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World's Best Snorkeling Adventure: Molokini

Without question, the Molokini crater tops the list of the world's best destinations for snorkeling and scuba diving. When you set off in search of a great underwater experience, you're most likely looking for exquisitely colored coral reefs, exotic tropical fish, and an environment that welcomes you with warm temperatures and mild currents. 

The water clarity in the Molokini crater is incredible; you can often see up to 150 feet, but even on a 'bad' day, you'll see clearly 100 feet in every direction.

Thirty percent of the marine life surrounding the Hawaiian islands is endemic to the area; this underwater landscape is unique. Currently, the Molokini marine habitat is a protected reserve flourishing with sea turtles, sharks, coral and huge numbers of fish.


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What's a Caldera?

Three miles off the southwestern shores of Maui, lies a crescent-shaped islet that is actually the southern rim of an extinct volcano. Technically, Molokini is a caldera, a crater-like basin formed by an explosion or collapse of a volcanic cone. Over the years, the crater has eroded and become a unique habitat with a submerged floor creating a shallow inner cove, a coral garden teaming with marine life and color.

The cone-shaped formation of Molokini has created a tall vertical wall along the outside of the crater. There used to be an abundance of black coral in the deeper waters, but unfortunately much of it was harvested before protective laws were put in place.

You won't find sandy beaches on Molokini. The 77 acres extending above the water's surface create an uninhabited preserve. This protected seabird sanctuary is not open for human visitors. To get to the waters in and around Molokini, you need a boat, and there are many options for cruises and day trips leaving from Kihei, Lahaina, and Ma'alaea Harbor.

Instead of staying at a Maui beachfront hotel, stay at a reasonably priced Maui beach condo.

Life Inside the Crater

Be sure to bring your camera if you, like me, love to share the best of life with your friends. You'll see thousands of colorful fish in the sea caves and lava arches. You'll undoubtedly see the awe inspiring manta rays in the inner realm along with monk seals, spotted eagle rays, loads of lemon butterfly fish flittering like autumn leaves, sleeping green sea turtles and even sharks (whale sharks and white tip reef sharks that won't hurt you!).

Did you know that snorkelers are more likely than scuba divers to see dolphin? There's something about the noise of the scuba breathing apparatus that keeps dolphin away. In the waters around Molokini, you're likely to see the Spinner and Pacific Bottlenose dolphin. You may even see Humpback whales if you go between December and May; listen for their haunting songs which can be heard underwater during that time of the year.

Whatever the month, it's best to go early in the morning, before the wind kicks up and the water current gathers strength. The wonderful thing about Molokini is the protection you have in the inner cove from strong winds and currents. It's a perfect place for expert, beginner and novice snorkelers.

So there you have it; whether you're just getting started with your dream to snorkel the beaches of the world, or you're already a seasoned snorkeler, put Molokini at the top of your 'visit soon' list. Happy traveling, my friend!

Written by Louise Jones 

Louise Jones, a composer and graphic designer, passionately explores the colors, shapes, sound, and movement in the underwater world around our globe.

Come visit and play with a growing community of marine adventurers.

Maui Banyan Condo Rental  |  1215 South Kihei Rd. #O-432  |  Kihei, Hawaii 96753

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