MY INPERFECT TRIP TO KONA, HAWAII
Here's a dive travel story no one in the travel industry will like, but may serve as a warning:
I did one 2-tank dive charter with Bottom Time Divers in Kona, HI (Big Island). The date was January 16, 2008. The hotel I stayed at was the Outrigger Keauhou, which was lovely and luxurious (at least for my humble tastes) and right next to a fantastic snorkeling beach (no coral but plenty of good fish).
The dives were pretty dreadful because of the cold. The water was 75 degrees F., and although I had on a full 5 mil suit, I had forgotten my cap, gloves and full booties in my room. Not their fault.
The first dive was at 3:30PM, at least that was the assembling time, because all the dives leave from the Harbor and they take you there by van: I know of no Kona hotel with a dive pier right there. (Maybe I'm wrong.) It was a regular dive and mostly over volcanic rubble, though there was one area of coral.
The second dive was billed as the Manta Dive and it was really torture. We descended to about 30 ft. and sat down in a circle. The divemasters got each of us a huge rock and put it in our laps so we wouldn't be buoyant. The drill is to point your divelight upward so it attracts a lot of plankton and hope that the mantas will appear. They had said that if we don't see any mantas after a while, we'll turn it into a night dive; but instead we waited there immobile for 25 whole minutes. I was freezing (even though I had added a 2-3mil vest under my wetsuit), and was hoping we'd give up and do the night dive. Finally after 25", one smallish manta (i.e., small by manta-standards!) showed up and he/she was very nice! But after 15" of watching it, I had thoroughly had enough!!!!!! When we eventually re-boarded, I was a basket case from the cold.
When I got back to my hotel room, I left a message for Bottom Time Divers that I was too cold to do the dives the next day and to cancel me. But when I went around to the shop (in the hotel), I was told you need 48 hours to cancel and they wouldn't give me my money back. This seemed unfair since 48 hours prior I was still in Boston!
What did I learn from this? That Hawaii is not that far south, it is not the Caribbean, and I'll never again travel there in January!
That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
Best from a diving WOMAN (not "girl"), Diana
Written by Diana Abrashkin, Boston. Photo Credit: Earle Caldwell.