Molokini Snorkel Tours
Molokini is an ancient volcanic caldera that offers some of the clearest water for snorkeling anywhere in the world. It is located about 2 miles offshore from South Maui in the Alalakeiki Channel (between Maui and Kaho'olawe). Molokini is a marine sanctuary below water and a bird sanctuary above water. There is no access to the island itself; only those with research permits are permitted to go ashore. The incredibly clear water is due to its location in the middle of the channel and the lack of any sand deposits around the islet. No matter the wind or wave conditions the visibility here is unparalleled. A variety of snorkel tours are available; below is a selection of the best ways to experience Molokini Crater.
Aqua Adventures - avoid the crowds
OUR DISCOUNTED RATES FOR AQUA ADVENTURES:
- BASIC SNORKELER RATE:Adults $94.95, Children (ages 3-12) $64.95, 2 & under free (plus 7.1667% tax and harbor fee)
- SNUBA: add $50.00 including tax per adult or child ($60 for dates in 2014)
Aqua Adventures offers a two location snorkel tour (normally Molokini for the first stop and Turtle Arches for the second) with a 7am check in daily at Maalaea Harbor slip #51. This is the boat harbor in Central Maui just behind the Maui Ocean Center Aquarium along Highway 30. Some Molokini boats hold upwards to 140 people ... no such crowds on board Aqua Adventures ... while the vessel can hold 49, they limit the trip to just 36 guests per day. The boat is FAST too! Powered by twin 350HP motors, this vessel cruises at 22 knots which means you'll be waving goodbye to other boats as you pass them on the way to Molokini crater.
The basic snorkeler rate includes continental breakfast on the way to Molokini, snorkel gear and instruction, two snorkel locations, a really nice"build your own sandwich" deli lunch after you are done in the water, and an open bar for beer, Mai Tais, rum and cokes, soda and juice.
Want to try something really adventurous? Take your snorkeling experience to a whole new level of underwater thrills with a SNUBA DIVE on board the 50 foot Aqua Adventures boat. SNUBA is much like scuba diving ... you breathe compressed air through a regulator and can stay underwater for up to 30 minutes. But the snuba experience is a lot easier than a first-time introductory scuba dive because you don't have to wear all the bulky gear. The tanks don't go on your back ... instead they float on a raft that stays at the surface of the water and a hose comes down to your regulator. As you move around underwater the raft follows you around effortlessly, leaving you free to explore and focus on the experience, rather than struggling with the gear. Your dive instructor will lead you on a guided tour of the underwater world.
There are other boats that offer snuba as an on-board option, but no one does snuba better than Aqua Adventures. Their vessel is specifically designed for snuba diving with easy access in and out of the water. Their snuba instructors are the best in the industry. And with Aqua Adventures, you can pre-reserve your snuba dive (as opposed to other boats where you just sign up on board).
While SNUBA is Aqua Adventures' specialty, this boat is great for those who are only going to snorkel too. It doesn't matter if your party is ALL snorkelers, ALL snuba divers, or some of each. This is a 4.5 hour tour from 7:30am to 12 Noon ... those doing a snuba dive will have 30 minutes of underwater SNUBA time and another 30 minutes or so of snorkeling at one spot, and will have over an hour to snorkel at the other spot. Snorkelers who aren't SNUBA diving will have about 3 hours of water time split between the two dive locations.
Aqua Adventures often has an on-board videographer who will produce a DVD of your trip which is available for purchase. Wet suits are available to rent onboard for a very modest fee of $5. Underwater cameras, T shirts, and souvenir boarding photos are also available for purchase.
While children of all ages may go along to snorkel, the minimum age for snuba is 8. All snuba divers must fill out a health screening questionaire before participation. Occassionally someone will be disqualified from participating in snuba and in those cases we will refund the snuba dive portion of the ticket cost and only charge the basic snorkeler rate.
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Cruise Ship Clients
NCL cruise ship passengers in Kahului are able to do Aqua Adventures on their second day in port. This is a 12-15 minute cab ride to Maalaea Harbor, or we can arrange a rental car with shuttle pick-up at the harbor; rates vary throughout the year but start around $40 per day in low season; see our rental car page for more information.
Lahaina cruise ship passengers can do Aqua Adventures only on day 2 (assuming your ship is spending the previous night in Lahaina). This would require a 20-25 minute cab ride, or we can arrange a rental car.
