Big Island, with a family of non-divers. where should we stay? and more...

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TzTz

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Hi,
My wife offered that we'll go to Hawaii for the kids' winter break in a couple of weeks. (Yay!)
We know nothing about Hawaii, and we're thinking of staying at the big island, in a hotel on the shoreline that is kids friendly.
I will bring my dive gear with me and plan to squeeze a few dives but also go snorkeling with the kids.
Is the big island the right choice for us? if so, locations to avoid or to prefer?
Any recommendations for must-to-do dives? My wife is OK with me dedicating a day for a couple of dives, the rest of the time I might be able to go diving if it's not gonna take me too long, ideally a shore dive while they snorkel.
How easy is it to find a buddy for a shore dive?
Thanks!
Tz
 

OrcasC205

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You may want to consider staying at Waikoloa on the Kona side of the big island. It is a resort area with the Hilton hotel and a number of condominiums. There are good beaches around there (A-bay and Hapuna State Beach to name a couple) and the Hilton has some kids programs. It is also close to Puako which has some great shore diving. Kohala Divers is a bit north of there if you want to do some boat dives and Kona is about 45 minutes south if you want to have more choices for charter operators or if you want to do the classic manta dive/snorkel.
 

breals

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+1 staying on Kona side, way more to do and it's where all the good diving and beaches are. Not knocking Hilo but you'll also see way less rain on the Kona side.
 

Hoag

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No matter where you stay, take a day or two and go up into Volcanoes National Park. I have never seen anything like it in my life. You can walk through an old lava tube, see where previous eruptions came through the surface, and even walk from one distinct environment to another dramatically different one (semi-arid desert to tropical rain forest) in only a couple hundred yards.

The one thing to keep in mind though if you do go to Volcanoes NP is that parts of the park are up to 10,000 in elevation so either do it before you go diving or give it a day (or even two) after you dive before you go up to the park.

If you do stay in Kona & make the drive to the park, you will drive right past Punulu'u (sorry if that is spelled wrong) black sand beaches.
 

brsnow

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Diving into the lava tubes are pretty amazing as well perspective from the bottom.
 
OP
T

TzTz

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Great info here, thanks!
Kids are 5.5 and 9.5. we do want to go to the volcanoes park, and thanks for pointing out it's high altitude!
We do want to plan ahead our schedule, and I will place diving accordingly.
From the little I checked, looks like dives are expensive... But don't want to miss the opportunity...

What about purchasing gear over there? I will need a warm weather wetsuit (have a two piece 7 mil...) And fins+masks for kids and wife.
Not sure if we should buy it before the flight or buy it at the island.

Thanks again?
 

OrcasC205

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I think most things, including dive gear, is more expensive in Hawaii, but there are several well stocked dive shops in Kona and it has the advantage of being able to try things on. Kona Honu Diver and Jack's Dive Locker both should have a decent selection.

If you stay in Waikoloa, Blue Wilderness Diving is right there. It's a smaller shop, but very convenient and they have inexpensive snorkel gear rental.
 

OrcasC205

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By the way, my profile photo is from shore diving at Puako last May.
 

brsnow

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I survived in May diving a 3mm full, I did get chilled late in dives.
 

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