Kona Dive Travel Guide - Bluewater Dive Travel


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Kona Scuba Diving
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Diving Kona
Kona Scuba

 Scuba diving in Kona, USA 

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Kona Diving Highlights

Kona offers a great mix of marine life and dive-site opportunities. From reefscapes, to lava tubes, and from Mantas to indigenous butterfly fish, there truly is something for everyone.

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Diving Information 

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Kona Marine Life

Hawaii holds a large number of indigenous species of butterfly fish and angelfish. More than 20% of the Hawaiian reef fishes are found nowhere else in the world. In addition, prepare for encounters with Spanish dancers, turtles, barracuda, mantas, frogfish, sharks, and dolphins!

Learn about other great Hawaii dive areas.


Diving Conditions

  • Water Temperatures: The water is a little colder (down to 75 degrees) and the surface a bit choppier in the winter months, and warmer and calmer in the summer (78-81 degrees).
  • Visibility: Varies depending on rainfall and runoff, but is usually between 75-100'.
  • Depth Range: 10 - 131 ft (3 - 40m)


Dive Sites

  • Naked Lady - A Sailboat wreck. Your divemaster is sure to explain the dive site's name when they brief you! This is usually reserved for advanced charters, as the boat sits in about 100ft of water. It's become the home for a number of colorful and interesting fish. Keep a lookout for bicolor anthias, leaf scorpionfish, and Hawaiian green lionfish.
  • Eel Cove - Great site, especially for beginners as it is a shallow and protected dive site. Hunt around for Eels hiding in the cracks and check out the local raccoon butterflyfish.
  • Turtle Pinnacle - Great location for hopefully spotting some turtles. Watch them getting cleaned by tangs and other colorful fish.
  • Long Lava Tube - This dive site, as well as many of the other surrounding "southern" sites hold an abundance of life. Any of the sites are well worth a visit as they are teeming with fish. Also, keep a lookout for sleeping turtles in the lava tubes, and some other great finds that you normally would only find at night.


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Travel Information 

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How to Get There

LAX offers direct flights into Kona International Airport (KOA). You should consider renting a car for your stay in Kona. Even if you don't plan on beach diving, you may want to take advantage of your stay to check out some of the topside attractions.  


How to Dive Kona

Diving Kona is done with one of the numerous resputable dive operators on the island while staying at one of the various accommodation options, from self-catering condos to luxury resorts. Diving is usually done in groups of 4-6 divers under one divemaster. Make sure to include the incredible manta ray night dive on your itinerary!


Best Time to Dive

Conditions in Kona (the "dry" side of the island) are good for diving nearly every day of the year. September and January are the least crowded months, if you're looking for less-than-full dive boats. If you want the chance to do some whale-watching, November - March is your best bet.


Topside & Non-Diving Activities

Take a trip up to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and see the steam rise up as lava rushes into the ocean. For you, coffee lovers, explore the Kona plantations and sample some 100% pure Kona Coffee! In the evening, visit the Mauna Kea Observatories to watch the sunset and then stargaze. Take a hike along the east side, in lush rainforests, or just take a dip and snorkel around, Kona has some unbelievable snorkeling as well.


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There are currently no liveaboards operating in Hawaii.

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Other Useful Information 

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Practical Information

  • Currency: US Dollar (USD)
  • Main Airport Code: KOA
  • Electricity: 120V
  • Time Zone: UTC-10
  • Language: Hawaii has 2 official languages, Hawaiian and English

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Reviews (7)

  • Top Reviewer
Minneapolis, MN
United States

I do not think of the Kona as a true destination for diving. But it is a great multi-purpose family vacation spot with many things to do.

By far and away the best diving is the manta night dive. It is very good for divers and for snorkelers. The diving is about 30 feet deep and you all sit down in a circle around the projector which brings in plankton which brings int he mantas. The arrival rate is very high. We had one female show up and she was a show animal. She swooped and danced for as long as we had air in our tanks. At one point she swooped over my daughter and looked like she was going to crash right into her but then belly rolled on top of her instead. My wife, who does not dive, saw the whole show from right overhead. I have talked with others who have been there recently and they have seen up to 30 mantas on a night. For divers and snorkelers, this is just fantastic.

