Diving at Puako: There's no place like home

Puako, HawaiiLast week we began to tell our readers about Puako, Hawaii -- the place we consider to be our home base, as divers. Puako has a magnificently rugged shoreline formed by an old lava flow. There are a few small sandy beaches there, but most of the shoreline is rocky and very irregular.

It makes a pretty picture, of course, but it is what's offshore under the water that draws us back there again and again. The photo at right shows our favorite entry point for shore diving at Puako.

We have waded into the ocean hundreds of times at this very spot to begin a dive. In fact, we have dived along this section of Puako's coast so frequently that we have come to know the terrain there as well as we know our own back yard on land.

We know where all of the resident critters live along that stretch of the coast, and we gave names to many of the 'regulars.' We've drawn maps of the reef there. We know every landmark and topographical feature, and we named those, too. In fact, we know the area so intimately that we like to say that if someone so much as turned over a rock, we'd notice!

If that sounds like an exaggeration, think of it this way: If you lived near a park or a wood and you walked through there several days a week for years, wouldn't you know it as your own? You would know where the terrain was flat and where it was hilly. You'd come to know which kinds of trees were there and where they were located. You'd learn what kinds of birds and animals lived there, and you might notice where they nested. Well, it's just like that on the reef, except that there is coral instead of trees, and there are fish and crabs and octopus instead of birds and squirrels and deer.

Puako Diver DanThere's probably only one other diver who knows the Puako reefs as well as we do, and that would be our old friend Dan, a.k.a. 'Puako Diver Dan.' That's him in the photo at left. (Everyone say hi to Diver Dan!)

Dan lived in Puako for many, many years and was our most frequent dive companion during that period. He was with us on most of the hundreds of dives we made at Puako, and he did a lot of critter naming and landmark mapping there, too!

We know that he's been reading The Right Blue since it was launched, and since so many of our stories about diving at Puako are Dan's stories, too, we hope he'll soon stop lurking and help us to tell the tales!


  1. You know, the more I read your blog, the more jealous I get! Diving is something I've always wanted to do and every time we have enough money saved to go someplace where I'd see more than old tires and medical waste underwater, something really bad happens and the funds poof out of existence.

    Looking at those pictures makes me ache to go visit. Maybe I can hide in someone's luggage? heh heh heh

  2. antibarbie -

    I hope you get to try diving some time, since you say it is always something you wanted to do. Hang in there: It's never too late!


  3. I am planning a dive trip to the big island the week of May 10th-17th 2008. I have been pouring over all the information I can get my hands on regarding shore diving along Kona coast, including the sites up a little further north.

    My parents and I have rented a condo for the week in Waikola Village (the inland part, not directly on the ocean), and because of our "home base" location, I have zeroed in on the Puako dive area as a potential location to plan multiple shore dives; including night dives, the week I am vacationing there.

    It would be so amazing to get ahold of some of the maps of the reef you have drawn before my trip.

    I am so curious about the shore diving off the big island, and I want to learn as much as I can about it before I travel.

    I am thinking about picking maybe one or two dive sites and concentrating my diving at only a few locations to dive all week in one spot in order to really get to know a few sites well. Puako seems to fit the bill, with the potential to even dive the whole week at this one location. The only concern seeming to be from the afternoon winds that some people have commented on, which can allegedly make shore entry/exit a bit hairy at times...

    Any chance I could get my hands on any of your maps?

    Any words of wisdom for someone who only has 6 days of diving to do on the big island?

    I have a pair of high preasure steel 119's, but there is no way to take them on the plane with the rest of my gear, so I hope to identify a good dive shop that possibly rents quality steel tanks w/nitrox fills. Any hopes of achieving that? It appears all the dive shops that advertise to tourists only rent out the common alum 80s - I have gotton so spoiled with the superior buoyancy characteristics and longer profiles that the 119's provide, that I hate to resort to the alum 80s unless thier the only tanks available...

  4. Hello Andrew - Welcome to The Right Blue. We can probably help you out with whatever info you need for shore diving at Puako. Why don't you click on the "Contact" tab in the header of The Right Blue and leave us your email address so we can contact you privately.

    Bobbie & Jerry

  5. Bobbie and Jerry:

    We come to Puako once a year and stay at in a house about 3/4 of the way down Puako road toward the end. We are avid snokelers and tide poolers but have had some not so good experiences getting in and out of the water around pole 120 wondering if you have any hints or other spots we might try. We will be back for 2 weeks late april, early may 2008.

  6. i love these pics and i want to go so bad we do not have the money to.


We welcome your comments and invite your questions. Dialogue is a good thing!

Bobbie & Jerry