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Travel Blog #97 - The Sheraton Caverns with Seasport Divers

I remember for my 12th birthday, the only thing I wanted to do was get certified to go SCUBA Diving (12 is the minimum age you can be to get certified). It was not too long after when I finished all of the class work and got to go under the water and experience what it was like to "breathe like a fish". For me SCUBA diving was something that after doing once, I was hooked. A few years later when I started working, the first job I ever got was being an assistant to a dive instructor at a company on Maui. After SCUBA diving quite a bit during high school, I kind of fell out of the habit when I started going to college over in the landlocked town of Ashland, Oregon. After I graduated and came back home I have gone diving a few times, but I've been going with nowhere close to the consistency that I once did. This was the first time I have gone SCUBA diving on Kauai, so I was interested to see how it was going to compare.

I checked in early in the morning at the Seasport Divers office in Koloa. Once I got there they fitted me with all the dive gear that I needed. They had very nice BCD's that were equipped with really nice regulators and digital dive computers. Once the group was ready to go, we boarded their van that was waiting outside. From here our instructor took us down to the harbor, where our boat was waiting for us.

There was a slight delay because of a mechanical issue that another boat was having that was blocking the launch ramp. It only took a couple minutes for the other boaters give up, get there boat back on the trailer and then tow it out of the way of our boat and the others that were waiting to use the boat ramp. As soon as the ramp was clear our crew was able to get the boat in the water. When we were all boarded we pulled out of the harbor and began discussing where we should go diving.

It was a small group, and everyone was reasonably experienced so we could go pretty much anywhere we wanted. We decided that we were going to do a wall dive, then a cave dive. I enjoyed them both, but my favorite part was the caves.

After I got out of the water from the first dive, I knew that we were in for a for an adventure on the second dive. The "wall dive" had so many caves that we passed throughout I couldn't imagine what the "cave dive" was going to have. As soon as we dropped down to the bottom of the second dive I had much more of an idea how elaborate the cave structure on Kauai can be, but before I talk about the dive, I feel that we should talk about how the reef of Kauai is different from the other islands (which is the reason why these caves were so cool).

Kauai is the oldest island (except for the small privately owned island of Ni'ihau). The volcano of Kauai stopped erupting over 5 million years ago, and the island has been rapidly eroding ever since. The islands further down the chain all stopped erupting at a later time and have not gotten as far in the erosion process. Kauai has eroded so much, that it has formed a shallow plane that extends a great distance from shore out into the ocean, forming a shelf that circles all the way around the island. This plane of shallow water has been home to a vast network of coral reef that has been growing for millions of years. This kind of massively thick reef forms giant limestone layers that get eroded by the waves and currents to form massive superstructures of limestone that are so porous that they resemble the texture of Swiss cheese. The other islands do not typically have the kind of reef that is growing out of such thick layers of limestone (old reef). Most places I have been to seem to be more like reef that has been more recently rooted into an actual piece of the volcanic bedrock, or to thinner sheets of limestone.

Ok, I feel like I've done my best to explain how the bottom looked different from the other places I've gone in Hawaii. Lets get back to the dive. As soon as we dropped to the bottom, our instructor took us to what started out as a giant trench in the reef. As we made our way down the trench, it got increasingly deeper. The walls began to overhang further and further, until we were eventually going through a massive tunnel. On the sides of the tunnel there were there were other holes that lined the walls and were stuffed with all kinds of sea life. We saw some large Lobsters in one pocket of the cave and all kinds of big eyed nocturnal fish cramming themselves in under the ledges near the floor of the cave. As we rounded a corner in the cave, our guide turned and handed me his flashlight and pointed into a side cave in the wall that was about 4-5 feet in diameter. I crept in with the light in one hand and the camera in the other.

Inside, the cave was literally filled with fish. I sat there hovering in the stillness of the cave, deep under the surface and experienced a moment of sheer awe. There were Menpachi everywhere! Then as I shined the light around I could make out two massive puffer fish swimming through the cloud of Menpachi that were easily greater in size then the length of my elbow to the tip of my fingers.

After we exited the cave we saw some other interesting specimens, all kinds of reef fish, black coral, and we even saw a turtle. After we were done with our tanks we made our way up to the surface where the boat was waiting for us.

As we got back on the boat we began to make our way back to the harbor. I know that the other members of the group had a good time because two out of three of them asked if there was room to do it again the following day! I enjoyed a great first day of diving on Kauai, and am looking forward to going again soon.

Travel Blog - Articles #90 to #99

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Today I got to take my Mom to see something very special.In the 1400+ years that the Hawaiian Islands have been inhabited by humans, an amazingly rich culture has developed here.

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Yesterday we took advantage of the flat summer ocean conditions on the North and West sides of Kauai and scheduled a trip up the Napali Coast with Captain Chris and the Napali Riders.

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Today we did one of my favorite activities in the state, a helicopter trip around Kauai. Kauai is one of the most amazing places to do a helicopter ride on the planet.

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SCUBA Diving is one of my favorite categories of activities that we offer. I've been an avid diver since I was 12 years old. Since then I've gone on hundreds of dives throughout Hawaii (and the world!) and I can honestly say that we have some of the best diving anywhere.

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This two tank trip is for experienced divers. You don't have to be an expert, but sometimes we do a drift dive in the morning, so good buoyancy control is necessary to perform a safety stop, hovering at 15 feet for 3 minutes.

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