A day trip from Maui – exploring the beautiful underwater world of Molokini

Imagine a volcanic crater located in the beautiful waters of the Pacific Ocean. This is Molokini, a unique destination off the coast of Maui, Hawaii. In this blog post, I’ll take you on a journey to explore Molokini, from how to get there to the incredible marine life that awaits beneath the surface. I hope you get the chance to go diving or snorkeling in Molokini. Enjoy!

How to travel to Molokini?

To reach Molokini, you’ll need to depart from Maui, as it’s located just three miles off the southwestern coast. There are various tour operators that offer daily boat trips to Molokini from Maalaea Harbor or Kihei Boat Ramp. The journey usually takes around 30 minutes by boat.

Photo by Farid Askerov on Unsplash

Snorkeling and diving in Molokini

Molokini is a famous snorkeling and diving destination. The shape of the island shelters the waters inside from strong currents, ensuring a great visibility. Zones, like the ‘rim’, the ‘inner cove’, and the ‘back wall’, each presents their own adventure.

Snorkeling in Molokini

The ‘rim’ and ‘inner cove’, with their shallow waters and beautiful marine life, are perfect if you want to go snorkeling. Here, you can swim alongside schools of tropical fish, see beautiful coral formations, and encounter sea turtles if you’re lucky.

To ensure a good snorkeling experience, it’s advisable to opt for the best Molokini snorkeling tours. These tours often include knowledgeable guides who can provide insights into the marine life you’ll encounter and ensure your safety throughout your adventure. Equipped with quality snorkeling gear and accompanied by experts, you can make the most of your time underwater.

Diving in Molokini

If you are looking for a deeper thrill, the ‘Back Wall’ and ‘Enenue’ are famous for diving. Here, you have the chance to encounter reef sharks, octopuses, and an array of colorful fish. The visibility is usually over 150 feet.

The ‘Molokini back wall’ drops down to 300 feet, so buoyancy control is key. Diving along the wall you can see nudibranch, scorpionfish, moray eel and octopus hiding in the small openings. You can also look out into the blue and try to spot grey reef or Galapagos sharks and if you are lucky a manta ray or whale shark. Usually there’re schools of butterflyfish and snapper as well as angelfish. During the winter months (December – March) you might even spot humpback whales, as they migrate through the area.

‘Enenue’ is a magical spot on the east end of Molokini. It has a shelf in the 20 to 30 ft range and then it slopes down to oblivion. Here, you can encounter eel, Whitemouth Morays and Yellow Margins. This is also a great spot to find the Blue dragon nudibranch at around 6 inches long.

Photo by Abigail Lynn on Unsplash

Conscious snorkeling and diving

Please keep in mind some things when snorkeling or diving in Molokini. To snorkel and dive responsibly, start by practicing good buoyancy control to avoid inadvertently damaging coral reefs or stirring up sediment. Avoid touching or grabbing any marine life, including coral, as many species are delicate and can be harmed by human contact. Maintain a safe distance from creatures like turtles and fish, allowing them to go about their natural behaviors undisturbed. Never collect souvenirs from the ocean, such as shells or pieces of coral, as this disrupts the natural habitat. Finally, be mindful of your sunscreen and choose reef-friendly options that do not contain harmful chemicals that can damage coral reefs. By following these guidelines and respecting the underwater world, you can enjoy the beauty of the marine environment in Molokini while ensuring its preservation for generations to come.

Photo by Yale Cohen on Unsplash

Short packing list for snorkeling in Molokini

For a one-day snorkel trip to Molokini, make sure to pack efficiently with the essentials for a fantastic day on (or in) the water. Wear your swimsuit, bring a sun protection shirt, and apply reef-safe sunscreen to shield yourself from the sun. Don’t forget a wide-brimmed hat, polarized sunglasses, and a small quick-drying towel. Bring your underwater camera to capture the beauty below the surface (I recommend the newest Go Pro), and if you have your own mask, snorkel, and fins, consider bringing them for a comfortable fit. A waterproof bag or pouch will keep your valuables dry, and remember to stay hydrated with a reusable water bottle and pack some snacks for energy. If you’re prone to seasickness, include motion sickness medication, and bring cash for tips and any additional expenses. Travel light and be eco-conscious by avoiding single-use plastics and disposing of trash responsibly.

