I love the water and I couldn't wait to try submarine tours in Hawaii. But how would I feel about hanging out on the ocean floor - in a tube? It was time to take a trip with Atlantis Adventures Kona.
Submarine tours in Hawaii have been on our travel bucket list for a long time. There's absolutely no way you can go to Hawaii and not explore the ocean! The water is lovely, the scenery is great - and what lies under the surface is even better! The snorkeling and scuba diving in Hawaii is fantastic. The Big Island is arguably less famous for underwater activities than the other islands but we have always enjoyed ourselves and have several beaches we call our favourites. There's great ocean experiences there - don't let anyone convince you otherwise!
But not everyone is comfortable in the water and fortunately there's a great alternative for those who prefer to keep dry while they explore the ocean depths. We did a submarine tour of the Kona harbour with Atlantis Adventure Kona Tours and we really enjoyed our experience. But what was it like stepping on board a submarine for the first time? And did the tour offer good value compared to other things to do in Kona? Read on to learn more about our adventures (from the anti-adventurist herself!)
Atlantis Adventure Kona offers quite the experience!
If you're going down to the ocean floor in a metal tube, it helps to be surrounded by good people. We found the staff struck a perfect balance between being entertaining and informative and everyone was extremely welcoming. Our group had a rare shark sighting (sorry, no pictures - sharks are quick!) and it was so cool to hear the staff getting as excited about it as we were. You can tell they genuinely love the water and all of its inhabitants.
In addition to the shark, we also took in coral reefs, shipwrecks (complete with joke skeleton!) and tons of fish as we sank to a depth of 100 feet. Our photos make everything look extremely blue and, while things didn't appear as colorful at this depth as they did when we were snorkeling on the surface, we still saw plenty of fish with different flashes of color. Needless to say, the kids around us loved the experience (especially the shark) as well and it was great to see so many little ones get an ocean adventure beyond their swimming abilities.
So what's it really like to be on a submarine, beyond the excitement of seeing your favourite sea creatures? It was surprisingly comfortable and I didn't feel claustrophobic at all. The air conditioned temperature of the vessel's interior definitely helps! Thank you, Atlantis Hawaii! And every seat has its own porthole window, so you always have a great view.
But the very short boat ride from the pier to the submarine was another experience altogether! What is it about me and boats? And while we were on the submarine as it bobbed on the surface, I had several moments of feeling quite motion sick. If this is normally a problem for you, I'd advise you to tell the staff so you can be the last to board and the first to climb out. Overall, I'd rate riding a submarine as an anti-adventurist success, with a few 'green' moments. But if I were to do it again, I'd come prepared with my motion sickness medication.
We really enjoyed our experience, both in terms of what we saw underwater and also our experiences with the staff. I'd absolutely list this among the top ten things to do in Kona based on several visits we've made. But at approximately $115 an adult, this is one experience that definitely falls under the category of a splurge, a big one. To be fair, Hawaii can be one of the more expensive destinations in North America (but not always!), so many attractions are priced on the higher end of the spectrum. And my travel friends report that this is a fairly standard price for submarine activities.
If you are ocean lovers like we are, chances are you will love this and it will be a worthwhile experience. However, if you're more ambivalent, I'd suggest putting the extra money towards an alternative splurge and doing some free ocean activities to gauge the extent of your interest and see if it's a good travel investment for you in the future.
Atlantis Adventures Kona (and elsewhere in Hawaii) does offer some combination packages with other experiences such as luaus. If you're already planning to do an activity like that, it would be well worth pricing things out in advance to see if it's more economical to go with a combination deal. It may also be worth checking for online deals and coupon codes and reading online reviews to see where others have located savings.
What's your idea of the perfect travel splurge? Would you be willing to try a submarine tour?
Heading to Hawaii? Read about some of our other favourite activities:
The Big Island's Best Splurges
Visiting Lava Tree State Monument
The Big Island's Kilauea Lodge
Coffee Beans and Hawaiian Dreams
Kona's Secret Snack Shack
We were provided with complimentary tickets by Atlantis Hawaii. All writing, research, and opinions remain our own.
22/8/2015 04:54:08 am
It's a really cool way to see another side of the island (really, the underside, in a way, since you're at the bottom of the sea!)
22/8/2015 10:30:09 am
wow, I didn't know you could go in a real submarine, that does sound like an awesome event!
24/8/2015 01:45:47 am
It was definitely a unique experience.
22/8/2015 11:04:08 am
No no no no no no no I am so jealous!!! The shipwrecks are amazing and would definitely try this when I visit Hawaii! Would you know if they offer shipwreck diving? Thanks, V!
24/8/2015 01:47:02 am
I think for shipwreck diving you'd have to arrange for a private guide but they do combine submarine tours with snorkeling adventures. We had so much fun seeing the shipwreck - it was one of the best spots for coral and fish.
23/8/2015 04:23:13 am
Sounds like a fantastic experience- and good to know it wasn't claustrophobic in there.
24/8/2015 01:48:52 am
All things considered, I found it fairly comfortable and never felt squished or claustrophobic at all.
23/8/2015 05:27:25 am
Our travel splurges usually involve food or island adventures - so this fits right in! Even though we love to scuba dive, and would definitely look to do that while in Hawaii, we'd definitely want to ride a submarine as well! What a great experience!
24/8/2015 01:50:18 am
I hope you get to experience it soon! For our travel budget, activities like this are certainly splurges but I think that's what makes a splurge special - it's a once in a lifetime experience .
How fun! I would actually love to go on a submarine ride. I'm terrified of open water (snorkeling, diving, etc.), so I'd love the opportunity to see below the surface while feeling safe... and maybe a little claustrophobic (but it would be worth it). I'd love to see a shark, but again safely from a submarine!!
24/8/2015 01:51:53 am
That was one of my favourite things about the ride, seeing how people who normally couldn't do open water activities with ease (the very young, the very old) were suddenly seeing what the scuba divers could see. This would be perfect for anyone who didn't feel comfortable in open water. You are getting a great experience but are still within your comfort zone.
23/8/2015 12:30:16 pm
I would absolutely love to do a submarine tour except for the fact that I'm claustrophobic and would probably freak out as soon as they closed the door! For me, reading your post is a much better way to enjoy it. Love the picture of the lone skeleton and the random fish swimming by!
24/8/2015 01:53:20 am
It might be worthwhile inquiring what tours are the least busy. We went at 10:00am, which I am guessing is a peak time, but there might be times where it is much more empty on board, further reducing claustrophobia .
24/8/2015 01:56:33 am
I think you'd enjoy this - all of the pros of snorkeling but none of the cons.
24/8/2015 02:20:25 am
I think the idea of going in a submarine is SO cool, and it's a great way to see the ocean life if you don't feel comfortable snorkeling or scuba diving. The price would probably be the only thing to stop me. I understand that Hawaii is expensive, but I think I'd rather try and use that money for more than one activity.
24/8/2015 07:20:02 am
I don't disagree. One of the key ways we make Hawaii an affordable destination is that we take in all the free or nearly free activities and attractions and then pick and chose our splurges carefully.I think if you loved the ocean but weren't necessarily able to participate in ocean activities this would be a perfect splurge. But if your interest wasn't that strong, I think the splurge money could be better spent.
24/8/2015 06:49:59 am
I would rather go SCUBA diving than on a submarine, but I can see the appeal for non-divers.
24/8/2015 07:21:01 am
As someone who snorkels, I would tend to agree to you. I think the money could be better spent on that kind of an excursion. But it's nice that there's options for everyone to have some fun under the sea!
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