When visiting Maui, Hawaii the Molokini Crater off the coast of Makena Beach is an absolute must-see. This uninhabited 23-acre islet is a volcanic crater that was formed 230,000 years ago after a massive eruption sent debris flying and left the volcano partially submerged. Since then, the Molokini Crater has served a number of purposes, from being a prime fishing location for native Hawaiians to serving as a practice target for the U.S. Army during World War II.
Today, the Molokini Crater of Maui is an amazing coral reef for scuba and snorkeling where crystal clear ocean water provides a glass bottom viewing of marine life. A Molokini tour is one of the best tours in Maui (and Hawaiian islands). The islet is a protected seabird sanctuary in the state of Hawaii and is the home of 250-260 different marine species of fish and other animals. As you paddle through the waters you are likely to see black triggerfish, yellow tang, Moorish idol, parrotfish, raccoon butterflyfish, bluefin trevally, and other unique tropical fish. You may even potentially see whitetip reef sharks, moray eels, and the protected Hawaiian green sea turtle (a truly amazing creature).
You will take a boat ride to discover a coral reef unlike any in the world (the boats are usually catamarans). Home to an abundance of exotic fish, Maui’s Molokini Crater is home to 38 different species of coral in a rainbow of colors. Snorkeling in Molokini is a life-changing experience. The shape of the volcanic crater Molokini makes it a perfect snorkeling destination because it provides safety from waves for swimmers and snorkeling tours, and the incredible amounts of marine biodiversity is unforgettable. As you glide through the open water of Molokini you will see a whole new world living in the coral gardens below the crystal clear surface. We have selected the two world-class snorkeling tours with an expert crew that we believe fit the broadest range of interests. Compare the details of the two tours so you can make a more informed decision about your Molokini snorkel trip and Maui sightseeing adventure. So what are you waiting for? Let’s dive into the majestic world of Maui’s Molokini Crater with these tours.
Here’s a brief overview of how the snorkel and boat tours compare to each other.
Best for Kids
Best for Kids
Molokini & Turtle Arches Snorkel
Best for Thrill Seekers
Best for Thrill Seekers
Molokini Wild Side Snorkel Eco-Adventure
When considering a Molokini snorkeling tour in Maui, it is important to consider the experience level of your group, desire to swim with others, and time constraints. The Molokini & Turtle Arches Snorkel tour is one of the most suitable Maui tours for beginners and those on the lookout for incredible wildlife. Its crew considers safety the number one priority. You’ll begin your day with a morning cruise toward the Molokini Crater islet, heading out before the vast majority of tourists follow suit. Morning is a great time to see playfully fun dolphins slicing through the water, hoping to interact with curious people. As you watch the aquatic world come to life you will be treated to a complimentary Continental Breakfast of bagels and pastries. You may be able to go whale watching if it’s the right time of year.
Once you reach Molokini Crater, you’ll take your first dip in the ocean of the iconic crescent bay. Here you’ll have a chance to see even more wildlife, including colorful tropical fish and exotic sea animals like Hawaiian green sea turtles, for which there are several sightseeing turtle tours. You’ll be able to see the mesmerizing coral reefs just several feet away, all while swimming leisurely through the Hawaiian waters. The coral gardens of crater Molokini provide one of the best snorkeling experiences in the world.
Your second stop on this tour will be the famous Turtle Town, a popular home for the green sea turtle. Turtle Town is revered by ecologists, biologists, and tourists alike for the unique view of the Hawaiian green sea turtles in their tropical habitat. These protected animals, which are accustomed to human interaction, are comfortable around people and will not skitter away. However, you should maintain your distance for personal safety and to protect these beautiful creatures!
This 5-hour tour is suitable for everybody in the family, as this TripAdvisor reviewer, a grandmother with her son and 8-year-old grandson, commented. Leaving harbor in the morning, this makes it a fantastic choice for those who have limited timelines, or who simply feel less comfortable snorkeling. Your tour guides are also certified marine naturalists who have plenty of experience in the field and work to make sure you feel safe and comfortable. There is also a Junior Naturalist program for the kids on board, an additional family-friendly activity that is sure to make your youngsters happy.
The main downside is that this is one of the more crowded snorkeling tours in Maui. Typical boats can hold up to 120 people at a time (including crew), so you likely won’t get all details of the trip explained by the tour guide after departure. But this catamarans are used as boats. Moreover, the crew works hard on all their tours to ensure that everyone has a fun and rewarding trip (with safety being top priority)!
With an adult price (ages 13 and up) of $103.95 and a kids price of $52.95, this snorkel tour is well worth the money. For this price you get over 5 hours of fun, complimentary breakfast and lunch, and refreshments throughout the day, including beer and wine for those over the age of 21! While you can’t put a price on a magnificent day, we believe that this tour can fit into anyone’s budget.
