With lava flows as a backdrop, the Kona coast of Hawaii Island is known for its primo visibility and thriving marine life
1 PREDATOR WRECK
This former military landing craft was purchased for use as a shark cage-diving platform before it sank to its final resting spot in 96 feet of water. Divers often spot the Atlantis submarine circling the wreck on its tours of the area; plastic skeletons atop the Predator were placed to spook the sub passengers.
2 HAWAII VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK
See the summit of majestic Kilauea volcano — one of the most active in the world — when you do the Crater Rim Drive. The 11-mile route through this incredible national park lets you visit a caldera and drive through desert and tropical rainforest landscapes.
3 BLACK-WATER NIGHT DIVE
For something different, find yourself suspended 50 feet down on a tether with 4,000 feet of wide-open water below you during black-water night dives beyond the reef. Wait it out in utter ocean calm while the weird and wonderful creatures of the deep — including translucent larval fish and cephalopods — are illuminated in the glow of your torch.
4 THE HIVE
There’s a good reason this pinnacle frequented by liveaboards has a beerelated moniker. You won’t get stung, but you’ll get swarmed by a cloud of hundreds of colorful chromis. Guides can point out a cleaner shrimp station and deftly camouflaged leaf scorpionfish.
5 HO’OKENA BEACH PARK
A day off diving isn’t so rough at this stunning beachfront park that’s popular with boogie boarders and perfect for camping, with ocean views. Make time for a snorkel session as spinner dolphins often cruise the clear waters.
6 MILE MARKER 4
Kona’s underwater terrain slopes down from the volcanoes, and shallow reef dives accessible right from the shore abound. This spot 4 miles from Kailua is a local favorite for seeing turtles that frequent the lava tubes and coral heads. Spinner dolphins and eagle rays are known to frequent the bay here too.
7 DA POKE SHACK
Hawaii’s iconic grab-and-go food is distilled to its essence at this wildly popular poke joint, where raw-fish salads piled with jewel-hued tuna are spiked with avocado, limu kohu (seaweed) and Japanese spices.
8 GOLDEN ARCHES
The happy meal here is a feast for your eyes! This favorite dive site gets its name from the sand bottom and the mostly yellow taape — blue-lined snapper — swarming the lava arches. Pods of dolphins are often seen cruising past the site, but don’t forget to look for triggerfish and white-mouth moray eels too.
9 MANTA DIVE
Enormous mantas — some with wingspans approaching 16 feet — swoop and soar above you during this iconic night dive in just 30 feet of water near Garden Eel Cove. A bank of lights set in the sand attracts the animals as divers settle in for what’s surely one of the greatest shows in the ocean.
10 KONA COFFEE LIVING HISTORY FARM
Stop by this historical homestead for a souvenir of 100 percent Kona coffee while getting a fascinating education on the 1900s Japanese migration that first brought coffee and macadamia farming to the area.