Maui diving, the good and the bad

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Adobo

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Am on island right now and have been diving the past 4 days. If nothing else, I hope this thread reminds me on future visits who to go with and who to avoid.

For a variety of reasons, I haven't been in the water for a few years. Now that my daughter is certified, we took the opportunity to dive together while on vacation in Maui.

The first few days, we spent with "Dive with Harmony". Harmony is great. She is super friendly and is great at finding wildlife. We booked private dives with Harmony expecting to spend quite a bit of time sorting out weighting and trim. She got us sorted during the first dive. During our time with Harmony, we saw:
  • the usual turtles and sharks at Mala Wharf
  • fairly big octopus at airport beach
  • Monk seal at black rock
  • beautiful reef and topography at Honolua Bay

Diving with Harmony was extremely hassle free. Oh, and we got a ton of great pics to go with our diving, all courtesy of Harmony.

Everything was great. Then we dove with Lahaina Divers. 2 tank afternoon boat.
  • First complaint: They have aluminum 72s. I don't really much care that you get less gas with the marginally smaller tanks. Easy to get 1 hour dives even with 72s in the shallow water diving in Maui. However, most of us who have our own gear will have our tank straps adjusted to 7.25" diameter tanks. 72s are narrower so there is this minor hassle of having to adjust the tank straps to fit aluminum 72s
  • Second complaint: Other than our DM (Kait), the rest of the crew was just crap. Unfriendly and condescending. One guy was walking around with spray defog. When my daughter declined - his comment was, "I guess you don't want to see anything during the dive."
  • Finally: This is the first boat of any kind I have been on in Hawaii that has the guests set up their own gear. This is not really a big deal as certified divers are supposed to be able to set up their own gear. Except this was never briefed by the captain or crew. Combine this with the fact that they have "non-standard" tanks and an unfriendly crew who is rushing the divers into the water, you have a recipe for an unpleasant topside experience.
One bonus example of the condescending crew - as divers who have crotch straps on our BCs, we have to put our rigs on before putting fins on. You get into the BC, you stand up, put on the crotch strap, buckle up and then sit down to get regs and hoses sorted out. After that, you put fins on (which I prefer to do after I walk to the edge of the boat). This crew insists on divers putting on fins first before getting into BCs. This is just plain dangerous.

So to summarize, Dive with Harmony = excellent. Lahaina Divers = crap.
 

inquisit

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I have never understood the "fins on first" train of thought. When it comes up on the charter (surprisingly widespread at about half the vacations I've been on), I just say, "I prefer to do them last, thanks." Never had a problem.

It's a shame Lahaina Divers seems so bad. (Yours is not the only unfavorable recent report.) Once upon a time (several decades ago) they were great. Things change, I suppose.
 

drrich2

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Appreciate the trip report. For the benefit of others who may be researching it, if you're not staying at a private residence, it's be of interest to know where you chose to stay and what you think of it, and what topside activities there interest you. And of the Hawaiian islands, why did you choose Maui specifically? I've never been to Hawaii, so I've no major preference, just interested in seeing your thinking/planning process for others who might go later.

Richard.
 

Schwob

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Thanks. Timely. Will be there in a week. May get to do some shore diving. All we need is air, tank and weights … and shore access at decent sites. Did you do any of / do you plan to do any if your own shore diving?

Addendum: Was your first guided diving shore diving? If so, with dive flag in tow (if so, then presumably by your guide) or w/o (a major hazzle to fo imho when wanting to bring the full camera rig)
 

Adobo

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Appreciate the trip report. For the benefit of others who may be researching it, if you're not staying at a private residence, it's be of interest to know where you chose to stay and what you think of it, and what topside activities there interest you. And of the Hawaiian islands, why did you choose Maui specifically? I've never been to Hawaii, so I've no major preference, just interested in seeing your thinking/planning process for others who might go later.

Richard.

Why Maui
We chose Maui for two reasons. 1) There are a ton of activities here yet the island is not super busy like Oahu / Waikiki. Shore diving is as good as Big Island or actually probably better. Parasailing, jet skis, surfing, etc. Tons to do. 2) We do this vacation with my friend and his family so we kind of pic the island together. Or, our wives pick the island. :)

I like Big Island also but it is just a tad less busy than Maui. I didn't like Oahu that much - Honolulu is too busy with too much traffic.

Accommodations
We're staying at the Hyatt Regency in Lahaina. We've stayed here before and liked it just fine. They remodeled the rooms over the past year I guess. The rooms feel newer but the rest of the hotel is pretty much the same. It meets my expectations and would stay here again.

Other Topside Activities
Most of our time is really centered around the water. Diving for me and my daughter. Snorkeling of course. We did jetskis last time we were here. My wife did a hike down to Honolua Bay. I am sure there is much more topside stuff here. And of course, they have a bunch of good places to eat.
 

Adobo

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Thanks. Timely. Will be there in a week. May get to do dome shore diving. All we need is air, tank and weights … and shore access at decent sites. Did you do any of / do you plan to do any if your own shore diving?

Addendum: Was your first guided diving shore diving? If so, with dive flag in tow (if so, then presumably by your guide) or w/o (a major hazzle to fo imho when wanting to bring the full camera rig)

Yeah, sorry, I should have made that clear. The first couple of days, we hired "Dive with Harmony" for guided shore dives. The key to shore diving anywhere is really knowing the sites. Where they are, where to park, where the facilities are and of course, how to do the dives themselves. Here are the sites we went to:
  • Airport Beach
  • Black Rock
  • Honolua Bay
  • Mala Wharf
These are all easy dives with very shallow profiles. I don't think we got any deeper than 40 feet in any of these dives. But without a guide, you could easily miss the interesting stuff. Or you might not know the best way to go about the dive. For example, black rock - you enter one side and exit on the other side. How would where to park, set up gear, where to enter and then exit?

If you can afford it, I would say it is best to hire a guide to show you how to do these dives (or see if a local from Scubaboard is willing to show you around).
 

ChrisM

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I think a guided shore dive is a great option. We only did one shore dive at Mala, and for that you really don't need a guide.

We took a bit of a risk on the flag, we have those flags on the end of the plastic pole that breaks down into about a 1 foot length, but fully assembled is about 6-7 feet. A local expert (name withheld to protect the innocent :)) said they used that flag but attached a larger flag to meet the size limit. We used our standard one and didn't get popped. Just held it up until descent. Don't advocate it, just our experience....

But @Adobo's review of the crew was spot on with condescending remarks, and really hurrying everyone off the boat (if it were a live boat I might understand the need, but they are on a buoy) was pretty shocking. I also use a crotch strap and I do not recall being told to put fins on first, and I would have politely refused. I would also prefer to walk to the ladder with fins off, but as I was at the stern it was pretty much stand up and go anyway.
 
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