Atlantis Submarines celebrates 20th anniversary
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Twenty years after Atlantis Submarines launched its first sub dive site in Hawaii - it's still got that magic.
Approximately 6.6 million guests have enjoyed an up-close view of Hawaii's undersea world from one of the company's routes in Kona, Waikiki and Lahaina. They ride the battery-powered submarine to a depth of 125 feet where they can see island marine life and adventurers in action.
But while Atlantis has capitalized on the ocean's charms, it also has worked to preserve them. In 1989, at its Waikiki dive site, Atlantis, in conjunction with the University of Hawaii's Sea Grant Program and state Department of Land and Natural Resources, introduced several artificial reefs to the area using sculpture-like concrete pyramid forms and ring structures, a decommissioned ship, and two airplanes. Atlantis successfully sank the 97-foot Carthaginian off Lahaina in 2005.
In conjunction with its 20th anniversary celebration, the company from Sept. 5 until the end of the year is offering several different kamaaina discounts to Hawaii residents.
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DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Atlantis Submarines is celebrating two decades of underwater tours and marine conservation. Haruki Yabuuchi, 5, top photo, marvels at the underwater sights.
When 8-year-old Tomoki Yabuuchi, a visitor from Japan, got off the Atlantis Submarine yesterday he wore a smile that rivaled the size of the exploratory vessel.
20TH ANNIVERSARY KAMAAINA OFFERS
» Anniversary rate: $20 for adults; $10 for children 12 and under for submarine tours Friday through Sept. 9.
» Oahu: A variety of kamaaina packages through the end of 2008.
» Kona: 20 percent off Atlantis' retail goods through Dec. 15.
» Contact: Call (800) 548-6262 or www.atlantissubmarines.com
There is plenty to see and do on Oahu for visitors. However, for Yabuuchi, the chance to see a live sea turtle in its natural habitat made the whole trip worthwhile.
"This was the most memorable part of our trip," said Yoko Yabuuchi, the boy's mom. "He really wanted to ride the submarine."
Atlantis Submarines first dove into Hawaii's waters 20 years ago, but for new passengers like Yabuuchi, it's a new discovery. After two decades of underwater tours and marine conversation and 6.6 million guests, the submarine has not become commonplace.
DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Customers enjoy a boat ride off the Atlantis submarine pier to the submarine. Hideki Yabuuchi, left, sons Haruki, Tomoki, 8, and mother Yoko take in the view.
Atlantis launched its first sub dive site off Kona in 1988 and followed that up three years later with dive sites off Waikiki and Lahaina. The company, which operates five submarines in Hawaii and also offers trips in the Caribbean, Mexico and Guam, is a favorite with adults.
"I would highly recommend the trip," said David Hughes of Calgary, Canada, who took a submarine cruise with his wife Heather as part of their 35th wedding anniversary celebration. "It was our first time onboard a submarine and we really enjoyed it."
In Hawaii, guests ride the battery powered submarine to a depth of 125 feet, where they can see island marine life and adventurers in action. In 1989, at its Waikiki dive site, Atlantis, in conjunction with the University of Hawaii's Sea Grant Program and state Department of Land and Natural Resources, introduced several artificial reefs to the area using sculpture-like concrete pyramid forms and ring structures, a decommissioned ship, and two airplanes. Atlantis successfully sank the 97-foot Carthaginian off Lahaina in 2005.
"We saw divers exploring a boat and a plane that were under the water," said passenger Frank Ormonde. "They were waving at us."
His wife, Linda, said she enjoyed watching the sea turtles from her individual portal.
"I loved every minute of it," she said.
Before Atlantis created artificial reefs, the undersea area that it explores off Waikiki was largely devoid of activity, but afterward, it began blossoming into a self-sustaining eco-system for marine life to feed, repopulate and live. Today, the same area is teeming with fish and marine life.
"I have been on dozens of sub dives and my reaction is always, 'wow!,' because of the constant activity that takes place with our undersea environment," said Ronald Williams, president and chief executive of Atlantis Submarines. "It's incredible to see and I believe people leave our tour with a greater appreciation of marine life and its role in our eco-system."
The company's motto, "Let Us Show You Our Hawaii," seeks to bring Hawaii's marine environment to the forefront of resident and guest experience and promote conservation.
"Everything Atlantis does is intended to give our guests the undersea tour of a lifetime and to create lasting memories and support for Hawaii's marine world," Williams said. "We emphasize to our guests the importance of respecting and protecting the ocean environment by allowing them to safely encounter this invaluable and thriving natural resource."