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The best poke on the Big Island

By William Whelan

Ahh, poke. A true delicacy. No, we’re not talking about the fast-casual “poke” that took over on the mainland 5 years ago. Traditional Hawiian poke is something to behold, a pre-marinated mix of silky soft ahi best with hot rice & furikake. There are hundreds of variations. Every island & every family has their own style, but every good poke is made with pride. The Big Island represents with some absolutely incredible poke shops, so without further ado here’s our list of favorites:

Island Style Grindz – Formerly known as Kawaihae Kandyz up in Hawi, these guys took their business mobile with a new name & food truck. Family owned, they make the best wonton poke nachos around. We also love their poke bomb inari pockets, grilled kalbi, Korean chicken, & furikake mahi. Their locations vary from week to week, but if you see the blue truck PULL OVER, you can’t go wrong with these grindz. Check their social media to find out where they’re setting up for the day. (

Bite Da Eye – Food truck located in the Sears Auto Center parking lot. This place is far off the tourist circuit, but serves outstanding poke & true Hawaiian food made with local ingredients. Kalua pig & squid luau are on the menu some days, some days they only run fresh fish. Check their Instagram for the latest details. (

Poke Market, LLC – New little spot in downtown Hilo. Don’t let that fool you, this is possibly the best poke on the Big Island. The shiitake salmon & classic spicy pokes are both nuts. Outstanding quality fish & creativity put these guys at the top of our list. (

Kona Seafood Market – New up-and-coming seafood market in downtown Kona. Their pokes are clearly old-school family recipes that really hit right when you’re craving fish. This also the spot for other fresh local fish- opakapaka, monchong, mahi mahi, ono & more are available. (

Poke Shack – At one point these guys had the best rating on Yelp in the entire United States! Located on Ali’i drive, they offer several kinds of poke, sides, & other traditional Hawaiian dishes like laulau. Perfect spot to grab lunch & a few beers after a dip at Magic’s or Kahalu’u. (

Kona Grill House – Formerly known as Sundried Specalties, this little market serves killer poke. Try a scoop or two with the fried lobster cake & a slice of lilikoi cheesecake for dessert. This is our favorite place to stop for lunch after a morning of snorkeling in South Kona. (

Umekes – The big name in poke in Kona. Umekes has grown from a small hole-in-the-wall shop to their slick new location on the Brewery Block. They have all the classics- spicy, avo, shoyu, Hawaiian, kanaka, & a changing poke-of-the-day. Their kimchi cucumber & spicy crab salad are both outstanding. Check out their new space & have a buffalo soldier (or three). (

Suisan Fish Market – Started in 1907 by fishermen in Hilo, Suisan now supplies most of the island with fresh fish. The market at their Hilo location has some excellent poke, plus tons of other fresh catch fish options. Try the dried poke if you like beef jerky. (

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Best Beaches on The Big Island of Hawaii

By William Whelan

The beaches of the Big Island of Hawaii are notable for their variety- there are just tons of different beaches you can go sit on! It’s crazy. All different kinds of sand & levels of touristyness. Since we dive out of Kona we’ve put together a guide to our favorite beaches on the west side of the island. Some of these spots are close to resorts, some are local favorites, but either way you should have respect for the ocean & for the residents of our beautiful island home. In Kohala & north Kona you’ll find the big white-sand beaches you picture when you think of Hawaii. In Kona you’ll find a nice mix of snorkeling spots & small beaches. The coastline gets more rugged as you head south past Captain Cook on to black & even green sand beaches.

Kohala & North Kona

Mauna Kea beach in all its glory.

Mauna Kea Beach (Kauna’oa) – Big huge white sand beach in front of the Mauna Kea resort. This is the classic beach you picture when you think of Hawaii, and one of the best in the state. It’s perfect for swimming and bodyboarding on calm days, & there is interesting snorkeling on the far south end of the beach. Parking is limited, so try to arrive early, or take the mile-long shoreline trail from the north end of Hapuna beach.

Hapuna Beach – Hapuna is arguably the perfect beach with over half a mile of fine golden sand, crystal clear water, & easy access. On calm days it’s excellent for swimming or bodyboarding. Good snorkeling can be found south of the sandy area. This beach is usually pretty calm on weekdays, but on weekends & holidays it gets busy. 

Waialea Beach (Beach 69) – Another incredible white sand Kohala beach! Plenty of trees provide shade along the length of the beach. Popular with locals, not quite as busy as Hapuna or Mauna Kea beach. Secluded area at the northern part of the main beach is clothing optional.

Samuel M Spencer Beach Park – Good on days without wind, which is prevalent up north, as the trades blow strong between the peaks of Kohala and Mauna Kea. Tan sand beach with a few picnic tables, some shade, and swimming and snorkeling for keiki. When the wind picks up the sand goes flying and it can be less-than-awesome.

‘Anaeho’omalu Beach (A-Bay) – Near the Hilton Waikoloa and Lava Lava restaurant, stretches of white sand. We like the area south of Lava Lava, often you spot turtles napping on the beach.

Kiholo Bay – Large bay with several features. Black sand at the south end, nice for sunset. Queen’s Bath, a freshwater pond in a lava tube, is slightly north of the south parking area. At the north end of the bay is beautiful turquoise Wainanalii Pond.

You can’t beat the gorgeous fine white sand of Kua Bay on a sunny afternoon.

Manini’owali Beach (Kua Bay) (shore dive spot) – A favorite of Kona locals and tourists alike. Fine white sand, clear turquoise water, good break for bodyboarding, easy parking & showers. Some days there are food trucks near the parking. Kua is closed some mornings (Wednesday?) and can be crowded on weekends. Sunsets are gorgeous here.

