Freediving and Spearfishing on the Hamakua Coast in Hawaii

Article contributed by C. Alameda.

Hamakua Coast, Hawaii, where our parents had us in the ocean before we could walk. It’s not just home to the ancient kings of Hawaii, but home to the most healthiest marine species throughout the Hawaiian Islands. Don’t let the sun-kissed coast fool you though, it can turn deadly in a whiplash.

The Hamakua coastline is made up of 40 miles where summer months on the coast are best to harvest lobsters and fish. The winds drop to 5 knots holding out for a month or so presenting great diving conditions.

For many spearfishermen the dive starts the morning they wake up, but for me the dive always starts the night before. Carb loading, or what I like to call C02 buffering, is fueling the body with carbohydrates. I prefer to indulge on pasta and oatmeal. While doing this I am also drinking lots of water to let my muscles soak up like a sponge.

Spearfishing in HawaiiI then like to perform yoga stretches because I tend to dive up to 8-10 hours. I’ll usually jump in the ocean around 3am hunting lobsters till sunrise. Their eyes will reflect red when the dive light touches them giving off their position from a far distance. They hangout at depths from 8-20 feet. If I’m lucky I’ll find a hole holding up to 10 of them.

When approaching the Hawaiian Spiny Lobster I use the dive light to  blind it while making sure my right hand is creeping up from behind its tail. The lobster will usually give a few kicks landing itself right in my hand, all I have to do is get that grip ready!

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I’ll then change up my hunting game over to reef fish at about 6:30am. My favorite fish to hunt, hands down, is the Mu (The Big Eye Emperor) or Ulua (Giant trevally). These species are the most challenging and require some underwater hide and seek. The ulua can grow up too 160 pounds, if I can’t get a shot behind the eye or in its spine I better be ready to put the brakes on the shooting line, in fact it’s most likely the shooting line will snap. Giant TravellyUluas tend too run over the reef cutting the line or they will hold up in cave sometimes at 80-100ft. I’ve prepped my body during the winter months training for oxygen deprivation. There is this one exercise called drown-proofing. How this exercise works is that my hands will be tied behind my back in order to control any fears while holding my breath and then jump in the deep side of a pool, usually 9 ft. The goal is to perform 10 bobs. In order to sink I must let air escape by whistling at a steady pace. Too fast and I’ll burnout, too slow and I’ll take longer to reach the bottom resulting in oxygen starvation. When I reach the bottom I give one kick off the pool floor to get one breath of air and the process repeats, to strengthen those lungs.

Many things need to be taken in consideration when taking up free diving. Mastering a free diving diet to remain as stealthy as possible while hunting prey. Iron is very beneficial by helping transport hemoglobin and oxygen throughout the human body. Any lack in iron deficiency leads to anemia, resulting in extreme fatigue leading to (DCS) Decompression sickness.

Spearfishing in HawaiiHecs Aquatic has invented the finest state of the art wet suit in human history. Hecs Stealthscreen is patented technology to reduce the body’s electrical signals. If you look at a microwave you’ll notice the grid on the door, that’s too keep radioactive signals from escaping. This same principle is used in the suit to block the body’s electrical signals when muscles are contracted, which fish, sharks, and rays can sense from great distances. Thanks to Hecs, this cutting edge technology makes free diving much safer and allows me to get closer to marine life.

If you ever want to experience what the underwater world of Hawaii is about just ask any local freediver, we will be more than glad to take you to harvest that fish of a lifetime!!!


About the Author

Chris Alameda
Chris Alameda, a 23 year old versatile Hawaiian free diver, has dedicated his life to the art of spearfishing. Born in Hilo, Hawaii & raised on the Hamakua Coast, Alameda plans on competing in the Interpac Championships in the near future.

3 thoughts on “Freediving and Spearfishing on the Hamakua Coast in Hawaii

  • Conservation is Key

    Lobster season is CLOSED during summer months. Illegal to take May-August, no females, no spearing, etc… Please follow the rules and regs and only take what u need so our Keiki can enjoy them too.

    • Harvesting Nature

      Thanks for the comment and the concern. We too are conservationists. These fish and lobster were take earlier in the year before the season closure. The story was just recently published.

  • Chris-

    My name is Tyler. I am a 26 year old who is looking to potentially move to the big island for a portion of the year and desire to truly get into the lifestyle of spearfishing. Once getting to the Island, I will need to take free diving courses, with one of the local dive shops. I am Open Water Scuba certified , but believe spear and pole fishing, is “better” while free-diving? (I’m not sure).

    Anyways…….as for:

    “If you ever want to experience what the underwater world of Hawaii is about just ask any local freediver, we will be more than glad to take you to harvest that fish of a lifetime!!!”

    I will be arriving on the ISland come November 2018- and I’m definitely interested.



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