Golden Arches is another typical scuba diving site on the Kona side of the Island. There are lots of stony corals in healthy condition and a reasonable variety of marine life. Visibility will vary on the site depending upon how close you are diving to the surge zone and the strength and direction of the currents.
Golden Arches Rating: 2.74 out of 5
- Visibility – moderate to good, but highly variable
- Access – Moderate; boat only and 25 minutes from Honokohau Marina & Small Boat Harbor, Kailua Kona
- Current – variable, minimal to strong; surge can be quite strong closer to the shallow reef
- Depth to 60 ft / 18 m
- Reef health Hard / Soft Corals – Good
- Marine species variety – Good
- Pelagics / Mammals / Turtles / Rays – no sightings on the dive
So far the week had been great with lots of sun, not too much surge, good visibility and we had 17 Manta Rays on our prior afternoon dive and 37 Manta Rays on our night dive the previous evening. Something had to give….
There was a strong south west to north east swell running and a storm was going to be coming in over the next couple of days so I knew we were cutting it close. We left the Honokohau Marina & Small Boat Harbor, Kailua Kona on schedule and I was hoping we could get our diving in before the weather ran us out. I had been diving off Molokai the previous week looking for Hammerhead sharks with 10 to 12 foot seas and higher swells, so I was not concerned but I was hoping for at least reasonable conditions for some last photos before we left the island.
We went north out of the harbor and the swells were running fairly strong and we tried looking at several spots before dropping anchor at off Golden Arches. We had notice several boats that passed us heading further north but before we got in the water they were heading back to our area to find a reasonable spot to get wet.
I was diving with Big Island Divers out of Kona and they have very good crews but the boats are not large. The divers on board were mostly lesser experienced divers and all were looking forward to a great morning dive. We got off the boat fine and into the water. Because it was fairly rough a couple of people decided not to get join us and just road out our dive on the boat.
Golden Arches Overview
We actually had reasonable conditions and I was able to get in a few good shots by the end of the dive. In fact I had been talking to someone on the boat about the rather uncommon “black” form of the Common Longnose Butterflyfish and got a reasonable shot of this fellow in the first few minutes of the dive. I also was able to get a shot of the extremely rare Whitley’s Boxfish on this dive. It just shows that you need to pay attention when you dive and watch your surroundings closely. There are many amazing fish in Hawaii and you can miss them easily if you are not paying attention. When we started getting back on the boat the weather was not cooperating and the swells had grown considerably. We tried a couple of locations nearby but the weather and sea were not going to cooperate. I did not complain, the dive on Golden Arches was quite nice and I had 20 great dives over a 10 day period and also got to relax a good bit on Maui and the big island.
You should remember that when the boat captain says that a dive should not be made, don’t get angry with him or her, they are trying to keep you safe. Be appreciative of their skills and care because they had much rather you be diving than complaining. As a diver there is always another day, be safe, enjoy the moment and the relax.