Ultimate Guide to Snorkeling in Molokini Crater

The Molokini Crater is a landmass located just a few miles from Maui’s shoreline. From the air, this crater looks like a massive but dead crescent-shaped rock upon which nothing could grow. But go just beneath the water’s surface and everything changes. Underwater Molokini is an amazing coral reef in which thousands of fish and marine animals live and thrive. Best of all, the water here is crystal clear, making for exceptional snorkeling opportunities as swimmers can easily see the thriving environment and its creatures in every direction. 

Highlights About Snorkeling at Molokini Crater

snorkel Molokini Crater

Over 250 species of fish, mammals, and even seabirds can be sighted below and above the water at Molokini Crater. Hence why it’s one of the best places to go snorkeling in all of Hawaii. Most of these creatures are endemic to Hawaii, but you are apt to see some visiting species depending upon the season you go.

Tropical fish and Hawaiian green sea turtles are certainly the most frequently spotted animals at Molokini Crater, but there is the possibility to see much larger species. Whale sharks sometimes make a grand appearance and, on your trip to and from the crater, humpback whales are commonly sighted during their migration months. 

Before you go

snorkel Molokini Crater

Make sure to research who you book with and know what’s included. Most snorkeling tours will offer some kind of food and beverage, but that can range from a few chips to a full hot breakfast. Likewise, some beverages only include juice and water while others will have a full open bar. And even most importantly, are they going to offer floats (you want one)? Bring one if your booked group doesn’t!

If you are in the least bit prone to motion sickness, you will want to get something for this trip. Really, we’d recommend packing even if you aren’t sure about it as better safe than sorry. Anti-nausea bracelets, medication, or other products will come in real handy as either (or both) the ride out and back from Molokini can get tumultuous. Don’t ruin a trip by being unprepared.

Unless you’re going at the height of summer (and even sometimes then), renting a wetsuit top is a great idea. The Pacific Ocean is quite cold and having that barrier will help to keep your core more comfortable, often making it so you’ll want to stay in the water longer. There’s also the side benefit of superior sun protection. After all, you’ll have your back mostly exposed to the sun throughout your snorkeling experience at the crater. Having a wetsuit top on will go a long way to ensuring your back, shoulders, and arms don’t wind up sunburned and uncomfortable. 

Lastly, don’t forget to bring a towel and a change of clothes to ensure you’re dry and comfortable after your big adventure!

Choose Your Snorkeling Guide

snorkel Molokini Crater

There are several outstanding snorkeling tours you can take out to Molokini Crater. Some of the best to choose from include:

Four Winds Molokini Maui Snorkel Tour
The Four Winds outfitter has the unique designation of being the only Maui tour company to feature a glass bottom boat, offering underwater sights even before you anchor at the crater. They offer both half-day and full-day snorkeling tours out to Molokini, with all of their tours including food and beverages.

Maui Magic Molokini Snorkel Tour
Maui Magic offers both small group and private snorkel tours of Molokini Crater. They also have a very personable captain and crew that prides itself on incorporating a true Hawaiian culture experience with every tour. Enjoy learning more about Maui’s history, culture, and legends, including legends about the crater itself, with this snorkeling tour.

Malolo Molokini Snorkeling Tour
Enjoy relaxing aboard a massive luxury yacht with Malolo Molokini Snorkeling Tour. This outfitter specializes in Molokini Crater tours and offers packages that combine snorkeling at that outstanding location with snorkeling at Turtle Town and snorkeling at Coral Gardens. They do big group tours and, as such, are able to operate at slightly lower prices than other outfitters. This makes them a great choice for a nice budget experience if you’ve been on the fence about the trip.