5 hour excursion
Two snorkel sites – including Maui’s world-class Molokini Crater and Turtle Town
Premium snorkel equipment, including optical masks for eyeglass wearers
Flotation devices, snorkel instruction, tropical fish I.D. class
Onboard Jr. Naturalist Program for kids
BBQ lunch or sandwiches prepared by crew onboard the boat
Reef Safe Sunscreen – free application before boarding/small bottles available at cost ($3) onboard vessel
Affordable rentals of wetsuit shirts, underwater cameras, binoculars
Children ages 0 -12 are free (one per paying adult)
No transportation on mainland Maui provided
Rentals of wetsuit shirts, underwater cameras, and binoculars costs an additional fee
If you are searching for an exclusive Molokini snorkel tour that will let you swim intimately with tropical fish, look no further than the Molokini Wild Side Snorkel Eco-Adventure. This is a more advanced Molokini snorkeling tour that includes 6 hours of exposure to the beautiful ocean off Maui and 2 – 3 snorkel sites (including Turtle Town) depending on weather and ocean conditions. Whale watching will also depend on the season.
On each Wild Side adventure, you will be joined by no more than 37 other individuals and crew on the 54-foot-long Ocean Explorer catamaran. This is one of the more intimate tours available in Maui. The spacious boat has open seating across its single deck, and offers unobstructed views of the incredible Molokini Crater and its coral gardens. You will be able to move freely across the boat so you can view the spectacular marine life from any direction you wish.
This Molokini snorkeling tour has a flexible itinerary, so after snorkeling at Molokini Crater your group will have the option to discover the coast on your terms. You will navigate your way around the islet and choose a second and third snorkeling location based on the day, time, and weather. This ability to go with the flow of the natural scenery means that you will find the best snorkeling conditions possible! You’ll also get a private tour of the Maui coastline as your boat returns to harbor, including some whale watching depending on the season (Humpback whales).
This long snorkeling tour also works hard to make sure that nobody is left hungry! Like all Molokini snorkeling tours in Maui, safety is also a priority. The tour includes a continental breakfast of bagels with cream cheese and a side of fruit. If bagels are not your preferred breakfast, there are also a number of delicious pastry options to choose from!
In the afternoon you’ll be served a delicious deli-style grilled chicken sandwich wrap, filled with spinach, tomato, carrots, cucumber, and condiments. This nutritious lunch will leave you satisfied, helping you stay full for the rest of your adventurous Molokini snorkeling tour. The good thing about this snorkel tour is that it also offers vegetarian options, though we recommend telling the company about your dietary restrictions as early as possible.
Throughout the day you’ll also have the opportunity to sip on unlimited soda and juice! If you’re over 21, you’ll receive a free beer from Maui Brewing Company or your choice of wine.
With tour guides who are certified marine naturalists on board, your group will walk away from your tour with a deeper understanding of the natural wildlife that surrounds Maui. These experts will teach you all about the different marine life that live in the waters, and you might even get lucky enough to see some of them!
At $132.17 per person for adults age 13 and up and $65.95 for children 12 and under, this fun 6-hour tour is an affordable way to spend the day in Maui. Your contribution goes further than just paying for your trip though. All profit from this Molokini Crater snorkeling tour are sent to the Pacific Whale Foundation, an organization that supports scientific endeavors to help the marine life and wildlife around Hawaii! So you can have an amazing experience and feel great about giving back at the same time.
6 Hour Tour
Certified Marine Naturalists will act as crew to educate you about details you shouldn’t miss
Premium snorkel equipment and instruction including optical masks for eyeglass wearers
Available wetsuit, underwater camera or binoculars for rental
Two snorkeling sites including Turtle Town
Continental breakfast provided
Unlimited soda and juice, plus one complimentary alcoholic beverage for those 21 and older with valid photo id
Onboard Jr. Naturalist Program for kids
Reef-safe sunscreen and filtered water available onboard
Children must be a minimum of 8 years of age
Not recommended for guests who are pregnant, have heart problems, or problems with your back, neck or knees
Non-swimmers are not allowed in the water but can explore the coast
Snorkeling at Molokini Crater in Maui is truly unlike any experience in the world, and tours of Maui are incomplete without a boat ride through its pristine waters. There are very few tours in the world where you can see an incredible diversity of exotic tropical fish and other marine life while visiting the majestic Hawaiian green sea turtles in their home at Turtle Town or going whale watching. Hopefully this article has provided you with the details to make your decision. Whether you are looking for a family-friendly adventure during your trip to Maui or something a little more intimate, there is a Molokini snorkeling tour that fits your needs.
Are you ready to take the leap into the clear blue water off the coast of Maui with one of these fantastic tours? Book your Molokini snorkeling tour today!