Molokini Snorkeling Tour: Things to Know Before You Go


Looking for a world-class snorkeling destination? Molokini is one of the most popular snorkeling spots in the world. 

Because it’s a crescent-shaped volcanic crater and one of the few sheltered volcanic calderas on the planet, the crystal-clear waters inside it are calm. This makes it perfect for swimming and snorkeling, and there are so many fish and other marine animals to see, too!

From colorful tropical fish and coral gardens to dolphins and whales, a Molokini Crater snorkeling adventure is sure to leave you wanting more. 

 Learn more about it in this blog before you head for a Molokini snorkeling tour.

Molokini island
Molokini island

What Can You See When Snorkeling at Molokini?

If you snorkel inside and around this sunken volcanic atoll with its underwater lava formations, you can get a close-up look at some of Hawaii’s most colorful fish as well as an array of diverse marine life without ever having to venture beyond 10 feet beneath the surface.

From tiger stripes to basic blues and vibrant yellows, you can marvel at the array of tropical fish darting through their vibrant underwater world. In addition to that, you can also spot manta rays and moray eels, among other sea creatures. Whale watching is another exciting activity you can do here. 

So, don’t forget to take lots of pictures so you can show off your one-of-a-kind underwater experience back home!

Are There Sharks in Molokini Crater?

White tips and reef sharks can be spotted while you experience Molokini Crater. Although they seem scary from a distance, they rarely pose a threat to humans. These sharks are usually found on the outer edges of the crater and in deeper waters within, far away from most snorkelers or swimmers. They commonly hang out in “shark condos” near the sand channel and popular spot called “Reef’s End” as well as in the deeper “shark condos” that sit at about 120 feet and require scuba.

To be safe, though, always heed the instructions of your tour boat’s expert crew. They are knowledgeable and experienced when it comes to the wildlife of the Hawaiian islands and can advise you on what you should and shouldn’t do. 

Are There Turtles in Molokini Crater?

You won’t find green sea turtles at Molokini. However, occasional sightings of the Hawksbill turtle have been reported. 

If you are looking for a turtle experience, however, Turtle Town (aka Turtle Cove) is definitely the snorkeling destination you’d like to go to! Turtle Town has a vibrant and diverse population of turtles just off the coast of Maui! 

Luckily, several Maui snorkeling tours offer you the chance to enjoy both Molokini Crater and Turtle Town. That’s because Molokini Crater and Turtle Town are two of the most popular snorkel sites in Maui and all of Hawaii.

Close up sea turtle
Molokini snorkeling tour: things to know before you go 1

Are There Dolphins in Molokini Crater?

While not common, dolphins sometimes make their way through the reef of Molokini. However, there’s no guarantee that you’ll be in luck. Hawaiian spinner dolphins are more likely to appear near Lanai, though, once again, sightings are never guaranteed. 

Rest assured that if there are spinner dolphins nearby, you won’t miss them. Spinner dolphins make an impressive entrance. They shoot out of the water, rotate multiple times, and splash back into the water. Moreover, since they are rare at Molokini, both visitors and the crew get excited when they see them. 

When Is the Best Time to Snorkel at Molokini?

The best time to experience the fantastic colors and diverse population of sea life the reef has to offer is between mid-May and early October. It’s when the visibility is at its highest, the water is usually warmer, and the bright sunshine makes it perfect for taking photos to document your underwater Maui adventure when you visit Molokini Crater. 

Keep in mind that the summer months tend to be busy. So, if you wish to have a more intimate experience, September to November can be more suitable for you.

As per the time of day, early mornings tend to offer the best snorkeling experiences. Many sea creatures feed during this time, and you can be just in time to observe that.

Ships sailing to molokini island
Ships sailing to molokini island

Frequently Asked Questions about Molokini Crater Snorkeling

How Deep Is the Water at Molokini?

