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.
Minimum Notice for Cancellation for any of these tours is 48 hours prior to checkin, with the exception of Aqua Adventures which is 72 hours prior to checkin.
$180.33 per Adult, $158.79 per Child (3-12), $158.79 per Infants (2 and under), $75.38 per SNUBA divers (Hawaii sales tax included)
Aqua Adventures offers a two location snorkel tour (normally Molokini for the first stop and Turtle Arches for the second) with a 6:45am 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 7:15am 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 15-18 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.
Calypso Molokini Adventure
$186.95 per Adult, $1,126.95 per Paying Child (12 and under), Free Infant (3 and under) FREE (plus 7.712% Hawaii sales/harbor tax)
One free infant per adult. Additional infants pay the child rate.
This tour often sells out more than two weeks in advance during peak season so make your reservations now!
Calypso is a spacious, stable 65' foot powered catamaran custom built here in Hawaii to provide full-featured snorkeling and dinner cruises. With its three decks, all-table seating, and indoor/outdoor design, this vessel is a great choice for a Molokini and Turtle Town snorkel for those who are looking for a stable boating experience. The twin hull design of the catamaran allows it to cut through the waves while the center of the vessel is held above the surface. A smooth, fast ride is the result!
Whether you are a first-time snorkeler, or an experienced, strong swimmer, you can still snorkel with the Calypso. The crew will patiently instruct you in the use of their snorkel gear. When the vessel stops at a snorkel site getting in and out of the ocean is FAST ... the entire stern of the vessel transforms into stairways leading down to the water with ELEVEN lanes of snorkeling access. In addition to the essential mask, fins, and snorkel sets, the boat also offers prescription masks and comfortable flotation devices. You can also rent a wetsuit to help you keep warm, and rent an underwater camera to bring home shots of the amazing sea life you encounter! And if you have kids who are too young to snorkel or adults who just don't want to get in the ocean, the Calypso has a glass bottom viewing area below the lower deck that is open when the vessel is stopped!Calypso has a two-location snorkel itinerary that departs from Maalaea Harbor at 7:30am and is 5 hours in length. On the vast majority of days the first destination is Molokini Crater and its crystal clear 100 foot visibility, and the second destination is Turtle Town, where you can snorkel and swim with Hawaiia's fascinating and friendly giant green sea turtles! Please note that while this is the normal itinerary on the vast majority of days, ocean conditions can vary and the captain will adjust destinations based upon the best ocean conditions for snorkeling that particular morning.
Calypso is the best-equipped, most fully-featured Molokini trip available. The list of amenities is long!
- Hot breakfast served on the way to Molokini
- Two water slides and one "Leap of Faith" 2nd deck jumping platform!
- ELEVEN lanes of Easy ocean access
- Many kinds of flotation devices
- Snorkel gear with instruction
- Large shaded cabins with plenty of airflow
- On board marine naturalist
- Comfortable seating with tables!
- Two warm freshwater showers
- BBQ lunch with vegetarian options
- Unlimited non-alcoholic beverages, cash bar for reasonably-priced alcoholic beverages after snorkeling
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Cruise Ship Clients
NCL cruise ship passengers in Kahului are able to do Calypso on their second day in port. This is a 15-18 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 Calypso 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.
Paragon Molokini Snorkel Sail
$185.00 per Adult, $130.00 per Child (3-12), Infants (under 3) FREE (plus 8.108% Hawaii sales/harbor tax)
Paragon is the leading sailing catamaran on the island, and let them take you on a thrilling adventure to Molokini. This 5 hour tour is offered daily from 7:30am to 12:30pm. Check in is at 7:15am at Maalaea Harbor. They have twin vessels featuring new construction techniques, hull design, and state-of-the-art rotating carbon fiber masts. The same mast technology was used for America's Cup winning catamaran, which allows for high speeds along with safety and comfort. Performance sailing is Paragon's speciality, and they go to one snorkel destination per trip instead of motoring around to multiple snorkel spots. You will be taken to the crescent shaped crater of Molokini, which is a natural marine preserve with over 250 species of tropical fish. Paragon II will take you to these protected and pristine waters while experiencing the excitement of performance and trade wind sailing. You will be served continental breakfast as you sail across Ma'alaea Bay. And lunch buffet and drinks will be served after you swim and snorkel at Molokini. You are welcome to rinse off with their hot & cold shower. Experience the breathtaking humpback whales play and jump during whale season (December - May). Molokini weather can be unpredictable, and if this happens Paragon will sail to a more suitable snorkel destination.
