Water­World

101 Things to Do (Big Island) - - WATER WORLD -

40. Track the Un­der­wa­ter King­dom 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 Kailu­aKona. The sub cruises past hun­dreds of trop­i­cal fish that pop­u­late an 18,000-year-old, 25-acre fring­ing coral reef that lies some 100 feet be­low the sur­face. The com­pany, which in 2013 cel­e­brated its 25th year of shar­ing the mag­nif­i­cence of Hawai‘i’s ma­rine en­vi­ron­ment and mes­sage of con­ser­va­tion with guests from around the world, of­fers pack­age tours that in­clude 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 glass-bot­tom 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. • At­lantis Adventures (800) 548-6262 • Blue Sea Cruises (808) 331-8875 • Cap­tain Zo­diac (808) 329-3199 • Kailua Bay Char­ter Co. (808) 324-1749

41. Go Snor­kel­ing

Snor­kel­ing the Big Is­land’s crys­tal-clear waters is an easy way to spot ma­rine life.

Kealakekua Bay, an un­der­wa­ter ma­rine pre­serve that is a rest­ing area for dol­phins and the site of the Cap­tain Cook Mon­u­ment, is a pop­u­lar desti­na­tion. So are the pris­tine waters off the Ko­hala Coast and Pawai Bay.

Snorkel gear can be rented or pur­chased. In ei­ther case, all you’ll need is a mask, a snorkel and some fins. Gear comes in many sizes and shapes, but be sure you find a good fit.

You also can go snor­kel­ing in style aboard a cata­ma­ran. This typ­i­cally in­cludes plenty of food, cock­tails, re­strooms and lots of flota­tion equip­ment.

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