Kona Honu Divers offers scuba and snorkel tours as well as various diving classes on the Big Island. They also sell freediving, snorkeling, and scuba gear from their store.
General: Photo Opportunity
Water Activities: Boats / Sailboats
Water Activities: Scuba Diving
Water Activities: Snorkeling
The plan for our afternoon / evening tour was a 2 tank dive at different spots. We headed out from Honokohau Marina & Small Boat Harbor and traveled just outside the harbor for the first dive / snorkel. The water was calm and protected from the larger surf.
We were given a safety talk and advised not to stray far from the boat since we were anchored near the harbor. Sandy, our guide, led a group of 9 of us to explore the reef. We watched Sandy freedive to about 30 feet and swim through small underwater holes and arches. Sandy was fearless. She told me later that she could hold her breath for 2 minutes.
We spent about a half hour or so looking at colorful fish before heading back to the boat. We then headed over to Manta Village near the Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa at Keauhou Bay. The divers had a different experience than the snorkelers. They spoke of seeing a shark and several dolphins during their dive.
We arrived at Manta Village about a 1/2 hour before sunset. We watched the sun descend in a haze of orange from the vog. The captain pointed out a single manta ray gliding toward the boat. It had arrived early to the feeding area and gave us a show as it hovered on the surface. Now the excitement - and trepidation started to kick in. I know it's safe to swim with these creatures, but they are big. The largest one known had a wing span of 16 feet.
Everyone put on wetsuits. Although Hawaii water is relatively warm, wet suits do a good job keeping you comfortable at night. The snorkelers jumped in and grabbed a hold of a modified board with bright lights built into it pointing downward. Bright lights attract the plankton, which attracts the manta rays which feed on it. As a group, we clung to the side of the board and held on to a rope handle. We floated on our stomachs facing downward.
There were about 6 manta rays feeding on the plankton. The rays would come up from the depths with their mouths wide open to accept the plankton that surrounded us. Then at the last second, the rays would do an upside down fly-by within inches of us and loop around again.
The mantas eventually made their way to the divers who were parked down about 30 feet down. They were sitting around a powerful light pointing upward from the sea floor called "the campfire". The brighter the light, the more rays it will attract. The divers were getting up close and personal fly-bys from the manta rays.
We spent about 20 minutes or so snorkeling with the manta rays. We would have spent more time with them, but it took a while for our guide to find them. After we got back on the boat, we drank hot chocolate and headed back to the harbor.
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