My family and I recently returned from our second visit to Kauai. In our group of five adults, I am the only OW cert diver. I have been OW cert for less than 2 years, and outside of WI / IL lakes and quarries I've only dove off Grand Cayman. Many people told me diving Kauai would be disappointing b/c of runoff and limited coral. I was more nervous about the prospect of not having a dive buddy, and having never dove in the Pacific.
I booked a two tank PM dive for Thursday, and was told this dive was more casual and shallower. Dive profiles for cert divers on the PM dive maxed near 70 feet, with averages near 40-50 feet. Online booking was easy and e-mail communications always received a response within 48 hours. My family was staying in Princeville, and the dive shop advised a 90 minute drive window should be ample to arrive at the 12:30pm check-in. In previous excursions to the south side of Kauai, 90 minutes has been more than enough. Unfortunately during our drive, we encountered a traffic jam in Kapaa. We managed five miles in one hour, and I couldn't do anything but watch the clock tick closer to 12:30pm. At 12:20pm with our GPS saying we were 45 minutes away (while stopped in traffic), my wife called the dive shop. I didn't catch the name of the woman my wife spoke with, but she encouraged us to continue driving and make arrangements for a partial refund if I missed the 1:00pm boat departure.
At 1:05pm, we arrived at Seasport Divers. My hopes were shattered of any diving, I assumed the boat was long gone and our trek was for nothing. Scuba gear I hauled from WI would be useless and a large deposit was gone.....and then I walked into the store. A gentleman behind the counter asked if I was Dan, and a clipboard with waiver was waiting for my signature. Staff informed me the group departed for the dock 10 minutes before my arrival, but the boat was still docked! After a quick waiver review, sizing for wetsuit and BCD, I ran outside and grabbed my dive bag. An empty van awaited me and we were on our way to the docks. I felt like a kid going on a field trip for the first time, Seasport Divers went above and beyond.
At the dock staff was friendly and understanding. Two dive masters, the boat captain and four other divers were still in the process of loading tanks and bags onto the boat. Our boat consisted of a cert group of three divers to include myself, and two newly cert divers with a DM. The boat was at least 3x the size of other dive operators, plenty of space for storing gear and making yourself comfortable. Wash stations for cameras were set up, granola bars and bottled water was self serve. I didn't mind setting up my reg / octo / dive computer I had brought from home, but other divers suggested this is usually done by staff. I did notice in Grand Cayman they handled your equipment, but I actually preferred doing it myself here. My rental equipment consisted of a BCD, wet suit, tank and weights. The rentals were name brand, well maintained and fairly priced.
Briefings were given prior to leaving the dock, and at each dive site. We dove Plate Lunch and Sheraton Caverns. Diving with honu (seaturtles) was an experience I will never forget. During our first dive at Plate Lunch, migrating humpback whales could be heard in the distance. While moving between dive sites, a pod of spinner dolphins accompanied the boat. I told the DM I never dove the Pacific and my last dive was 6 months ago, so there were some pregame jitters on my part. DM Matt S. said it's a common experience for others in my position, and within 30 seconds of hitting the water I left my worries behind. Water clarity was great, schools of fish were plenty and it made my first Pacific dive memorable.
If you're a solo diver or someone who doesn't dive 365, don't hesitate to dive Kauai with Seasport Divers. After the final dive, pick up something from their dive shop. Great diver apparel and accessories, allowing me to bring a piece of Seasport Divers back to WI. Thanks for everything!
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