Molokini Crater

Twelve miles offshore from Lahaina Town sits a once commanding volcano now extinct and submerged in the ocean. Molokini Crater is located off southwest Maui with the majority of the structure immersed, making it one of the best Maui snorkeling and diving spots around and one of the top things to do in Maui. It extends all the way up from the bottom of the ocean floor, and has gradually eroded along one side over time which has filled the volcano with sea water and created a distinct half moon shape. The crescent rises more than 150 feet above the ocean's surface creating the impressive mark of Molokini.


For thousands of years Molokini has been inactive which has created opportunity for further exploration of the majestic giant. With the volcano walls almost 80 feet deep and the outside walls extending to 350 feet, a natural shelter is created by the Molokini Crater, adding another advantage to underwater explorations in and around it. Situated between Kahoolawe and Maui, Molokini Island, as its also known, is considered part of Maalaea Bay and is designated as a Marine and Bird Conservation District. Both Molokini dive trips, snorkel and kayak trips are the most popular ways to explore Molokini Crater. Each type of adventure can easily be arranged through Maui tours around the island.

A Molokini dive trip is a truly exciting journey where every inch of the islet can be examined. Reef sharks, turtles, manta rays and other marine life will surround you as you analyze the makeup of Molokini Crater and it's rough surface texture, fed on by a myriad of fish and other creatures. Another advantage of a Molokini dive is the clear water which offers some of the best visibility and showcases the natural wonders that are highlighted at the Maui Ocean Center. Unfortunately due to extensive visitation Molokini Island has suffered the consequences and has sustained damage from boat anchors carving out large areas of coral. Though this Maui attractions underwater conditions are beautiful, they are often replete with a wealth of people on a Molokini snorkel trip or diving excursion.

Some people opt to kayak rather than take a Molokini snorkel trip or dive tour. Though Molokini looks close to Maui beaches along the shoreline, it can be a very tough go. It's not a viable option for those who aren't experienced kayakers with a certain level of fitness. Kayaking to Molokini is not a languid journey, rather a very strenuous one with many strong ocean currents and forceful winds to contend with. Kayaking can be arranged when tradewinds are not prominent and an experienced guide is with kayakers through every stroke on route to Molokini Island.

The floor of Molokini is blanketed by brilliant formations of coral and a host of marine life accustomed to the amount of action created by tourists. The only significant danger for those on a Molokini snorkel trip or diving tour are the forceful currents that flow underneath the submerged part of the crater wall and should be avoided. The best time to head out to Molokini is in the summer months and in the morning as the afternoon can get fairly windy. Most tours provide breakfast on the way in and lunch after the snorkel as the day is long with trips running five to six hours in duration. Most tours leave from Ma'alea Harbor and can be arranged throughout the island.

There are many small charter boats that take people to see the crater from above making the area quite crowded. There are plenty of magnificent places to snorkel around the coast of Maui, such as Kaanapali Beach near Black Rock, and many dive sites that are not swarming with people. If you dislike crowds or think they would take away from your experience explore some of the other options for snorkeling and dive trips. If you don't mind the crowds, the pay off of seeing this commanding underwater volcano is great. It's very original and rare. There are not many dive sites where you can explore such a gem. Often the crater is called the fishbowl, the abundant and rich marine life coupled with fantastic visibility makes a trip to the Molokini Crater a dazzling adventure.

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