Molokini Crater

Updated on:
April 18, 2024

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Molokini Crater is Maui’s top snorkeling destination. Molokini is a half-submerged ancient volcanic crater about three miles off the coast of South Maui. It is only accessible by boat, and there are plenty of local snorkel charter companies that visit the crater daily.


What makes snorkeling at Molokini so special?

Well, due to Molokini’s offshore location, visibility is usually incredible. Unlike snorkel spots near land, there is virtually no sediment or runoff here, making the water unbelievably clear.

Visibility can sometimes exceed 100 feet. The crater’s half-moon shape also keeps the water calm and protected from the wind and waves. Plus, snorkeling in the remnants of an ancient volcano is a memorable experience.

Molokini snorkeling

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Molokini Sea Life

Molokini is home to over 250 types of fish, plus a variety of corals and other marine life, such as eels, octopuses, rays, reef sharks, and more. Some of the more common fish in the crater are black Durgon triggerfish, yellow tangs, and Moorish idols.

Since Molokini is located quite a ways offshore, larger sea creatures can occasionally show up — although this is very rare.

Manta rays and whale sharks are seen from time to time on Molokini’s backside, and lately, there have been reports of a monk seal in the crater.

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Molokini Depth and Conditions

Water depth in the crater ranges from about 20 to 150 feet. The innermost part of the crater is the most shallow. Snorkelers usually stick to the shallow spots (20-30 feet), while scuba divers typically explore the deeper parts of the crater.

As we mentioned above, Molokini’s crescent shape keeps conditions calm within the crater. However, mornings usually offer the calmest conditions, so most Molokini snorkel tours depart early in the morning.

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Molokini Snorkel Boats

There are numerous options for Molokini snorkel tours. Here are some of our favorite Maui snorkel boats.

Maui Snorkel Charters

a is an excellent choice for those looking for a multi-stop snorkel adventure. Departing from Kihei Boat Ramp, Maui Snorkel Charters offers small-group snorkel tours to Molokini and up to four other South Maui snorkel spots. The crew analyzes the wind, swell, and tide to determine the best snorkeling spots for the day, so no two tours are exactly alike. Maui Snorkel Charters uses a speedy raft-style boat, so this excursion is best for those who are up for an exciting ride.

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PacWhale Eco Adventures

PacWhale is the Pacific Whale Foundation’s charter company, offering a slew of whale watches and Molokini tours. PacWhale offers nearly every type of Molokini experience imaginable – from small group snorkels and sailing adventures to full-day excursions aboard their double-hulled catamarans. PacWhale’s larger boats are a great option for kids, as they include a junior naturalist program and fun water toys like slides and floating ocean mats. Excursions also include meals, snorkel gear, and wildlife interpretation. PacWhale departs from Maalaea Harbor.

Kai Kanani

Kai Kanani is the only beach-loading catamaran in South Maui. Kai Kanani offers twice-daily Molokini snorkeling tours from Maluaka Beach in Makena. This local company is renowned for their elevated service, making it one of the few luxury options in South Maui. Tours typically visit Molokini and Turtle Town (weather dependent) and include an open bar and a full breakfast or lunch. Kai Kanani is an excellent option for kids as well.