Molokini Crater Blog

See what’s new at Molokini Crater! We also share articles about other regions of Maui County.

Maui News and Molokini Posts

Molokini Questions Answered

Molokini questions answered

Via social media, email and comments, we’re asked the same questions over and over.  So, we’ve answered them more thoroughly below.


Is your Molokini Crater question not answered below? 

Let us know in comments and we’ll add more!


How deep is Molokini when snorkeling?

Most Molokini snorkeling is done within the protected crescent, which starts from the apex at around 10 feet deep and slopes down to 25 feet+ (3 to 8 meters).

The backwall (on the other side of Molokini) reached down past 250 feet pretty much straight down.  This is a popular area for scuba divers.

What is Molokini Crater?

Molokini Crater is a crescent-shaped islet famed for it’s protected waters and incredible visibility for snorkeling and scuba diving.  

It was likely formed from volcanic eruption 230,000 million years ago, and has had a long tumultuous history.  

Currently, Molokini serves as a Marine Conservation District and Bird Sanctuary further making it a boon for ocean lovers.

Where is Molokini Crater?

Molokini Crater is located 2.5 miles (4 km) off the southern shore of Maui, Hawaii. The closest Maui coastlines are on Makena and Kihei/Wailea.

Learn more about Molokini’s location.

How far is Molokini Crater from Maui? How long is the boat ride to Molokini?

Molokini is 2.5 miles (4 km) from the closest Maui coastline (Makena.)

The boat ride duration depends on where you depart from.  From Maalaea Harbor, it’ll take about an hour. If departing from Kihei Boat ramp or Maluaka Beach, it’ll take you less than 30 minutes. See Maui harbor maps.

We discourage leaving from Lahaina Harbor.  It’d be a long boat ride.

How do you get to Molokini Crater from Maui?

There are a number of permited commercial vessels leaving from Maalaea, Kihei, and Makena taking passengers to Molokini daily. 

Choose from some of the best Molokini tours.

Is snorkeling at Molokini safe?

Yes. Though there’s risk of injury anywhere in the ocean, there are several reasons why snorkeling at Molokini is considered safer than from the shore.  

  • Commercial vessels mooring at Molokini have a lifeguard in the water during snorkeling.  
  • Commercial vessels allowed to moor at Molokini have permits for a reason. They’re trusted to watch over their guests.
  • Snorkeling from the shore can be dangerous due to swell activity and no one to watch and guide visitors to the safest spots.
  • Visibility is higher here than anywhere else on the island (usually 100-150 feet), so being able to see makes it safer.
  • The inside of Molokini Crater is protected from swell from most directions.
  • Molokini tours have equipment to help those less experienced with snorkeling.  They also won’t run a tour if the weather is dangerous.
Are there sharks at Molokini Crater?

Yes.  Reef sharks spend most of their time on the backside of the crater, but we sometimes see them close to the bottom in deeper waters within the crater. 

Are they dangerous? You’d have to be either dead or trying to ride one for them to attack you.  

Is Molokini worth it?

YES! Visibility is incredible and the ocean life is vibrant and plentiful.  See some of the top Molokini tours to book your reservation. They book up well-ahead, so do that now.

The only negative reviews we’ve ever read have been from people that went during extremely stormy weather.  Most boats will refund you before sending a boat out in bad weather.  That being said, their snorkeling experience was most likely far better than they would have had along the coast at that time.

Do I need reservations for Molokini?

Yes.  There are no boats that take walk ons. As of this writing (May 21st, 2021) capacity on boats has just been lifted from 30% to 70% due to COVID regulations loosening up, but many boats are still sold out 2 months ahead.  Make your Molokini reservations as soon as you know you’re coming to Maui.

Are there turtles in Molokini? Whales?

It’s pretty rare to see turtles within Molokini Crater.  They prefer to spend time along the shoreline, which is why most Molokini boats will also take you to “Turtle Town” after Molokini, in order to get you the best of all Maui snorkeling worlds.

Can you kayak to Molokini Crater? Can you swim? Can you walk?

It’s possible to kayak, but DON’T DO IT!  There are currents and people have been lost at sea FOREVER trying it.

And don’t swim it.  Even if you can swim a 5 mile round trip, currents will likely take you to the Big Island or to Japan.

Can you walk to Molokini?  It’s an islet.  Hard to believe we get this question still. Unless you can turn water into wine and have a cool beard, book a boat trip.


