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Scuba Diving in Hawaii, USA

Reader Reviews:

Dive Site: Tunnels Reef

Location: Ke'e Beach, Kauai Island, Hawaiian Islands

Description: Night dive

Depth: 15 metres (50 feet)

Visibility: 20 metres (65 feet)

Rating: ****

Something different - a night dive in paradise. Kauai Island is known as the 'Garden Isle' and is the oldest of the 7 main islands in the volcanic Hawaiian chain. It is just on the edge of the new marine / nature reserve created recently by the United States. It isn't called the Garden Isle for nothing and is due to the exotic & rich greenery adorning much of the island's coastline & interior. Kauai is famous for film sets; much of Jurassic Park, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Six Days & Seven Nights were filmed there. The beaches are composed of heavy coral sands and Ke'e Beach is no exception. It is located in the far north at the end of the single main road which goes around only half of the island. Looking seaward, a rock pinnacle looms majestic some 70m high, and behind this the massive structure of the 1000m+ Na Pali coastline. The former was made famous as Bali Hi in the film South Pacific.

Our dive is to start in the shadow of the pinnacle. Ke'e Beach is not your normal shore dive, and you do need an experienced guide. A little way offshore a series of 28 interconnecting ancient lava tubes exist; formed by lava cooling quickly on the outside, whilst the inside remained fluid. In places they are cracked and broken, reaching a depth of some 15m, and wide in places. Day dives are conducted in these tunnels, where on many occasions white tip reef sharks can be encountered. There are many dive centres on Kauai, but Dive Kauai is one of the best, and has a hard boat to dive the reefs around the south and western ends of the island. It also conducts night dives and one of the guides we dived with knew these tunnels very well.

Luckily for us we were staying at the Hanalei Colony Resort, a series of condo's just a few kilometres south of the beach, so a short drive ensued. We kitted up in the beach line trees, and made our way into the now dark water. Having thought about the sharks, I wasn't overly keen on suddenly encountering one at night. We swam through tunnel after tunnel of this dark labyrinth. Goodness knows where I was, but trusted the guide. Every corner brought something new, a moray eel or two, trumpetfish, soldierfish shoal, even Spanish Dancers - and there were plenty of those - pity my camera had packed up several days before, darn!

Our torches cut swathes through the darkness and sometimes you could see the wall sides, at other times not, or you couldn't see the floor. It was very disorientating. Your torch had to be kept moving because otherwise dense clouds of fry attempted to burn themselves on the light. After about 45minutes I was assuming we were heading back, and rounded a dark corner. Here, my eye suddenly caught a movement below; my blood froze in anticipation of an 'attack'. A shiver coursed through me, adrenalin & heart pumped frantically. Then I saw the huge creature loom out of the darkness, 2.5m long. it was a (protected) green sea turtle! How stupid I felt but lessons learned, as we made our way up the beach sand slope and marvelled at the needlefish in the shallows. The guide had noticed my anxiety, and pointed out that the most likely thing that could have harmed me this dive were those needlefish.

Tony Gilbert

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