Mahai’ula Beach – The southernmost beach in Kekaha Kai Beach Park. White sand, relatively easy access and parking, and plenty of shade make this a great spot for a beach picnic or BBQ. The water is often rougher than Makalawena or Kua.

Kona Beaches

O oma Beach & Kohanaiki Beach Park (Pines) – Local favorite beach for surfing, family gatherings, cook-outs, and lifted trucks. 

Aiopio Fish Trap (north side of harbor) – Calm water ideal for keiki, lots of basking turtles. Beautiful hieau. Can follow trails from Aiopio up to the Kaloko Fishponds, makes for a nice walk.

Crescent Dog Beach (shore dive) – The best place to take your pup to play in the sand & water. Also popular for shore diving, especially in summer during tiger shark season. Proximity to the Honokohau Harbor boat channel means plenty of sharks, but plenty of boats overhead- please use a dive float and stay out of the boat channel.

Old Airport (shore dive) – Close to downtown Kona, mellow shore dives. Look out for vana (sea urchins) when getting in and out of the water. The south end of Old Airport has a small inlet where fresh ground water enters the sea- lots of turtles in this spot.

Kamakahonu Beach & Kailua Pier – Right in the thick of things, nonetheless a good shore dive, also fun at night. Watch out for boat traffic. Parking can be tricky, we recommend dropping gear and tanks off then parking while a friend waits. 

Honl’s Beach & Lyman’s Surf Spot (origins of surfing?) – Small beachy pockets as you head south on Ali’i Drive. Lyman’s surf spot is allegedly the spot where Hawaiians first began surfing, effectively the birthplace of the sport.

Magic Sands at sunset.

Magic Sands & MM4 (shore dive) – Beautiful little white sand beach that comes and goes, hence the name. When the ‘magic’ sand is gone the beach has a few more rocks than usual. Popular bodyboarding spot, great for sunset. Magic’s Grill on the north end of the beach is great!

Kahalu’u offers incredible snorkeling right along Ali’i Drive.

Kahalu’u Beach (snorkeling, surfing, shore dive) – This spot is like swimming in a big aquarium- shallow bottom, super clear water, and lots of tropical fish make it ideal for beginner snorkelers. Expect to see lots of keiki and inexperienced people in the shallows. You can shore dive this spot, but you’ll want to surface swim out past the breakwall before beginning your dive. The surf break is a very popular spot for beginners to learn, and there are several surf schools along Ali’i Drive that use this spot.

South Kona Beaches

Kealakekua Bay – Famous as the site where Captain Cook landed when he visited the Big Island. Awesome snorkeling with a very steep drop-off. Occasionally we dive this site on our long range scuba charters, and you can find a strange monument around 100’. The hike down to the bay is short but covers a lot of elevation, a real leg burner. You may rent kayaks and paddle across the bay- we recommend doing this early in the morning for a chance to see dolphins as they come into the bay for rest.

“Two Step” is one of the most popular snorkeling spots on the Big Island. Arrive early for good parking & a chance to see spinner dolphins in the bay.

Honaunau (Two Step, snorkeling, trail to Ho’okena) – Probably the most famous shore dive site on the Big Island. It’s called ‘Two Step’ for the two entry/exit points here, which are almost like lava rock steps into the ocean. Coupled with easy access, lots of coral, reef fish, turtles, and occasionally dolphins make this dive a treat for beginner divers. Come early in the morning to skip the crowd and get decent parking. 

Ho’okena Beach Park (shore dive) – Beautiful black sand beach south of Honaunau with permitted camping & a small local community. Excellent shore diving. The sand gets HOT- you might want to clip a pair of slippers to your BCD so you don’t have to sprint to the water with a tank on your back. Be courteous and respectful of those who live in Ho’okena- this isn’t the best place to visit with a large group.

Kona Paradise Black Pebble (shore dive, access to Twin Sisters if you crazy) – Another small black beach made of pebbles instead of sand. Kona Paradise or Black Pebble is a wonderful shore dive. The drive down the hill to the beach is extremely steep, so be smart about the vehicle you take and the amount of tanks you load in the back. If you are up for a long swim, you can head north from this beach up and around the point to a cavern known as Twin Sisters.

Looking south toward the South Point cliff jump.

South Point (cliff dive, wind) – Famous as the southernmost point in the USA, Ka Lae or South Point is a very windy spot revered for ulua fishing (giant trevally). Great cliff jump with a convenient ladder to get back up top- but be careful as the nearest hospital is hours away.

Green Sand – Yep, green sand! Broken-down olivine contributes the green color to this unique beach. Technically this and Punalu’u are on the east side of the Big Island, just around south point. Getting here requires a lifted 4×4 truck or decent hiking footwear. Best on days with calm sunny weather!

Punalu’u Black Sand – Beautiful black sand beach located just north of Naalehu, often littered with basking sea turtles. Easy parking, showers and bathrooms make this a nice place to spend an afternoon. Go when the wind is calm. Back in Naalehu the beach’s namesake Punalu’u Bakery makes some of the best malasadas and bread in the state! Their pastrami sandwich is unreal, too.

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Things to do on the Big Island during COVID

By William Whelan

We get it! You’ve been stuck inside for months & itching for a vacation. With the success of Hawaii’s pre-travel testing program, you’re considering a trip to the aloha state for a much needed getaway. But you aren’t sure what to do once you arrive in Hawaii with COVID restrictions in place. We’ve put together a list of our favorite activities around the island, updated with any pertinent COVID info. There are still plenty of things to do on the Big Island & we know you’ll have an incredible time if traveling is the right decision for you.