Do you get sea sick on the Molokini boat tour?

Depending on the weather and the vessel, those prone to getting sea sick should take precautions.  For those that are prone, here are some suggestions.

  • Bring medication. 
  • Stay above deck, towards the front and keep your eyes on the horizon. If you feel nauseous, go to the back. 
  • Go early.  The wind usually doesn’t come up until a little later in the morning. The earliest trip available is also one of the best:  Kai Kanani’s Molokini Sunrise Deluxe snorkel tour is great because you’ll be the first ones and only ones snorkeling at Molokini for the majority of your session.  They also have a large, stable catamaran.
  • Choose a fast boat that gets there fast and has a short overall trip.  The fastest trip is from the Kihei Boat Ramp with Redline Rafting on  a 2-hour Molokini rafting adventure.
Do you need a wetsuit to snorkel at Molokini?

This depends on how you handle our water temperature.  If you get out of the water when at a Maui beach because you’re chilly after 20 minutes, opt for a wetsuit. 

Most boat trips offer wetsuits. We suggest siding with caution.  Might as well be comfortable.

Does Molokini Crater have a star and crescent?

No.  Molokini has naturally formed into a crescent above the surface.  If you see images like this with crescent island and star, it’s Photoshop.

crescent and star island

2 hour Molokini tour
2 hour Molokini tour

Jellyfish in Hawaii

Hawaii danger sign for Jellfish

Jellyfish Stings, Portuguese Man O’ War Bites, and Sea Lice:

What to Know While Vacationing in Hawaii

jellyfish line

Beachgoers are often floored by the gorgeousness of Hawaii’s waters. And who can blame them? Few places in the world are as warm and pristine, while the fun the Pacific affords can’t be beat.

But beauty isn’t exactly tantamount to worry-free. Injuries, drownings, shark attacks, wiping out on a rogue wave—locals and visitors alike are vulnerable to the dangers of the sea. Chief among them? Jellyfish stings, Portuguese Man O’ War bites, and sea lice—all of which can take a day from epic to miserable faster than you can say ouch.

Hawaii jellyfish infographic

Here’s what to stay mindful of the water in Hawaii—and how to remedy the situation fast if you find yourself harmed:

read more…

Debra Lumpkins and the Japanese tradition of Gyotaku

Debra Lumpkins


Debra Lumpkins turns her snorkels into art through the Japanese tradition of Gyotaku


Gyotaku is the traditional art of fish printing. The origins of Gyotaku can be traced back to the mid-1800s where Japanese fishermen would use it to record the size and species of their catches. Over the years the practice of fish printing has been transformed into an art form. Debra Lumpkins has adopted this art form and creates stunning fish prints. Her many snorkel trips studying the fish in their natural environment allow her to capture the fishes’ essence, thus bringing you on those underwater adventures through her art. An illustrator and graphic designer prior to moving to Maui from the Pacific Northwest, Debra studied scientific illustration and screen printing. After moving to Maui in 2008 she began to explore Gyotaku techniques.

fish prints

Debra believes that a successful Gyotaku inspires the viewer to contemplate marine life and our connection to it. Debra’s friends and family share her love for the ocean and often provide her with fish they caught while fishing or diving. Her husband can be found spearfishing along Maui’s reefs not only looking for dinner, but also for new subjects for Debra to print.

read more…

Top 5 West Maui Snorkel Spots

When it comes to scenic snorkeling, whale watching, and the perfect mix of outdoor activities, natural beauty, and nightlife, Maui is everyone’s go-to Hawaiian getaway. No matter what your level of comfortability in the ocean, we guarantee you’ll enjoy one of Maui’s best ocean activities, whether it be snorkeling, surfing, stand up paddleboarding, windsurfing, outrigger canoeing, kayaking, sailing, parasailing or more.

snorkeling West Maui

Snorkeling, in particular, is one of the best, easiest, and most cost-effective ways to see the beauty of the Valley Isle. While there are many guided snorkeling boat tours around Maui, it’s just as easy to grab a pair of fins and a mask and explore the sites yourself! Below we give you the best tips for where to snorkel in West Maui from shore, and we hope you enjoy your time in our tropical paradise.

read more…

Maui Luau tickets
Maui Luau tickets
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Malolo Snorkeling Molokini
Malolo Snorkeling Molokini

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All About Molokini’s Back Wall

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