The diving topography is kind of boring, even compared to the Caribbean. Because of the remoteness of the islands, they do not get many eggs to setup shop. But we did see a lot of interesting animals. We saw lots of eels and several of them were quite interesting and unusual. We saw a half dozen turtles in 4 days of diving. We saw a leaffish, a frogfish at about 100 feet, and several interesting snail like creatures. I was surprised to see just how many things we saw in a few days.

The water is very clear-- up to about 100 feet of visibility in places. It was probably in the 75 to 78 degree range which is not real warm if you are diving more than a few dives a day.

We dove with one of the local dive operators and they were great. My two teens both got their advanced PADI certs while here. They were very comfortable with young and inexperienced divers. This is a great place to get certified. The only negative is that the logistics are a bit painful. You have to drive a harbor where you meet the boat and then have a 20 to 45 minute boat ride to the dive sites. The dive masters were great with my children and I was pretty much left by myself to snap photos and find little fishes.

We stayed in a two bedroom condo on the edge of town which was right on the water. We even were able to do a couple of shore dives which were pretty boring. We made steaks and fish on the grill most nights which we bought at the local Costco. It was every bit as good as a restaurant for about 1/3 the price.

Of course, there are so many things to see and do on the big island of Hawaii. My kids went parasailing which was a highlight. We had a luau at a local resort. We drove around the island to see the volcano on the other side. This is a full day adventure and you are best to leave at around 6am so you have plenty of time to stop and do things. I have not been diving anywhere else in the islands, but I believe that this is one of the best spots on the islands.

Visited on 03/2007 - Submitted on 02/18/2014
  • Top Reviewer
Huntington Beach, CA
United States

Kona offers an incredible variety of activities. Diving is always my first choice, so exploring that was my primary objective. Both shore diving with easily obtained tanks in town and boat diving with operators in the harbor are available. I did both. The shore dives were sometime difficult to get to with gear, but consistently nice once in the water. Others were very easy entries right into reef areas or very cool lava tubes such as at Mile4. By boat, we were able to see some of the deeper reef areas and even find an isolated squat lobster. The reefs were mostly monochromatic with light colored hard coral or black lava rocks, not much in the way of anything else. In some areas the fish were plentiful and others sparse. I cannot recommend it as colorful exciting diving. I had hoped to do the popular manta night dive, but the operators were not going out as they said it was a lull in the timing for them and only 1-2 mantas had been showing up. I wish I had been able to anticipate that, but it is nature. Topside, the drive to the volcano was great, but you do need a full day and need to be aware of elevation with diving so early in the trip is best. Kayaking, beachcombing, coffe and nut tasting, and vivid sunsets even in the rain all combined to make this a fun vacation which anyone including families would enjoy. Going to Kona just for diving, probably not

Visited on 09/2012 - Submitted on 02/21/2014


The Kona area of Hawaii's big Island offers varied diving to someone who wants to do a little research about the area. Local dive shops offer information on shore diving, and there are many accessible sites that are great as shore dives. There are also multiple opportunites for dive charters too. There are different operators in the town of Kona who launch out of the local boat harbor between town and the airport. Further north on the Kohala Coast there are other operations that go to different dive sites north of Kona. The diving is easy, but you do have to watch water conditions because most entry points are over and around lava, so that when the waves come up entry or exit can get trick. I recommend a full wetsuit for protection when shore diving.


The famous Manta nite dive is a must for those who have not experienced the thrill of seeing these beautiful animals close. Another night dive is the "black water dive" which is offered by a couple of dive charters in Kona. It is a thrill to be suspended over thousands of feet of deep water watching varied creatures swim in to your light and then disappear into the black water.

Hawaiian Green Turtles are plentiful and protected in Hawaiian waters, and there are many spots where they are seen. One place is south of Kona and is called Honaunau or two step. It is right next to the Place of Refuge which is a Hawaiian Monument. I always make the trip to dive and also snorkle this area and I have see dolpins in the distance, a juvenile spotted eagle ray and lots of turtles here.

I believe that it would be worth some time to pursue macro subjects. This one thing I have not done enough. I know they are there but I have enjoyed free diving with the turtles so much that I have done that again and again, When you are not blowing bubbles you can feel like you are swimming right along with them in their ocean. One visit I brought my scuba gear but only used my long fins, mask and snorkle. Puako in front of the round church there is a turtle cleaning station that i have returned to again and again. This is my favorite site on the island although I have never used scuba there.


