Question Hawaii Trip with Diving Included

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aangaroo

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Location
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Hello everyone.

I'm planning a trip to Hawaii in December and I'm looking for criticisms/recommendations for dive sites (but also looking for recommendations for above water stuff too!)

Some background about myself for context about experience level:
I am a new diver certified from the DFW area in January with 7 dives so far, 3 in Okinawa and 4 in the Izu Peninsula. The lowest visibility I've dived in was my certification dives in the quarry and the roughest sea conditions were at Izu where there was mild(ish? I have no reference for what is mild vs moderate) surge. All 7 were shore dives. I have around 10 shore dives planned for California between now and May and am taking GUE fundies next month. I will also be doing AOW and doing local quarry diving in the summer and autumn before my trip to get more experience.

With all that being said, I'll be visiting the Big Island, Maui, and Kauai.

There are two dives in particular I want input on:
  1. Molokini crater (both inside and the backwall)
  2. Ni'ihua (usually a summer thing from what I've read but Seasport seems to be bookable in the winter months)
These are the more difficult dives but I have heard they are incredible. What can I do to prepare for these dives? My time off for the year is mostly allocated so it will be difficult to fly out for more than a normal weekend.

The dive shops I've landed on are:
  • Big Island - Big Island Divers
  • Maui - Dive Maui
  • Kauai - Seasport Divers
So far I have the following dives planned:
  • Big Island
    • Morning local 2 tank dive charter
    • Twilight dive followed by manta night dive
    • Blackwater dive
  • Maui
    • Molokini*
    • Lanai Cathedral (Worth? I've read mixed things about this one)
    • Turtle and shark shore dives
  • Kauai
    • Koloa landing shore dive
    • Twilight + night dive
    • Ni'ihua*
Any and all thoughts are appreciated!
 
Congratulations - you’re off to a good start and you’ll do fine. I used to dm on Maui. Molokini is great and you’ll enjoy both the back and crater - keep an eye on your depth on the back. Though inside is great too, with the shark cave at a depth of 140. The “turtle / shark” shore dive may be five graves - a great shore dive with an awesome bubble cave if one is apt. The cathedrals are magnificent and sometimes offer hammers in the area.

As for the big island, there can be some good shark dives. The manta dive is more productive than the manta snorkel. Not sure where you’re staying but having dinner on the deck of the Sheraton and watching the mantas in their spotlights is pretty fun.

As for Nihihau… best of luck. It’s a long boat ride if they go. But it should be awesome. Welcome to the best expensive sport that’s worth it.
 
Congratulations - you’re off to a good start and you’ll do fine. I used to dm on Maui. Molokini is great and you’ll enjoy both the back and crater - keep an eye on your depth on the back. Though inside is great too, with the shark cave at a depth of 140. The “turtle / shark” shore dive may be five graves - a great shore dive with an awesome bubble cave if one is apt. The cathedrals are magnificent and sometimes offer hammers in the area.

As for the big island, there can be some good shark dives. The manta dive is more productive than the manta snorkel. Not sure where you’re staying but having dinner on the deck of the Sheraton and watching the mantas in their spotlights is pretty fun.

As for Nihihau… best of luck. It’s a long boat ride if they go. But it should be awesome. Welcome to the best expensive sport that’s worth it.
Hello!

Thanks for your thoughts. I will say I am a little intimidated by the back wall of Molokini and Ni'ihua since they are drift dives and I'm not sure I will have much experience with current by then. I believe my dive count will be sufficient to book those trips but I want to be prepared. Do you think it's safe to go on these dives?
 
Is it safe to read from your post that you’re traveling solo and won’t have a dive buddy? Hawaii dive ops generally seem to fall in the middle of the the dive op services, between the Florida / North Carolina boats that haul you to the dive site and then tell you the pool is open and they’ll see you back in an hour, and the more butler style service of Mexico dive ops where they do everything for youu and expect you to follow the leader. Ie: the Hawaii dive masters tend to lead a dive and pair up with you if you’re solo. Tell them you’ll be solo and will hang with the dm if it’s ok.

Also, from my experience, Maui dive ops are very apt to call off the back wall if conditions are less than good, in which they’ll dive more the crater itself. That said, conditions tend to be good there, and the usual current in such conditions is very mild by comparison to a lot of drift dives elsewhere. Relax, be excited and not fearful, and I think you’ll be in for a treat. As for Nihihau, I don’t think the dives are particularly deep or wall style, but I don’t have experience with their sites.
 
I live on Kauai, have dived with several of the shops there, also our local shore dive, Ni`ihau, and actually some off all of the other island as well.
Local first - Sea Sport and Fathom Five are both pretty good. I'd also check out Garden Isle Divers, they go out further west and to some sites the others don't get to. Eric knows his wildlife, and the snacks usually have fresh pineapple :) I've done a couple hundred shore dives at Koloa Landing, still love it, but it you're just zipping through it might be disappointing. If you like zipping, Scott at Kauai Scuba Adventures does good scooter dives.
Ni`ihau, the diving is fabulous. Way clear water, the monk seals often come check you out. I've never hit overwhelming current, but it can get there. The ride out is usually fine, but a lot of us always get seasick on the ride home. I don't know if I'd even try it in December.
When I went to Lanai cathedral it was also spectacular; a whitetip reef shark was slowly circling the cathedral space, and there was a lot of diverse marine life.
Maui - Molokini - really lovely (I still haven't done the back wall, though). I went with Mike Severns Diving; it's under new management since then but if they still have any of the same people they were outstanding.
I thoroughly recommend Kona Honu Divers on the Big Island. Their guides for the blackwater dive literally wrote the book on it. It's a very weird experience; the first time I did it I was completely unsettled, the second time I was fine and noticed a lot more. Their regular day and manta dives are also good.
Important - some of these dives require a certain amount of experience, maybe 25 prior for Ni`ihau and blackwater. This is a very wise requirement; I'd recommend even more (50?), until you're very comfortable with your equipment and buoyancy. Otherwise you may not really be safe, and will certainly get less out of the dives.
I h ope this is useful - Aloha!
 
https://www.shearwater.com/products/swift/

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