Kona Olio

Random thoughts.

We have a new favourite sushi restaurant in Kailua-Kona. It is called Shimaichi Sushi Kona and is on Hualalai Rd and Kuakini Hwy. Great sushi and super friendly staff. Go early though as they close at about 5:30 so the owner/sushi chef can spend time with his family.

Nudibranch
Trembling Nudibranch

If you plan to scuba dive while visiting the Big Island, definitely use Kona Diving Company. They are simply the best dive operation that we have come across. The staff is very attentive and knowledgeable and they love what they do.

The water here has been cold, at least for me. The coldest temperature was 76 F, or 25 C. To keep me warm for 60 to 70 minutes underwater, I wore a heated shirt, 3 mm hoodie, 5 mm full wetsuit and to top it off a 5 mm shorty wetsuit. I felt like a rubber band once I got all that on, and I had to add extra weight to keep all that neoprene down. But, at least I was warm!

Painted Frogfish
Painted Frogfish

We stayed at the Kona Tiki Hotel, a small 1960’s era hotel right on the water. We have gone to sleep every night listening to the waves crashing on the rocks. It’s very soothing. It will be so quiet once we get home, we probably won’t be able to fall asleep!

I’m not ready to go home yet. But, our plane tickets say tomorrow is the day, so I guess we have to go. Goodbye perpetual summer, hello winter. See you on the other side.

nudibranch
Red Dot Nudibranch
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Fish of the Day – Yellow Spotted Scorpionfish

Yellow Spotted Leaf Scorpionfish

The little fellow on the left of the photo is a Yellow Spotted Scorpionfish. They always seem to hide in coral heads and are very hard to photograph. There were four of these guys in the same coral head. They have poisonous spines on their back that they raise if they are in danger.

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Creature of the Day – Octopus

One of our favourite creatures is the octopus. Octopi are fascinating to watch, especially when they change colour. The brown and white spotted octopus in the photo below is right in the centre of the photo. If the photo is enlarged, the eye and head can be seen on this fellow.

Octopus
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Fish of the Day – Pyramid Butterflyfish

Pyramid Butterflyfish

The Pyramid Butterflyfish is found mostly in schools. Their colouring leaves no doubt as to where the name came from. They like the outer reef slopes, or drop off, where they can swim into open water to find food, which is plankton.

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Attack of the Killer TURTLE!

A long time ago, when we were scuba diving in Grand Turk, a great dive master told me that when I encounter turtles, as long as I stayed at the turtle’s level or below, the turtle will not see me as a threat. I have been living by this rule since then and have had many wonderful turtle experiences. The turtle would swim along leisurely with me finning to stay beside him, shooting photos, the turtle unconcerned with my presence.

Today we encounter a turtle and I once again put this rule into play. Only today the turtle does not cooperate. We first spot him swimming towards our group of five divers in an unhurried fashion. He doesn’t look threatened that we are there, just keeps swimming toward us.

Kona Turtle

As he gets closer, I deploy my rule and make sure I am below him and start taking photos. I take one last photo when he is quite near me and perhaps he didn’t like my camera light. For reasons unknown to us the turtle went into attack mode.

Kona Turtle

Murray was taking a video of the action……

The diver with the yellow cap is Hailey, the dive master. After this video ends, it took Hailey some time to coax the turtle away, even after I swam off, and he went after two of the other divers!

I feel bad about this and have watched the video a number of times and realize what I should have done differently. It is hard to see in the video but the surge was tossing both the turtle and me around making everything harder. Lesson learned……the rule works but err on the cautious side and give turtles a wider berth next time.

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Creature of the Day – Wire Coral Shrimp

Wire Coral Shrimp are very tiny and are found on wire coral. Wire coral is a type of black coral and are covered in polyps. The tiny shrimp blend in with the coral they are sitting on, which makes them very difficult to spot and then photograph.

Wire Coral Shrimp
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Creature of the Day – Golden Lace Nudibranch

Nudibranchs are basically sea slugs. Not a glamorous thought, but boy are some nudibranchs beautiful. The Golden Lace is extraordinary, with the fine golden lines of highlighting and the black and white spotted gills and rhinophores. They look to be dressed up for a gala. The Golden Lace is only found in the waters off Hawaii.

Golden Lace Nudibranches
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Creature of the Day – Crab

Crab

We peak in holes, crevices and inside coral heads to find crabs. Crabs come in all sizes and colours, although mostly orange. Their eyes are intriguing and seem to stare right at me as I click a photo.

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Hello Kona

We arrived late at night. We have learned, don’t dive the next day! Hanging about on day 1 we orient ourselves by driving around a bit. We see if we can remember what roads lead where. A visit to the dive shop is in order. We need to get our schedule, confirm meeting times and drop off our dive gear so it can be set up on the boat the next morning. Groceries also loom large. We need breakfast food and some snacks for after diving.

Up early on day 2 and on the trip out of the harbour we pass a huge school of dolphins looking to play on the bow wave. This auspicious beginning bodes well for the up coming couple of weeks of diving.

We get to the first dive site. I stride in from the gate on the side of the boat and the cold water rushes into my wetsuit. Oh man, a couple of Fahrenheit degrees makes a big difference. 81F in Bonaire and 78F here, yikes.

This day a hammerhead shark was spotted, not seen be me but I gotta believe. They don’t usually hang around this long into the fall but there seems to be one in particular that likes this place. There was also a sand bar shark circling as well, a very large fellow that passed by a couple of times.

Manta Ray
Gabby, the Manta Ray

Diving day two we head north of the harbour again. The site is Wash Rock and our mission is to spot a manta. On cue, Gabby, one of the local mantas is cruising the top of the drop off looking for breakfast. She swims a bit, then circles back, swims a bit more and circles once again. Every time she circles back she comes within a few feet of us. It is amazing to see one of these giants up that close. We followed Gabby for about 1/2 an hour. She is graceful as anything and moves about in the water with the adeptness of something half her size.

It’s been a few years since we have been here and we had forgotten how good the diving is. It is unique. There are different fish than we see in the Caribbean and the coral is not as plentiful as say the South Pacific, but there are a lot of fish and oh so colourful. There is also a goodly number of unusual swimmers like the ones already mention to check out as well.

Spotted Eagle Rays
Spotted Eagle Rays

What else is new around here? The main highway from north of the airport into town, which was a construction mess when we were here last, is now completed and pan flat smooth. So nice in fact the speed limit seems to be a suggestion rather than an absolute. The crowds are down. Even though travel from mainland USA is easy there is not as many people here as there has been on previous trips. There is a lot of empty retail space. I think the pandemic probably separated the wheat from the chaff. There are some new businesses but there is still a lot of empty storefronts.

Today is a rest day but tomorrow we are back on the boat. It’s good to be back in paradise and really good to be underwater.

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Fish of the Day – Boxfish

One of my favourite fish is a boxfish. The one in the photo is a Spotted Boxfish.

Box fish

The males are blue sided with white and gold tops and the females are black with white dots all over. They have a boxlike cross section, thus the name! We are always exited to see a Boxfish as they move like a helicopter – forward, backward, up, down and rotate.

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