Highlights: Manta Ray Night Dive, Blackwater Pelagic Dives, Shore Diving Lava Tubes
This is on the List of 100 Things to Do Before You Die
Night falls. Divers check and recheck their lights and video gear. Palpable anticipation flows from one end of the boat to the other. In a few moments, divers will meet with giants. Some describe the manta ray night dive off Kona as otherworldly while others say it's like being in outer space. The fact is this: nothing compares to kneeling in black water while giant manta rays soar above your head. It's serene, beautiful and gets your pulse pounding all at the same time.
Dive magazines the world over consistently rank Kona's manta ray night diving as one of the best things you can do underwater. Even the most jaded divers will tell you thatthis is one dive you have to do.
Once you've checked your manta ray diveoff the list, take in some of the Big Island's more than 50 dive sites. Famous for underwater lava formations, Big Island dive sites also feature turtles, a variety of eels and many endemic Hawaiian fish.
Divers with big kahunas (and experience) may be interested in a pelagic blackwater dive. These trips must be booked in advance and feature mysterious deepwater creatures that swim up from the depths at night.
Top shore diving spots include Two Step, Honokohau Harbor, Mile Marker 4, Old Airport, Kamakhonu Beach and Keauhou. Contact a local PADI Dive Center or Resort for directions and local regulations.
Night diving experience is highly recommended (and in some cases required) for manta ray night dives or pelagic blackwater dives.
The Seahorse Farm is a must - especially if you have children. You can see a pregnant male and find out what it feels like to have a seahorse wrap its tail around your finger. In addition to a breeding collection of seadragons, the Seahorse Farm also has thousands of seahorses from around the world that range in size from 1.3-24 centimeters/0.5-10 inches.
You also don't want to miss out on a day trip to Volcanoes National Park - visiting the green sand beach (there are only two in the world) - along the way. Don't forget to tune your radio to KAPA FM for some great local music.
The Coffee Shack is a great breakfast or lunch spot. The balcony seating overlooks the Kona Coast and offers a casual, but incredibly scenic, dining experience.
Resort travelers will also appreciate the many Kona Coast amenities like golf, kayaking, hiking and sunset tours.
By flying smaller, island hopper planes to and from Honolulu, you'll enjoy a unique view of Hawaii's beautiful landscape. These flights can also be less expensive than flying by jet on a major carrier.
Explore all the Hawaiian Islands:
All images are courtesy of:
Hawaiian Tourism Authority: Sri Maiava Rusden, Ron Dahlquist, Kirk Lee Adder, Joe Solem
Captain Steve Juarez