...and just a manta ray dive!
26.09.2010 - 26.09.2010 28 °C
We pull out of the Namakanipaio campsite where we ended up camping again last night. This fine day we are heading to South Point, the southern most part of the United States. Julie wants to check out sea turtles at a black sand beach, so that is our first stop. There are a couple resting on the beach and more eating along the shore, so we quietly snap a few pics, trying not to disturb them. More and more people keep arriving and getting really close to the turtles. The law is to stay at least 20 feet from these endangered turtles. Julie can't believe how many tourist disrespect the law just to get a photo. Luckily we have a zoom lens which helped us capture the photos below. This beach is an important breeding area for the turtles, and there is even an active boat launch here. Locals inform us that Hawaii needs help with protecting these endangered turtles as the Department of Natural Land and Resources doesn't do much.
We continue to South Point on the road winding down to ocean level. When we arrive we notice how the winds howl from the east continuously causing all the trees to grow horizontal to the ground, pointing west. Our plan was to hike two miles to the green sands beach, but instead we back the van up to a small patch of beach, open the back hatch and take in the sights and sounds.
Later in the day we arrive at the marina near Kona for our manta ray night dive with Neptune Charlie's. They are very thorough with safety which puts Julie's mind at ease. We had never done at night dive and didn't really know what to expect. Our dive master, Roger, goes over every detail of our equipment, the dive, and how to use the lighting equipment they provide. The sun sets, and it is time to take the plunge off the back of the boat and descend to ocean floor about 30 feet below. After a short swim along the reef, we arrive at the “campfire”, where lights had been placed on the ocean floor shinning upwards. Everyone knelt around the campfire, holding our personal lights high above our heads, pointing to the surface. The light attracts plankton, which attracts the huge manta rays (weighing thousands of pounds). They warned us prior to the dive that we might not see any mantas, but we really lucked out, there are between 15 and 20 mantas gliding all around us. The graceful mantas swoop right over our flash lights. They are within inches of our heads, so close that before the dive we were told we had to leave our snorkels in the boat so the mantas wouldn't knock them off our heads. Once in a while we crouch down to avoid a manta running into our heads. Julie holds a large rock tightly in her lap to keep her stable on the bottom as the current caused by the mantas is strong enough to knock you over. They are so close you can see right into their gills. We both watch in awe, until it was time to head back to the boat.
After a short drive to the outskirts of Kona, we arrive at Alicia's home, our couch surfing accommodations for our last two nights on the Big Island. It's late and we are spent from a busy day, so we chat briefly before she shows us to our room. The house seems remote and the only sounds from the heavy tropical growth that surrounds it is from wild pigs snorting and scratching at the ground looking for food.