The Big Island of Hawaii is arguably the most diverse of all the Hawaiian islands. We have giant snow-capped mountain peaks, rugged country, thick rainforest jungle, beautiful white-sand beaches & moon-scape lava fields. There are so many things to do on the Big Island we often recommend guests plan to stay for two weeks, or longer, if possible! Beyond excellent SCUBA diving & snorkeling you can find a plethora of outdoor activities, or you can enjoy a languid pace at the beach or in some of our favorite restaurants.

COVID stopped travel to the islands for most of 2020, but since October we’ve gradually re-opened & things are largely back to normal with some extra COVID precautions. Many restaurants have dine-in options again. Most tours have resumed with reduced capacity (we really like the smaller groups!) and beaches & hikes are open. Shopping, getting around, & sightseeing are largely unaffected. Kilauea Volcano resumed erupting in late December (As a season finale to 2020? We joke- the eruption is totally safe.) so it is possible to see lava again on the Big Island in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

Private Helicopter Ride with Mauna Loa Helicopters

Some sights on the Big Island are best by air, especially waterfalls deep in the Hamakua Coast valleys.

The Big Island is, surprisingly, actually pretty big! While we love a sunny day drive around the island, nothing compares to experiencing Hawaii by helicopter. Some parts of our island are completely inaccessible by land, but offer stunning views from the air. You’ll feel like you’re entering Jurassic Park flying over the waterfalls of the Hamakua Coast. We highly recommend Mauna Loa helicopters& their private tours.

Nothing really compares to seeing the entire island in one day – and from above. Get it all: views of fringing reef, glowing lava, lush valleys, waterfalls, and black sand beaches. All of the Mauna Loa Helicopter Tours are private, meaning your group has the whole bird (!) to themselves. Go doorless for extra excitement. Try to book an early morning tour for the best weather conditions, and don’t forget to take Bonine if you’re prone to motion sickness.

Horseback Riding with Paniolo Adventures

Day hike into Pololu Valley

Looking down on the black sand beach of Pololuu Valley midway through the hike.

The northernmost of the 7 valleys, Pololu sits at the tip of the island just past Hawi. Plan to hike in early before the crowds, and enjoy a peaceful day at a gorgeous black sand beach nestled between steep valley walls. The hike down the z-trail isn’t strenuous, but you’ll want to save some water for the trek back up (especially if you do it in the afternoon sun). Avoid this trail in the rain – it can turn to slick mud quickly. If you kick off your shoes at the bottom, be warned – black sand can be quite hot! If you’re feeling extra adventurous, follow the jungle trail up the far wall of the valley and enjoy scenic views of the neighboring valley from the bench at the top. Parking can get tight during weekends and afternoons.

Crew tip: hit Kohala Coffee Mill for breakfast before your adventure, and Sushi Rock for lunch afterwards.

Visit Hawaii Volcanoes National Park & See Lava

The lava lake is filling again & you can see lava in the park (it was not visible after the 2018 eruption). The park has many wonderful hikes & beautiful scenery beyond the Kilauea caldera. You can easily spend 2-3 days in the park.

Charter Our Sailing Catamaran

The Shaka Sail is our favorite place to watch whales & dolphins.

Enjoy a day of sailing, whale-watching, or fishing on one of our private charter boats out of Kawaihae Harbor. We like to make each charter special with catering & beverage options. Sailing charters on the Shaka Sailput you right in the middle of the action during humpback whale season. For the more adventurous, we offer spearfishing lessons on the Shaka Fish with legendary waterman Rob White of Blue Water Hunter.

Take a Surf Lesson

Surfing was arguably invented here on the Big Island of Hawaii, so why not take a lesson or two? Kahaluu Bay offers gentle beginner-friendly waves. Kahaluu Surf & Seaoffers one-on-one or group instruction, & has options for keiki so you can get them started young.

Day hike into Kealakekua Bay

Bring good hiking boots for the trek down, snorkeling gear, and plenty of water for the hike back up. Boots or water shoes for the rocky sea-urchin covered entry points are also advised. Kealakekua Bay is a very sacred place in the Hawaiian Islands, & the initial landing point of Captain James Cook. Both the snorkeling & the scenery are incredible here!

Farm Tours & Farmers Markets

Hawaii has a thriving agriculture industry & farm tours are one of the best things to do on the Big Island. We love the Hawaiian Vanilla Farm, especially their delicious lunch tour. You can also find a Ginger Farm, various Bee Farms, & tons of coffee farms south of Kona.

The Hilo Farmers Marketis epic for fans of locally-grown produce, handmade crafts, and fresh food. With over 200 vendors offering their wares, this is an impressive market. Toss a cooler in your car, and be sure to bring cash and a sturdy tote bag. The left/north side of the market is primarily produce and food, while the opposite side offers a variety of goods like pottery, jewelry, paintings, and clothing. Our favorite steals: strawberry papayas (6 for $2), fresh cut flowers, tamales with inca sauce ($3), and Green Papaya Salad from the Thai takeout window. Parking can get tight here in the late morning.

Zipline with Kohala Zipline

We love Kohala Zipline! The best zipline tour on the island, with a proper ‘full canopy’ zipline tour in the Kohala rainforest. The Zip & Dip double adventure tour offers a full day of zipline fun plus a swim at a private waterfall. Their top-notch guides are super friendly & helpful, even if you have a fear of heights!

