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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
Molokini crater, with Maui’s coasts in the distance.

How to get to Molokini Crater snorkeling spot?

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

Getting into the water at Molokini Crater

You will enter the water from your tour boat.

Molokini Crater snorkeling tips and recommendations

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
Sergeants majors are abundant along the crater wall.

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” (reef triggerfish, Hawaii’s national fish) has been known to make an appearance as well. Who knows? You might see a green sea turtle or a small whitetip reef shark.

Also, definitely don’t be surprised to see a pod of spinner 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
Molokini crater’s reef.

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 nearby

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


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

MAP Spot

These spots are accessible to anyone with basic snorkeling skills, and feeling comfortable in the water and with his snorkeling gear. You will enter the water from the shore (beach, pontoon, ladder, rocks) or from a boat. The water height in the sea entrance area is reasonable, but you will not necessarily be within your depth. Moderate currents can occur in the area, even when the sea conditions are good. The distance to swim to reach the most interesting snorkeling areas of the spot does not exceed 200 meters.

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.