We dipped below the surface of the ocean and everything instantly turned a shade of neon blue through the submarine’s windows. We were only a few hundred meters from shore, not far out at all, but, for all it was worth, we could have been skimming along the greatest depths in Captain Nemo’s Nautilus. It was a totally different world here – even just a few dozen feet below the surface – that made me wonder what lurked in the great beyond.
I had a short-lived childhood interested in books and television shows like 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. It was struck down due to an emotionally debilitating experience – oh, alright, I was just scared by a couple of bullheads while sitting in the back of my grandparent’s boat one evening. Since then, I have put any interest in fish and the world’s vast oceans aside. I now have no interest of any kind in becoming a world-class sports fisherman or captain of my own ship; I prefer instead to remain on the earth’s surface, exploring its many treasures.
But, while I was in Hawaii on my sponsored trip to the Islands by the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau, I asked for the opportunity to experience what I understood to be a highlight of so many vacations: a submarine tour. The arrangements were made with Atlantis Submarines and I was off on a Sunday morning to explore something I had never seen before, the depths of the ocean.
Saying I was excited would hardly describe it; I arrived and checked in more than an hour prior to departure. I tend to be a little on the early side anyway, but this was even an extreme for me. I didn’t care, though. I wanted to see some of what was under approximately 70% of the earth’s surface, containing over a million species in the ocean and thousands, if not millions, more we do not know of; thousands of new species are being discovered each year.
I didn’t anticipate the discovery of any new species on such a short-lived trip, but anything I saw would definitely be new to my eyes. And for that, I was like a kid on Christmas morning. But, instead of running downstairs to a stack of presents under a tree, I was pacing up and down Waikiki Beach in front of the Hilton Village, waiting for my departure time to arrive.
The time came soon enough, out on the boat waiting for the submarine to surface so the boat switch out passengers – us for those who had just completed their tour. I climbed in the cramped quarters, tight only because of my size and long legs. I didn’t care, though, since I was excited for the experience ahead. Well, that and the assurance I had that the small amount of sea sickness would pass once we were under the ocean’s surface.
We dove to depths of 113 feet, skimming the soft ocean floor on a tour of wrecked planes and ships in an attempt to build a reef. It was all such a spectacular sight that had me so giddy I wacked my forehead on the thick, glass windows more than once in an attempt to get a better look at something swimming past the sub. I laughed at the bumps, more than happy to receive them in exchange for the fantastic sight of a large school of fish swimming past.
The sub turned this way and that to give passengers on both sides an equal opportunity for viewing. People on both sides were ooh’ing and aah’ing, until one small child yelled out that he saw a turtle. And, sure enough, several turtles were diving amongst the wrecks.
I loved seeing the sea turtles from my previous trip to Hawaii and was excited to get an opportunity to see them swimming 100 feet below the ocean’s surface, up close to some divers. Several times we skirted past the turtles at a distance so as not to disturb them – everyone wanted a photo and the pilot was doing his best to make sure everyone had the opportunity. I grinned with contentment at the few photos I was able to successfully snap through the windows and overjoyed with the overall experience.
Disappointment rose in my quickly enough, though, as we began to surface. A slew of bubbles appeared outside the windows, as though someone were blowing into a giant drink with a straw. It was another sight that made me laugh, but only momentarily, since I realized the trip was sadly over.