Pride of Maui - Molokini and Turtle Town
OUR DISCOUNTED RATES FOR PRIDE OF MAUI:
- Adults $96.00 $86.00, Children (ages 3-12) $62.00 $57.00, 2 & under free (plus 7.1667% tax and harbor fee and $4 per seat fuel surcharge)
This tour often sells out 3-5 days in advance so make your reservations now!p
The Pride of Maui takes you to Molokini in comfort ... offering glass-bottom viewing, a fun water slide, continental breakfast, an excellent BBQ lunch, and a refreshing open bar. This vessel is spacious and stable; her sprawling upper deck features unobstructed panoramic viewing and outstanding photo opportunities of the majestic Maui coast and surrounding islands. First stop is typically Molokini Crater, famous for its clear water and incredible array of undersea life. After snorkeling at Molokini, the boat makes a second stop at "Turtle Town" where you can swim with Hawaiian green sea turtles!
This powerful catamaran offers a fast, smooth ride to Molokini, which lies in the middle of the channel between Maui and Kahoolawe. The Pride of Maui trip includes all your snorkel gear, as well as a variety of flotation devices (for those who feel more comfortable swimming in the ocean when they have a little help). The Pride of Maui AM Deluxe Snorkel is offered daily and has a check-in at the main loading dock at Maalaea Harbor at 7:30am; the tour is five hours long from 8:00am to 1:00pm.
On-board options (at an additional cost) include:
- SNUBA - this is a cross between snorkeling and scuba ... you wear a regulator in your mouth and a hose leads to an oxygen tank that floats on a raft above you at the surface. Snuba divers are able to swim 10 feet below the surface and stay down for about 30 minutes. The cost for a snuba dive is approximately $50 per person (in addition to the snorkeler rates listed above). No advanced reservations are necessary; just let the crew know you'd like to snuba when you get on board the boat on the morning of your tour.
- SCUBA - one or two tank scuba dives are available for CERTIFIED divers; advanced reservations are required. The additional cost for scuba is $42 for a one-tank dive and $66 for a two tank dive (including gear). If you have members in your party who would like to scuba, please call our office after making a reservation for your party using the form on the right side of this page
- WET SUITS - are included in the cost for scuba divers; snorkelers may rent them for $10
For those who prefer snorkeling in the afternoon, the Pride of Maui PM Snorkel is offered Monday through Saturday from May to December and has a check-in at the main loading dock at Maalaea Harbor at 1:00pm; the tour is three hours long from 1:30pm to 4:30pm. The afternoon tour includes snorkel gear and a BBQ lunch. Due to afternoon trade winds the primary snorkel destination in the afternoon is Coral Gardens, a spot tucked in along the seacliffs of the south shore of the West Maui Mountains. Afternoon trips rarely (but occassionally) visit Molokini Crater; if Molokini is your goal you should do one of the morning tours as the chances of going to Molokini in the morning are infinitely higher. Afternoon Pride of Maui tour is $41.95 per adult, $26.95 per child (ages 3-12), and infants 2 and under are free ($4 per person fuel surcharge applies to afternoon tour as well). Please note that the Pride of Maui operates an afternoon WHALE WATCH instead of an afternoon snorkel from January through April.
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Cruise Ship Clients
NCL cruise ship passengers in Kahului are able to do Pride of Maui on their second day in port. This is a 12-15 minute cab ride to Maalaea Harbor, or we can arrange a rental car with shuttle pick-up at the harbor; rates vary throughout the year but start around $40 per day in low season; see our rental car page for more information.
Lahaina cruise ship passengers can do Pride of Maui only on day 2 (assuming your ship is spending the previous night in Lahaina). This would require a 20-25 minute cab ride, or we can arrange a rental car.
Fourwinds II - most time at Molokini
OUR DISCOUNTED RATES FOR FOURWINDS II:
- Adults $98.00 $88.00, Children (ages 3-12) $68.00 $58.00, 2 & under free (plus 7.1667% tax and harbor fee and $5 per seat fuel surcharge)
Often sells out 7-10 days in advance. The Fourwinds II will be in maintenance dry dock and unavailable for tours from 10/27/2013 to 11/18/2013..
Four Winds II is a 55 foot glass bottom catamaran, fondly referred to as "the boat for fun-lovers". Once onboard, you'll soon discover why Maui's visitors consider this trip to be one of the best to Molokini and why we have become a local favorite too. With a crew that is dedicated to your needs and providing you absolute fun, this trip is a family favorite. It offers something for all ages. Breakfast, BBQ lunch, waterslide, glass bottom viewing, open bar, all snorkel gear and instruction ... and snuba is available as an option (see snuba description above under "Pride of Maui).
