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Molokini Crater Snorkeling

Molokini Snorkel Tours from South Maui

Molokini is a crescent moon-shaped islet less than three miles off Maui’s southern coast.

Molokini is as beautiful as ever and is considered one of Hawaii’s premier dive spots. Its striking crescent shape acts as a shield from strong waves and currents making it ideal for beginner snorkelers.

2 people enjoying snorkeling Molokini

Molokini Snorkeling & Scuba Diving

Molokini offers areas that appeal to novice, intermediate and expert SCUBA divers. The crater basin, for example, provides protected waters and is only 35 feet deep, making it ideal for beginning divers and snorkelers. Intermediate-level divers, meanwhile, can head to the underwater wall area that sinks to 70 feet. And expert divers can enjoy the sights within the backside of the crater, which has a depth of 350 feet.

No matter what part of Molokini’s undersea world you choose to explore, you’ll encounter crystal-clear waters and schools of colorful fish. Molokini is home to about 250 fish species, including surgeonfish, tangs, parrotfish, Moorish idols and more.

Boat Tours to Molokini are Mandatory

Snorkeling Molokini
Tip: Avoid the crowd! Choose a boat tour with an early morning departure.

Boat expeditions offering half-day and full-day Molokini adventures are available daily from Maalaea Harbor or the Kihei Boat Ramp. These excursions usually include snorkeling/SCUBA gear and refreshments. The morning hours provide the best viewing conditions.

Need to Know: Molokini is a marine life conservation district, which means the fish are not to be fed, caught or removed. Also, visitors are not allowed to walk on the island itself.

Legend of Molokini

Legend has it that Molokini was once a beautiful woman. She and Pele the fire goddess, the story goes, we’re in love with the same man. The jealous Pele cut her rival in two and transformed her into stone. The woman’s head is supposedly Puu Olai, the cinder cone by Makena Beach.


Molokini lies along Haleakala‘s southwest rift zone. Scientists at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory believe that Molokini, whose summit rises about 160 feet above sea level, last erupted about 230,000 years ago. While many geologists believed that the islet was a fairly young volcanic formation, recent evidence suggests that Molokini is much older—possibly older than Haleakala Crater itself.


You can only visit Molokini with a certified tour company. You may not walk on the islet itself.