Paragon provides snorkel gear, but you can also bring your own. They also have a few optical masks, so let us know if you need one. They do not allow spray-on sunscreen. It has a tendency to go everywhere which can make it slippery and dangerous to move around the boat. Also, spray-on sunscreen is generally toxic to the ocean environment. Paragon encourages the use of reef-safe sunscreen, which they provide on their vessel. We recommend you bring sunglasses, a hat, reuseable water bottle, towels, and a camera. They do not provide towels, but they have some available for purchase.
Gluten free and vegetarian options are available, but people with severe nut allergies or celiac disease should be aware that our catering companies cannot guarantee there is no cross contamination.
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Cruise Ship Clients
Only Pride of America passengers are able to do the Molokini Snorkel Sail on their second day in port and they will need to take a 15-18 minute cab ride.
Fourwinds II - most time at Molokini
$171.00 per Adult, $136.00 per Child (3-12), Under 3 FREE (plus 7.712% Hawaii sales/harbor tax and $7.00 per person fuel surcharge)
Often sells out 7-10 days in advance.
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 $49.00 per adult, $38.00 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 15-18 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
Blue 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 4.
$216.14 per Adult, $172.89 per Child (4-12) (Hawaii sales tax included)
Molokini / Kanaio Coast - is 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.
$194.51 per Adult, $151.27 per Child (4-12) (Hawaii sales tax included)
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.
$162.08 per Adult, $129.65 per Child (4-12) (Hawaii sales tax included)
Molokini Plus - Beat the crowds to Molokini on this 3 hour event. The short trip and early start of this tour allow you to snorkel at Molokini before the BIGGER boats arrive, then they stop at a turtle location along the South Maui coastline for a second snorkel experience on the way back to the Kihei boat ramp. This tour is 3 hours long and offered daily at 7am.
$151.27 per Adult, $119.92 per Child (4-12) (Hawaii sales tax included)
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.
$140.46 per Adult, $108.02 per Child (4-12) (Hawaii sales tax included)
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 10:30am 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, and we recommend raft tours to Lanai instead since they leave from Lahaina.
Maui Magic Adventure Snorkel
$188.00 per Adult, $141.00 per Child (12 and under), FREE (plus 7.712% Hawaii sales/harbor tax and $7.00 per person fuel surcharge)
If you are an adventurer that likes the wind in your hair, the possible opportunity of getting to see dolphins in the wild, and want to enjoy a snorkel tour without the crowds ... the Maui Magic Adventure Snorkel tour is for you! The Maui Magic is a fast, comfortable, state-of-the-art 54 foot power catamaran equipped an onboard waterslide, and an awesome sound system. The Maui Magic offers daily tours and has a 6:30am 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!
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 La Perouse Bay, Turtle Arches, and the beautiful Coral Gardens. They like to say that no two snorkel trips are ever exactly the same.
Maui Magic is fast ... and their speed in getting to and from their snorkel destinations allows for about 30 minutes of extra snorkel time compared to other larger, slower boats.
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 15-18 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 best of the "bigger boats" is the Calypso. Their trip is really full-featured and may be prefered by those who are most concerned about stability our on the water. They are the BEST of the bigger boats for two reasons. 1. They have comfortable seating with TABLES available for all seats. This means you don't have to juggle a plate of food on your lap while you are eating breafast and lunch! 2. They have BY FAR the best access to the water at the stern of the vessel. The entire back of the boat turns into ELEVEN lanes of stairways leading to the ocean which really speeds up the access time in and out of 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 prefer a smaller group for their snorkel experience, the best choices are Aqua Adventures and Maui Magic. Both of these vessels have less than half the number of people on board than the larger snorkel boats. The smaller size also allows them to get to their destinations faster, maximizing your time in the water.
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 occasionally 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.