Jim Olinger's Dive Log
Leleiwi Beach Park on 9/27/2013
Sep 27, 2013, 12:00 AM
After many dives on the west coast of the Big Island I decided to see what the east side has to offer. They call this 'The Wild Side' for diving as it's much more exposed to the trade winds and the surf that is unimpeded for a couple thousand miles! That said, Leleiwi (pronounced lay-lee-vee) is a very nice dive site and is somewhat protected from high surf. The entrance and exit are quite easy and it's only 25 meters or so to a decent place to submerge. There are freshwater springs near the shore so the water temperature feels a bit chilly initially, but warms up as soon as you gain some distance from shore. There is abundant hard coral and much of it is finger coral. The coral below 20 meters appears to have been damaged, but above that it looks healthy. We were advised to go to the right at the entrance point due to the possibility of strong currents to the left (although later we learned there is a turtle cleaning station to the left). There are a few scattered arch swim-throughs and some of the largest Green Sea Turtles I've ever seen! It's a good dive if you find yourself in the Hilo area. The visibility on this side is going to be influenced by the amount of recent rainfall. It was 50-60 ft. when we dove it and it had been relatively dry. Check for current details with one of the (2) local dive shops when you rent your tanks.
This one is a MUST if shore diving the Big Island. There is much written here so I would just add there are actually two ALOHA cement brick structures. The first is just to the right of center as you head straight away from the entry. 30' (or 10 meters) sounds about right for the depth. If you go just a ways past it, the depth drops off and you can swim north along a sloping wall of coral at about 60-70' depth until you hit 1/2 tank (beyond that I don't know). If you head south instead, the depth increases until you come to the 2nd ALOHA which is larger and located on the sandy bottom, probably more like 30-35 meters of depth. It either took a few divers several dives to put it together, or a whole team of folks who could have built it in a dive or two. (I gotta get a UW camera for these things!) Enjoy!!!
Old Kona Airport Beach on 6/6/2013
Great dive site and just minutes from Kailua-Kona. We chose to dive at the front end of the old runway immediately past the hockey rink. You can park right on the edge of the pavement and hike your gear down across approximately 30 meters of a sandy beach and then another 20 meters of lava rock. You'll see a circular entry point that is somewhat protected from the surf. Getting in the water is easy (giant stride) and getting out isn't bad either if you time the waves and come up on a slanted rock as a wave comes in. The rocks can be slippery so be careful. Once in, it's maybe 30 meters out to dive depths. I followed a long, flat ridge out at approximately 10 meters of depth for a good 15 minutes. Lot's of nice coral here with the normal fish species. I'm not sure how far that ridge goes out, by I finally broke off it to the south where you can get to a sandy bottom at about 25-30 meters deep. There are some garden eels here in the sand. On my way back in I began hearing the strangest sounds coming from the deeper water. It turned out to be the song of the humpback whale and we heard this multitude of eerie sounds on every dive north of Kona over the next few days. One caveat for this site, the homeless population has adopted this area 'for camping out' and you can see their 'hooches' scattered about in the brush. We had no problems whatsoever, but locking your car and keeping things out of site in your vehicle is a good idea. Just as we were ending our trip I noticed they were erecting some sort of chain-link fence in this area. It did appear though that they left room to access the beach, but it's likely to be a bit longer walk.
Puako Village End on 3/25/2013
Mar 25, 2013, 12:00 AM
1/14/13 I've done this dive several times and it continues to be a good one! But on this review, instead of directions and sightings, I would instead like to add a word of caution. My dive buddy (my wife) and I did another one close to this site about 2 hours earlier. So after this rather lengthy surface interval we could see that the surf had picked up considerably. We began entry into this accessible area between the rocks when a big one came in and sucked us both right out of there. My wife was ready to abort the dive right then as she felt a little out of breath and sort of panicky. But, I talked her into continuing as we were already on the way out to the drop off. BIG mistake! I spent the rest of the dive worrying about her and potential problems getting back in without being "skinned alive" on the lava rocks. So obviously, we did make it back, but it was a challenge. There is only the one "out" here and a sort of rip-tide had developed while we were down. The point here is that while you yourself may be a capable and strong swimmer, you MUST make judgments to the dive plan based on the weakest person in your dive party and not the strongest. To fail on this decision could cause serious injury or death. This was the last shore dive we did as a persistently strong sure grew for the next several days making surfers happy and sending shore divers to the dive boats. This was not all bad, on my 2nd day out with the commercial folks, I had a pair of humpback whales (cow & calf) swim about 40' under my fins while I was at a 90' depth. That's one for the books!
Nov 7, 2010, 12:00 AM
This really is an excellent dive site! One set of coral formations has taken on the appearance of giant, mushroom caps. The color is variable on the different corals and this whole area has an 'enchanted' feel. I didn't have a dive buddy, but got lucky when I spotted another couple of divers near the entrance and after a brief introduction and some assurance that I was a competent diver, they agreed to let me tag along. My advice is to take two tanks to this site and then go enjoy the 'Place of Refuge' State park (right next door) during your surface interval. Jim O