Glass Bottom Reef Tour

Kona Glassbottom Boat – Explore Big Island Coral Reefs Up Close While Staying Dry
Local Expert's Rating:
4.5 / 5
The Bottom Line:

Do you want to explore all the ocean wonders but would rather not take a dip in the sea? All you have to do is take a trip on the Kona Glassbottom Boat. Reef tours, sunset cruises, and many other adventures await, so sign up today to see all the beauty of the ocean around the Big Island.

- The Local Expert Team

Kona Glassbottom Boat is the place to go when you want to experience all the Big Island’s ocean wonders without getting wet. Lovingly dubbed Marian, their custom glass-bottom boat lets you enjoy a super close view of coral reefs and more while sitting in pure comfort. It’s also the perfect vessel for going on sunset cruises, scattering ashes at sea, and enjoying private charter trips.

To start your glass-bottom boat adventures, you just have to book your spot online. You’ll need to choose between their various tour options, and then select how many seats you want to reserve. Want to book the whole boat for your group alone? Just sign up for a private charter. Otherwise, you’ll head out with a group of like-minded adventures. Their boat only accommodates 24 guests at a time, making it a rather intimate affair.

All their tours depart from the Kailua Kona Pier near King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel. On your tour date, you’ll want to prepare for your trip by wearing comfy clothes, closed-toe shoes, and reef-safe SPF 50+ sunscreen. Don’t forget sunglasses because it gets quite bright as the sunlight bounces off the water. Bring a camera as well, so you can take lots of pictures during your trip.

Then, leave early enough to arrive at the check-in counter about 30 minutes before your scheduled tour time. You’ll likely need extra time to find parking across the street from the pier, especially during the afternoon hours. After you check-in, you’ll get to chat with the captain, board the boat, and then hear about a few safety rules.

From that point on, you’ll get to experience the magic of riding on a glass-bottom boat. Their custom watercraft sits almost completely on the surface of the water, only dipping about 2.5 feet down below the surface. So, it can maneuver through the water above coral reefs without disturbing the structure or its inhabitants.

While traveling to your destination, you can ride in the fully covered cabin or stand by the rails along the bow of the ship. If you stay in the cabin, you’ll have protection from the sun but still, get to enjoy the views through the porthole windows. On top of that, you can look down through the bottom of the boat to watch the ocean wonders as they go by.

Their tours include:

Reef Explorations
For a fun eco-tour to remember, go on Reef Explorations on the glass bottom boat. You’ll get to view the ocean through the viewing windows at the bottom of the boat all throughout the trip. Along the way, a knowledgeable naturalist will narrate what you see and answer any questions you might have.

Sunset Cruises
Want to add even more magic to your reef explorations? Just choose their Sunset Cruises instead. You’ll still get to explore the reef through the glass bottom boat while sitting alongside knowledgeable naturalists. Then, as the sun goes down, you can come up onto the deck to watch in awe as the sky lights up in a brilliant array of hues.

Ash Scattering Trip
If you’d like to honor your loved ones in a big way by scattering their ashes at sea, go on the Ash Scattering Trip. On that tour, you can bring your own flowers, music, refreshments, and whatever else you need to celebrate the life of your loved one.

If you’d like to dream up your own glass bottom boat adventures, ask about their private charters. During the planning process, the crew will help you plan a fun itinerary for you and up to 23 guests. You can go whale watching, explore the reefs, or simply throw a party. You can even bring a full dinner spread or hire a caterer to make your trip to the next level.

Insider Tips:
-Their tours are not wheelchair accessible. If you use a walker or cane, you can likely go on the tour, but you’ll need to traverse several steps while boarding and disembarking.
-Even if you’ll be in the cabin most of the time, put on sunblock before your trip.
-If you’re prone to getting seasick, use a motion sickness remedy an hour before your tour time.
-When going on an evening ash scattering tour, you’ll depart from the Honokohau Harbor instead of the Kailua Kona Pier.