Stargaze on the summit of Mauna Kea

Mauna Kea is one of Hawaii’s most sacred spaces as the ancestral zenith of creation. We only recommend visiting the summit with a tour guide like Mauna Kea Summit Adventures. The scenery from this 13,000 foot high peak is otherworldly- you’ll drive through the clouds and have unbeatable views of the island & neighboring Maui. On a clear night the Milky Way is a brilliant celestial river overhead, & during winter months you may even see snow in Hawaii. It is difficult to explain the humbling, sublime experience of the summit. Once you reach the very top, consider that native Hawaiians would make the same journey on footfor prayer & other sacred ceremonies. On the way back down the mountain, the Mauna Kea visitor center offers guided viewing through amerture telescopes. (Not happening w/ COVID.)

The Milky Way from the summit.

Sitting just under 14,000’, Mauna Kea is one of the most magnificent sights in all of Hawaii. The geographic isolation of the Hawaiian islands means we have some of the lowest light pollution in the world, and for this reason Mauna Kea summit has become a stargazing mecca. Interactive star talks are offered at the Visitor Information Station (VIS) on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights from 7pm to 10pm. After enjoying sunset at the summit, drive back down to VIS and learn about Hawaiian culture and astronomy, and peer through powerful telescopes into the night sky. The active lava flow glow from fissure 8 can currently be seen from the summit at this time (weather permitting).

If you plan to SCUBA dive during your time on island, be sure to plan your Mauna Kea visit accordingly – driving to elevation after SCUBA diving can seriously increase your risk of developing DCS. Check road conditions before driving to the summit. Believe it or not, it does snow in Hawaii, even in June! Four wheel drive vehicles with low gear are required for drives to the summit. Bundle up! It is not unusual for temperatures at the summit to be around 30ºF. Oxygen levels at 14,000’ are about 40% less than at sea level. Those with heart or respiratory problems and individuals under 13 years should not travel past the Visitors Station. Altitude sickness is not uncommon. Always allow a minimum of 30 minutes at VIS before proceeding to the summit to allow your body to acclimate. For more information about visiting the summit, please check out the VIS website.

Hilo’s Pepeekeo Scenic Drive & Hamakua Coast

While Saddle road can get you from Hilo to Kona in around an hour and twenty minutes, we recommend the scenic route to Big Island newcomers. This will send you through three large and impressive gulches, over old stone bridges, eucalyptus forests, and rolling oceanfront fields. Stop along the way at some of these scenic favorites:

Visit Green Sands Beach

Olivine-rich sand gives this beach its unique color.

At the southern tip of the Big Island, you’ll find Ka Lae – the southernmost point in the United States. High winds are common down here. There is an awesome cliff jump and if you are friendly you might catch a ride in some random uncle’s truck to Green Sands.

[randome uncle sounds like kidnapping to those not from Hawaii, tell people to bring cash for random uncle’s gas, explain the hike if you’re not down with hitching a ride, be aware of ocean conditions for cliff jump and don’t hurt yourself- hospital is a long drive]

Dive or Snorkel with Manta Rays

Call us biased… but Sport Diver, DiveIn, and PADI Travel agree that our Manta Ray Night Dive is one of the top dives in the world. The Kona coast is home to over 200 resident manta rays, ranging from 4 to 16 feet in wingspan. These filter feeders gather at several feeding locations after dark to enjoy a plankton feast, cruising over the heads of divers and barrel-rolling under snorkelers at the surface. This evening spectacle can be enjoyed by certified divers and snorkelers alike.

Honorable Mentions

Waipio Valley: Kohala mountain is the oldest volcano on the Big Island. After hundreds of thousands of years of rainfall, water eroded seven deep valleys into the island’s northeast-facing slope. The southernmost part of this impressive coastline, Waipio Valley, is also the easiest to access (don’t get too excited, that isn’t saying much). The road descending into the valley is one of the steepest in the world, we do not recommend driving down, even if you are equipped with 4WD. While it’s a hike to get to the beach at the bottom of the valley, you’ll be rewarded with amazing views & some great exercise. The water here can be very rough, don’t swim unless you are an experienced, strong swimmer. Maintain respect at all times for the locals in the valley, especially local residents & areas marked kapu (‘keep out’). The valley has strong cultural significance & many sacred burial sites. Don’t be a donkey!

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October 2020 Covid Info

By William Whelan

Update, October 23rd, 2020: Testing Partners Expanded

The pre-travel testing program is well underway, & we are super excited to welcome visitors to Hawaii again!

Inter-island travel has been opened to travelers with a negative test. Local testing partners have been expanded, so you have many options for testing before island hopping. Partners include

  • Clinical Laboratories of Hawaii
  • CVS Health (Longs)
  • Diagnostic Laboratory Services, Inc.
  • Hawaii Pacific Health
  • Kaiser Permanente (members only)
  • Minit Medical
  • Urgernt Care Hawaii
  • Vault Health
  • Walgreens

Update, October 12th, 2020: Awaiting Details

We’re waiting for more news from Mayor Harry Kim on the pre-travel testing program. Mayor Kim has expressed desire for a post-travel testing program to further protect Hawaii’s residents. We’ll keep this page updated as we learn more.

Update, September 2020: Hawaii Re-Opens October 15th!

