LAHAINA - Atlantis Submarines Maui achieved an ecotourism milestone last week Tuesday, descending for the 50,000th time into the waters off Lahaina.
Guests of the submarine dive at 9 a.m. on June 18 enjoyed a view of Maui's undersea world more than 100 feet below the surface, along with a fresh flower lei and commemorative photo.
"For 22 years, we have been providing a fascinating tour experience that is sustainable, eco-friendly and rooted in promoting marine conservation, and sharing the importance of that message with all of our guests," said Jim Walsh, general manager of Atlantis Submarines Maui.
Atlantis Submarines Maui achieved its 50,000th tour at 9 a.m. on June 18.
"We thank our tourism and community partners for their support in helping us to achieve this milestone and pledge that we will continue to be a champion of responsible tourism on Maui."
Atlantis began offering submarine tours off Lahaina in 1991. The company estimates that it has booked more than two million guests.
Atlantis operates the most technologically advanced passenger submarines in the world to offer its unique undersea eco-tour experience, the only one of its kind on Maui.
The 65-foot, 48-passenger submarine is battery-powered and emits no pollutants as it moves quietly through the depths to avoid disturbing fish and marine life.
Guests enjoy the comforts of a spacious, air-conditioned cabin with large viewing portals and lots of head and legroom.
The commitment of Atlantis to sustainable tourism is seen in the ongoing transformation of the Carthaginian II into a thriving artificial reef - a process that began with its planned sinking on Dec. 13, 2005 offshore near Puamana.
Formerly a replica whaling ship and tourist attraction moored in Lahaina Harbor, the 97-foot, steel-hulled Carthaginian II was rusting badly, needed major repairs and was destined to be scuttled deep in the ocean.
Atlantis acquired the vessel and retained a team of environmental and marine consultants to carefully place it a half-mile offshore onto a sandy bottom devoid of marine life.
Today, the Carthaginian II serves as both a highlight of the tour experience and as a self-sustaining habitat for indigenous fish, coral and other marine life.
Atlantis's tour operations and installation of the Carthaginian II artificial reef contributed to the company being recognized by the Hawaii Ecotourism Association as a Certified Ecotour Operator with Gold status, the highest standard.
Atlantis offers six submarine tours daily, departing Lahaina Harbor each hour from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The tour lasts for one hour, 50 minutes, which includes 45 minutes touring underwater.
For more information, visit www.AtlantisAdventures.com.