Trip Report Lahaina Divers & Mike Severns Diving

Please register or login

Welcome to ScubaBoard, the world's largest scuba diving community. Registration is not required to read the forums, but we encourage you to join. Joining has its benefits and enables you to participate in the discussions.

Benefits of registering include

  • Ability to post and comment on topics and discussions.
  • A Free photo gallery to share your dive photos with the world.
  • You can make this box go away

Joining is quick and easy. Log in or Register now!

Brett Hatch

ScubaBoard Supporter
ScubaBoard Supporter
Messages
424
Reaction score
527
Location
Monterey
# of dives
100 - 199
I did a 2-dive day off of Lanai with Lahaina Divers last week. This was my first trip to Hawai'i, so naturally it was pretty awesome, especially the cathedrals. My experience with the crew was a bit better than @ChrisM did a month ago, but not fantastic. DM was Nick, who was helpful and pleasant, and who did point out a few neat critters along the way. Both dives were close to their target of 40-45 minutes, with a 45 minute surface interval -- both shorter than I am accustomed to, but with the hour-long trek to Lanai, I can kind of understand why they want to squeeze the time here a bit.

They do use the smaller aluminum 72's, not the AL80's you might expect. The AL72's are a little narrower than a AL80's, and of course hold 5 cu ft less than an AL80 (which only hold 77 cu ft). I discussed the odd tank choice a bit with the crew. Because they're the only operation on the island with 72's, when one wanders off for whatever reason, it tends to show up again a little while later, so they like 'em for that reason. Apparently 10-ish years ago they had a bunch of tanks stolen overnight, and most of the 72's ended up back in their hands, so they ended up selling their AL80's to other ops. I can't imagine that the 5 cu ft makes much of a difference all that often, so wasn't too bummed out about the littler tanks. It was "fun" trying to force my tank straps the 3/8s of an inch over to fit the skinnier tanks after awhile of only being used on 7.25-inch AL80's and HP100's.

I also had the distinct pleasure of diving with Mike Severns Diving out of Kihei. Easily my new favorite dive operator anywhere, I would happily dive with them again any time I return to Maui. Experienced, helpful, and just plain nice crew of 3 that day, with 17, 23, and 33 years experience respectively.

The DM Pauline is a biologist with 10k+ dives and extensive knowledge of the local wildlife and their behaviors, and she is eager to share it with anyone who will listen. One diver in our group was pretty rusty and nervous for the first dive, and Pauline patiently gave her all of the help and attention she needed without impacting the rest of the group. She was constantly pointing out creatures everywhere during the dive, and spent most of the time topside discussing in great detail what we were about to see and what we had just seen. During these conversations, the staff would flip through books of photographs, which turned out to be authored or co-authored by none other than the staff themselves. I could sit here and yak at you for an hour about all the reasons why I like this operation, but at the end of the day, they're great, 10/10. Check them out.

I had to borrow a computer for the Lanai dives with Lahaina Divers, so do not have details logs. Logs for the dives w/ Mike Severns Diving:
Dive 1, June 3, 6:30am: inside Molokini crater. Max 78', average 48', 58 minutes on air, temp 79F-80F. Returned to boat with 650 psi on an AL80
Dive 2, June 3, 8:45am: artificial reef made from the remains of a mooring for some gigantic WWII era boat. Max 61', average 46', 52 minutes on air, temp 78F-80F. Returned to boat with 825 psi in the AL80. The second dive's duration was largely governed by NDL time rather than gas, so I would cough up the $20 for at least one tank of nitrox next time, maybe two

We did some shore diving and snorkeling while we were here as well, Mala Ramp was definitely worthwhile dive. We also dived Old Airport and a drift from Five Graves to Makena Landing. Both of which were cool, but honestly, I would recommend snorkeling them over diving. When we returned to Makena Landing to snorkel, we had a great time and saw at least as much stuff as we did on scuba, but without the PITA factor. We also snorkeled in Honolua Bay, which was really fun, and a welcome change of scenery from the beaches.

We stayed at the Old Lahaina House for the first 4 nights, which I liked a lot. It had a mellow, almost hostel-like vibe, and we got to know the family who runs the place -- kind folks with friendly dogs to hang out with by the pool. Good facilities, right by the beach, and walking distance from downtown Lahaina. The latter 5 nights were out of a condo in Kihei that we found on Airbnb, very close to the Kihei boat ramp. It was clean, had a great kitchen and a fantastic west-facing balcony, was situated across Kihei Rd from one of the Kamaole beach park. No complaints here.