The Fourwinds has one destination ... Molokini ... and they stay there for the entire morning! You won't get to snorkel with sea turtles on this trip ... but you will get more time at Molokini than any other boat. The Fourwinds II AM Molokini Snorkel is offered daily and has a check-in at Maalaea Harbor slip#80 at 7:00am; the tour is five hours long from 7:30am to 12:30pm.
For those who prefer snorkeling in the afternoon, the Fourwinds PM Snorkel is offered daily and has a check-in at Maalaea Harbor slip #80 at 1:00pm; the tour is three and a half hours long from 1:30pm to 5:00pm. The afternoon tour includes snorkel gear, boogie boards and float belts, and a BBQ lunch. Due to afternoon trade winds the primary snorkel destination in the afternoon is Coral Gardens, a spot tucked in along the seacliffs of the south shore of the West Maui Mountains. Afternoon trips rarely (but occassionally) visit Molokini Crater; if Molokini is your goal you should do one of the morning tours as the chances of going to Molokini in the morning are infinitely higher. Our rate for the Afternoon Fourwinds tour is $47.50 per adult, $37.50 per child (ages 3-12), and infants 2 and under are free ($3 per person fuel surcharge applies to afternoon tour)
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Cruise Ship Clients
NCL cruise ship passengers in Kahului are able to do Fourwinds II on their second day in port. This is a 12-15 minute cab ride to Maalaea Harbor, or we can arrange a rental car with shuttle pick-up at the harbor; rates vary throughout the year but start around $40 per day in low season; see our rental car page for more information.
Lahaina cruise ship passengers can do Fourwinds II only on day 2 (assuming your ship is spending the previous night in Lahaina). This would require a 20-25 minute cab ride, or we can arrange a rental car.
Blue Water Rafting - Molokini and Kanaio Coast
OUR RATES FOR BLUE WATER RAFTING: (4.1667% sales tax added to all tours)
- 5.5 Hour Molokini / Kanaio Coast: Adults $125, Children (5-12) $100
- 4.5 Hour Kanaio Coast (no Molokini): Adults $100, Children (5-12) $79
- 2.5 Hour Molokini / Whale Watch: Adults $55, Children (5-12) $45
- 2 Hour Molokini Express: Adults $50, Children (5-12) $39
Bue Water Rafting operates out of the Kihei small boat ramp, and offers a great alternative to people who are staying in a resort at Wailea, Makena, or one of the South Kihei condo properties. They offer four different tours, three of which go to Molokini crater. These tours are operated on a 24 passenger zodiac raft; their tours are exciting and fun for the adventure-seeker; no pregnant women, no neck or back injuries, and the minimum child age is 5.
Molokini / Kanaio Coast - Their signature trip ...explore the sea caves and lava arches of Maui's remote and rugged Kanaio Coast, which lies miles beyond the end of the road at La Perouse Bay. Discover secret coves and amazing lava rock formations formed during Maui's last eruptive period several hundred years ago. Dolphins are frequently seen in this area, and on rare occasions snorkeling with them is possible. Next stop is Molokini crater, and a variety of snorkeling opportunities there, including a long snorkel inside the crater, a drift snorkel over "reef's end", and a brief but memorable snorkel along the abyss that is Molokini's back wall on the outside of the crater. Premium snorkel gear with dry snorkel and a deli lunch are included. This tour is 5.5 hours long and is offered daily at 7am.
Kanaio Coast - For those who have been to Molokini but haven't seen the rugged Kanaio Coast, this tour offers the chance to go where few other tours dare! This is the same tour as above without the stops at Molokini. Premium snorkel gear with dry snorkel and a deli lunch are included. This tour is 4 hours long and offered daily at 7am.
Molokini / Whale Watch Combo - All the great Molokini snorkeling offered on their longer 5.5 hour trip, plus an hour of watching Maui's winter residents, the majestic humpback whales. Premium snorkel gear with dry snorkel is included. This tour is 2.5 hours long and is offered M, W, F at 11am during whale season, which runs from January 15th through April 15th.
Molokini Express - This is the quick way to see Molokini Crater. Because these rafts are so fast, it only takes them 15 minutes to zip out to Molokini from the Kihei small boat ramp. This tour offers the same Molokini snorkel opportunities as their longer morning tour ... 15 minutes out and back and 90 minutes of quality snorkeling at Molokini. Premium snorkel gear with dry snorkel is included. This tour is 2 hours long and is offered T, TH, SAT, and SUN at 11am during whale season; during the rest of the year it is offered seven days a week.
