Snorkel Molokini Crater

Maui Snorkeling

Maui boasts what is often considered the best snorkeling experience in Hawaii, and a significant contributor to this acclaim is the presence of the ancient Molokini Crater. This partially submerged volcanic formation, nestled in the Alalakeiki Channel between Maui and Kaho’olawe islands, adds a unique dimension to underwater exploration in the region.

The crater forms a small, crescent-shaped island that is a renowned spot for snorkeling and scuba diving. Its unique crescent shape provides a sheltered bay, protecting the diverse marine life from strong currents and waves. As a result, it boasts some of the clearest water in Hawaii, with visibility often exceeding 150 feet. This makes it an ideal location for observing the stunning underwater world that thrives beneath its surface.

Maui Snorkeling offers an all-inclusive 5-Hour Morning Snorkeling Tour to Molokini Crater and Turtle Town that ensures you’ll have the best snorkeling experience in Maui. With this tour, you’ll snorkel at the Crater where the underwater environment is home to around 250 species of fish, many endemic to Hawaii. Alongside this, you can find a variety of invertebrates, coral species, and occasionally, larger marine animals such as manta rays, and monk seals.

If you want a less-crowded tour, another tour offered by Maui Snorkeling is the all-inclusive 3-Hour Afternoon Snorkeling Tour. Weather permitting, this tour visits Molokini Crater and operates from 1 PM – 4 PM.  You can explore the wonders of Molokini Crater snorkeling at your own pace, without feeling rushed or crowded, ensuring an unparalleled adventure!

The world has been raving about the Molokini Crater, and it’s time to find out why. This crescent-shaped dive spot isn’t just a mound of volcanic rock… it’s a real-life paradise…helping to explain why so many visitors crave Molokini snorkeling tours. The Crater’s existence is told in one of two ways. Scientists say the crater was formed from the shifting of Earth’s tectonic plates, causing volcanic eruptions underneath Maui. This eruption was so strong, it pushed volcanic rock about three miles southwest. Little did the people of Maui know that 230,000 years later, it would be one of the most beautiful scuba diving spots of all time.

molokini crater snorkeling tours

The second story of the crater’s existence is said to be a Hawaiian myth. There was once a prince, Mo’o, in love with two women: Molokini, and the goddess of fire, Pele. When the prince chose Molokini over Pele, Pele was enraged. To get revenge, she cut Molokini in half, the bottom forming what we know as Molokini Crater. The top half was said to form Pu’u Ola’i, the north end of Makena Beach.

You can choose which story to believe, but the Crater’s history doesn’t end there. As World War II approached, The United States needed a location to practice dropping bombs. The shape and length of Molokini was the perfect target, as it was structured similarly to a battleship. After turning the spot to ash, it was left untouched until 1975. Unexploded bombs were dropped by the U.S. Navy, and then again in 1984, destroying what was left of the ocean life and corals.

After years of protesting from the public to stop the destruction, the U.S. deemed the Molokini Crater and its 77 surrounding acres a Hawaii State Seabird Sanctuary and Marine Life Conservation District. It is protected by both the United States Coast Guard and the Hawaii Division of Forestry and Wildlife, so only those with permission can administer tours. And if that wasn’t enough, dropping an anchor anywhere but the designated spot is prohibited.

Above water, the islet is a bird sanctuary, hosting nesting seabirds such as Bulwer’s Petrels, Wedge-tailed Shearwaters, and the Great Frigatebirds. It’s worth noting that while the underwater portion of Molokini is accessible for recreational activities, access to the land is restricted to protect the sensitive bird habitat.

Parrot Fish
Trigger Fish

Now, Molokini Crater looks better than ever. Its turnaround has made it a popular tourist destination for boat rides, snorkeling, and scuba diving. Most of its ocean life has been restored, as the crater is home to hundreds of species of fish and coral… Good luck seeing the same fish twice! It even hosts some endangered fish, such as the Black Triggerfish and Parrotfish, to name a few. Its highest point is about 161 feet above sea level and the water shines a diamond blue, near perfect visibility.

5-Hour Morning Snorkeling Tour and 3-Hour Afternoon Snorkeling Tour

Ready to visit Molokini and discover the best snorkeling in Maui? The Maui Snorkeling team ensures you get the experience of a lifetime when booking the all-inclusive 5-Hour Morning Snorkeling Tour, operating from 7 AM to 12 PM, or the 3-Hour Afternoon Snorkeling Tour, operating from 1 PM to 4 PM, seven days a week, on our famous boat, The Lani Kai II.

Included in the morning and afternoon tour is our state-of-the-art snorkeling equipment, ensuring a premium snorkeling experience. For beginners or those needing a refresher, our friendly and professional staff provide onboard training, equipping you with the skills and confidence to fully enjoy your underwater exploration at Molokini Crater. To ensure everyone has an enjoyable and comfortable snorkeling experience, we also provide optical masks and flotation devices. 

We haven’t forgotten about the fun either! The Lani Kai II features a thrilling 25-foot water slide that will excite both the young and the young at heart. When you’re not snorkeling, you can ride the slide! After exploring the underwater world, you can refuel with our deli lunch, which is included in your tour. Plus, we keep you refreshed throughout the journey with a range of beverages, including coffee, tea, various juices, and soft drinks, all available at your disposal. Don’t miss out on this remarkable experience and book your trip to Molokini Crater now!

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