Dive Log #10 – Manta Rays at Garden Eels Cove, Kona

Six months ago, if you asked me about scuba diving, I would’ve been like, ‘you are kidding, right?’. But fast forward (and thanks to my wife’s cousin Viv), I’m now PADI certified and exploring an entire new world underwater! And everything happened within the last 45 days. First my kids and I took the PADI knowledge review with Any Water Sports (San Jose), followed by a weekend of practicing skills at the San Jose University swimming pool. I think the hardest part for me was the 200m swim. It’s probably the furthest I’ve ever swam in one go. Another weekend was 4 dives at Monterey (San Carlos Beach) before the San Francisco Ultra Marathon, again mostly focused on skills at 20 to 30ft depth, including mask flooding (intentionally fill the mask with water and then drain it), ascent with a buddy, emergency ascent (CESA), etc.

Dive Log #9, #10 – Garden Eels Cove, Kona, Hawaii

A day after the San Francisco Ultra Marathon we headed to Kona with the first part of our vacation mostly focused on getting some good dives with Jack’s Diving Locker. We did our dives 5 & 6 at Free space & Rip Off Reef, 7 & 8 were Dotties Reef & Lone Tree Arch and and 9 & 10 at the Garden Eels Cove (watching Manta Rays feed on plankton). I started writing into my dive log book and realized, there was no way I was going to remember what was when, but hey, maybe I can blog about it! Besides it’s a good place to add on the pictures and videos from the dive too.

First the “log” aspects of the dive:

Dive #9 Dive #10 (night)
Max Depth 77 ft 47 ft
Dive Time 43 min 61 min
PSI 3,100 – 500 3,100 – 450
Weight 14 lbs 14 lbs
Visibility 70 ft 30 ft
Temperature 80°F 80°F

I was wearing a 3mm shortie wet-suit (with boots, fins and masks) and while I did fine on the first (evening) dive, started getting a little cold on the 2nd one (20 minutes in) mostly because we were sitting still at the bottom watching the Manta Rays feed on the plankton. The GoPro Hero 5 session with the Holaca 60m underwater housing worked pretty well, though note to self – check the GoPro housing to see if it’s fogged on the second dive.

On the 5th dive (the very first after certification), my dive time was just 43 min with a max depth of 53 ft. Was definitely not relaxed, but from there it got better pretty quickly. Dive #8 was 60 min with a max depth of 61 ft. Trick is to just use the fins and move as little as possible. Suspended animation, FTW. We dove into lava tubes, saw dolphins swimming above us. The white-tipped reef shark definitely made my heart-rate go up, but was amazing.

Some other noteworthy things we saw down there: Flame Angelfish, Spotted Reef Crabs, Devil Scorpion Fish, Flounder and Frog Fish. The highlight of the entire trip was of course, Manta Rays.

There were about a dozen of them doing their flips in front of us, while feeding on plankton. The biggest one probably had a wingspan of 12+ feet and they were so close to us. There’s so much I want to write about, in terms of experience and what I went through to learn how to do this. That’ll have to wait for another time. But I’ll tell you this. Of all the ways you can recover from an ultra-marathon, being suspended in 60+ feet under water, watching the (sea)-world go by is probably the best. And with experience, all of the endurance running benefits (lower heart-rate, higher lung capacity, etc.) directly applies to being completely relaxed underwater. After all, you are doing nothing.

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