Food highlights:
* Drift Coffee in Lahaina. If you have a taste for lattes from tiny hipster coffee shops, this is the place for you. I also picked up some Maui Mokka beans. The coffee machines at the places I stayed were kinda junky, but the coffee came out great, so I reckon that the beans were just really tasty
* Betty's Beach Cafe in Lahaina. We ate at a few different places in Lahaina, and this is the only one we returned to. There's something about the relaxed atmosphere, simple brunch-y menu, low cost, and good location that just works. Plus it was a lot less busy than the restaurants in Lahaina proper
* Tacos Guadalajara food truck in Kihei. Seriously, I live in California and I wish I had easy access to tacos this good at home. The carnitas taco was good, the pork adobada taco was fantastic. The orange sauce is pretty hot, and so, so tasty. If you enjoy spicy food, ask for extra orange sauce and thank me later.
* Cafe O'Lei in Kihei. Creative and scrumptious food, and fantastic cocktails. Try the lychee martini! It's a little weird, but probably my favorite cocktail I had all week
* Foodland grocery stores. If you like raw fish, check out their lineup of poke. They had 25 or so kinds, pay by the pound. Every one I tried was good, and the garlic hamachi was the best
* Earth Aloha food truck in Lahaina and Kahului. I am not vegetarian/vegan, but one person I was traveling with is. So even though I ended up eating fish every day, we also sought out plant-based food options wherever available, including both of these locations. It's not too often that you see the vegan food truck be the one with most customers, but these guys deliver the goods. I had the Thai "chicken" tacos and the crispy "chicken" sandwich, which were both excellent. My friend had the "fish" tacos and the gyro wrap, both of which he liked a lot.
* And of course, Pa'ia Fish Market in Pa'ia (they have other locations which we didn't try). There was a line out the door and along the building, so I was prepared to not believe the hype. But the line moved a lot faster than I expected, maybe 20 minutes with about as many people ahead of me. The food was reasonably priced, came out quickly, was delicious, and the portions were huge. My only complaint would be that the coleslaw is really, really mayonnaise-y. Some people like it that way, which is fine, but it's just not for me.
 

Jcp2

Literally virtually diving
ScubaBoard Supporter
Messages
1,732
Reaction score
1,976
Location
Pandora
How troublesome was the pretravel requirement and were the airports crowded? Did you have trouble renting a car? Are businesses back up and running?
 

Jaan

Ask me about DRYFOB
ScubaBoard Supporter
Messages
109
Reaction score
125
Location
Miami
# of dives
200 - 499
Mike Severns Diving was amazing. Pauline is a world renowned sea slug expert with some discovered and named after her. We were lucky enough to find one of these while diving with them. Check out the seaslugsofhawaii site.
 

Brett Hatch

ScubaBoard Supporter
ScubaBoard Supporter
Messages
424
Reaction score
527
Location
Monterey
# of dives
100 - 199
How troublesome was the pretravel requirement and were the airports crowded? Did you have trouble renting a car? Are businesses back up and running?

The pretravel requirements were no problem. Negative PCR test (not a rapid test or antibody test!) taken within 72 hours of departing mainland is mandatory to avoid a 10-day quarantine. Which is a little annoying, since none of the test providers in my area would guarantee results back in anything less than 5 days. But out of my group of 7 divers who got tests done in at least 4 different locations, all of the results did back the next day. So, kinda stressful but at the end of the day it was fine. Vaccines are not required to travel, but if you do not have a vaccine card with adequate dates, you'll need to take a rapid test as you land. Which isn't a big deal, one of my friends left her card at home, and the additional test took involved waiting in line for about 5 minutes at the airport, a quick nose swab, and then off she went.

The airport in San Jose wasn't too crowded for my Friday 6:45am departure. Most people followed covid protocols pretty well there. On the other hand, The airport in Kahalui was really crowded for the return flight, which departed around 1:00pm on a Sunday. We're talking every chair full, people sitting on the floor, every restaurant had a huge line. Covid protocols were followed much more loosely in the Kahalui airport. Even for an airport, it was a loud, crowded PITA. I would definitely arrive pleeeenty early for your return flight.

