A standard 2 tank reef dive off the coast of Hawaii Kai on the island of Oahu. The first dive, Angler's Reef, is a 35-40 foot dive along a long reef wall where you conduct an out and back dive. You will see many species of fish, eel and likely some sea turtles (honu). The second dive is Koko Crater, which is a larger reef and is home to three Buddha Statues (can you find them?) and is also known as the Turtle Cleaning Station. You can expect to see many sleeping turtles getting their shells cleaned by the local fish.
My friend Colin, finally getting time off from his busy work schedule, asked if I was interested in doing a dive off the coast of Hawaii Kai. It had been awhile since I'd done a casual reef dive, my last dive being the much more intense night/drift dive known as the Blackwater Dive in Kona. Without any hesitation, I said I was in.
We met up with our dive boat at Maunalua Bay Beach Park at 10:30. We were diving with Aaron's Dive Shop, my favorite (and only) Kailua Dive Shop. The reefs and wrecks out by Hawaii Kai are their standard boat dives. They typically do two dives a day, one starting around 7am and the other around 11. It really is a great way to dive because it only takes up half the day!
Down we go to Angler's Reef, the first of the two dives. Here Colin is trying to show off for the camera. His rental mask kind of makes him look like a robot.
The visibility wasn't the greatest, but it wasn't terrible. Angler's is a long reef that acts like a wall where lot's of sea life hides. Supposedly, this is a great night dive spot. The current today was actually pretty strong and it was directly against us on the return swim. I actually got a bit too low on air because I used so much energy against the current. I may have had only about 200 psi left in the tank when I surfaced...
As with most reefs, you will see plenty of small fish and maybe some other unique marine life, like this pentagon shaped coral. The key is to look under the reef to find the variety.
Because you may just come across a sleeping turtle like this guy. I will say this one looked a bit grumpy, so I decided not to disturb him.
Some of the turtles don't even find a little cove, they take a nap in the wide open. Turtles are very protected in Hawaii. You can be fined up to $25,000 and a year in prison if you are caught harassing them. I do think my favorite part of this photo is the fish at the top photobombing it with a Blue Steel pose.
The best part of Angler's was this huge eel we saw in the rocks. Something about eels are so creepy. I don't mind getting close... but not too close.
Time to ascend for the next dive. As we were doing our 3 minute safety stop, someone was handing around this small rock with a sweet design in the center. It's those little discoveries that make every dive so unique and enjoyable.
Time for our surface interval. Another great part about diving off Hawaii Kai is the views. Here you can see Diamond Head behind this really attractive picture of Colin.
After we anchored at Koko Crater, we began gearing up for the second dive. Someone pointed out a honu right next to the boat. He popped his head out of the water, gave us a look, then descended. That's ok, we'll meet you down there buddy!
Down we go to Koko Crater. Visibility was less than ideal for this dive, but we could still see. Here's another picture of Colin posing for the camera.
BUDDAH! Want to rub his belly for luck? There's three of these statues around Koko Crater and help give it a little personality.
As we were all gathered around the Buddah, a honu came out of nowhere right through the group. It actually ran straight into this diver on the left, looked at him as if saying "uh excuse me?" and swam on. They simply are not afraid of humans here. They must have heard about that fine...
Another statue. I don't think this qualifies as a Buddha. It looks more like Grumpy from Snow White to me.
Turtle Closeup! Koko Crater is known as the turtle cleaning station since so many of them come here and sleep while the local fish eat the algae off their shell. I love the symbiosis that occurs in nature. If only humans could figure out that relationship...
Colin found an interesting structure. It kind of looked like something from a space ship. Colin is pointing out that it has the nuclear power logo on it, which is often use to represent our Navy's submarine force.
A (slightly) clearer shot of the logo. Oahu is home to Pearl Harbor which is the biggest homeport for the Navy's submarines. Those submariners work harder than anyone I know, so I really thank them for what they do. Their sacrifice is what allows me the freedom to casually go scuba diving with a bunch of turtles on the weekend. Much Mahalo!
As we ran low on air, it was time to return to the dive line to ascend. What did we find waiting there for us? Another honu of course! Colin and the turtle got into some sort of staring contest.
I don't know who actually won, but that honu was over it and decided it was time to go about his turtle day.
And then he ascended away from us into the blue abyss. Such a beautiful way to wrap up a day of diving. These moments never get old.
Check out my video of this dive!
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