Temperature 85 degrees, mostly sunny
Today we decided to finally head south to a snorkeling beach called "Two Step". It is called two step because there is no beach entry but rather two entries from the lava into the water via two steps in the formation. Pretty cool. We had gotten there pretty early - around 8AM and were glad we did as the place really filled up throughout the morning. We had a nice spot on the sand and there was this really cool heron type of bird chilling in front of us most of the morning day.
The snorkeling was pretty darn good and I can see why it would also be a good dive site. The reef is in good shape and slopes down to the sand about 100 feet of depth or so. Lots of healthy hard coral and fish to go along with it. We saw many pipefish and three turtles. Finally, my first turtles of the trip and I see them snorkeling! I also spotted two octopus who looked as if they were getting frisky. The one - probably the female came out of the shadows of a large piece of coral and dragged male part way under. They were attached. Ah, octipi love. There was a gal from Austria sitting next to us who snorkeled before us each time and she mentioned she saw a spotted eagle ray while she was out there. We went out again but didn't see much the second time but it was still lovely.
Had a date with a two tank dive at 4 so we slowly made our way back to town via a stop off in South Kona where a guy was cooking Huli Chicken and Ribs. He must have had 100 full on chickens with 30 racks of ribs turning on this massive smoker. We got two combo plates, a loaf of banana bread and went to town. So good! Most tasty chicken I think i've ever had. The spices were unreal.
Made our way to Kona Reef to get some different clothes for our dive. Then to Kona Dive Company to settle up, say our good-byes and buy some gear. Then made our way to the harbor to meet up with Big Island Divers for our two tank manta dive.
Met our dive mates and our Captain Michael and DM's Sarah and Kelly. Kelly would the DM of the advanced group in which we'd be diving with. We headed south to dive in front of the Sheraton which is the other dive place instead of the airport where we dove earlier in the week in search of mantas. We had trouble finding the mooring ball which cut our first dive short. However, we saw four different mantas on that first dive! So beautiful gliding through the water. Only a tease for what we were about to see later.
Got out of the water to a beautiful Kona sunset. What a nice way to climb the ladder back into the dive boat! We then got prepped and ready for our manta dive.
We left the boat and went down at about 7:35 after a nice briefing with some corny jokes from Kelly. We headed towards the "campfire" to find that there was too. We circled around to the larger one and found our spot. MANTAS! Mantas everywhere! They swooped, glided and barrel rolled all around us gulping up the plankton that our lights were attracting. We couldn't believe how close they got to us. We were told not to touch the mantas but apparently the mantas were not told to not touch us. Both Carrie and I got bumped several times. It was magical. Such awesome animals. All total there were 8 mantas including Big Bertha who is 13 feet wide, Lefty who is missing his left _______ fin and Chloe, Amanda and a few others _______________. I got stung pretty badly by a spiny sea urchin about halfway through the dive and reached down to pull about 15 tines out of my ring finger. It hurt but it wasn't going to end this dive. No way! Too fun! We had quite a show. Easily the best dive I've ever done in my life. We swam away after about 45 minutes back to the boat. It was fun swapping stories of what each person experienced when back on the boat. What a fantastic evening of diving and being blessed by interacting with those beautiful creatures.
Went to bed that night floating like we were still being cloaked by mantas.