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Place of Refuge
 
Island Name : Hawaii
Dive Zone : South of Kona
Depth : 15 -100 feet
Access : Boat / Shore
Location : South Kailua-Kona
Visibility : 50-100 feet
Level : Beginner - Advanced
Sealife : Yellow Tang, Moorish Idol, Achilles Tang, eels, crabs and much more
Water Temperature : 70/75 F, 21/24 C from November to April
75/80 F, 24/27 C from May to October
This Kona Coast dive site is possibly the most beautiful, diverse, easily accessible, interesting dive location we have on the Island of Hawaii. It is at Honaunau Bay, just north of the National Historic Park, Pu'uhonua O' Honaunau (Place of Refuge), sometimes incorrectly referred to as, "City of Refuge". This whole area is an ancient Hawaiian fishing/religious ceremonial area, so treat it as such and show the proper respect, please.

There is an abundance of colorful reef marine life, making this is an excellent place to snorkel as well as scuba. The clarity of the water here is conducive to exciting sightings of various marine-life species. There are two fine routes for scuba divers to take from the entry point - so bring two tanks. One is straight out toward open ocean, the second along the rocky shore in a northerly direction. If you are going straight out, watch and listen closely for the many fishing boats that use this bay as a launch site (a cautionary dive flag float is recommended). The straight out route will take you across many coral heads and sandy channels holding a multitude of invertebrates and reef fish. A gradual slope will drop off to about 30'-35' until, in the center of the bay, you'll reach a living coral reef that is punctuated with countless pukas (holes) that hold numerous eels, crabs and shells of many descriptions. Watch for the Giant Green Sea Turtles in this bay as they often frequent this fantastic dive spot. Remember, the Green Sea Turtle is a protected, endangered species. So don't touch, grab on to, or try to ride these valuable creatures - the penalties for such action, if reported, is mega bucks and it ain't worth it. Just enjoy their presence. I once saw a Hawaiian Monk Seal near this center-bay reef. (Monk Seals are now being released along our Kona Coast - transplanted from the Northwest Hawaiian Islands in hopes of saving this endangered species).

Here's a hint on diving anywhere: When you see a coral reef that is covered with living coral, thoroughly inspect it, slowly, for it will be filled with delightful sea-life, in, around, under and above it - but don't touch it. Dead coral heads and most rock rubble areas generally hold fewer species (but fascinating ones, nonetheless).

If you opt for the northerly shore route from the entry area you'll find many caves and indentations as you explore the underwater terrain. The lava wall is literally filled with hiding places for Kona's famous ula (Spiney Lobster) and (although they are being over harvested) you just may glimpse one or two peeking out at YOU!

Only a few yards away from the shoreline you'll notice a gradual slope of branch coral rubble. It slopes down more rapidly as you descend to over 80' before leveling off in a sandy flat at over 100' (so watch your bottom time). As you float over this ledge watch for the infamous Crown of Thorns Sea Star. This voracious critter is covered with sharp spines that can cause considerable pain when touched (so, don't touch 'em!). This is the animal that often decimates areas of the Great Barrier Reef of the northeast coast of Australia. The only known natural predator of the Crown of Thorns is the Triton Trumpet shellfish - so if you see a Triton, leave it alone, so it can do its job on the Crown of Thorns. At the bottom of the bay, in the sandy area, you used to see several giant pupuhi (Horned Helmet Shells) but they, too, have been taken home for souvenirs. Occasionally, huge Manta Rays, and often, leopard rays are seen resting on the sandy flats. We've seen schools of opelo here that numbered in the thousands (often being chased by hungry skipjacks). Sometimes these schools are so dense they actually blot out the sun, appearing as black undulating masses of unrecognizable blobs of darkness. As they draw nearer, or if you are a brave soul and go toward them, you'll see that the 'blob' is actually thousands and thousands of tiny fish. Quite an experience!

Description provided by; Dick Dresie (http://www.shoredivekona.com/)


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