The Best Diving in Hawaii is on the Kona - Kohala Coast
Kohala Coast Dive Sites
The dive sites on the Kohala Coast, the oldest part of the Big Island, are a topographical wonderland of volcanic action that took years to create. Twisted and spun from molten hot magma to form unique pinnacles, lava tubes, arches, and bommies, these lava formations have been encrusted by more than 50 species of Hawaii’s stony coral colonies. Beautiful reef topography sets the stage for a huge diversity of fish (about 30% indigenous to Hawaii) and blue water visitors like sharks, rays dolphins, turtles and much more. During the winter months of December through April, our dives are filled with the sound of Humpback Whale serenades.
Below is a brief description of sites. We choose our dive sites daily based on weather conditions but if there is one you would like to try let us know and we will try our best to get you there!!
Inside Crystal Cove
Outside Crystal Cove
The Lava Dome
Black Point Caves
Paniau North & South
North Kohala Sites
Inside Crystal Cove: 20-40 feet ~ With a black sand bottom that hosts isolated coral heads, this is a utopia for critters, a great site for the beginner diver or for those who love macro life and coral gardens.
Outside Crystal Cove: 40-90 feet ~ The deeper end of Crystal cove holds tall pinnacles and islands of coral surrounded by sand. It is also an invertebrate wonderland, and there is a good chance at seeing our resident pod of spinner dolphins or the occasional eagle or manta ray.
The Lava Dome: 30-90 feet ~ The most unique coral head on the coast! Standing about 30’ high, the lava dome is a volcanic rock covered in plate and knob coral. It is an amazing sight to see a coral head that is hundreds of years old. Beyond the dome, coral fingers stretch out to a ledge we call Pink Floyd (after “the Wall”). This is where schooling fish like to congregate, blue dragon nudibranchs are common, and the big guys often cruise by.
Frog Rock: 20-70 feet ~ Lava tubes are a big feature here with lots of local critters inside. There are also nice coral fingers and a ton of juvenile fish.
Big Sandies: 15-70 feet ~ This is an ocean swimming pool! White sand rivers at only twenty feet are surrounded by healthy coral and good fish variety: Great for newbies! The more advanced divers can cruise out to the finger that leads to a wall where fish schools peruse and octopus, shells and other invertebrates dwell.
Ulua Cave: 25-90 feet ~ Ulua features a large swim thru home to our very own sponge crab (Bob), Spanish dancer nudibanches and their egg sacs, and frog fish. Further from the boat the reef drops making a nice vantage to see bigger things cruise by (Dolphins, rays, whales and monk seals have all been seen here) great night dive too!
Horseshoe Reef: 20-60 feet ~ As the name implies, this site is formed by coral reef that is shaped into a horseshoe with ledges and lava tubes below. Resident white tip reef sharks like to snooze under the ledges in the day time. Check out our favorite swim through “the kitchen sink”: You will see how it got its name when you go down the drain.
Black Point Caves: 30-70 feet ~ A healthy ledge of coral that leads to lava tubes and ledges. There is a commonly seen resident white tip reef shark here and plentiful octopi abound!
Black Point: 40-90 feet ~ Prone to strong currents, the visibility is always astounding! An advanced site with deep drops and intense fish life, the schooling pyramid butterflies are a photographers dream come true!!
Turtle Spa: 25-75 feet ~ The show stealer here is the almost always active turtle cleaning station. On calm days this can be visited from shore (with a bit of a swim). Please give the turtles some space and respect as though you are visiting them at the spa. Yellow tangs, damsels and wrasses get in on the action of picking parasites from their flippered friends!
Garden Eels: 40-75 feet ~ This is one of the shallowest spots you can see row upon row of garden eels swaying like spaghetti noodles in the current at about 65-75 feet. Beyond that the terrain is fascinating with swim thru’s, moray eels, turtles and more!
Puako 76: 30-70 feet ~ This site is a coral heaven and home of many schooling fish including the helers Barracuda. The lush coral gardens are the perfect fish breeding zone which makes baby fish encounters here prime. Topography drops off at a slope which means seeing rays, dolphins and other pelagic ocean species is a great chance!
Alice’s Wonderland: 25-80 feet ~ Giant arches and abundant healthy coral are home to many invertebrate including octopus, frog fish, schooling fish and a great chance at pelagic encounters out at the steep drop off outside of the mooring. Truly something for every level of diver!
Paniau North and South: One of the most popular shore dives on this end of the island but such a treat to encounter from the boat where you can cover more terrain by avoiding a surface swim. This site is peppered with arches, lava fingers and lava tubes with sky lights letting in sunrays. Turtles, white tip reef sharks and rays are commonly encountered here.
Puako Point: 10-100 feet ~ It really is out on a point: The mooring is set on a finger that almost comes to the surface and has swim thru’s below. A short swim out and the reef drops away to a steep ledge that will keep you looking at your gauges as you descend to the abyss. Great spot to see rays and octopus.
Turtle Mound: 15-60 feet ~ Here is another active turtle cleaning station and huge palani schools as well as lava tubes galore. Don’t be surprised if your gauge never goes beyond 40’: Most of the good stuff is shallow here!
Holo Holo Kai: This is to the South of Turtle mound and boasts similar features. More healthy coral, more healthy lava tubes, more healthy fish schools and fish breeding grounds, turtles, white tips…… OK yes we are spoiled and the Kohala Coast is a plethora of amazing dive sites!!