PHOTOS: Underwater on Reef Dancer, Maui’s Yellow Semi Submarine
By Russell Snyder and Kayla DeLong
Maui Happy Hours was recently invited on the Reef Dancer to tour the underwater world off the coast of Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii.
One of the perks of working for Maui Happy Hours is that we get to try local activities for free and blog about them. That’s what happened this week when Heidi contacted us on Instagram and invited our team on the Reef Dancer.
While there have been other glass bottom boats on Maui for a long time, Kolea Charters of Lahaina brought the island its first semi-submersible some 30 years ago when it sailed in the Reef Dancer.
Only three vessels of this type are still in commission today – this one in Lahaina, one in the Catalina Islands of California, and another in the Bahamas. Reef Dancer departs from Lahaina Harbor, right in the middle of historic Lahaina town.
If very much feels like you’re 100% on a submarine (nothing semi about it!) but it is worth noting that, because the very top of the vessel remains above the surface of the water, guests are allowed climb the stairs and pop out for some fresh air during the tour when necessary. I think this probably makes it a lot less intimidating for folks that are nervous.
Our tour on the Reef Dancer was narrated by Campbell, a nice fellow who was super knowledgeable about the coral reef and aquatic life. As soon as we departed the harbor area, the water became surprisingly clear and made everything easy to see all the way to the bottom.
Campbell did a great job of pointing out and identifying the different creatures we saw such as a black-tipped reef shark, green sea turtle (the most commonly seen type in Hawaii), hawksbill sea turtle (rarer according to Campbell), urchins, and various kinds of fish. We learned that it takes coral 10 years to grow the size of a basketball and that there are over 126 different types of coral in Hawaii.
The scuba divers Will and Brandon are able to point out even more creatures from in the water. They brought urchins and starfish right up to the windows, which was a lot of fun for everyone, particularly the kids.
As the 75-minute tour concludes and the boat heads back to the harbor, guests are invited to go to the top and enjoy the view of Lahaina and the majestic West Maui Mountains.
I highly recommend this tour to people of all ages. It’s an excellent way to view Maui’s magical underwater world even if you’re not comfortable in the actual water.
Huge mahalo to Campbell, Brandon, Will, Aspen the check-in person, Captain Matt, Heidi, and everyone with the Reef Dancer. Full-time Hawaii residents with Hawaii ID are invited to call the number below to inquire about their kamaaina discount.
****Disclaimer*** The underwater views are so much clearer and more vivid in person than in my photos! Enjoy your trip on the Reef Dancer.
To book a tour on Reef Dancer or learn more, visit their website at https://mauiglassbottomboat.com/ or call (808) 667-2133.
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About the Author:
Russell Snyder is a writer, ocean enthusiast, full-time Maui resident, and creator of the Maui Happy Hours app. Russell and his team enjoy sampling the island’s best happy hours and sharing the findings with the masses. When not writing about Maui bars and restaurants, you can find Russell surfing, walking the dogs, or lounging on the beach somewhere on Maui. Follow Russell on Instagram @russellscottsnyder or contact him via email at email@example.com.