It's hard to plan a vacation around diving.
First of all, many dives require a boat trip to a location further out, which means there are very set times when boats go out. Many dive boats leave bright and early at 7AM because water is calmer in the mornings. Sometimes, afternoon dives exist, but at the latest, most of these boats leave around noon.
Secondly, if you're flying or going to high altitudes at any point during your trip, then you have to make sure you stop diving around 18 hours before you're supposed to fly. For a three-island trip that involved flights every 3-4 days plus hiking at high elevation, planning is most certainly required.
We got SCUBA open-water certified in Maui and experienced the unforgettable manta ray dive in the Big Island. I had heard that compared to Maui and the Big Island, Kauai's diving was less impressive, so my original plan was not to dive in Kauai at all. However, Bryan had already fallen hard in love with diving at this point and was feeling really sad that we weren't diving in Kauai.
I was having a hard time fitting another dive within our pre-arranged activities, with an unmovable helicopter ride already booked plus our flights in and out of Kauai, it was hard to even find a slot of time during which it would be safe to dive.
Well, I managed to find one open spot. There was one afternoon, after our 11AM - 12PM helicopter ride, where we could potentially fit in a dive. The problem was, most afternoon boat dives leave right at 12PM. At that point, we would be just getting off the helicopter.
Then I discovered the option of having a guided shore diving. Bubbles Below Kauai, a well-respected dive shop in Kauai, offered a "rent-a-buddy" service where you could basically book a private shore dive with a dive leader. The dive leader would show up at the beach with all your rented equipment (tanks, BCDs, etc) and then act as your guide/buddy for your dives. Since we were pretty new divers, we most certainly wanted to go with a guide.
It was a perfect plan, and it worked out great. We ended up diving with a woman named Kristen, who was an amazing guide. I told her we wanted to see turtles. The number of turtles we ended up seeing OVERWHELMED the entire number I had seen up to this point of the trip. In short, it was awesome.
There are a couple places that are really known for good shore diving. In the winter, people only dive in the southern part of the island, and basically everyone goes to Koloa Landing, conveniently located just about a 2-minute drive from our resort, the Sheraton Kauai. So convenient!
Kristen was an awesome guide. She arrived with her truck and brought along all of our equipment (tanks, fins, BCDs). She had a great eye for seeing interesting animals and pointing them out to us.
And we saw SO MANY turtles.
"Kauai's not known for its coral reefs. Unlike Maui and the Big Island, our ocean floors are more rocky. However, we really make up for it by the diversity of sealife that you can see" Kristen explained to us.
It was surreal, mesmerizing, and totally unforgettable. I loved every moment of it. The turtles are truly beautiful and gentle creatures. We must have seen seven or eight of them. There were so many!
We also saw other really unique animals, such as my first octopus (left photo) and really unusual looking starfish (right photo).
I believe this long fish is called the trumpet fish. If you see this fish, you signal to other divers by pretending you're playing the trumpet (there's lots of different sign language that is used under the water since no one can talk to each other!).
It was beautiful seeing large schools of fish swimming in complete harmony. This sounds cheesy, but it's true that it really does feel like Finding Nemo. Now that I've dived for real, I can honestly say that the movie does a pretty good job of recreating the underwater experience!
It was an amazing dive. For me, I loved it because I got to see so many turtles and it wasn't really a deep dive (only 35-40 feet), so I didn't struggle as much with ear equalization problems. For Bryan, he loved it because he just loves the feeling of diving in open water. Kristen was a great guide and I would highly recommend considering a guided shore dive with Bubbles Below Kauai if you're having trouble fitting the scheduled dives into your itinerary.
That was our last dive in Hawaii, and our last dive so far. By the end of the trip, we had logged ten dives into our brand new dive logs. We're so excited to have found this new "sport" (or is it a leisure activity?) that we both enjoy (heh, there aren't that many hobbies that we share in common, so it's nice!). Even though I was originally nervous about diving and would have NEVER done this on my own, I'm so glad that I tried it and overcame my fears. It wasn't necessarily easy (heh, I even paid for an extra pool session in Boston before going to Hawaii because I was afraid I wouldn't pass!), but I did it!
Diving really opens up a whole new world of places for us to visit. Really looking forward to exploring some more gorgeous choral reefs around the world, maybe even returning to the Great Barrier Reef as certified divers.
So many possibilities . . .
This post is part of a larger series on our two week trip to Hawaii. Other posts in this series!
New Series! Hopping the Hawaiian Islands
Da Poke Shack and Umeke's on the Big Island
A Mantay Ray Dive, Sea Turtles, and Kona Coffee
Exploring Volcano National Park
Haleakaka and the Hali'imaile General Store
Mama's Fish House and the Road to Hana
Sansei Restaurant & Sushi Bar (+ Diving in Maui!)
Lahaina Grill, Maui
Kokohead Cafe, Honolulu
La Mer Honolulu
Merriman's Fish House
Kauai Shore Diving at Koloa Beach
Kauai Shore Diving
Bubbles Below Kauai
[…] on our second evening in Kauai, right after our unforgettable morning helicopter ride and afternoon dive with the turtles. After having experienced Honolulu and Maui first, we were immediately surprised at the the slower […]