I hope the information I have gathered will help people who intend scuba diving off the Big Island of Hawai'i (which a lot of people confuse with O'ahu, the island where Honolulu and Waikiki are). The Kona (leeward) coast of the Big Island is a great place to dive. It has lots of days of warm, fine weather, with calm water and good visibility. It being clear doesn't mean your going to find ocean treasure, or tungsten wedding bands though. As well as the boat diving, there are many places where you can go shore diving. The best time for diving is Spring through Fall, when you are less likely to be affected by big surf. The shore is rockier than Maui, so entry points can be harder to find, but the underwater scenery and wildlife are very rewarding. Just to confuse you a bit more, the largest town on the Kona coast, where most of the dive operations are based, is called Kailua-Kona or just Kona.
Information on the Big Island
Coffee Times - A Big Island magazine
Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park - Located near Hilo
Lonely Planet - Guide on Hawai'i
Pu`uhonua O Honaunau - National Historical Park located in Honaunau, HI
Snorkel Maui - Despite the name, this also covers other Hawaiian islands. This site includes a printable fish chart, fish list, fish quiz, how to ID a fish, snorkeling faq, snorkeling books, links and maps.
Places to Stay
Hale Kona Kai is a small condo complex about 1 mile (1.6km) from Kailua-Kona on Kahakai Road. Tel: (808) 329-2155
Islander Inn is an inexpensive place to stay that is convenient for the centre of Kailua-Kona, about 1 mile (1.6km) from Kailua Pier, where most dive boats go from.
Kona Tiki Hotel is a small hotel on the water, about 1.5 miles (2.5 km) south of town. Tel: (808) 329-1425.
Mango Sunset Bed and Breakfast at at Lyman Farms in Kailua-Kona, Hawai'i. Tel: (808) 325-0909.
Hawaiian Coral Reef Ecology by David Gulko
We love this book. Having spent over a year in Hawaii I wanted something that went into Hawaii's undersea world in a bit more depth. This was just what I was looking for. It describes the different underwater habitats, how they were formed and what lives there. For me it achieves a very nice balance between informative and accessible. A very satisfying read.g.
Hawaii's Fishes : A Guide for Snorkelers and Divers by John P Hoover. Mutual Publishing.
Hawaii's Sea Creatures: A Guide to Hawaii's Marine Invertebrates, Revised Edition by John P Hoover. Mutual Publishing.
Pacific: An Undersea Journey by David Doubilet (pages 35 - 47). Bulfinch Press.