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Cruise Ship Clients
NCL cruise ship passengers in Kahului are able to do any of the Blue Water Rafting tours on their second day in port, or the Molokini Express tour on the first day in port. We recommend a rental car as the drive to Kihei Boat Ramp is about 25 minutes. rental car rates vary throughout the year but start around $40 per day in low season; see our rental car page for more information.
Blue Water Rafting is not practical for Lahaina cruise ship passengers; we recommend raft tours to Lanai instead since they leave from Lahaina.
Maui Magic - Molokini and Beyond
OUR DISCOUNTED RATES FOR MAUI MAGIC:
- Adults $120.00 $112.00, Children (ages 3-12) $90.00 $82.00 (plus 7.1667% tax and harbor fee and $7 per seat fuel surcharge)
If you are an adventurer that likes the wind in your hair, getting a chance to see dolphins in the wild, and the thrill of discovering a side of Maui that only a few will see... the Maui Magic Molokini and Beyond tour is for you! The newly built 54ft. Maui Magic is a state-of-the-art, fast, comfortable, power catamaran equipped with BBQ grills, onboard waterslide, and an awesome sound system. The itinerary is similar to the 5.5 hour Molokini and Kanaio Coast tour with Blue Water Rafting ... only this vessel is larger, and has more creature comforts than a zodiac raft. The Maui Magic offers daily tours and has a 7:00am check-in at Maalaea Harbor slip #55. The tour is 5 hours in length from 7:30am to 12:30pm.
Your captain will provide you with a complete Hawaiian historical and cultural narration about the sites that you will pass along the coastline. During the narration a selection of Hawaiian music and chants is played to enhance the experience. This is a true Hawaiian cultural cruise and totally unique in every way! Best of all you can get a chance to see Spinner Dolphins and even Pacific Bottlenose Dolphins when nature permits. The Maui Magic has a great success rate at finding these magnificent creatures.
The weather dictates snorkel sites and destinations ... typically two and sometimes three snorkel stops are made. Weather permitting, Molokini is always one of these stops ... other possibilities include the Kanaio Coast, La Perouse, Turtle Arches, and the beautiful Coral Gardens. Whatever nature and her beauty have in store for us, you can be sure it will be exciting!
The Maui Magic is not a stroller-friendly vessel, and due to its more rugged itinerary this tour is not recommended for most children under the age of 5. However, parents are the best gauge of their child's capabilities. If you have a child who is 3 or 4 and is particularly "tough" for their age, they are permitted on the tour ... but all children pay the child rate regardless of age. Infants who require constant attention are not appropriate for this tour. We would recommend either the Pride of Maui or the Fourwinds instead.
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Cruise Ship Clients
NCL cruise ship passengers in Kahului are able to do Maui Magic on their second day in port. This is a 12-15 minute cab ride to Maalaea Harbor, or we can arrange a rental car with shuttle pick-up at the harbor; rates vary throughout the year but start around $40 per day in low season; see our rental car page for more information.
Lahaina cruise ship passengers can do Maui Magic only on day 2 (assuming your ship is spending the previous night in Lahaina). This would require a 20-25 minute cab ride, or we can arrange a rental car.
Let's begin by making it clear ... there are MANY boats that do Molokini snorkel tours. There are lots of old icky boats, a host of mediocre trips, and then there are a few great ones and THEY are the ones you are reading about on this page. WE ONLY BOOK NICE MOLOKINI TRIPS!!! You can't go wrong with ANY of the boats listed on this page. We don't book OLD boats that are poorly maintained ... period. I have personally been on EVERY one of these boats and stand behind these tour operators. Now that you don't have to worry about us booking you on a BAD boat the only question left to settle is "Which boat is the very best for you?"
My highest recommendation is to first consider Aqua Adventures. Many of our clients want something a step up in terms of personal service and really want to go on a less-crowded boat. I can tell you that you won't find anything less crowded than Aqua Adventures. Their boat is certified for 49 passengers but they limit the trip to 36. That's 100 less people than some of the other Molokini trips! Their boat is well designed to handle Maui's often windy ocean conditions. This is also the best choice for someone who wants to try SNUBA diving; their boat was custom designed with SNUBA in mind, and their instructors are the best in the industry. Aqua Adventures offers a two-location snorkel trip, going to Molokini first and Turtle Arches second on a typical day. This boat is family owned and operated and they have next to ZERO crew turnover. These people love their jobs, love the ocean, and love sharing all of this with you. I recommend this tour for anyone EXCEPT those with very small children or anyone who KNOWS they have a problem with motion sickness. There is no water slide on this boat, so kids might prefer one of the bigger boats. Their deli lunch features HIGH QUALITY beef, ham, and turkey that have been SMOKED at Beach Bums, an excellent BBQ restaurant at Maalaea Harbor. If you are a vegetarian, you might prefer one of the bigger boats that offer garden burgers, but those smoked meats are REALLY tasty!
