The Oahu Atlantis Submarine Tour in Waikiki is one of the best activities on the entire island and gives passengers a once-in-a-lifetime experience of the underwater world. Explore shipwrecks, sunken planes, and look out for sharks, turtles, and an abundance of marine life. This tour is one of the top activities on Oahu for families.
Book your tour: Atlantis Submarine Tour
OAHU ATLANTIS SUBMARINE TOUR IN WAIKIKI
In this blog post, I will give you all of the information you need about the Atlantis Submarine Tour on Oahu and also share with you my personal experience from when I took my whole family on this tour.
KEY POINTS ABOUT THE OAHU ATLANTIS SUBMARINE TOUR
- You will dive 100ft below the surface in a REAL submarine!
- Visit plane wrecks, huge shipwrecks ad other underwater landmarks
- Expect to see sharks, sea turtles, tropical fish, Eagle Rays and other marine life
- A bonus part of the tour is the scenic shuttle boat ride from Hilton Waikiki Pier to the submarine
HOW TO BOOK THE ATLANTIS SUBMARINE TOUR FROM WAIKIKI
When I did the Atlantis Submarine Tour with my family, I booked with GetYourGuide, which is basically the number one online booking service for Oahu activities. The booking confirmation is immediate, you can see thousands of reviews and you can cancel anytime prior to 24 hours before the activity.
I’ve seen that especially during peak season, the submarine tours on Oahu can be booked out more than a week in advance. Therefore, if the island is packed or you are visiting in June or July you should book it online now. You can always cancel closer to the date with a $0 cancellation fee and immediate refund.
Book your tour: Oahu Atlantis Submarine Tour
TOUR DESCRIPTION & MY EXPERIENCE ON THE OAHU ATLANTIS SUBMARINE TOUR
After locating the pier at the western end of Waikiki, we had to wait for about 30 minutes on the seating at the pier. However, we didn’t have to wait to board the boat for our first bit of entertainment. Several Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles popped their heads up right there next to the pier to the delight of the tourists waiting to board the boat.
We didn’t really need anything for this tour. I just brought my camera and a bottle of water. The shuttle boat docked and you could see everyone inspecting our vessel and wondering where the submarine was.
How these tours works are that first, the double-story shuttle boat ferries passengers out to deeper water to the submarine meeting point. The passengers then transition via a small walkway and head down the stairs into the submarine.
The boat cruise was a little surprise addition to the tour and was actually very pleasant. Many people do a Waikiki boat tour like this as an entire activity. We cruised out in perfect conditions and all of the passengers were able to admire the azure blue waters and the high-rises along the strip of Waikiki Beach.
After about ten minutes, we reached the submarine meeting point. Our captain told us to keep an eye out for the submarine to surface as he was in direct contact via radio with the submarine pilot. All of a sudden, a circle of bubbles appeared and then the submarine popped up above the surface. It then navigated over to the side of our boat and unloaded its passengers before we made our way down the ladder and inside the submarine.
Inside, there are two rows of seats that each have their own individual portal window. You can sit on either side and the pilot does a good job to make sure each side gets to see all of the wrecks. They can’t predict which side turtles or sharks will be on but they are professionals and do their best to make sure all passengers see as much as possible.
The submarine pilots shut the hatch and we begin descending from the surface. At first, we are just in the middle of nowhere with only sand on the surface but quickly our guide begins to talk us through the landmarks we will be seeing over the next 45 minutes.
The major attractions throughout the Oahu Atlantis Submarine Tour are underwater Japanese seaweed farms, a WWII plane wreckage, and a sunken ship. However, throughout these sites, you will come across schools of Barracuda, Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles, Black Tip Sharks, Eagle Rays, and a plethora of marine life. Nothing is guaranteed but all of these species use the wrecks as their home or resting/feeding place so there is always an unbelievable amount of action around the wrecks.
Less than 1% of people ever go to the depth of 100ft but on this journey, you will make it to that benchmark. It is kind of like an airplane as it is pressurized so you don’t feel any impacts or ear-popping but there is a little depth gauge inside the submarine and the guide loved to let us know that we have hit triple figures.
As someone who has scuba-dived at plane wrecks, shipwrecks, and different sites all over the world, this was still an excellent tour in my opinion. However, if you have never been scuba-diving this tour will blow your mind. It will be a completely new experience and the first and maybe last time you will ever be able to witness the marine life and underwater world 100ft below the surface. It’s a great activity for kids and will leave them with many questions about the ocean.