There are plenty of other things to do besides diving. A trip to the volcano is worth the drive and for a totally different feel the town of Hilo and the surrounding area is part of a lush tropical forest. Just the opposite of the Kona side of the island which is dry and arid. The Island of Hawaii has so many different climates that it is worth taking a road trip to see the different parts of the island. There are farmer's markets with beautiful fruits and vegetables and fresh fish is a Hawaiian standard whether you eat in a restaurant or cook it yourself. And there are abundent opportunities to try local food. There are often barbeques set up selling grilled chicken or teriaki beef in the shopping centers.

I like the laid back feeling of Kona and the Big Island as opposed to the frenzy of Oahu and Waikiki. It is a short flight from the US west coast and there are things to do for everyone tastes.

Visited on 05/2012 - Submitted on 02/28/2014

I was told Captain Cook/Kealakekua Bay was simply the most spectacular place in all of Hawaii and I have to agree it does not disappoint. Our visit was a mid-September Saturday that was sunny and warm. We decided to be adventuresome and kayak across Kealakekua Bay instead of taking a group cruise. Since this was our first visit, we secured the kayak and gear through a vendor in Kealakekua topside (online search will bring you plenty of choices). Our vendor was great, but we had to rack the kayak on the rental car and drive the remaining couple of miles. There is also a natural foods store on the way where you can purchase all the grinds for your invigorating day.

Once we arrived at the wharf, we learned that the smart folks living adjacent to the wharf have established a mom and pop business (cash only) renting kayaks, gear and offer on-and-off loading assistance. Their equipment appeared to be no worse than what we had rented. The guys at the wharf also embody aloha and assist anyone who asks (yes I did tip the guy well, he was invaluable helping me, a short person, on and off the kayak since there are no stairs or ladder on the dock). There is sufficient room on the two person kayak to accommodate all the dive or snorkel gear and supplies you need for a day. There are no facilities or services at the memorial site, so you need to pack in and pack out.

If you prefer to take advantage of a group cruise out of Kailua-Kona, they accommodate both snorkelers and divers and do offer divers the opportunity to bring your own gear or rent tanks. It appeared they only brought in two groups per day and those people stayed around the catamaran. There were less than 10 other kayaks during the day. So there was a maximum maybe 50 people in the entire bay. I was glad we arrived via kayak so we were not time limited like the catamaran people. But if you want to save your strength for your dive, I would pick the catamaran.

The reef at Captain Cook has a steep drop off, though there is ample shallower area around the monument and most of the snorklers congregate there. The coral heads in both shallow and deep water are simply spectacular. Lots of finger and cauliflower coral. A rainbow of color greets you with schools of yellow tang, durgeon and butterfly fish, honu and the occasional pod of spinner dolphins. Moray eels pop out of coral heads and often swim freely. Divers noted black and white tip reef sharks. I saw caves and interesting wall formations but they were beyond my free dive capabilities. The cove geography allows easy in an out both at the monument and adjacent rocky shoreline. There are no real sandy beaches.

After a day on the water, the paddle back was challenging, but well worth it. The water was flat and so azure blue. You will appreciate assistance getting out of the kayak! When I go back, I am definitely renting a kayak there at the wharf, no matter the cost.

Visited on 09/2013 - Submitted on 03/04/2014

Kona has definitely stolen my heart. The people here are adventurous, friendly and full of Aloha. Kona's reefs are so alive with coral, animals, endemic fish, sharks, and the most beautiful blue water I have every seen. Mantas are seen daily, as well as Tiger Sharks are common in summer months but can still be seen year-round, Humpback whales in the fall/winter, and an occasional Whale Shark comes by for a look!

The blue, deep water out here brings all kinds of life here to Kona specifically. Though Kona lacks wrecks (we have 3 small ones around here, in deeper water) we make up for it in teeming marine life on a beautifully healthy coral reef. Turtles being cleaned by yellow tangs, sea slugs of all shapes and colors and sizes, huge Ulua, and an occasional big shark can all be seen in a day of diving in Kona. And Mantas! Tons of them!

Topside is fun, quiet small town life but with a steady watering hole clientele - you become a "regular" quickly, and make friends even faster!

Don't come here and stay in a resort. Camp, or rent a small condo/apartment/room, and see Kona for what it really is. rent scooter, play in the ocean. Have a few beers, and kick back!

This place is best for couples, adventurers, and explorers. People whom love life and are active, and want to experience true Aloha.

Visited on 08/2014 - Submitted on 08/05/2014


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