We’re thrilled the State of Hawaii has announced a pre-travel COVID-19 testing program. Here’s what we know as of Tuesday, September 29th:

  • The pre-travel testing program begins October 15th.
  • The test must be administered within 72h from the “final leg of departure”.
  • Testing must be completed prior to travel. Tests are not available upon arrival in Hawaii. This is a pre-travel testing program.
  • Testing expenses will be the responsibility of the traveler & no testing will be available upon arrival at airports in Hawaii.
  • If a traveler’s test results are not available at time of arrival, they must quarantine until results are received.
  • CVS & Kaiser Permanente (members only) are approved testing partners.
  • PCR tests qualify as acceptable COVID tests. Hawaii’s Lieutenant Governor Josh Green says guidelines may be expanded to include rapid tests by Oct 15th.
  • United Airlines & Hawaiian Airlines have announced testing programs from select US-CA gateway locations. Details are TBA, ballpark pricing is $100-250 per test.

As we learn more, we’ll keep updating this page. You can also find more information at the Hawaii Tourism Authority or HTA’s safe travel overview page.

Update, August 2020: We’re Back On The Water

Aloha SCUBA divers & snorkelers,

Boat dives are BACK IN ACTION!

After months of waiting we’re getting closer & closer to normal! Boat dives have resumed with a limited schedule & discounted kama’aina pricing for the next several weeks. Two-tank morning divers & one-tank manta dives are only $125, manta snorkelers are $99.

Our dive shop is open daily from 8am to 3pm. We’re filling tanks, renting gear, & selling new gear, apparel, and more. Give us a call at 808-329-6068 if you’d like to pick something up curbside.

Warmest wishes from your BID crew.

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We Stand With Black Lives Matter

By William Whelan

Paddle Out at Hapuna: Solidarity In Surf

We stand with those who are calling out systemic racism in America. We stand with those in sorrow over the senseless killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, Dion Johnson and countless others. Enough is enough. We stand with the Black Lives Matter movement & people of color that have been disadvantaged. We call on businesses and the government to address racism & make lasting change in our society. We have work to do.

Join us in supporting @blackgirlssurf Solidarity In Surf Worldwide Paddle Out on the Big Island tonight at Hapuna Beach. Meet at 5pm. If you can’t make it out, you can donate directly to the GoFundMe here.

Black Owned Businesses

Show solidarity by helping us support local black-owned businesses. Below you’ll find a list of some of our favorites on the Big Island:

The Yoga Nest HI, Yoga Studio, Kona
Just The 2 Of Us Chicken & Waffles, Restaurant, Kona
Cool Runnings Food Truck & Catering, Kona
Rebel Kitchen, Restaurant, Kona
Fit by Whitt & The Brave Fitness, Personal Trainer & Gym, Hilo
Short N Sweet Bakery & Cafe, Bakery, Hilo
G’s Que BBQ, Food Truck, Kona/Waimea
Aina Company, Agriculture Products, Hilo
Haleigh Rose Boutique, Clothing Boutique, Hilo

The Yoga Nest is owned by dear friends of ours, & Cool Runnings has previously catered our annual gear sale. Short N Sweet is always worth a visit when in Hilo. Just The 2 Of Us has absolutely mental fried chicken. Let’s show ’em our support!

Ask For Change

We are in a moment that will be defined by the lasting changes we make. Here are ways to ask for change or donate to those pushing for change.

Advance the PEACE Act, Restrict Use Of Deadly Police Force
Sign the ColorOfChange Petition, Demand Police Reform
Donate to bail funds, mutual aid funds, & racial just organizers

Together we can make a difference. Be part of the change, no matter how small. Aloha to all!

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Niihau Dive Trip June 2019

By William Whelan

Join us on a trip to explore the underwater landscape of the forbidden isle!

We have private chartered the SeaSport Divers’ boat for Saturday, June 22nd to do a 3-tank dive trip to Niihau.

Cost for this trip is $425.00+tax per person; please call our shop directly to submit payment. No seats are confirmed until payment is made is made in full. Price includes enriched air, gear rental, and food/beverage. Limit 12 seats available. Airfare & lodging not included.


Minimum 30 dives experience required

Nitrox certification (we can help you complete this if you are not currently certified)

It is recommended that you plan to arrive in Kauai by Friday, as check-in is 6am on Saturday morning at the SeaSports Poipu location. The airport is in Lihue (LIH), about 25 minutes north of Poipu. You should bring a towel for yourself, a jacket in case of weather, and plan to take seasickness medication (this is a 2.5 hour boat ride across an inter-island channel). Hats, sunglasses, and reef-safe sunscreen are also recommended.

Cancellations may receive a full refund before May 15th. Cancellations after May 15th will not be refunded unless a substitute traveler is found.

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Plastic Free July

By William Whelan

Are you participating in the Plastic Free July challenge?

What is it?

A challenge to go a full month of refusing single-use plastic. This means plastic cups, straws, coffee lids, disposable utensils, water bottles, food wrappers, shopping bags… you get the idea!


We’ve all seen the photos of sea turtles stuck in 6-pack rings, or beached marine mammals with stomachs full of plastic bags. But beyond not wanting to harm innocent wildlife, why is reducing our plastic consumption important to those of us who live on land?

To start, it’s important to understand one fundamental fact about plastic: it does not break down, it does not degrade. It only breaks into smaller and smaller pieces. These are commonly referred to as microplastics. The porous nature of aging plastic also happens to make them sponges for toxins.

There is now evidence showing that even creatures as small as plankton are ingesting microplastics. These teeny tiny ocean-dwelling organisms are the building blocks for the entire marine food web. They’re the primary source of food for filter feeders such as manta rays and whale sharks, and they happen to produce 70% of the oxygen in our atmosphere. When tiny bits of toxic plastic start to work their way into the food chain from the bottom up, it’s bad news for those of us on top. For humans to continue to eat fish, breathe clean air, or dive with manta rays at night, we must have a clean and healthy ocean ecosystem. It might sound cliche, but Dr. Earle wasn’t kidding when she said “No blue, no green.” All life on earth truly does depend on the well-being of the ocean.

