If you’ve never been on an Atlantis Submarine Tour in the Islands, you and I had something in common–until earlier this year when I went on my first adventure off the waters of Kona on the Big Island. Hunched over in my seat, enjoying the comfortably cold air, I saw a large school of ta`ape, then electric-yellow striped Tahitian fish brought to Hawai`i in the ’50s; and maii`i, a lavender tang, unicorn fish, sea cucumber, trumpet fish resting in the coral, a barracuda, large goat fish school, and huge ulua. As I watched, the ocean and its inhabitants appeared before me like a gigantic aquarium, one we are all responsible for caring for, and keeping clean.

What I didn’t experience (yet) was the truly amazing encounter with a few humpback whales that a recent Atlantis sub tour had on Maui, during which the whales blow bubbles and glide past the viewing area again and again, unbelievably close. Though the video is sometimes dizzying–no doubt due to the camera person’s excitement–it’s a stunning, three-minute dance with the whales, and a gorgeous if unintentional advertisement for the company’s offerings.