I had no trouble booking a car, Maui Dive Shop in Kihei rented us a Jeep for about $1k/week + $165/day. Which is a little higher than I would have expected, but didn't quite feel like a gouge. I did hear a lot of people on the island talking about having problems finding rental cars, or paying just nutty prices for them. I heard one local talking about renting her car out on Turo (basically Airbnb for cars) for $1200 for 3 days. $400 per day! Apparently, car rental companies shipped thousands of cars to the mainland during covid, and have yet to re-up their stock.

I haven't been to Maui before, so can't really say whether there were more or less businesses open than usual. But there were plenty of businesses open. A lot of places were pretty packed or had a long wait time to get in, especially restaurants around dinner time. Seems that there is kind of a sudden burst of tourism, and many businesses are still understaffed from layoffs / just recently re-opening. But whenever I needed a restaurant, grocery store, gas station, or a dive shop, one was open nearby, so it worked for me.

Mike Severns Diving was amazing. Pauline is a world renowned sea slug expert with some discovered and named after her. We were lucky enough to find one of these while diving with them. Check out the seaslugsofhawaii site.

Loved those guys! Pauline is the best ever, and the crew of Andy and Warren were great as well. They have a really good thing going there, I cannot recommend them enough.
 

ChrisM

Contributor
Messages
1,520
Reaction score
396
Location
Torrance, CA
# of dives
1000 - 2499
Glad your experience with LD was a bit better. I had contacted Pauline about dates, but she only had one available date the week we were there (apparently don't run Sat/ Sun?). Have used them before and liked them. Maui Dreams goes to Lanai and returns at like 2, so I don't think I buy the "longer boat ride" story.

as for arrival, the post arrival testing program has already been shut down, so it's only the PCR test requirement as of now (which will likely change soon if you are vaxed)

We hadn't been in 10 years but didn't notice any businesses still shut down in Kihei. Lahaina Front street lost a bunch of businesses permanently.

Last, for rentals, try Kihei rent a car or Hula. Much better prices, and "local" cars so you aren't quite as obvious. We had a 2011 Camry for 9 days for $370
 

Adobo

Contributor
Messages
1,592
Reaction score
336
Location
Northern Cali
# of dives
100 - 199
I did a 2-dive day off of Lanai with Lahaina Divers last week. This was my first trip to Hawai'i, so naturally it was pretty awesome, especially the cathedrals. My experience with the crew was a bit better than @ChrisM did a month ago, but not fantastic. DM was Nick, who was helpful and pleasant, and who did point out a few neat critters along the way. Both dives were close to their target of 40-45 minutes, with a 45 minute surface interval -- both shorter than I am accustomed to, but with the hour-long trek to Lanai, I can kind of understand why they want to squeeze the time here a bit.

They do use the smaller aluminum 72's, not the AL80's you might expect. The AL72's are a little narrower than a AL80's, and of course hold 5 cu ft less than an AL80 (which only hold 77 cu ft). I discussed the odd tank choice a bit with the crew. Because they're the only operation on the island with 72's, when one wanders off for whatever reason, it tends to show up again a little while later, so they like 'em for that reason. Apparently 10-ish years ago they had a bunch of tanks stolen overnight, and most of the 72's ended up back in their hands, so they ended up selling their AL80's to other ops. I can't imagine that the 5 cu ft makes much of a difference all that often, so wasn't too bummed out about the littler tanks. It was "fun" trying to force my tank straps the 3/8s of an inch over to fit the skinnier tanks after awhile of only being used on 7.25-inch AL80's and HP100's.

I also had the distinct pleasure of diving with Mike Severns Diving out of Kihei. Easily my new favorite dive operator anywhere, I would happily dive with them again any time I return to Maui. Experienced, helpful, and just plain nice crew of 3 that day, with 17, 23, and 33 years experience respectively.