Photo courtesy of National Geographic.

But I recycle this stuff? WTF?

We know, right. While recycling sounds great, there are a few issues with it:

Not all types of plastic are recyclable. This varies depending on where you live, so check your local government websites for information on what can be recycled in your area. For example, Hawaii County (the Big Island) recycles #1, #2, and #5, while Oahu only takes #1 and #2. This leaves the rest (#3, #4, #6, and #7) to go into the landfill.

Recycled materials aren’t always cost effective (for now). Oftentimes, it is much cheaper for manufacturing companies to produce virgin plastic from raw materials (petroleum) than it is to purchase and reuse recycled material.

Recycling doesn’t shut off the tap, but rather perpetuates the notion that single-use consumption can be exonerated by tossing refuse into the right bin. It places the onus of disposal on the consumer, and relieves manufacturers from the pressure of producing something better.

What’s more important is to reduce and reuse.

So how do I start using less plastic?

Here are a few EASY ways to cut down your single-use habits:

  • Say no to straws, or bring your own. Stainless steel straws come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and can easily be cleaned with a brush or pipe cleaner. Get used to adding “no straw” to your order.
  • Decline plastic take-away bags at checkout. Chico bags makes a great stuff-stack that stores easily in your purse or glove box.
  • Bring your own mug or water bottle. Many cafes or coffee shops offer a discount for bringing your own mug, and will happily refill your
  • Ditch the plastic utensils, or bring your own. Visit an Ocean Friendly Restaurant near you, and support vendors who provide reusable or compostable cutlery. I keep a Togoware sleeve in my purse for takeout lunches (bonus- my stainless straw fits perfectly in there).
  • Watch for greenwashing. This often comes in the form of labeling regular plastic items with words like “green,” “eco,” “earth,” etc., to appear environmentally friendly without actually being environmentally friendly. It’s also worth noting that the terms “compostable” and “biodegradable” are not interchangeable. Items can be labeled as “biodegradable” regardless of how long they actually take to break down (ten or ten thousand years). To be labeled as “compostable,” an item must be able to break down in a commercial composting facility within 180 days.

The takeaway:

Aiming to eliminate all single-use plastic at once can be overwhelming. If you’re new to the practice, we suggest choosing one item from the list above and starting there. Once you’ve established one good habit, move on to the next, and work your way from there.

Other ways to help:

  • Support innovative cleanup projects like The Ocean Cleanup.
  • Clean up a beach! Volunteer with a nonprofit like the Surfrider Foundation, or organize your own.
  • Download the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch App to make sustainable seafood choices when grocery shopping or dining out.
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Why Reef-Safe Sunscreen is Important

By William Whelan

This right hurr is the good stuff.

Planning a Hawaii vacation this year? You’ll definitely want sunscreen (unless you’re a fan of the lobster look). But what kind? By now, you’ve probably heard the news about sunscreen’s effects on coral reefs and Hawaii’s new sunscreen legislation.

Hawaii’s coral reefs face many threats, like rising sea temperatures, ocean acidification, and plastic pollution. Recently, sunscreen has been added to the list. It has been reported that up to 14,000 tons of sunscreen end up on coral reefs every year!

There are essentially two main types of sunscreen: chemical and physical. Chemical sunscreens work by soaking into the surface layers of your skin to absorb UV rays; physical sunscreens sit on top of the skin and reflect UV rays.

Most chemical sunscreens on the market today feature two suspect ingredients: oxybenzone and octinoxate. Some studies have shown these may possibly act as endocrine disruptors, soaking into our skin and potentially altering the way our body produces and processes hormones.

While further evidence is needed to substantiate the effects of these chemicals on humans, there is substantial data to show that they have powerful effects on coral – specifically in the polyp stage.

Coral reefs form when coral larvae attach themselves to hard surfaces, like our lava-rock substrate. The coral larvae develop into polyps that secrete skeletons, and it’s these skeletons that compile over years to form the large reef structures you’ve seen SCUBA diving or snorkeling. When exposed to endocrine disruptors (like oxybenzone or octinoxate), the polyps mutate and are unable to settle and continue their growth cycle. Different species grow at different rates; the slowest growing ½ to 1” per year, the fastest growing up to 8” each year. Reefs take decades to form, and their ecosystems support thousands of species of wildlife – they’re like the rainforests of the ocean.

Millions of visitors slather up on the beach, and that oxybenzone winds up on the reef, killing the very ecosystem many have traveled so very far to see. If you are a SCUBA diver, snorkeler, or just enjoy spending time near the ocean, this should concern you!

Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to keep your skin sun-safe without harming coral. The most reef-friendly choice? Cover up! Grab a loose-fit rashguard with UV protective fabric to keep you cool. Use wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses to protect your face. And for those times when it’s got to be sunscreen, choose a physical sunscreen with zinc or titanium dioxide as the active ingredient. We have a wide variety from Stream2Sea and Raw Love in our shop. Other brands, like Raw Elements and All Good are great reef friendly options as well.

