Marvelous Molokini is one of Hawaii’s most beloved snorkel spots. Uniquely situated in a collapsed volcanic caldera that has been partially engulfed by the sea, this underwater “coralcopia” of delight is a treat for snorkelers from beginner to advanced.

Boat tour heading to Molokini Island

How to get there?

The uninhabited islet is located just 2.5 miles off the southern tip of Maui and is only accessible by boat or speed raft. Several Molokini tour companies on Maui leave the Ma’alaea Harbor twice daily for excursions. Early morning snorkeling when it’s the calmest is recommended.

Molokini Crater snorkeling map, Maui

Water entrance

You will enter the water from your tour boat.

Exploration

Just below the water, at a depth range of 12 feet to 25 feet (4m to 8m), the reef is teeming with aquatic life. Molokini has special features that make it “the perfect snorkeling spot,” like incredible visibility (usually about 100 feet but given perfect conditions, up to 150 feet) and calm waters. It’s a large area of 23 acres which is crescent-shaped. It’s the shape that protects these waters from the strong inter-island currents, large ocean waves, and powerful winds, making it calmer, and safer, than most other snorkeling areas around Maui.

Snorkeler at Molokini Atoll

Many colorful species of tangs, damsels, parrotfish, goatfish, coral and sea urchins are common on the reef, as well as black triggerfish and Hawaiian sergeant, often spotted in large groups surrounding snorkelers just below the surface. And, of course, the humuhumunukunukuāpuaʻa or “humuhumu” (Hawaii’s national fish) has been known to make an appearance as well. Who knows? You might see a sea turtle or a small whitetip reef shark. Also, definitely don’t be surprised to see a pod of dolphins riding the waves off the bow of the ship. And, if it’s the right time of year (November to may), whales can sometimes be seen frolicking in the distance, enjoying the warm Hawaiian waters with their babies.

Coral reef at Molokini Atoll

The backside of Molokini offers a 300-foot sheer drop into the deep blue. There is a current that runs up the side of it called “the elevator” which is accessed from several feet below and pushes the diver up and away from the rocks. (It’s deep, so only scuba divers can partake safely). If conditions are right, and time allows, your captain might show you the backside so that you can get an idea of how deep and serious the current is here.

Restaurants and accommodation

Be sure to choose a ship with a great menu, adequate bathrooms, and fresh water rinse off… because there are no other accommodations or restaurants on Molokini, other than the one on board your vessel.



 

  • Level required Beginner
  • Protected areaMolokini Island Preserve
  • Maximum depth25ft/8m
  • Water entranceFrom a boat
  • Visitor numbersHigh
  • Access costsTour price

MAP Spot

These snorkeling spots are accessible to beginners and kids. You will enter the water gradually from a beach, or in a less than 3ft. deep area. The sea is generally calm, shallow, with almost no waves or currents. These spots are usually located in marked and/or monitored swimming areas. It is not necessary to swim long distances to discover the sea life.

This level only apply when the spot experiences optimal sea and/or weather conditions. It is not applicable if the sea and/or weather conditions deteriorate, in particular in the presence of rough sea, rain, strong wind, unusual current, large tides, waves and/or swell. You can find more details about the definition of our snorkeling levels on our snorkeling safety page.