Submarines and Glassbottom Boats

By Hawaii.com Team

Mother and baby whale cafe. Image from a gopro video taken in February. Photo: Hawaii.com member Brian K.


In Kona’s crystal clear waters, underwater visibility can reach 120 feet, providing excellent conditions for underwater viewing of coral reefs teeming with colorful marine life. One way to explore the world down under is to suit up and go diving, another is to put on a mask and snorkel. But if you’re not comfortable in the water, there’s another way to experience the wonders of coral gardens and the mysterious creatures that inhabit them. In a submarine or aboard a glass-bottom boat, you’ll see it all without so much as getting a hair on your head wet.

There are several choices for dry, underwater viewing, all departing from Kailua Pier.

A glass-bottom boat is a great way to view both the coral reef and Kona’s beautiful coastline. Aboard ‘The Marian,’ the Kailua Bay Charter Co. offers an affordable 50-minute reef tour. An onboard naturalist describes the scenic views both above and below the sea. View boxes open a fascinating window to ocean life and its colorful denizens.

‘The Marian’ is custom designed for both comfort and clear viewing. Her shallow draft takes you over ‘shipwreck rock’ where the reef rises to within inches of the glass, then on to the drop off where you see the bottom plunge to over 100 feet. This is a great eco-tour that offers a friendly introduction to the underwater world. Expect to see turtles, frolicking dolphins and seasonal whales. Tours depart on the hour daily except Sundays. Sunset and custom charters including whale/dolphin watches, parties and other special occasions are available.

Atlantis Adventures offers submarine tours of a 25-acre natural coral reef and its marine inhabitants.The company also conducts combination tours that allow passengers to see Kilauea Volcano from the air and the underwater terrain from a submarine. The company operates a shuttle service between the Kailua Pier and major Kohala-Coast resorts as well as the King Kamehameha Hotel in Kailua-Kona.

Pilots and co-pilots knowledgeable about Hawaii’s undersea world narrate all tours. Tours depart daily, beginning at 8:30 a.m.

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