Track the Un­der­wa­ter King­dom

101 Things to Do (Big Island) - - WATERWORLD -

Hawai‘i Is­land’s cerulean wa­ters are teem­ing with life. Liv­ing coral can be found in 57 per­cent of the wa­ters sur­round­ing the is­land—the high­est per­cent­age in the main Hawai­ian Is­lands. And where there’s coral, there are fish.

At least three is­land tour boat com­pa­nies spe­cial­ize in un­der­wa­ter views.

Blue Sea Cruises in­ves­ti­gates the view down un­der in its glass-bot­tom boat. View­ing wells pro­vide live-screen­ing ac­tion, while nar­ra­tors fill in the de­tails. Ex­pect to see schools of fish, dol­phins, manta rays, tur­tles and, in the win­ter, hump­back whales.

Nat­u­ral­ists shed light on his­tor­i­cal sites along the coast­line, and a hula show tops off the ex­cur­sion. Bet­ter yet, the Evening on the Reef tour pro­vides not only manta ray view­ings but also a pre­mium din­ner and hula show pack­age, along with stun­ning sun­sets

At­lantis Ad­ven­tures, a 65-foot, air-con­di­tioned sub­ma­rine with 26 large port­holes, con­ducts tours off Kailua-Kona. The sub cruises past hun­dreds of trop­i­cal fish that pop­u­late an 18,000-yearold, 25-acre fring­ing coral reef that lies some 100 feet be­low the sur­face. The com­pany also of­fers pack­age tours, in­clud­ing a com­bi­na­tion sub­ma­rine/vol­cano air tour and, from De­cem­ber through April, whale-watch­ing tours.

Kailua Bay Char­ter Co. runs 50-minute reef tours in a glass­bot­tom boat, which af­fords up-close views of un­der­wa­ter fea­tures like “ship­wreck rock,” where the reef rises to within inches of the glass, then plunges to more than 100 feet. Ex­pect to see tur­tles, frol­ick­ing dol­phins and sea­sonal whales. You also can char­ter the com­pany’s boat to cre­ate your own tour for you and your friends.

All of th­ese tours de­part from the Kailua-Kona pier.

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