You may have heard that our state legislature recently passed a bill banning over-the-counter sales of products containing oxybenzone and octinoxate beginning in 2021, making Hawaii the first in the country to enact such a law. We’re optimistic that this will help bring more awareness to the health of our local reef ecosystems. To celebrate, we’re offering a 15% discount on all UV protection for the entire month of June- rashguards, hats, sunglasses, sunscreen, and more. Plus, bring in your old non-reef-safe sunscreen and get entered to win a FREE pair of Maui Jim sunglasses!

Aloha, and happy diving from your crew at BID 🙂

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Common Misconceptions of Nitrox (Enriched Air)

By William Whelan

The label on a tank of enriched air showing the blend and max depth.

After getting their Open Water Certification, a lot of divers choose to continue their education by acquiring an Enriched Air Diver certification.  Though there are a lot of benefits to diving with nitrox, there are a lot of common misconceptions tied to the alternative gas blend.  For safety reasons, it’s really important to understand the difference between a tank of 21% O2 and a tank with a higher percentage.  A specialty course is offered to divers who want to use enriched air, and no diver should dive with enriched air without proper instruction.

Start your nitrox certification now

Misconception #1) Your air consumption will improve if you dive with nitrox.  You will hear many certifying agencies talk about how they can dive longer with nitrox.  This does not mean that their tank lasts longer because they are diving with nitrox opposed to a 21% O2 gas blend.  What they mean by “dive longer” is that they can stay at depth longer than someone diving with 21% O2 before flirting with no decompression time.  100% oxygen is toxic after around 10 feet so a higher percentage of oxygen does limit the depth you can safely go.  However, a higher percentage of O2 allows you to stay at a safe depth longer than someone diving on air before having to proceed to a shallower depth due to no decompression times.

To simplify, if you were able to monitor 2 identical divers at equal depths and one diver was breathing off of a tank with 21% O2 and the other was breathing off of a tank with 32% O2, they would run out of air at the exact same time.

Misconception #2) You won’t get “narked” by diving nitrox.  The term “narked” is a slang term referring to nitrogen narcosis.  Defined by Webster’s Dictionary as “a state of euphoria and confusion similar to that of alcohol intoxication which occurs when nitrogen in normal air enters the bloodstream at increased pressure (as in deep-water diving) —called also rapture of the deep”, it’s not only the amount of nitrogen present in the bloodstream that causes some divers to get “narked”.    As we learned in misconception #1, oxygen is also toxic at depth so a more accurate term would be to call it “gas narcosis”.

Misconception #3) As a nitrox diver, you are able to use any available tank on the boat.  Each tank must be analyzed by the diver using the tank to verify the % listed on the sticker is in fact the % indicated on the tank.  The % in the tank will determine your maximum operating depth.  Without knowing the % blend, you cannot know the MOD (maximum operating depth) for a safe dive.  Most tanks are assigned to divers prior to departure based on the list of passengers and the groups the Divemasters have assigned them to.  If you have a nitrox certification be sure to coordinate with your dive shop prior to your arrival.

There are many benefits of diving with nitrox.  Diving with nitrox means your body absorbs less nitrogen on a dive than someone who is diving with a standard air tank with 21% O2.  You’ll have less nitrogen to off-gas during your surface interval so you can get back into the water sooner than someone who is not diving with nitrox.  This can be especially beneficial on live-aboards or other dive vacations where you’re doing several dives a day.

Whether you choose to dive with “voo-doo gas” or a standard tank of air, be sure you follow the suggested recreational dive limits and maximum operating depths for each tank to help avoid any potentially dangerous side effects.

Getting nitrox certified is a quick and painless process – a perfect continuing education certification to get while visiting Hawaii. Since it is strictly classroom work, you can get certified before your first dive with us and enjoy the benefits of nitrox immediately.

Start your nitrox certification now

Best Fishes!

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Why Diving? The Top 7 Reasons For Becoming a SCUBA Diver

By William Whelan

Are you for scuba? Instructor Brooke checks with her student on a descent line.

Are you for scuba? Instructor Brooke checks with her student on a descent line.

Did you know that the ocean covers over 70% of the Earth’s surface?  That means that most human beings only see about 1/3 of what this amazing world has to offer.  Not interested in the math?  Here are some of our favorite reasons for becoming a SCUBA diver:

  1. No phones, emails, or presidential debates.  For the most part, diving is serene.  You will hear yourself breathing, fish eating coral, and the occasional noise-maker from your dive buddy trying to get your attention (hopefully to point out something incredible), but not much else.  Sounds nice, doesn’t it?  Ohmmmmmmm.
  2. You don’t qualify for the astronaut academy and are tired of gravity.  Don’t give up on your dream of weightlessness!  SCUBA diving is a great way to experience neutral buoyancy (the sweet spot between sinking and floating).  If whales can do it, so can you!
  3. Non-verbal communication.  At a lame party?  The hand signal for “Follow me to the exit” will save you and your dive buddy from getting stuck talking to a vegan cross-fitter who teaches yoga and grows their own kale.
  4. Better selfies.  Manta rays, sharks and whales live in the ocean along with thousands of other incredible critters.  And you can dive with them.  And take photos.
  5. Learn what a “Big Mac” is called in other countries.  You can dive in almost any body of water.  Lakes, quarries, rivers, oceans, and even swimming pools if you just need to blow bubbles.  SCUBA diving is recognized world-wide!
  6. Learn something new while swimming through something old.  There are thousands of wrecked ships and planes from human history that can only be seen underwater.  With a wreck specialty certification you can learn how to safely navigate these sunken treasures.
  7. You can do it instead of learning how to play Bridge.  As long as you’re in good cardiac and pulmonary health, you can dive!  Your certification never expires, though a tune-up is suggested after 6 months to a year of diving inactivity to refresh your safety skills.

