The Kona Aggressor, the small, medium and giant!

 This trip was a test for us to see how we would like a “Live Aboard” as we plan trips to more remote areas.  The experience turned out to be WONDERFUL!  The combination of the most convenient diving possible, comfortable quarters, service you would expect at a fine hotel and great food has us convinced this is the way to go.  From the front office to the crew we found everyone with Aggressor to be helpful and fun to deal with.  If you compare apples to apples this live aboard was only about US$200 more a person than doing 4 dives with a shore op, renting a car, staying at a mid range hotel, etc…  The only thing to not forget is the tip, due to the high level of service all week you will feel obligated to leave at least 15% of the package cost.

The Kona Aggressor II is a twin hull platform specifically built for diving.  We found it comfortable with ample room  for all.  Our room had four medium sized drawers for clothing and a sink.  The head is decent sized with a separate shower that provided plenty of hot water.  The bed was comfortable and the single bunk above became additional storage for cloths and camera gear.

The salon/dining area is well appointed.  There is a nice video/audio/surround sound system to view slide shows and movies at night.  The hot tub on the upper deck became a popular spot after the 4th and night dives, since ocean was about 75-76 degrees.  Plenty of outside sunning areas on the bow and upper deck.

 The dive deck can get a little cramped as everyone gears up for a dive, but better than most dive boats.  You gear up from the same spot and your seat is a good sized locker for extra dive gear.  You just take a couple of steps and you are in the water, right on the dive site.  After the dive there are fresh water showers on the stern and warm towels once you have stripped off the wetsuit, it is a great setup.

Schedule/Life On Board

 The crew will pick you up and bring you to the dock at 5:30pm Saturday.  Once all were on board everyone started moving into their rooms and setting up their gear, the crew will store your empty bags.  After an hour or so the boat sets out for the evening mooring and we all moved to the upper deck for snacks and drinks.  In short order the first of many wonderful dinners followed, crew introductions, and boat briefing.  This gave us a chance to get to know everyone we would be in close quarters with for the next week.  I am horrible with names and appreciated that the crew put everyone’s names on the door of their rooms to help the memory impaired.


Pack light you really only need 3-4 pairs of swim wear, several t-shirts and maybe a couple pcs of fleece.  I never wore the sandals I brought. Since they want to keep the main salon dry I suggest nylon types of shorts that quick dry and have a couple of dry pairs in the room to change into during meals.

  The standard daily schedule (plus or minus a half hour):

 6:30am Continental Breakfast 7:00am Full breakfast  8:00amDive briefing, 10-5mins later you are diving 10:00am Fresh Baked Snacks and Surface interval 11:00am  2nd dive (same site) 12:30pm Lunch and surface interval 12:30pm Move to new site 2:00pm 3rd dive 3:00pm Another hot snack and surface interval 4:00pm Fourth dive (same site) 5:30pm Dinner 7:00pm Night dive (this is 3rd dive at 2nd site)


Of the 12 people on our trip 3 of us did all 5 dives per day, everyday.  When they say Eat, Sleep, Dive they mean it! After finishing the night dive there was usually a group eating popcorn and watching movies, our group seemed to prefer “scary movies”. The wry jokes about the movies was as much fun as the movies themselves.

The food is almost too good.  The formally trained chef (I will not say cook) Robert did a fantastic job.  There was great variety, with everything prepared in an interesting and wonderful manner.  Special meals were made for people who were vegatarian to “nothing spicy, preferably white bread and red meat”.  Snacks and variety of beverages were always available with hot snacks ranging from muffins to pot stickers out between dives.  Fosters on tap and wine were there for all, just remember their rule “1st drink equals last dive of the day”.

The Diving

There are 5 crewmembers that rotate thru the dive duties.  A white board gives dive time and has a map of site.  Dive briefings are often humorous but detailed and to the point.  The crew was attentive on deck and in the water; air valves were checked on entry and small, impossible to find animals were located and pointed out to all.


We found you had the freedom to follow along or do your own thing as long as you alerted the DM to your plans.  The great thing about doing two dives on a site is you can do the tour on the first dive and then go back to the places that interest you on the 2nd dive, great for photographers!  They do ask you keep your dive times to around 1hr since they have a schedule and have to move the boat after the 2nd dive.  On 3rd-5th dives they did not seem to mind if dive times creeped over the 75min it range.


For our trip the water temp was running 75-77 degrees and air temp about the same with broken clouds.  My wife found this a little cold. She started with her 3mm full Harveysand a hood; then added her 3mm shorty over that.  In the end she was wearing her full 3mm, her shorty, my shorty and a hood!  Most of the ladies and many of the men were wearing 6mm by the 3rd dive.  The majority of dives are -100fsw, mainly in the 60-40fsw range.


I will not bore you with a blow-by-blow dive site review; hopefully the pictures will give you a fair idea.  Due to the lava formations most of all the sites have very interesting topography, lots of swim thrus and are covered with a variety of healthy hard corals.  We are “critter” lovers and were fascinated with the variety of angels, butterflies and other fish that are endemic only to Hawaii.  As you can see the variety ranges from Nudis to Humpback whales and everything in between.  Highlights for us were seeing Humpbacks breaching, snorkeling with Dolphins, and the incredible variety of beautiful fish.
Several of the crew members, Captain Rob and Pam, are award winning photographers and wonderful and giving you tips and advice.  Both produce great videos and slide shows of the week.  The camera table is fair sized but with 5 photographers in the group it was getting a little cramped.  Due to heavy rain and rough seas leading up to our arrival there was a fair amount of particles in the water.  Surge is always an issue in Hawaii and this week there was fairly heavy surge at most of the sites.  The combination of backscatter, surge and fast moving subjects made it a challenge.


A fellow photographer, Mark, gave me the piece of advice for the week.  He had won the trip via a photo contest and is a doing a book on the Maldives, incredible shots.  He runs a D100 in a Nexus housing with four Inon Z220 strobes, yes count them 4.  Formally trained as an abstract painter Mark said “it is not about blasting the subject with light, what is important is filling the area around the subject with light”.  He use’s 4 strobes for WA and 3 for macro.  The clarity and depth of color of his shots really has me thinking about adding a 3rd strobe.
Had a chance to use the new Fisheye focus light, WOW.  It produces a very even circle of light.  At max power it lit up much more of the reef than the large Light Cannons, though it does not have the range/distance.  With the ability to adjust the output it made an excellent focus and dive light.   Only problem is with the charger which will have to go back to the mfg.nsert contents.

As you can tell we are now hooked on the Live-Aboard experience and are planning a Fiji or Palau Aggressor trip.  I can’t give enough credit to the crew Captain Rob, Johana, Pam, Brendan, Auvi and the chef Robert. They made it a great experience.  If you want to dive sites day boats don't venture to, dive till you flop exhausted in your bunk and be pampered in between then this is the way to go….


Share this by email
Enter your search terms below.