Updated: May 21, 2015

Maui Submarine Tours - Atlantis Submarine

A family vacation to Maui for some means nothing but days at the beach or pool. For others, it means getting out and doing a bunch of activities - snorkeling, surfing, whale watching, bike riding, hula lessons, luaus, golf, hiking, horse back riding, helicopter tours. You name it, there is plenty to do on Maui. One popular attraction in Lahaina is an honest to goodness submarine tour, the Atlantis Submarine. Unlike some submersibles that float along the surface with a glass belly of windows under the waterline, the Atlantis is a real, civilian submarine -- it can dive hundreds of feet below the surface of the ocean. The Atlantis is fully Coast Guard certified and carries up to 48 passengers. Atlantis was started when its founder took his knowledge and experience in the deep-sea submersible and oil industry subs and turned it into a tourist attraction in tropical locales around the western hemisphere. In the last 20 years more than 11 million passengers have ventured beneath the sea in their submarines. Today they operate subs in places like Cozumel, Guam, St. Thomas, Barbados, Grand Cayman, Aruba, and of course Hawaii (Kona, Maui, and Oahu).



Day of Your Maui Submarine Trip - Ticket Prices, Hours, Tour Length

The Atlantis Submarine operates out of Lahaina. Tours depart almost hourly daily from 9AM to 2PM (trips at 9AM, 10AM, 12noon, 1PM, and 2PM), weather conditions permitting. You should plan on buying tickets in advance to guarantee a spot on the sub (808-661-7827 or AtlantisAdventures.com). There are no food or drinks served during the trip, so plan ahead. Ticket list prices are $89 for adults, $45 for children (12 and under) -- you can get a discount if you order online at their website, where tickets are $80/$40 (however, keep reading below for some money-saving tips). There are 2 restrictions -- children must be at least 36" tall to ride, and all passengers must be able to climb up and down a 7-step ladder to get into the sub. You check in at the famous Pioneer Hotel right on Front Street (the main drag) in Lahaina, then head to Slip 18 at the Lahaina Harbor where your shuttle boat is located (the Holokai) -- the shuttle will take you on a 10 minute ride out to meet the Atlantis Submarine. The boatride itself can be a little bumpy -- consider motion sickness medication if you have problems with seasickness -- but you get a nice view of the Maui mountains and coast from the ocean. The whole trip runs about 1 hour and 45 minutes from start to finish. Here is the schedule:
  • 10-15 minutes on shuttle boat
  • 10 minutes for unloading/loading sub
  • 45 of actual underwater dive time
  • 10 minutes load/unload passengers onto shuttle boat
  • 10-15 minutes back to harbor
So anyways, once you get to the sub site, the visitors from the prior sub tour will disembark onto the boat, then you get to climb down into the sub. After sailing for a few minutes you will begin your dive, first visiting a reef area. You will have a chance to see a good variety of tropical fish, including parrot fish, rays, yellow tangs, eels, maybe some reef sharks (note we said "chance" -- there is no guarantee as to which or how many fish you will see, some people complain they didn't see much, but in our opinion it is still a worthwhile trip even if you are not surrounded by fish). You'll have one of those handy little "fish identifier" charts at hand to figure out what you are seeing. And, oh yeah, you'll get to visit a sunken, 19th century replica whaling ship sitting in 90 feet of water. They actually scuttled an old ship here, the Carthaginian, in 2005 and anchored it to the bottom to create an artificial reef and attract more fish -- however, seeing the ghostly form of a sunken whaler underwater is as much a sight in itself. People are seated facing outwards along each side of sub, with large portholes for viewing -- so everyone has a window seat. It's a little cramped, but air-conditioned and comfortable. You normally dive to between 100-130 feet, though the sub sometimes goes as deep as 150 feet. So overall -- if you can afford it, we recommened this trip. For many people, it will be the only time in their life they get to ride in a real submarine, and it's as close to scuba diving as others will ever get. And all kids love the adventure of it. That being said, this is probably also a ride you will only take once -- after you've done it, you have no real need or desire to do it again.

Maui Submarine Discount Tickets

You may be able to find some special ticket prices from the various tour booths you see around the island -- just watch out for things tied into timeshare presentations. Expedia runs a number of tour booths in town and at hotel properties -- we've seen deals for buy 1 adult, get 1 child ticket free, which is pretty significant savings. You may also want to pick up one of those Entertainment coupon booklets for Hawaii if you can find one -- they have had 25% off discount coupons in there in the past. You can also check out an Expedia backed site, LocalExpert.com - they have a permanent special on $10 off adult tickets, plus FREE child ticket with each adult purchased. For Mom and Dad + 2 kids, this works out to more than $100 in savings!