As wonderful as the shore access is on Hawai'i Island, there is no denying that to get to some of the islands most spectacular spots, a boat is the way to go. Multiple operators offer boat tours out of Kona and other harbors. Below is a little slide show featuring highlights from some of our recent boat dives (all photos by B.J. or Lauren).
For Kona area dive sites, we recommend Kona Honu Divers. They are consistently rated top three on the island, the boats are large and well kept, with plenty of room and shade. The staff is professional yet friendly. The pace of dives is excellent, even though the boats hold a large number of divers, each group is quite small and led by a knowledgeable guide. Divers go at a relaxed pace, and you'll get to stay down, even when the first diver in your group has breathed up all their air.
The northern Kohala coast is a whole different universe of dive locations, no Hawai'i dive vacation would be complete without exploring a few of these. For this, we recommend Blue Wilderness Dive Adventures. The shop is just across from our condo in the Queen's Shops. This is a smaller outfit than Kona Honu, with a small, fast boat. The groups are small and the trips feel more like diving with friends. We talk more about them in the Shore Diving section.
Here we describe a few of our favorite boat diving experiences.
Manta Ray Night Dive
This is a must-do dive, mentioned in top-10 lists in every major scuba publication and one of the 50 Places to Dive Before You Die. All the major boat operators congregate their groups in the same location, a place off the coast where a deep ocean up welling increases the concentration of plankton above the norm for that water depth. The concentration of diver's lights attracts thick columns of plankton. The rest you have to see to believe.