Photo by Satty Singh on Unsplash

Other things to do on or around the volcanic crater

While Molokini is primarily known for its underwater wonders, there are plenty of other things to do on or around Molokini. Here are my favorite things:

Whale watching

If you visit Molokini during the winter months (December through March), you have a great chance to witness humpback whales as they migrate through the area. Many boat tours offer whale-watching trips that include informative commentary from marine naturalists.

Bird watching

While Molokini itself doesn’t have a significant bird population, you can spot seabirds such as wedge-tailed shearwaters and brown boobies while traveling to the island.

Swimming and sunbathing

Some boat tours to Molokini include time for swimming and sunbathing on the boat’s deck. Relax in the Hawaiian sunshine, take a refreshing dip in the ocean and enjoy the stunning views of Molokini and the surrounding waters.

Visit Turtle Town and swim with Green Sea Turtles

Some Molokini boat tours include stops at other nearby sites, such as Turtle Town, where you can swim alongside Hawaiian green sea turtles. Turtle Town Maui is the long stretch of coastline in between Nahuna Point and Black Sand Beach in the southern district of Makena. To find the turtles, walk south down the beach until you get to the rocks at the end of the sand. The coral reef begins here and this is where you’ll find the fish and, of course, the turtles. The reef has a gentle slope so you’ll be able to find any swimming depth that’s comfortable for you.


If you’re a fishing enthusiast, you can inquire about fishing opportunities. Some tours offer light fishing experiences, allowing you to try your luck at catching local fish species.

Photo by Andre Gaulin on Unsplash

Best places to stay overnight in Molokini

Molokini is a marine sanctuary, meaning there are no accommodations on the island itself. However, you can find plenty of accommodations on Maui, which is just a short boat ride away. Maui offers a wide range of accommodations to suit every budget, from luxury resorts to charming beachfront cottages. Here are some of my favorite accommodations on Maui:

Budget accommodation

I’ve spent a few nights in a dormitory room in Howzit Hostels and think it’s the best budget accommodation in Maui. It was situated at a good location in Wailuku. The hostel was well kept, with sheets and towels changed on demand and it had clean bathrooms. There’s also a well-equipped kitchen and they organized fun night bonding activities. It was a great accommodation to meet new people.

Mid-range accommodation

I’ve also spent a few nights in a nice beach resort in Lahaina. This accommodation was perfect. It provided everything I needed to be comfortable. The beach and the view was amazing. There’s a snorkeling store nearby and I received a waterproof bracelet, which was great.

I’ve hear also good stories about Peace of Maui, which is a great place to meet other travelers. The atmosphere is welcoming and there’s a jacuzzi in the garden.

Luxury accommodation

If you want to experience some luxurious vibes, you might like to stay at the Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea or Hotel Wailea, Relais & Châteaux. Both accommodations overlook the incredible coastline, have wonderful rooms and suites, beautiful pools and plenty of facilities.


This blog post has been your guide to (diving or snorkeling in) Molokini, offering insights on how to access it, the diverse underwater adventures that await, and crucial tips for responsible snorkeling and diving. It’s not only about enjoying the pristine beauty of Molokini’s marine world but also about protecting it for generations to come. By following ethical practices such as maintaining buoyancy, respecting marine life, and choosing reef-safe sunscreen, you can ensure a positive impact on the environment. Additionally, the provided packing list and suggestions for things to do on and around Molokini might enhance your overall experience. Lastly, finding suitable accommodations on nearby Maui offers a variety of options.

If you have any questions about the above mentioned information, please let me know in the comment section below. I’m happy to help you. Safe travels!

Author: Daphne

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