Tom's Tips - Molokini Snorkeling


If you are looking to go on a snorkeling trip to Molokini Crater, your going to want to do it in the morning. The weather and ocean conditions at Molokini are generally much better at that time. With the typical trade wind patters that occur during most of the year, the early morning conditions on the way out to Molokini are usually ideal. Quite often the ocean is flat a glass. Although there are shorter afternoon options that can go to Molokini on the rare perfect day, they almost never do. The winds in the afternoon are usually very stiff and make the crossing somewhat uncomfortable not to mention the actual snorkeling conditions at Molokini itself.

Some boats will specialize in just going to visit Molokini and return back to harbor but most will include a second snorkeling area off the coast of Wailea or Makena where you will be able to see the turtles along the beautiful reef. A few other boats will visit Molokini and also travel around the southern corner of Maui and visit the Kanaio Coast which is famous for its beautiful coastline snorkeling and is also an area that is frequented by dolphins.

As far as departure locations there are basically just two. The main one is Maalaea Harbor and this is where the bulk of Molokini boats will depart. The crossing time over to Molokini will vary depending upon the speed of the actual boat but none will take longer than one hour. The second location will be from the Kihei Boat Ramp and this, smaller harbor, is generally reserved for smaller boats that actually drop into the water and are pulled out after each excursion. As a result the zodiac and radon type boats will usually depart from this location. The distance to Molokini from here is much shorter so the time to get there is much quicker, especially on the speedy rafts. The short distance and the speedy boats departing from the ramp also enable some of the tours to Molokini departing from here to be shorter as well. Where the average boat experience for boats leaving from Maalaea is about 5 hours some of these rafts will have shorter trips that can run between 2 and 4 hours dependent upon if they visit other snorkel locations as well. Some of these vessels will also take advantage of their closer proximity to the Kanaio Coast to either do exclusive boat tours out to that location or to combine it with a Molokini visit.

Occasionally, primarily in the winter months, the weather and ocean conditions will not be suitable to actually make it out to Molokini on the regularly scheduled tours. On these occasions the boat captain may choose to vary the cruise and go to an alternate site instead. Luckily there is a great location along the coast, often referred to as Coral Gardens, that will usually provide calm and beautiful snorkel conditions that are protected from the wind and high sea surge. By the way, this is the exact location that almost all of the short afternoon cruises will take you in lieu of Molokini for their PM snorkels.




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Molokini Island Crater is actually the tip of an extinct volcano, barely peeking above the ocean surface between Maui and Kahoolawe. Visibility is often 150 feet, tropical fish are everywhere, and its sheer cliffs and rugged beauty are often the focus of professional photographers.

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