caves and a four foot long barracuda that watched us from about 20 feet away. The water is crystal clear and even at 80 feet of depth there was lots of light and lots of action. The big island is one gigantic mountain of lava and so the dive sites are all within a half mile of shore or less because the slopes of the mountain drop off so quickly under the water. The coral is in great shape and the variety of life was spectacular but it may not be a fair comparison to other sites because the visibility was so good. In between dives the dive master and ship captain found a pod of dolphins that was in a social mood so we all dove off the boat and snorkled/swam with them. They were a lot of fun, twisting and circling around us, jumping in graceful arcs out of the water. A mother with a 3 foot long baby swam up beside me before flicking their tails and effortlessly diving back to the bottom. We also saw a school of flying fish leaping out of the water and actually flying. Their Hawaiian name means “crazy fish”.
The kids both wanted to scuba on our trip but you have to be 10 years old to get certified or try diving in the open water. Instead we went back out with Torpedo in the evening for the night time manta ray dive/snorkle. This was the best thing we’ve done in Hawai’i and probably on our whole trip back from Uganda. If you ever get to the big island you absolutely have to dive or snorkle with the giant manta rays and I think it’s worth the flight from one of the other islands to the big island just for this.
You go out on a boat with a mix of divers and snorklers to the dive site appropriately named Manta Heaven, about 30 minutes from the main harbour. You hang out on the boat watching a beautiful sunset and then gear up for the dive or snorkle. Mantas feed on tiny plankton that are attracted to diver’s lights under the water. This site is well known to all of the local dive companies and it is a loosely but well organized event each night. A couple of the bigger dive shops set up ‘camp fires’ together on the ocean floor in about 30 feet of water. The camp fires are big plastic boxes full of underwater lights shining up from the floor to the surface. The lights attract the plankton which in turn attracts the mantas.
There is an 80%+ success rate in seeing mantas and we had a spectacular night with at least 20 giant manta rays coming to feed on the plankton. The mantas ranged from about 6 feet from wing tip to wing tip to over 15 feet across. In total there were probably 30 scuba divers sitting on the ocean floor around the camp fires looking up watching these huge, graceful aliens do slow circles diving and turning with their cavernous mouths agape to catch as much plankton as possible. There were around 70 or 80 snorklers including Gill, Toby and Bea on the surface. Each snorkle group was organized to hang on to handles on a flotation device like a repurposed surfboard or custom made floats and then put your face in the water with a snorkle to watch the show. It was absolutely amazing. We couldn’t take pictures but I found many online (see below) that are just like what we saw. It’s hard to describe but the sensation of these giant flying ships under the water was incredible.
This was a great way to end our trip and we are pretty excited about getting home to Toronto and back into our life in Canada. The next post will be from the motherland and we are all looking forward to it.