In some places, the waters reach up to 250 feet, whereas the back wall of Molokini is reported to be 300 feet deep. Nonetheless, most allowed dive spots are between 20 to 50 ft deep. Still, you can find yourself having an out-of-this-world experience whether you’re snorkeling or scuba diving here.

How Long Does It Take to Snorkel at Molokini Crater?

Most Maui tours offer about 45 minutes of snorkeling at Molokini Crater before boats depart to spend another 45 minutes at Turtle Town. However, each trip can be different.  So, shop around for the best snorkeling deal for your preferences.  

Once you are on the boat, enjoy yourself at your own pace. If you want to just dip your toes at the submerged crater and head back out to enjoy a hot grilled BBQ lunch, hot dogs, and fresh fruit on a double- or triple-decker catamaran, you could be done within minutes. 

However, if you plan to take in every detail and explore marine life longer, check out private charters and full-day tours. They may be a better option for you. 

Is It Safe to Snorkel at Molokini Crater?

Molokini Crater provides a unique opportunity to explore a rich underwater world, and the waters of this Hawaiian gem are invitingly tranquil. 

While there may be areas where currents and waves are stronger, with its growing popularity, snorkeling at Molokini is well-regulated and closely monitored so that everyone can have a safe underwater adventure.

When in doubt, always listen to the advice and recommendations of the expert crew on your boat. 

Is Snorkeling at Molokini Crater Worth It?

A manta ray
A manta ray

Absolutely. Snorkeling at Molokini Crater offers an unforgettable outdoor adventure. 

Located close to the Maui coastline, it offers incredible coral gardens, visibility of up to 150 feet, breathtaking underwater sceneries, and plenty of exotic fish species, making Molokini Crater one of the most spectacular snorkeling sites in the world! 

So, if you’re looking for a truly hypnotizing experience that will leave you in awe, take the plunge! Give yourself an opportunity to easily explore a vibrant natural underwater paradise and be prepared for memories that will stay with you forever.

What to Bring to a Molokini Snorkeling Tour?

A Molokini snorkel tour can be the highlight of any Hawaii vacation, but having the right items will ensure a safer and more enjoyable time in the water. 

First, don’t forget your snorkel equipment. If you don’t have any, a reputable tour provider will either have snorkeling gear included in the price or will offer rental gear.

Sunblock and hats are must-haves to avoid sunburn and protect yourself from the heat, while polarized sunglasses would enable you to catch glimpses of multi-colored fish swimming beneath you.

If you’re looking to get some Hollywood-esque shots, bring a waterproof camera. A GoPro can be another great way to memorize your Molokini snorkel adventure. 

With all these items packed ahead of time, now all there’s left is for you to enjoy your snorkeling trip to its fullest.

Do I Have to Visit Turtle Town to See Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles?

Hawaiian green sea turtles are abundant in Turtle Town, so you will get a much better chance of spotting these amazing creatures if you visit this popular destination after your Molokini snorkel tour.  

If you are willing to do a bit of exploring and have some patience, you may also be able to spot them in other areas around Maui aside from Turtle Town. The key is to be observant and keep your eyes peeled for these stunning creatures. 

Green turtle swimming by the surface
Green turtle swimming by the surface

Do You Need to Rent Snorkel Gear?

Snorkeling can be an amazing way to explore the underwater world, and having the right equipment is essential. 

While some snorkeling tours might include snorkel gear as part of the package, others will rent it for an additional price. 

However, you don’t have to rent it if that’s not your thing. Bringing your own quality snorkel gear can make a huge difference in your experience! Plus, now you’ll be ready for any unexpected snorkeling opportunities when they arise. Make sure you learn how to use it beforehand. 

What Else Can You Do at Molokini?

Molokini is such a beloved destination because it is full of activities and natural beauty! Summers are great for scuba diving, with clear waters and an abundance of marine life. 

But don’t forget that winter is also magical in Molokini. This is the time for whale watching and getting the chance to see majestic humpback whales breaching the surface! It’s like having two destinations in one! 

