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Sunday, October 14, 2007

Tips for Snorkeling and Diving in Hawaii

Aloha and welcome back to Best Hawaii Vacation blog,

Since we got you all excited with our recent invitation to a Big Island vacation with beautiful photos of places to see when on vacation on the Big Island, we thought this guest post about one of the Best Things To do on Hawaii Vacation, snorkeling and diving in the Hawaiian waters, fits right in.

We feel honored and grateful that one of the most experienced Hawaiian scuba divers, Bobbie Sullivan, is sharing her expertise and knowledge & love for the ocean and marine life with our blog visitors. Bobbie Sullivan has been diving for more than 30 years, and is a PADI certified Divemaster. She lives on the Kohala Coast of the Big Island of Hawaii and writes about the ocean and diving on her website The Right Blue. Her diving stories are touching and educational, and her ocean life photos magnificent, just like the marine life photos in this post, which were also taken by Bobbie. So let's take a Dive with Bobbie:

"Tips for Snorkeling and Diving in Hawaii" by Bobbie Sullivan

"I once saw a sticker in a souvenir shop that said “The best half of Hawaii is under water.” While that may be a little bit of an exaggeration in light of all the wonderful things to see and do in Hawaii, it is true that the reefs along Hawaii’s shorelines certainly are magical.

Whether you are a veteran diver or a novice snorkeler, you are virtually guaranteed to see things in Hawaiian waters that you have never seen – and won’t see -- anywhere else in the world. Because the Hawaiian islands are geographically isolated, something in the neighborhood of 20% of the fish species and marine invertebrates in Hawaiian waters are unique to the islands.

Lined Butterflyfish (species name: Chaetodon lineolatus) – the largest butterflyfish species found on reefs in HawaiiSince Hawaii has so many unique marine species, you might enjoy having a way to identify them. Dive shops, souvenir shops, drugstores and stores like WalMart and K-Mart sell full-color plastic fish and creature identification cards. They are inexpensive, and can be taken to the beach or into the water. They are a nice keepsake of your diving or snorkeling adventure in Hawaii, as well.

Basic snorkeling gear can either be rented from dive shops, or purchased inexpensively on every island. Scuba equipment is available for rental to certified divers. Be sure to bring your certification card with you!

Dive shops and tour operators throughout the islands offer organized diving and snorkeling adventures by boat. Snorkeling or diving with an organized group offers several advantages. You will be taken to prime sites where you are most likely to see the best variety of marine life, and you will be supervised to ensure your safety. Most of these operations offer basic instruction to beginners as well. The price for such an excursion usually includes gear rental and a snack or lunch.
Red Pencil Urchin (species name: Heterocentrotus mammilatus) – colorful urchin commonly seen in shallow waters on Hawaii’s coastlinesIf you choose to venture into the water on your own from shore, it’s a good idea to stop by the nearest dive shop first to chat, to learn which places are the safest and most interesting for snorkelers and divers. Some dive shops even provide free maps showing the best locations for shore diving or snorkeling.

When you arrive at the shoreline, take some time to just watch before you enter the ocean. Note where other people are entering and exiting the water, especially if there is any surf. Many visitors to Hawaii have little experience with the ocean, and do not understand how powerful even small-looking waves can be. They can knock you down or push you into rocks or coral. It’s always safest to enter the water in areas where there is little or no surf.

We always recommend that snorkelers and divers cover up when they enter the water. If you don’t have a dive suit, wear a long-sleeved tee shirt over your bathing suit. It will protect you from sunburn while snorkeling, as well as from scrapes and cuts should you accidentally brush against some coral or a sharp rock – something that happens more often than you might think! Wear a high ‘SPF’ waterproof sunscreen on the beach, on the boat, and in the water.

When you dive or snorkel in Hawaii, please do your part to help preserve this unique marine environment. Remember this slogan: Take only pictures, and leave only bubbles. Don’t stand or walk on the coral. Don’t take any coral or shells as a souvenir. Don’t feed the wildlife. Don’t chase, touch, or try to pet the critters. Not only do they bite, many species are protected by law and penalties for harassing them can be stiff. And please do pick up all of your trash when you leave the shoreline: If it doesn’t grow there naturally, take it with you when you leave.

Have a wonderful time in the ocean in Hawaii, and stay safe."

Much mahalos again Bobbie for these great tips for diving in Hawaii. We hope you can come back another time with one of your exciting dive stories. Allow me to to share with our blog visitors just one of my favorite posts on your blog about Myrtle, the turtle. Divers-to-be, have fun reading!

Til next time. Aloha, Pua Kohala Coast Vacation Guide

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