As visitor counts remain low after the August wildfires on Maui, now is absolutely the time to come visit and help support Maui’s local economy. If you can make the trip to Maui, one of the best things to do with less crowds around is snorkel Molokini. During peak tourist seasons, regular visitors express that Molokini is beautiful, but can feel quite congested. Well, some of our Auntie Snorkel team recently took a Calypso Molokini + Turtle Town Snorkel trip. They came back reporting that if you’d like to experience our special sunken volcanic crescent with fewer humans, now is the time to snorkel Molokini!
Molokini: A Unique Underwater Paradise
Molokini, a small, partially submerged, extinct volcanic crater off the coast of Maui, is renowned as one of the world’s premier snorkeling destinations. This crescent-shaped islet, formed over 230,000 years ago, creates a unique underwater environment that attracts snorkelers from around the globe. Molokini islet is now a protected bird sanctuary and its surrounding waters are a marine conservation district.
Hawaiian Legend of Molokini
There are many different accounts of Molokini in Hawaiian oral legend. Some tell of Molokini as a child of Earth Mother, Papa. Others identify Molokini as the placenta from the birth of the neighbor island of Kaho’olawe.
One legend that prevails in various forms describes how the fire goddess Pele and a rival of hers (a Mo’o – or gecko) both harbored affection for the same prince. In a fit of jealousy, Pele cut the Mo’o in half and threw her into the ocean. As a result, Molokini Crater emerges from the tail of the Mo’o. The head is Red Hill, the crimson cinder cone known as Pu’u O’lai situated across the channel at Makena Beach.
Molokini’s crescent shape is one of its defining features and contributes to the clarity and calmness of its waters. The natural curvature of the crater provides a sheltered environment, protecting snorkelers from strong currents and waves. Such protected features also ensure that the visibility in Molokini is unparalleled, often exceeding 150 feet. This unique environment makes Molokini an ideal location for both beginners and experienced snorkelers. However, it’s vital to always heed the advice and caution of your boat guides and lifeguards when exploring Molokini crater. Currents just outside the crater are extremely strong and dangerous.
Getting to Molokini
Molokini is situated about three miles off Maui’s southwestern coast. The islet is a bird sanctuary, and the waters around it are a marine life conservation area, accessible only by boat. Numerous tour operators on Maui offer snorkeling excursions to Molokini, departing from Maalaea and Kihei. While the boats have snorkel gear onboard for your use, we recommend stopping by Auntie Snorkel to get fitted with top quality, sanitized snorkel gear before you go. Then you know you won’t have to worry about your equipment, and can truly enjoy the sights when you get there! The journey to Molokini itself is a scenic boat ride. Be on the lookout for breathtaking views of Maui’s coastline, and during winter months, impromptu whale watching.
Abundant Marine Life
What sets Molokini apart from your average snorkeling spot is its thriving marine ecosystem. The underwater world surrounding Molokini is home to a diverse array of marine life. Snorkelers can expect to encounter vibrant parrotfish, butterflyfish, tangs, eels, octopuses, and many other tropical marine creatures that call the coral reefs home.
Snorkeling Tours are Educational Experiences
To make the most of a Molokini snorkeling adventure, be sure to utilize the knowledge of the local guides on your tour. These experts not only ensure the safety of participants but also provide invaluable insights into the ecology and behavior of the marine life that call Molokini home. Accordingly, snorkeling tours can offer enlightening information about the delicate balance of the ecosystem, the importance of coral conservation, and the unique challenges faced by marine life in the face of climate change. Auntie Snorkel can help you book any one of the many Molokini tours on offer.
Preservation Efforts and Responsible Snorkeling
Given its status as a bird sanctuary and marine conservation district, Molokini relies on responsible tourism to preserve its delicate ecosystem. Snorkelers should adhere to local guidelines. This includes not touching or standing on coral, using reef-safe sun block, and maintaining a respectful distance from marine life. By promoting responsible snorkeling practices, visitors contribute to the ongoing conservation efforts that aim to safeguard Molokini for future visitors and generations. So, pay a visit to Auntie Snorkel to get more information about responsible snorkeling, get great gear, and book your Molokini adventure!