Diving in Kaua’i

Scuba diving had been one of those activities that I watched people do…until last year.

I met some great friends who were in love with scuba diving. And that was it. Well, sort of. The opportunity came when the family was planning a trip to Hawaii for Christmas. Then M and R (the aforementioned friends) convinced us that we had to try it (since we were going to Hawaii).

They recommended us to Tri-City Scuba Centre and that was it. It was the start to this new hobby (and possibly an addiction). As I mentioned in Every End is a New Beginning, if you are looking to dive in the Tri-City area, go with Tri-City Scuba Centre! Great group of people to learn scuba diving with!

The above is a picture from Kaua’i (Koloa Landing).

I was really nervous the first day. Breathing underwater and through your mouth (not your nose) seemed very unnatural. However, if you relax and concentrate on taking deep and slow breaths, it becomes more natural and it is amazing (you think to yourself: I am breathing underwater!).

One of the hardest thing for me during the first couple of lessons is controlling my buoyancy. Because of my nervousness, it was harder. I felt like I had no control of where I was going. It was kind of frustrating. After many, many practices, I have more control and feel more relaxed.

Picture above: School of fish in Kaua’i – we bought a Snap Sights Flash 35 mm Waterproof Underwater Reusable Camera at the dive shop in Kaua’i. It worked out ok. There was actually something wrong with the rewinding mechanism, which caused us to lose a couple of pictures.

Our first open water dive was at a quarry between Kitchener and London (Ontario, Canada) – Innerkip Trout Lake. By the time we registered for the Open Water course, it was late September. The dive shop was doing its last “full” Open Water course in October. That meant doing the open water dive at the end of October – when the temperature is not so warm. I thought to myself: I must be crazy.

I also thought that I would never survive the dives.

I am not a fan of the cold, even though I live in Canada.

I was really nervous for the first two dives for several reasons: (a) I still had trouble controlling my buoyancy; (b) it was going to be really cold on the dives; and (c) this was something new that I had never done before. I’m not a fan of swimming in lakes or oceans. I love swimming (in a pool) and I am a pretty good swimmer, but I have this thing against being potentially touched by fishes & other creatures and I feel nervous in an uncontrolled environment (pool versus lake or ocean).

The first day was very cold, but I survived. On the second day, there was frost on the ground and a layer of mist over the lake. That did not inspire confidence. But, I did it! Not to say that I would repeat that over again. Even with the 7 mm wetsuits, gloves, vest, hood, and supply of hot water to put in your suit, I was extremely uncomfortable and cold underwater. It was not enjoyable, but I did the skills and completed the course. I think that was the end of “cold weather diving” for me.

Picture above: Green sea turtle or honu – they were EVERYWHERE. I love these creatures. They are so peaceful and “cool” like in Finding Nemo (see clip). We were diving in Sheraton Caverns, and a sea turtle ran into my husband. It was really both of their faults. They were not paying attention to where they were going. I was behind my husband and witnessed the whole thing. It was quite funny.

Before the dive, I e-mailed all the dive shops around Po’ipu for information and to get a general sense of what the dive shop might be like. Of all the responses, I was most satisfied with Junior’s from Fathom Five. He answered my questions thoroughly and through his e-mails, you could tell that he was passionate about diving and ensured that safety came first. After a lot of e-mails back and forth, we booked a two-tank shore dive and a two-tank boat dive. My sister-in-law and her boyfriend were interested in doing a Discovery Dive. This was another reason why I asked a lot of questions – it was their first time diving.

Our First Ocean Shore Dive – Koloa Landing
Depth – 45 feet
Visibility – 30 to 40 feet
Bottom Temperature – 23 degrees Celsius

Compare this to our dives at Innerkip:
Depth – 23 feet
Visibility – 10 to 20 feet (sometimes 5 to 10 feet because bottom is silt)
Surface temperature – 8-9 degrees Celsius

The conditions were wonderful at Koloa Landing!

For our first dive, we went along the East Shore. Our instructor/guide, Ben, was very knowledgeable and was great at helping my sister-in-law feel at ease underwater. Diving in sea water was definitely different – I discovered that I did not like having salt water in or around my mouth. I got used to it, but I still disliked it. After we descended, we set off to explore the sandy bottom of Koloa Landing East. As soon as we set off, we saw an eagle ray “soaring” in front of us. It was unreal! We also saw a number of animals throughout the dive: a lot of sea turtles, moray eels, and fishes that I didn’t know the names of.

Koloa Landing West had a different landscape. It was a coral bottom and definitely had a lot more fishes. Here is a YouTube video taken by someone of Koloa Landing West. It was more interesting because you are constantly looking into rocks and coral to see what you can find. We saw more sea turtles (I love them!) and moray eels. I was gliding along and noticed a rock moving. Upon closer look, I saw that it was a scorpion fish (like this one). There were also a lot of sea urchins (like this one taken by http://www.animalphoto.tk/sea-urchin.html).

The feeling of flying (floating above) was amazing. I was glad to have done the Open Water Course because I felt at ease and relaxed – just breathing and swimming leisurely underwater. It was a wonderful feeling! It helped that the water was warm!

Our First Boat Dive – Sheraton Caverns
Depth – 64 feet
Visibility – 50 feet
Bottom Temperature – 23 degrees Celsius

This was where my husband and the sea turtle had their collision. We dove through these archways and partial overhangs. It was neat! This YouTube video gives you an idea. Because of the land formation, there were a lot of hiding spots for animals. Turtles, especially, like to rest in the nooks and crannies. We saw a lot of fishes (they also like to hang out here), an octopus, and more eels.

Our captain, Len, said that it was one of the windiest Christmases in Kauai. It was very windy and the waves were fairly choppy (although I didn’t have much to compare to, Trout Lake was pretty calm). I was very nervous about the boat dive (again, the uncontrolled environment – you are in this big tub of water that has no boundaries). The waves didn’t help.

After I rolled backward into the water and felt the warmth of the water, I felt a bit calm. However, the waves were still making me nervous. I wanted to hold on to something so that I would stop bobbling. I started to have a little panic attack. Something that our dive master, Randy, said (I can’t remember what) made my brain forget about the panic and I started to descend down the line, still nervous but calmer.

Once you get to the bottom, you can’t feel the waves. There was a slight current, and sometimes that made me feel nervous. At the end I definitely felt more at ease, and I was ready to do our next dive. One of my fears was losing the group (but it was pretty impossible in the caverns).

Second Part of Our Boat Dive – Harbor Ledges
Depth – 66 feet
Visibility – 50 feet
Bottom Temperature – 23 degrees Celsius

It’s a series of ledges near the harbor (creative name, eh?). Sheraton Caverns derived its name from Sheraton hotel, which was near the caverns.

What we saw during this dive: goby (like this), sea urchins, more fishes (and school of fishes) – definitely some damsel fishes, and a lot of things in the corals.

Even though I tended to be nervous (especially on the boat dives) and was not the best at controlling my buoyancy at the beginning, I had a lot of fun on all the Kaua’i dives. Every time I dove, I found myself enjoying it more and more. I’ve been told the most dangerous thing about scuba diving is…getting addicted. (Sometimes I find myself talking incessantly about scuba diving.)

It was something that I’d never thought about doing in my life. I am proud to have done it and look forward to more dives in the future.

We didn’t want to make this a full diving vacation (because it was more of a family vacation), but for our next tropical vacation I would like to dive in Grand Cayman.



    • Hawaii was not actually very exotic in the sense that it didn’t have all that colourful fish. Because of the lava formations, there sea life is quite different than Caribbean’s. I believe the colours are more diverse in the Caribbean.

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