In all seriousness, there are so many reasons to become a diver.  If you still aren’t convinced, here are some others:

  1. Endemic species.  Many of the best dive locations are known to be the best dive locations because they have something you won’t find in any other body of water.
  2. Travel.  Get that passport ready!  In addition to discovering new dive locations, you can learn about the different cultures around the world.
  3. It’s relaxing.  For the most part, diving is an extremely relaxing sport.  All you need to do is descend into the blue and the fish will take it from there.  You could spend hours in 1 spot just watching how the critters make a living underwater.
  4. Members only.  Join the other 2.5 million people in the world with an active SCUBA diving certification.  It’s a great conversation piece and an easy ice-breaker when meeting other divers.
  5. “The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever”.  -Jacques Cousteau.  If you don’t know anything about him, do yourself a favor and start looking up all of the incredible things he did for diving and marine conservation.  He is truly an inspiration to all of us!

Best Fishes!

2023's #1 Dive Operator in Hawaii

with a 5 star reputation

Manta Ray Night Dive

What a truly amazing experience!! Nearly an hour of down time with dozens of large mantas putting on an incredible show. Jenna, and Captain Kevin made it a pleasant and safe trip. This is a must do while staying on the Big Island.

RichGiff on TripAdvisor

Big Island Divers

RichGiff on TripAdvisor

What a truly amazing experience!! Nearly an hour of down time with dozens of large mantas putting on an incredible show. Jenna, and Captain Kevin made it a pleasant and safe trip. This is a must do while staying on the Big Island.

One of the Top 10 Dives in the World!

Believe It, it really is one of the most phenomenal dives we have ever done! Laying on our stomachs on the ocean floor around the "campfire" was unforgettable as the beautifully graceful Manta Rays soared directly above our heads, over and over. They performed ballet moves with each other, sometimes as many as 4 at a time feeding on the plankton.

Susan R on TripAdvisor

Big Island Divers

Susan R on TripAdvisor

Believe It, it really is one of the most phenomenal dives we have ever done! Laying on our stomachs on the ocean floor around the "campfire" was unforgettable as the beautifully graceful Manta Rays soared directly above our heads, over and over. They performed ballet moves with each other, sometimes as many as 4 at a time feeding on the plankton.


We have been diving the BID on multiple dives over multiple trips and we keep coming back to them because of the high quality service that they provide. Definitely a step above the usual dive shops.

Dreamer6739 on TripAdvisor

Big Island Divers

Dreamer6739 on TripAdvisor

We have been diving the BID on multiple dives over multiple trips and we keep coming back to them because of the high quality service that they provide. Definitely a step above the usual dive shops.

Manta Night Dive Lives Up to the Hype

I recently went on the sunset reef dive & manta ray night dive. I was a little hesitant about my expectations because I heard so many great things and didn't want to be disappointed. Cannot say enough great things about the company, captain and DM - highly recommend and will dive with them again.

ulintza on TripAdvisor

Big Island Divers

ulintza on TripAdvisor

I recently went on the sunset reef dive & manta ray night dive. I was a little hesitant about my expectations because I heard so many great things and didn't want to be disappointed. Cannot say enough great things about the company, captain and DM - highly recommend and will dive with them again.

Excellent Staff

We had a great two tank dive with BID last week! Our dive master Amy was excellent all the way around and our captain Rob was not only a great captain but very knowledgeable about Hawaii and even served hot chocolate on the way back to the Marina.

bridgetsheahan on TripAdvisor

Big Island Divers

bridgetsheahan on TripAdvisor

We had a great two tank dive with BID last week! Our dive master Amy was excellent all the way around and our captain Rob was not only a great captain but very knowledgeable about Hawaii and even served hot chocolate on the way back to the Marina.


It was so amazing that it made me feel like a kid again - this is coming from someone who has traveled a lot. I talked to other divers who described the Black Water Dive, and I wish I would have done that one instead of the twilight dive.


Big Island Divers


It was so amazing that it made me feel like a kid again - this is coming from someone who has traveled a lot. I talked to other divers who described the Black Water Dive, and I wish I would have done that one instead of the twilight dive.

Great Dive Experience

Great dive experience underwater and while on the boat. Experienced staff gave all of the direction and assistance needed but did not "over-guide" the trip as is often the case.

Compass0726 on TripAdvisor

Big Island Divers

Compass0726 on TripAdvisor

Great dive experience underwater and while on the boat. Experienced staff gave all of the direction and assistance needed but did not "over-guide" the trip as is often the case.

An Amazing Souvenir

I booked the night Manta Ray snorkeling tour. It was simply awesome. In addition of the amazing experience to observe the Manta rays in their natural environment, the crew was just perfect, always helpful and offers us a warm hospitality. I definitely recommend this tour.

tomlecube on TripAdvisor

Big Island Divers

tomlecube on TripAdvisor

I booked the night Manta Ray snorkeling tour. It was simply awesome. In addition of the amazing experience to observe the Manta rays in their natural environment, the crew was just perfect, always helpful and offers us a warm hospitality. I definitely recommend this tour.

Two Tank Dive

This is the dive shop to go with for great service and knowledgeable staff. I went out for a refresher dive since it had been 9 years since my last dive. Becca was great and by the end of the second dive I felt comfortable being back in the water.


Big Island Divers


This is the dive shop to go with for great service and knowledgeable staff. I went out for a refresher dive since it had been 9 years since my last dive. Becca was great and by the end of the second dive I felt comfortable being back in the water.
Big Island Divers
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