Shore entry to the manta dive at the Sheraton

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spoolin01

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Thanks for your feed back. In terms of making yourself visible to others, did you use a surface float? I thought of doing that but it would seem like a bad idea given that, if all goes well, there will be mantas whizzing around me.

Also, in terms of figuring out whether there will be dive boats arriving on a given date, is there any way to try to anticipate that?
You seem to be getting comments about both the Sheraton and Garden Eel Cove sites. I didn't know there was a way to get anywhere near the Garden Eel site from shore, without one heck of a walk (is it even open along the shoreline?).

Both times when I went there were only a couple of boats, and both times we dropped to the bottom well away from the boats (no surface floats). I'd have little worry about the surface swim to near the area, but I'd have my light and whistle ready. I went there with a dive charter once where there must have been a half dozen boats or more, and 20 or 30 snorkelers in the mix, so I'd expect the captains are wary of bodies on the surface.

Interest in the Sheraton site by the charters seems to have waxed and waned considerably over the years. Of late I get the impression that it is more regularly visited, but I don't live there and don't even follow it much when I visit. The best bet is probably to go to the hotel and have a drink at dusk the night before you want to try it yourself. Past results are fairly predictive in this case. You could also get the names of the few Keahou Bay based boats that are the more regular users of that site (the rest come from way up at Honokohau Small Boat Harbor and will likely go to Garden Eel given the choice), and call them to ask if they are going on a given night. Similarly call Jack's or Big Island or a couple of the other outfits that run manta dives from Honokohau, and ask them as well.

Sorry for the tardy reply, but I don't reliably get notifications of thread activity for some reason.
 

Hinalo

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This year there has been a lot of bouncing between south and north sites. Last week there were quite a few days they went south. Any given day it could be either. Best to call the major dive ops and see where they are currently going, knowing that it can change on a daily basis.
 

nippurmagnum

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Thanks for the suggestions!


You seem to be getting comments about both the Sheraton and Garden Eel Cove sites. I didn't know there was a way to get anywhere near the Garden Eel site from shore, without one heck of a walk (is it even open along the shoreline?).

Both times when I went there were only a couple of boats, and both times we dropped to the bottom well away from the boats (no surface floats). I'd have little worry about the surface swim to near the area, but I'd have my light and whistle ready. I went there with a dive charter once where there must have been a half dozen boats or more, and 20 or 30 snorkelers in the mix, so I'd expect the captains are wary of bodies on the surface.

Interest in the Sheraton site by the charters seems to have waxed and waned considerably over the years. Of late I get the impression that it is more regularly visited, but I don't live there and don't even follow it much when I visit. The best bet is probably to go to the hotel and have a drink at dusk the night before you want to try it yourself. Past results are fairly predictive in this case. You could also get the names of the few Keahou Bay based boats that are the more regular users of that site (the rest come from way up at Honokohau Small Boat Harbor and will likely go to Garden Eel given the choice), and call them to ask if they are going on a given night. Similarly call Jack's or Big Island or a couple of the other outfits that run manta dives from Honokohau, and ask them as well.

Sorry for the tardy reply, but I don't reliably get notifications of thread activity for some reason.
ks
 

nippurmagnum

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This year there has been a lot of bouncing between south and north sites. Last week there were quite a few days they went south. Any given day it could be either. Best to call the major dive ops and see where they are currently going, knowing that it can change on a daily basis.

Thanks for the suggestion.
 

IslandDiversHI

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So, I did this from shore and it was awesome, much more effort from the dive I did the night before from the boat. When we got out there (snorkel) one one of the dive operators had a great tip for us: "next time get a glow stick and attach it to your snorkel so the boats can see you easier". They were pretty cool about it since we were basically free loading off the big lights they had lugged out. If I do it again and I like will, we'll follow that advice.
Completely recommend if you are confident in your watermanship skills, including the ability to gauge entry/exit conditions. Some more classic advice I'll repeat, "When in doubt, don't go out".
 

nippurmagnum

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I totally understand the reasoning of wanting to do it from shore. I would be very frustrated if I paid $125 for a charter and we went to Honokohau Harbor (a site I frequently do from shore)!

To answer your question, yes it can absolutely be done from shore. Your judgement sounds very cautious so I think you guys will be just fine.

Do not use a surface float at Garden Eel Cove (which sounds totally counter intuitive). The mantas can run into the line and harm themselves. Also it could pose an entanglement hazard for the heavy boat traffic above. Best advice, is to stay aware of your depth and what's happening above you.

Funny you mention Honokohau Harbor, I dove that half a dozen times last year (and loved it) and I saw tons of big stuff (tiger sharks, eagle rays, turtles being cleaned, etc.). I can imagine dive boats being reluctant to tick off their paying divers by dropping them at a site so close to the harbor, having forked over $125, but it's a fantastic site.

I will scope out the Sheraton site on snorkel and see how that goes. I just got back from a shore dive trip to Bonaire and there were lots of challenging entries/exits, so I am feeling plucky.

Also appreciate the advice about the float. The reason I asked was precisely that it seemed like an entanglement hazard for the mantas and all the other snorkelers and divers. Not to mention which, with my 2000 lumen dive lights, I am going to be pretty visible at night, I would think.

Thanks again for your advice, Tyler.
 

spoolin01

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Funny you mention Honokohau Harbor, I dove that half a dozen times last year (and loved it) and I saw tons of big stuff (tiger sharks, eagle rays, turtles being cleaned, etc.). I can imagine dive boats being reluctant to tick off their paying divers by dropping them at a site so close to the harbor, having forked over $125, but it's a fantastic site.
This is an issue for several of the more popular boat diving spots near Kailua Town, they are also accessible from shore when conditions permit. The harbor is probably the most reliably shore-accessible of those.
 

nippurmagnum

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So I am back from my dive trip to Kona. I did 14 shore dives, but the manta dive was not one of them. I scoped out the Sheraton site and I decided that the entry/exit and surge were just too tricky to deal with safely in the dark. Sure, there was a chance that we might have done it uneventfully, but there seemed to be too many things that could go wrong. So I decided to go with Jack's Diving Locker for the manta dive on a two tank dive, and I think it was money well spent. For $155, we got an awesome first twilight dive during which we saw 8 mantas in daylight, as well other cool stuff in the Eel Garden site by the airport: a couple of scorpionfish, a Hawaiian lion fish, razor fish, and some very healthy and interesting coral formations at around 70 feet, with 60+ minutes of bottom time. We were provided good sandwiches for the surface interval "dinner," and watched the sun go down. The main event was great, with a dozen mantas at a time over our heads, and 60+ minutes of bottom time. And the exit could not have been simpler.

Our shore diving was instead concentrated around (1) Puako, including the turtle cleaning station that locals told us about, and which was a world class dive site with 8+ turtles getting cleaned at once in a single spot, (2) Milolli'i, which had the healthiest and most diverse coral on the west coast of the Big Island, (3) the Black Pebble Beach, which had some very fun lava tubes and some healthy coral, and (4) Alua Beach, where we encountered two tiger sharks and three eagle rays. All of those sites had easy entry/exit, except for Alua Beach which required a walk over a lava field before getting to the sandy beach, from where entry and exit were very easy.

But for the manta dive, I'd recommend spending the money to do a boat dive, and to do the 2-tank trip.
 

iamrushman

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thanks for the update report...sounds like you had a great diving vacation.
 
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