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Which Dive OP for Kona Manta Dive?

Discussion in 'Hawai'i' started by DougieG, May 4, 2019.

  1. DougieG

    DougieG Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Wisconsin
    37
    1
    8
    Hi there:

    We will be stopping in Kona for 2 days on our way back to the states from Palau in July. Just wondering what everyone's opinion is on the best dive op for the Manta Dive? I know there are different manta dive sites which the various dive ops go to. Not sure if there is a "best one", but interested in everyone's experience. Thanks for the free advice!

    DougieG
     
  2. Steelyeyes

    Steelyeyes Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Redmond Wa
    513
    337
    63
    We went with Jack's Diving Locker but judging by how many boats were rafted together and how many other divers were on the bottom with us they all take you to the same place.
     
  3. Damselfish

    Damselfish Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Boston
    8,926
    1,458
    113
    There's pretty much 2 sites. I think the northern "airport" site is more used and is supposed to be better all around. But the ops will know where the mantas seem to be hanging out more at the time and will hopefully base their decision mostly on where your odds are best that night. (I don't know if there's any ops that will favor a site due to distance, but it's probably a wash for most of them.)

    Usually none of us like crowded dives, but for this particular dive having lots of boats and divers in one spot is a good thing, as all the lights tend to attract more plankton and more mantas.
     
    grantwiscour likes this.
  4. diversteve

    diversteve moderatorem noster omnipotens

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: everywhere
    25,902
    5,556
    113
    Jack's or KDC

    most light wins
     
  5. georgec02

    georgec02 Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: San Francisco, CA
    10
    3
    3
    We've done the Manta dive on Kona with Big Island Divers. I'd recommend Pacific Rim Divers, but I don't think they always do a Manta dive. When you do the Manta dives, typically, you just swim to the bottom, and wait for the Mantas to come in.

    Honestly, as an alternative option, you can snorkel right off the beach at the Mauna Kea resort, which we did with our family and friends last August. They have a light that shines all night from the cliff below the Manta restaurant right into the water. The bonus is that you can stay as long as you want.

    Here are my thoughts doing a self-snorkel that I had in a prior post:
    • The Mauna Kea resort runs a spotlight into the water right offshore after dark (they actually have a restaurant above called the Manta). It attracts the the plankton and the manta's (often/no guarantees) come in. It's north of the airport on the Kohala coast. (North end of the beach if you look on Google Maps)
    • There is "public" beach access, but very limited public parking at the resort that's first-come-first serve with no fee. We showed up at about 3-4 PM and there were spaces available because folks were leaving the beach for the day. You just drive up to the guard / front gate, say you're going to the beach, and they just told us we were welcome to go check for spots. The public spots are marked. I heard that they stop letting the public in at some point after dark, but don't have any official info to confirm. The parking is on the south end of the beach.
    • It's a short walk down to the beach from the public parking. You can see the light at the far right side /north end of the beach if you're looking at the ocean (the farthest end away from where the public access entry), mounted at the top of the rocks.
    • If you get there in the day time, you can scout out the spot, it's really shallow, probably not more than 10-15 feet, and also catch a nice sunset while eating a picnic dinner, or eating something at the resort.
    • You don't need a dive light to do the snorkel, but it's helpful to get to and from the beach. Its was a short swim and it looked like the resort had a guide taking small groups of guests out with masks/snorkels, no fins. The pool of light is small and close to the rocks.
    • We entered at the end of the beach closest to the light. It's a very easy, gradual sand entry.
    • Shortly after dark, we had 4-6 mantas come in with one doing backflips in the light. They were swooping in and out of the pool of light the whole time we were there. There was one dive boat that set-up further out in the cove with their own light and only stayed for a short time. However, I think most boats go to the airport which is a lot closer to the marina.
    • I know everyone here abides by the no-contact policy for all things we encounter. However, as I mentioned, the water isn't that deep, and they're swimming in a fairly small area under and around you, even if you're trying to keep your distance. My understanding is that contact can damage their skin and cause infection. You really don't even need fins to get out there if it's as calm as when we went. I felt my longer dive fins needed closer minding when mantas would swim underneath.

    I've also seen recommendations for the Sheraton which is much closer if you're staying in Kona, but the locals I talked to said it's a rocky entry and really hard exit.
     
  6. grantwiscour

    grantwiscour Regular of the Pub

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Kona Coast, Big Island of Hawaii
    651
    242
    43
    All of the local dive ops do a good job on the Manta trips.

    I would not recommend the "do it yourself" method. There is a lot of boat traffic.
     
  7. georgec02

    georgec02 Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: San Francisco, CA
    10
    3
    3
    There's no boat traffic at the Mauna Kea location where the light is. It's literally right next to the shore. The boats that do come to that location (and most don't, they go to the airport) stay farther out in that bay. If you look on google maps, it's the 1/4 of the way out the point where the Manta bar is listed.
     
  8. Scoo

    Scoo Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Washington, DC
    10
    4
    3
    Did this a few years ago--its a pretty silly dive. I guess if you are in a silly mood, go for it

    I'd do the Blackwater Night Dive instead. Big Island Divers runs one.
     
  9. jonhall

    jonhall Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Indianapolis
    857
    344
    63
    Just wondering if you were able to do the Manta dive/snorkel, who you did it with, and how you liked it?
     
  10. grantwiscour

    grantwiscour Regular of the Pub

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Kona Coast, Big Island of Hawaii
    651
    242
    43
    We've done the Manta and other dives with all of the Kona Ops over the years. All the ops do a good job. We prefer Big Island Divers but any of the main dive companies will show you a great time.
     

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