The DM Pauline is a biologist with 10k+ dives and extensive knowledge of the local wildlife and their behaviors, and she is eager to share it with anyone who will listen. One diver in our group was pretty rusty and nervous for the first dive, and Pauline patiently gave her all of the help and attention she needed without impacting the rest of the group. She was constantly pointing out creatures everywhere during the dive, and spent most of the time topside discussing in great detail what we were about to see and what we had just seen. During these conversations, the staff would flip through books of photographs, which turned out to be authored or co-authored by none other than the staff themselves. I could sit here and yak at you for an hour about all the reasons why I like this operation, but at the end of the day, they're great, 10/10. Check them out.

I had to borrow a computer for the Lanai dives with Lahaina Divers, so do not have details logs. Logs for the dives w/ Mike Severns Diving:
Dive 1, June 3, 6:30am: inside Molokini crater. Max 78', average 48', 58 minutes on air, temp 79F-80F. Returned to boat with 650 psi on an AL80
Dive 2, June 3, 8:45am: artificial reef made from the remains of a mooring for some gigantic WWII era boat. Max 61', average 46', 52 minutes on air, temp 78F-80F. Returned to boat with 825 psi in the AL80. The second dive's duration was largely governed by NDL time rather than gas, so I would cough up the $20 for at least one tank of nitrox next time, maybe two

We did some shore diving and snorkeling while we were here as well, Mala Ramp was definitely worthwhile dive. We also dived Old Airport and a drift from Five Graves to Makena Landing. Both of which were cool, but honestly, I would recommend snorkeling them over diving. When we returned to Makena Landing to snorkel, we had a great time and saw at least as much stuff as we did on scuba, but without the PITA factor. We also snorkeled in Honolua Bay, which was really fun, and a welcome change of scenery from the beaches.

We stayed at the Old Lahaina House for the first 4 nights, which I liked a lot. It had a mellow, almost hostel-like vibe, and we got to know the family who runs the place -- kind folks with friendly dogs to hang out with by the pool. Good facilities, right by the beach, and walking distance from downtown Lahaina. The latter 5 nights were out of a condo in Kihei that we found on Airbnb, very close to the Kihei boat ramp. It was clean, had a great kitchen and a fantastic west-facing balcony, was situated across Kihei Rd from one of the Kamaole beach park. No complaints here.

Food highlights:
* Drift Coffee in Lahaina. If you have a taste for lattes from tiny hipster coffee shops, this is the place for you. I also picked up some Maui Mokka beans. The coffee machines at the places I stayed were kinda junky, but the coffee came out great, so I reckon that the beans were just really tasty
* Betty's Beach Cafe in Lahaina. We ate at a few different places in Lahaina, and this is the only one we returned to. There's something about the relaxed atmosphere, simple brunch-y menu, low cost, and good location that just works. Plus it was a lot less busy than the restaurants in Lahaina proper
* Tacos Guadalajara food truck in Kihei. Seriously, I live in California and I wish I had easy access to tacos this good at home. The carnitas taco was good, the pork adobada taco was fantastic. The orange sauce is pretty hot, and so, so tasty. If you enjoy spicy food, ask for extra orange sauce and thank me later.
* Cafe O'Lei in Kihei. Creative and scrumptious food, and fantastic cocktails. Try the lychee martini! It's a little weird, but probably my favorite cocktail I had all week
* Foodland grocery stores. If you like raw fish, check out their lineup of poke. They had 25 or so kinds, pay by the pound. Every one I tried was good, and the garlic hamachi was the best
* Earth Aloha food truck in Lahaina and Kahului. I am not vegetarian/vegan, but one person I was traveling with is. So even though I ended up eating fish every day, we also sought out plant-based food options wherever available, including both of these locations. It's not too often that you see the vegan food truck be the one with most customers, but these guys deliver the goods. I had the Thai "chicken" tacos and the crispy "chicken" sandwich, which were both excellent. My friend had the "fish" tacos and the gyro wrap, both of which he liked a lot.
* And of course, Pa'ia Fish Market in Pa'ia (they have other locations which we didn't try). There was a line out the door and along the building, so I was prepared to not believe the hype. But the line moved a lot faster than I expected, maybe 20 minutes with about as many people ahead of me. The food was reasonably priced, came out quickly, was delicious, and the portions were huge. My only complaint would be that the coleslaw is really, really mayonnaise-y. Some people like it that way, which is fine, but it's just not for me.

I dove with Lahaina Diver's yesterday. My experience with them (outside of my DM) was crap.
 
https://www.shearwater.com/products/peregrine/

Top Bottom