MOLOKINI CRATER MARINE PRESERVE
Molokini is Hawaii's only Island Marine Sanctuary. Molokini is a small volcanic cone (Caldera), located just a few miles off Maui's shore. Scientists believe Molokini Crater formed about 150 thousand years ago. Molokini rises from 300 feet below the ocean's surface and is almost half a mile wide. Molokini peaks at about 160 feet above sea level and half the crater appears to be missing.
The isolation of Molokini Crater creates a unique Maui snorkeling experience. There are significant reasons why Molokini snorkeling is so special. The quality of the water surrounding Molokini is superior, providing unsurpassed clarity. Visibility is consistently excellent, often in excess of 150 feet. Molokini is rock, with no soil to wash down into the water. Absent of sediment, the water is amazingly clear allowing excellent sunlight penetration. This enhanced sunlight feeds the algae living inside the coral. Offshore currents bring food, while flushing away what little sediment exists. The result is a uniquely healthy coral reef providing unsurpassed Maui snorkeling. Located in the middle of Molokini this reef is protected from waves and surge.
Inside the sheltered arms of the crater, Molokini is an amazing underwater Marine Sanctuary. Underwater at Molokini is a flourishing coral reef, where thousands of fish and marine animals cohabitate. Molokini's shallow reef is teeming with a wide variety of colorful and fascinating fish and marine animals. You will experience a rare opportunity to closely observe the marine life at Molokini Crater.
Your Molokini snorkel adventure is one you will cherish and not soon forget! Molokini is the ultimate Maui snorkel and because of its crystal clear sheltered waters, Molokini snorkeling is a safe and unique adventure for the entire family. From its shallow calm waters, diverse marine life and beautiful coral reef, Molokini snorkeling is superb.
Molokini Crater is seen above the surface as a crescent shaped Islet. Seabirds nest on its cliffs and rare plants grow on its slopes. Over 50 species of plants grow along the slopes of Molokini. Nearly half are native, including a few very rare species not found on the main islands, because of introduced predators, which are not found at Molokini. Seabirds crowd the steep slopes of Molokini. There are 2 primary species of nesting birds, Wedge-tailed Shearwaters and Bulwers Petrels. Over a thousand pairs nest in the rocky cliffs. The vast majority are Shearwaters, which feed at sea during the day, returning to their nests and chicks at night. Brown Boobies also roost at Molokini, along with very large Frigate birds, whose wing span can reach 7 feet across. The Frigate birds with superior flying skills harass other seabirds until they drop their food, which the Frigate bird recovers in mid air. Hawaiians named them Iwa birds, which translated means thief.
During World War II, Molokini was used for target practice. Bombing and strafing left impact craters, shrapnel, and bullets along the slopes of Molokini, still visible today. It is believed that roosting and nesting birds avoided Molokini during the War, because of target practice and strafing maneuvers.
Molokini Crater was declared a Marine Life Conservation District in 1977. Since then, with increased concerns and interest in the health of Hawaii's Reefs, the State of Hawaii in partnership with the University of Hawaii monitors the water quality and coral coverage at Molokini. Commercial operators including the Pride of Maui work together to protect Molokini, removing nothing from its waters. Passenger vessels are tied to moorings, instead of dropping anchors on the reef. Fish and marine animals are not fed or harassed. From visitors to those of us who make a living by sharing the amazing beauty of Molokini with others, we're all stewards and our protective measures are vital to the future sustainability of Molokini.
To snorkel Molokini is a wonderful and lifelong memory. Molokini snorkeling is unlike other Maui snorkeling because of its unique dynamics, found only at Molokini. In addition to Maui snorkeling, the Pride of Maui offers SNUBA and Scuba diving. Both provide a closer view of the beautiful coral reef and marine animals at Molokini. Fields of flourishing coral reef, create a spectacular view for SNUBA and Scuba divers fortunate to explore up close the underwater majesty of Molokini. With over 200 species of fish, many endemic to Hawaii, exploring the coral reef on a Molokini snorkel, is the experience of a life time. Maui snuba and Maui scuba, take you to an even greater level of Molokini snorkel adventure.
Beyond the thousands of fish and marine animals, Molokini is occasionally graced by schools of Manta Rays, as they glide into formation above cleaner fish, which remove unwanted parasites. A rare treat is the gentle plankton feeding Whale Shark, known to visit Molokini. Whale sharks are very large plankton feeders (aka vegetarians) which are not a threat to humans. The Pride of Maui photo gallery and header of this web page display an image of a Whale Shark photographed during a Molokini snorkel aboard the Pride of Maui. The writer of this piece was aboard the boat and I will always remember that special day, when a Whale Shark spent about 30 minutes cruising in the crater for no reason other than to visit with the humans. It was awe-inspiring, watching as snorkelers in the water swam close to the whale shark. The interaction was initiated by the gentle giant, when it slowly and carefully swam right up to our boat for a closer look. There are few experiences in life that compare to the memories you will take home after a Molokini snorkel.
Please note: All our Maui snorkeling destinations are weather dependent. For your safety and comfort, the Captain may select alternate locations for your adventure. Mother Nature delightfully cooperates about 90% of our trips.