The Fourwinds and Pride of Maui are very similar boats in size and ammenities and are the two best of the larger boats; the biggest difference between them is their itinerary. The Pride of Maui goes to Molokini for one snorkel stop and Turtle Town for a second. Everybody loves turtles, so the Pride of Maui includes them with their morning tour. The Fourwinds structures their trip differently ... there are lots of places where turtles can be seen while snorkeling along the Maui Coastline that don't require a boat ride, but a boat is the ONLY way you can experience Molokini. For that reason they stay at Molokini the entire time. giving you more snorkel time there than any other boat. If you are only going to snorkel once during your vacation, the Pride of Maui will give you more diversity. If you plan to snorkel around your hotel too, you'll probably see turtles then, so the Fourwinds will give you more time to experience Molokini crater. The Fourwinds has the better glass bottom viewing area, so if you have anyone in your party who isn't going to snorkel, they'll enjoy that feature. Both boats are large with capacity in the 130 range, but they are spacious and well laid out to handle the larger crowds. We've seen other large boats that look like people are hanging over the edge ... that isn't the case with these two. Both of these boats are powered catamarans that are very stable; if you have any concerns at all about motion sickness the Pride of Maui has the widest beam (width) which makes it the most stable boat in the water.
Blue Water Rafting is a great choice for the adventure seeker, especially ones who are staying in Kihei and Wailea ... these rafts are small enough to enter some of the sea caves and lava arches along the Kanaio Coast (when the ocean swells permit). But you do need to be aware that high adventure also means low creature comforts. There is no rest room on board ... when you have to go ... then you have to jump in the water. Blue Water Rafting has a saying ... "NO WIMPS." If you are one, they really prefer you to go on someone else's boat. From experience we can tell you that these guys really are die hards. They will provide you with a thrilling ocean experience, and that means going out in a variety of ocean and weather conditions. You will get wet on their tours ... even on an otherwise dry sunny day. This is a bouncy ride and you will experience open ocean conditions that are much rougher than what you'd find on a typical Molokini tour. By now you should be able to tell if this is the right tour for you ... or not.
For those who want to experience the Kanaio Coast but maybe aren't up for the rigours of the rafting tour, the Maui Magic offers a great compromise. Their boat is larger than the rafts, but much smaller than the Pride of Maui and the Fourwinds. The Maui Magic handles the open ocean conditions experienced along the Kanaio Coast with a little more of a forgiving ride. You'll get to see the wild scenery that only a handful of long-time Maui residents have ever seen, but you'll get a little more forgiving ride. The Maui Magic is too large to enter any of these caves, but you'll get to see the wild volcanic coastline and enjoy the views (and the on board rest room and BBQ lunch).
Molokini as a snorkel destination is somewhat weather-dependent ... while all of these tours that advertise Molokini as a destination will make every effort to provide guests with the experience they seek, a few days a year the tours get diverted to an alternate snorkel spot. All snorkel destinations are ultimately the decision of the captain of the respective vessel and that decision is always made with the safety and comfort of the guests in mind.
Morning is typically better snorkeling than the afternoon because our trade winds here in Hawaii are typically much lighter in the morning and the wind kicks up around noon or so. Many boats (and activity desks) advertise less expensive afternoon Molokini trips ... we don't find this approach to be an honest one. Because of afternoon trade winds most PM trips go to "Coral Gardens" which is near the tunnel along the Pali Highway between Maalaea and Lahaina. Coral Gardens is a nice spot to snorkel ... but it isn't Molokini. We do offer these afternoon trips, but we take the high road here at Adventuremaui.com ... since your chances of going to Molokini in the afternoon are less than 20%, we prefer to market them as Coral Gardens snorkel tours ... which occassionally get diverted to Molokini on really calm afternoons. If you want to be reasonably sure you are going to Molokini, you definitely want to book a morning trip when your chances of getting to Molokini are more like 95% instead of 20%.
We also offer scuba diving to Molokini Crater which is not found here on this page ... see our Maui scuba diving page for details. We offer both certified diving and introductory, no experience necessary dives. The tours featured on our scuba diving page are best if EVERYONE in your party wants to scuba dive. If you have some snorkelers and a few certified divers, the Pride of Maui found here on this page is the best choice.