A whale surfacing from the water
A whale surfacing from the water

So no matter what time of year you visit, you can be sure to have some fun at Molokini. During whale season, you’ll most likely see humpback whales during the trip over to Molokini.

Can You Go to Molokini Without a Tour?

Thinking about going to the Molokini from Maui without a tour? Unfortunately, that’s not possible. 

The protected Molokini snorkel site can only be reached by boat. The local government does not allow anchoring at Molokini, and tour boats can only moor at designated mooring spots. 

It is also not advised to kayak there either. Waters can be choppy, and going anywhere outside of the Maui shoreline requires careful navigation, especially if you are inexperienced. It’s best to leave it to skilled professionals. 

In addition to that, swimming from Maui to Molokini is not possible. Molokini Crater is about 2.5 miles from the coast of Maui, and it’s illegal to set foot on it because it’s a protected bird sanctuary.

So, take a trip with one of Maui snorkeling tour providers and safely enjoy this spectacular stretch of the ocean at Molokini!

How Much Does It Cost to Go to Molokini?

Depending on your tour package, it generally costs between $150-$200 USD per person to experience its wonders. The price will include not only the boat ride but also additional perks such as a continental breakfast or deli lunch and filtered water and other beverages in an open bar. 

5 Tips for a Memorable Molokini Snorkeling Tour Experience

These tips can help you get the most out of your snorkeling experience:

Use a Flotation Device

It’s recommended to know how to swim in order to enjoy Molokini snorkeling tours. However, there are options for less experienced swimmers, as well. Reputable Molokini Crater tours will provide flotation belts, boogie boards, and noodles for those who need extra support. 

Flotation devices can be great for strong swimmers, too. You can use them to rest and conserve energy. Plus, it can be easier to take pictures. 

Be Prepared for Motion

When you get on a boat to snorkel Molokini Crater waters, be ready for plenty of motion. The dynamic waters of South West Maui combined with light Pacific currents create plenty of waves. 

If you tend to get seasick, it may be a good idea to bring along motion sickness pills. If you don’t have any but are starting to feel dizzy and nauseous, look at a steady point straight ahead of you. Closing your eyes and focusing on your breathing can also be helpful. 

Buddy Up When Snorkeling

It is said that two heads are better than one, and nowhere is this more true than when it comes to snorkeling in Molokini. 

Not only can you share the experience of exploring the craters’ vibrant underwater life with a buddy, but it’s also an important safety measure – one set of eyes can easily spot something the other has missed.

So make sure to bring along your best snorkeling buddy for an unforgettable snorkeling trip around Molokini.

Wear Reef-safe Sunscreen

If you’re looking for an unforgettable snorkeling experience among the coral reefs of Molokini, wear reef-safe sunscreen. 

Not only does reef-safe sunscreen help protect your skin from sunburns, but it also helps preserve delicate underwater habitats! Most commercially available sunscreens have toxic chemicals in them that are not only harmful to humans but also to coral gardens. 

A school of fishes swimming by the corals
A school of fishes swimming by the corals

Hire a Reputable Snorkel Tour Operator

If you’re dreaming of the vibrant tropical fish and other marine life that call Molokini Crater home, it’s important to ensure your experience is as memorable as possible by hiring a reputable snorkel tour operator. 

Experienced operators not only know how to navigate the waters around Maui, but they also follow regulations and provide safety briefings, so you can breathe easy knowing you won’t be facing any unexpected surprises when snorkeling at this incredible destination.

Snorkel Molokini Waters with WildVoice

If you can’t wait to enjoy Molokini and Maui snorkeling opportunities, WildVoice has plenty to offer. We focus on providing our customers with a satisfying experience in Hawaii and have sustainability at the heart of our tour offerings. 

So, by booking your snorkel trip with WildVoice, you can be sure you’re doing your part to preserve this stunning island paradise.  What better way to get out and explore than with an eco-friendly adventure? Make the most of it and book your experience today. 

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