Life is quiet now on tiny Molokini islet just three miles from the shores of our Wailea rentals. During World War II this crescent shaped island was used for target practice by the US Navy. Now it is a conservation area and the premier destination for Maui snorkeling. From most South Maui vacation rentals and places like Makena Beach, you can look across the Alalakeiki Channel and spot Molokini and its island neighbor Kahoolawe. Look for Molokini’s volcanic cone that rises 150 feet out of the sea from the submerged flank of Haleakala.
Since 1977 the islet and its surrounding 77 acres of underwater terrain have been a Marine Life Conservation District. While only seabirds now step foot on the island and Hawaiian Monk Seals, there are at least a thousand people each day who come by boat to experience its underwater paradise.
Not only is this one of the best places for snorkeling in the Hawaiian Islands, Molokini is also one of the best spots for diving with its 350 foot verticle drop from the back wall. Its old volcano walls from the eruption over 230,000 years ago, protect the inner crater from ocean swells making it a safe spot for the entire family. Underwater visibility is usually at least 100 feet and sometimes double. Be prepared for a kaleidoscope of colors from 38 coral species and over 250 varieties of tropical fish.
Most of the best snorkeling is up next to the shoreline where it’s shallow, sunlight reaches the bottom, and coral and fish make their homes. Keep your eyes peeled for Moray eels, manta rays, ornate octopus and harmless reef sharks. Common fish are black triggerfish, parrot, bluefin trevally and convict tang.
Molokini is only accessible by tour boat. If you are prone to seasickness, it’s better to go in the morning when the sea is the calmest. Our recommended tours leave from Ma`alaea and Makena and range from 2-5 hours. Complimentary food is provided and snorkel gear. Don’t forget a beach towel and sunscreen.
Tip: Allow enough time to find a parking spot at Ma`alaea.
Maui Snorkeling Tours – Recommended Maui Activity Providers
Ali`i Nui: 65 foot luxury catamaran. Breakfast, morning snack and lunch included. Hot shower too! Molokini sailings are from 8am to 1pm on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Departs from Ma`alaea Slip 56. $165 for adults and $125 for children (3-12), includes tax and fees. Call 808-875-0333.
Aqua Adventure: 50 foot high speed vessel with 40 passenger limit. Continental breakfast and deli lunch served. Sailings are 7:15am to noon, 7 days a week. Departs from Ma`alaea Slip 51. Snorkeling is $105 for adults and $66 for children (3-12). Add Snuba too for $152 adults and $113 children (8 and older). Tax and fees extra. Call 808-573-2104.
Kai Kanani: Express Sailing from 6:30am to 8:30am daily. Continental breakfast included. $57 for adults and $43 for children (2-12). Deluxe Sailing daily from 9am to 1pm. Includes breakfast and lunch. $121 for adults and $78 for children. Tax and fees extra on both. Departs from Makena Beach and Golf Resort. Call 808-879-7218.
Safety Considerations: Don’t kayak even though Molokini seems close to shore. Currents can always be a problem outside of the cove and may get stronger inside during the afternoon when winds pick up.
If you have any questions on this Maui activity or have been to Molokini, we invite you to comment.