With only a tiny bit of shame, I cut and paste this verbatim from the forum.
The most important diving revelation after a week in Kona and 9 dives came on the plane home. We were watching a movie, and one of the characters, completely by accident I believe, demonstrated such perfect buoyancy control and comfort in his environment, he's my new Diving Idol. He is also my new avatar and spiritual advisor.
But on to the report. This will likely be boring to people who have oodles of dives and are able to submit reports containing the phrases "deco stop" and "overhead environment." But if you're noobs like us, read on, the diving we did is definitely for you.
We will have a few photos soon, but you have seen my photos and know they are nothing to click "subscribe" over.
We spent 7 days at the Kona Village resort, which I consider mighty uptown and expensive. Fortunately I have a wife who requires this sort of thing so we went anyway. The food was superb, and the service extremely friendly if a bit, um, "Hawaiian," in its consistency. For some meals we were extremely well attended, for others, it's almost like everyone disappeared suddenly. The cottages ("hales") were secluded, nicely appointed, and a bit dated feeling. The philosophy there is "the Village will be the same every time you return to it" but I don't think they want that to mean saggy and wobbly screen doors or dingy '80's vintage bathroom tile. Also if you go here, be prepared to stay here. It costs $100+ to get to town and back by taxi, and there's no shuttle. This was a bit vexing until we forced ourselves to limit our aspirations... and maybe that's what a vacation is for.
The water sports chalet was a) very well equipped (except for Lasers, more on that soon) and b) again, very pricy, I thought. In order to use a standup paddle board you need a $150 "orientation" but then you can use it as much as you want for the rest of your stay. Same with the canoes and windsurfers. The sunfish sailboat was available for free if you could demonstrate sufficient skill to claw your way out of their little lee cove, and there are kayaks to use gratis also. The web site says "Sail our sunfish and lasers" and I thought, WOW, I have wanted to sail a laser ever since I was 13, and never had a chance, but apparently all the lasers got sailed into reefs and had to be shot and boiled for glue. Guys! Update the web site, dammit.
We brought our own regs just in case they tried to give us junk (and Bob brought his BC with the other half of his AS3) and they cheerfully integrated what we had with what they had and it all was new and worked well. They purchase new gear each year so if we return we'll leave our stuff at home and use theirs--it's included in the cost anyway. The dive package includes 3 2-tank dives with one dive on a DPV, which was a hoot. These are some sort of sit-upon DPV's which made me nervous ("You want me to straddle a propeller??") but they worked great. The DM's were mostly attentive and friendly. We did have one who ran out of air before we all did so he signaled for us to just swim around by the boat and come up when we got to 500 psi. You experienced divers say, "This is what we do," but with barely a dozen dives each we were happy to follow like sheep. Plus, they kind of make a big thing about the dives being "guided."
The communication between the resort and the water sports operation was frustratingly minimal. They always managed to "work something out" but it got boring having to explain to them what we expected to be included in our dive package. In addition to the three boat dives, our package included what was described as "unlimited shore dives with free use of our equipment." So we showed up the morning after we had done all our boat dives and said "We want to shore dive!" Um, well, this was not possible, because all the DM's had gone out already and there was no one to set up our gear for us. Isn't that what our C card is for? To show that we can set up our own gear? Just show me a filled tank, I'm good to go. Plus it was becoming apparent there was a 24 hour advance notice expectation. Does this sound like "unlimited" shore diving to you? So with that delay, we got a whopping ONE unlimited shore dive as part of our package. If someone had taken a moment to explain how it worked, we could have gotten a couple more dives in, and yes, there was sufficient territory within a swim of the beach to warrant them. I'll mention that for this shore dive, they offered to run us out in a dinghy to about 70' and let us swim back, which we thought was pretty luxurious, almost like a boat dive.
Enough complaining. The diving was spectacular. I thought I was in an aquarium. We saw turtles, eels, puffers, boxfish, butterflyfish, tang, lizardfish, nudibranchs, conch, octopus, eagle rays, dolphin, filefish, manta rays (night dive = awesome! a must do for sure), parrotfish, humuhumu nukunuku apua'a galore, tiny goby, frogfish, and even a SHARK (white tip). There was one freaky "deepwater" urchin that looked like an embroidered pillow wafting its way across the sand. We ended up going with Steve at Wannadive for the manta ray trip, which worked out great. Why go with a huge herd of divers when you can get an up close and personal experience on a 6 pack? His DM, Bob, at first glance will seem to you to be just another crusty barnacle, until you get him talking about the stuff down there, which transforms him into a happy, smiling, cheerful, animated crusty barnacle. Wannadive does their gig as a two tank dive, both from the same mooring, which is an extremely pleasant way to fritter away an afternoon and evening. On our first dive DM Bob took us to see Garden Eels, which in the twilight were just spooky, kind of like spirits rising from a graveyard, only to silently vanish when you get close. Son Bob posted a personal deepest 74 feet so I accused him of acting totally narced. Then for the manta dive, dress warm and breathe easy, because DM Bob likes to close up the place. After about a half hour, other groups started leaving. After 45 minutes we had all 9-11 of the rays to ourselves. The largest were 12-14 feet across I think, which are supposed to weigh upwards of a ton each. They are graceful, but even they had their moments of confusion and collisions (into each other as well as into us), traffic was so heavy. By the time we'd been there 50 minutes we had them all to ourselves and it was a solid ceiling of manta ray. For comic relief there's also a moray eel there who is obviously furious not to be the center of attention. Total BT on that dive was about 1:05.
Photos may or may not be forthcoming as there are "issues" with the replacement PC and the ability to copy our old files. Please cross your fingers...