Molokini Crater is a Marine Preserve located off the western coast of southern Maui. If you are visiting Maui and enjoy snorkeling or diving, visiting the Molokini Crater is a must on your to do list. Here we will share some tips to keep in mind while visiting this magical location.
You need a Boat
It may look like Molokini Crater is close to the shore, but it is father then it looks. From Makena Beach Park it is just under a 3 mile distance from the shoreline to the crater. 3 miles on open ocean is a lot longer then it sounds. Not only that – but you need to come back too. Save your energy for snorkeling and hitch a ride on a power boat out to the crater.
Time of Day is Critical
Avoid the afternoons. The area is notorious for collecting the trade winds and making the experience less then magical. Most snorkeling tours will leave early in the morning and may even have you back by around lunch time. If going on your own schedule, do not under estimate the power of the trade winds. It is common for them to create 4 foot high waves slamming through the crater. So avoid any discounted tours that leave later in the day.
Wet Suit or Nah?
The water temperature in Maui tends to fluctuate between 73 degrees (winter) and 79 degrees (summer) depending on the time of year. To some this may necessitate a wet suit while to others it will not. If you are taking a snorkeling tour, make up your mind before you leave and bring the suit with you. Many of the tours offer wet suit rentals at a premium. They often get a decent cut of the rental price so they may do a hard sales pitch telling you that you need the suit. Use your judgement based upon the weather and your abilities.
Well – you may see some – but it is not common. Molokini crater is known for its hundreds of fish, incredibly clear water and a healthy and vibrant coral system. it is not known for showcasing the Hawaiian Green Sea turtle. If swimming with the turtles is all you care about – you may want to visit Turtle Town (along the Maui Shoreline) instead.
Rough Ride Back
Most snorkeling tours will go in and out of Ma’alaea. This means that you ride parrallel to the west side of Maui passing Wailea and Kihei. In the afternoon as you travel from the crater back to Ma’alaea you will be fighting the wind. If you have small children you might want to prep them for it. While the sea spray from waves and the wind is not normally dangerous, it can be very frightening, loud and tiresome.