WHERE TO BOARD THE ATLANTIS SUBMARINE IN WAIKIKI
The exact meeting spot is on the pier that is over the water out the front of the Hilton Hawaiian Village. If you put Tropics Bar and Grill into Google Maps you will get to the right spot. Tropics Bar and Grill is a beachfront restaurant right in front of the pier and it’s impossible to miss the pier, there is only one in that area and it has a big arch over the walkway.
PHOTOGRAPHY ON THE ATLANTIS SUBMARINE TOUR
While it may be an amazing experience, it is very difficult to get great photos from within the submarine. The windows are quite small. They are big enough to see through but hard to compose a nice photo sometimes through the portal. The reflection from the glass also made it difficult. However, the main setback for nice photos is that at 100ft of depth, there just isn’t that much color on offer. The deeper you go, the more color is lost and eventually, the entire scene looks like a faded blue or purple. There is no red, green, orange, or yellow at that depth. I would suggest just enjoying the ride and taking it all in with maybe one or two snaps on your phone but even with my photos, you can see there are limitations.
HISTORY OF THE OAHU ATLANTIS SUBMARINE
Our guide from within the submarine did a great job at not just pointing out the marine life and underwater wrecks but also sharing the history of the region with us. Atlantis Submarine Adventures has been operating in Hawaii all the way back since 1988. They’ve also been acquiring, purchasing, and placing wrecks nearby to Waikiki for decades to create perfect scuba-dive and submarine points of interest.
One of the wrecks the Atlantis Submarine passes is the YO 257 wreck, which is a 175-foot-long navy oiler.
The Atlantis XIV Submarine is the largest hi-tech passenger submarine in the world. It was designed by Dennis Hurd, who is the CEO of the company.
THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT THE WAIKIKI ATLANTIS SUBMARINE TOUR
- Schedule: Daily departures on the hour from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm
- Check-In: You will need to check-in 30 minutes prior to the tour time at the Atlantis Submarine ticket office. This is located on the Hilton pier, which is right next to the Hilton Hawaiian Village at the western end of Waikiki.
- Duration: The time of the total tour is about 1.5 hours although, the actual underwater tour time is 45 minutes. A shuttle boat takes you on the 10-minute cruise out to the site where you transition into the submarine once it surfaces.
- Height Restrictions: Children must be 36 inches or taller to ride the submarine (there are no exceptions to this rule).
THE FOUR MOST POPULAR OAHU TOURS
- Doors-Off Oahu Helicopter Flight Tour: My number one recommendation is to do a heli-flight (doors off) and be blown away when you see Oahu from the air.
- North Shore Shark Cage Tour: The biggest adrenaline rush you can have in Hawaii is beneath the surface with sharks!
- Eco-Friendly Dolphin and Snorkel Tour: One of the best experiences I had on Oahu was swimming with the beautiful spinner dolphins on this exact tour.
- Turtle Canyon Snorkel Cruise by Catamaran: The number 1 MOST POPULAR snorkel tour on Oahu. GUARANTEED Turtles!
WHERE TO STAY ON OAHU
- Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach Resort (Overall Favorite): In the heart of Waikiki, this high-end resort is right on the beach with a private lagoon.
- Sheraton Waikiki (Luxury): A luxury resort with the most amazing infinity pool on the island, which overlooks the beach.
- Ewa Hotel Waikiki: (Value): Ewa Hotel is just one block back from the beach and is just over $150 USD.
- Waikiki Beachside Hostel (Budget Choice): A budget alternative, which is still in an amazing location.
- Disney Aulani Resort (Family Choice): This is a resort your kids will never forget. It honestly feels like you are living in a theme park.
MORE OAHU BLOG POSTS
I lived on Oahu for two years and loved adventuring from the beaches to the mountains to the waterfalls! These are my most popular blog post and guides from the beautiful island of Oahu to help you plan your trip!
- What to pack for Hawaii: THE HAWAII PACKING LIST: WHAT TO PACK
- A helpful guide to choosing accommodation: WHERE TO STAY ON OAHU
- Most epic hike on Oahu: THE STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN OAHU, HAWAII
- The best Waterfalls: AMAZING WATERFALLS ON OAHU, HAWAII
- Ultimate Cliff Jumping Guide: 11 BEST CLIFF JUMPING SPOTS ON OAHU
- Guide to Swimming with Sea Turtles: WHERE TO SEE TURTLES ON OAHU
- The best Waterfall Hikes: TOP WATERFALL HIKES ON OAHU
- Best Tours: 20 BEST TOURS ON OAHU
- The Ultimate Guide to Oahu: 80 AWESOME THINGS TO DO ON OAHU