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Magical Hawaii: the Big Island

Published on 2017-09-10 16:39:08

Of the three islands I have been to in Hawaii, the Big Island is most definitely my favorite. Not only is the diving awesome, the rest is fantastic: where else in the world can you drive 100 miles and go through a dozen climate zones, from dry lava deserts to lush temperate rain forests to rugged tropical jungle? The Big Island has everything for a scubadventurer to enjoy!

This time, we stayed on the Kona side which is the West side of the island, to the North is Waimea county and its cowboys and hills that look a little like Scotland, to the South is South Point the southernest point in the US, a windy place filled with Macnuts (Macademian nuts) farms and coffee plantations. To the East, on the Saddle Road, lies Mauna Kea, culminating at around 14,000 ft (4,200m) where snows used to be perpetual a couple of decades ago, before climate change accelerated. Mauna Kea is home to a few international space observatories because almost all nights a year, the sky is wide open for stargazing. Well not when we decided to go there on this trip, though. Heavy rains made the road to the summit dangerous and it was closed by authorities... Bummer.

On the South East, you can see live lava as  one volcano is still active and spewing lava into the ocean. The best way to see it is from a boat but when we tried to book when we were there, there was a storm and all boats were cancelled... Double Bummer!

But to the West lies the Pacific Ocean and it did not disappoint! With waters at a balmy 80F (25C), visibility in the 100s ft (30m) and awesome critters showing up on all our dives, it was a blast!

We dove with Jack's Diving Locker and were impressed by the clockworkiness of their operation. Plus they dropped us on Mantas, Dolphins, Tiger Sharks and a lot of other creatures not that usual and pretty photogenic. We did the night manta dive and it is still an amazing experience, even if you have done it before. On this dive, we had 9 mantas at the same time. The week before they reported 18, all feeding on plankton attracted by the lights of the divers and snorkelers. There are 2 spots to do this dive now, some dive operations use the original location in front of the old Sheraton, others like Jack's Diving Locker use one close to the airport.

Photo-wise, not much to worry about: Tv 1/125, forced flash, macro mode for close ups, Tv 1/250 to 1/640 no flash for wide angle did the trick as usual. There was still quite a bit of particulates in the water so a few shots required heavy back-scatter removal.

We also went snorkeling with the green sea turtles twice: once at Kahuluu Beach Park, next to old Outrigger that is being demolished and once at Pu'uhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park, where you can pay $5, park and visit the park (lot's of tikis and nice exhibits of Hawaiian culture) then walk across, past the school to the snorkeling area. You can't snorkel in the park. There's also a parking lot next to the snorkeling area but they were asking five bucks as well. I shot video both times with a fake GoPro found on the beach at home. 1080p but a little shaky... No need for light or red filter as most of the "action" happens at 3ft! 


And the short video with almost synchronized music. 



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