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Snorkeling Molokini Crater, Maui

by admin on May 21, 2010

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By A.R. Royo

One of Maui’s most popular attractions, Molokini “crater,”  is technically no crater at all. It is actually a crescent-shaped, partially submerged volcanic cinder cone. Molokini is located in the middle of the Alalakeiki Channel, about 3 miles west of South Maui’s Makena State Park, and 3 miles northeast of the island of Kaho’olawe.

molokini-4Molokini’s incredibly clear water, with visibility exceeding 100 feet on most days, makes it one of the top 10 dive and snorkel spots in the world.  Accessible only by water, Molokini is also a Marine Life Conservation District and Seabird Sanctuary.

Molokini has a diameter of about 1/2mile — the back side drops off to depths of 300 feet, making it a popular location for scuba diving as well.  Its crescent shape acts as a barrier, offering protection from wind, waves and the powerful currents of the channel. Inside the crater’s 30-foot-deep basin is a lush reef that always surprises visitors with its colorful abundance and variety of marine life.

Many of the more than 250 species endemic to Hawaii can be observed here and nowhere else in the world! Its population includes parrot fish, damsel fish, butterfly fish, trigger fish, surgeon fish, Moorish idol,  eels, reef sharks and Humuhumunukunukuapuaa (the Hawaii State Fish).

molokini-3Humpback whales, whale sharks, Hawaiian rays, Hawaiian monk seals and spinner dolphins have also been reported visiting the crater.  The best conditions for snorkleing Molokini are usually in the morning before winds and waves pick up.

There are a few excellent excursions from Maalaea Harbor that include delicious snacks and lunches, as well as naturalist guides who will make your experience educational as well as fun. These boats fill up quickly, so book yours well in advance. All snorkeling equipment is included.

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