Protected by the state of Hawaii. It is believed that Molokini Crater formed over one hundred thousand years ago.
Years of erosion has given Molokini a crescent shape. The steep walls provide shelter from the wind and ocean swells once inside the dormant caldera. Its isolation creates a unique environment for snorkeling. The quality and clarity of the ocean surrounding Molokini are exceptional. Underwater visibility is consistently 80-100 feet. This is the result of deep ocean water exchange which brings in clean water and removes sediment. The absence of sediment increases sunlight penetration, which in turn feeds the algae living inside the coral. Molokini is a healthy ecosystem providing some of the best snorkeling on Maui.
Layers of colorful coral combined with incredible water clarity and diverse marine life make Molokini one of those “must-do” activities on your vacation list of things to do. By the way, the other two calderas are in Europe, in Greece.
It is not uncommon for the spinner dolphins to approach us as we sit idle in the water. Close encounters initiated by the dolphins are frequent on a tour in Maui. Spinner dolphins are wild animals whose daily habits are reasonably predictable, and we enjoy a high percentage of sightings.
With 13 species of toothed dolphins (Nai’a) swimming in the tepid waters of Hawaii, the most common are the Hawaiian spinner, spotted (Kiko), bottlenose and rough-toothed dolphins.
Spinner dolphins are the most common and are found in resident pods around the Hawaiian Islands resting in shallow bays during the day and hunting at night for small fish. Spinner dolphins are one of our favorites due to their playful behavior and acrobatic maneuvers.
Dolphins in Hawaii are called spinners for their high, spinning leaps, they are known as playful, eager bow-riders throughout much of their range. Spinner dolphins can make up to 5.5 spins in one leap. Dolphins also make nose-outs, tail slaps, flips, head slaps, “salmon leaps,” and side and back slaps.
The Hawaiian name for dolphin is Nai’a and refers to most dolphins found in Hawaii.
Numerous studies by marine biologists indicate that the green color is due to the algae that the animals eat. The majority of these turtles have dark-brown hard shells or carapaces. The younger ones, called hatchlings, will have black hard shells. Then, as they grow, orange and yellowish tints appear. Sometimes, they develop olive, gold, and reddish brown shades or swirls and other irregular patterns.
The Hawaiian green sea turtles will at times, swim to the shore, crawl towards the beach, and bask under the sun. Scientists explain this sunbathing behavior as the turtles’ way to regulate their body temperature.
Although they can stay underwater for more than two hours, the turtle tends to go to the surface for air every few minutes. This might be the reason why some ancient legends claimed that the sea turtles led the first people to discover the Hawaiian Islands.
The Hawaiian name for green sea turtle is Honu. They are actually named after the color of their body fat.
A mature North Pacific humpback whale averages about 40 ft in length and weighs about 40 tons, although they’ve been known to grow up to 16 meters or 52 ft long.
Their heavy bodies can weigh up to 50 tons. The heart alone is about 400 lbs or more. The size of the whales makes them hard to miss, especially when they swim in groups. Female whales are slightly larger in order to defend themselves and their nursing calves from the more aggressive males.
Some common behavior includes blowing and spy-hopping. They also slap their tails on the water, which is believed to be an act of communication and to demonstrate their individual strength. Spy-hopping is when the humpback whales come high out of the water to have a look around at the world above.
The Hawaiian name for humpback whales is Koholā. They have long had a place in the Hawaiian culture.
Some common ones that you will see are the teardrop butterflyfish, Maui boasts almost 250 different species of fish. Part of the fun is being able to interact with and identifying the fish.
Lemon butterflyfish, four-spot butterflyfish, Potter’s angelfish, yellow longnose butterflyfish, yellow-tail wrasse, ornate wrasse, bannerfish, Moorish idol, bluefin trevally, rainbow cleaner wrasse, Picasso triggerfish, black triggerfish, white-spotted damsel, hogfish (which is a part of the wrasse family) and the incredible flying fish!
The excellent potential for sightings continues as you are also very likely to see…
Pincushion sea stars with their vibrant red and gold coloring, spotted moray eels (which are usually seen swimming through coral reef crevices), octopus, manta rays, orange tube corals, Feather duster worms, Spanish dancers (also called nudies), slate-pencil sea urchins, ghost crabs, Portuguese Man-O-War, Hawaiian monk seals and sea cucumbers, which get their name from their cucumber-like shape.
Your Captain’s mission is to take you to the very best snorkeling Maui has to offer, and we have found that Molokini and Turtle Town are the best of the best!
The only thing missing while snorkeling
at Molokini Crater is the Hawaiian green sea turtles.
years on earth
Our guests really appreciate that we take them also to this second beautiful place along Maui’s southern coast with completely different ecosystem, as a perfect pairing location after snorkeling Molokini.
It offers a series of underwater lava formations, valleys, and craggy overhangs in very shallow water ranging from 10 to 40 feet. The coral reef is a colorful home to a diverse ecosystem. Swimming with the graceful Hawaiian green sea turtles is a memory not soon forgotten.
The Hawaiian green sea turtles were declared an endangered species in 1978, and are protected by law. It is unlawful to touch, chase or ride the turtles. If you calmly observe them in their natural habitat the seat turtles at Turtle Town will often swim close to you. This provides an opportunity for you have a close look at the world’s largest hard-shelled turtle.
The sea turtles habitat is much closer to the shoreline of Maui which provides them with the opportunity to lay their eggs on the beach and bury them in the warm sand.
Along with its main attraction, the Hawaiian green sea turtle, Turtle Town boasts a broad range of tropical fish and other unique marine animals like the butterflyfish, parrotfish, damselfish, surgeonfish, tang, wrasse, cardinal fish, squirrel fish, soldier fish, triggerfish, the former Hawaii state fish
Humuhumunukunukuapuaa, goatfish, snapper, hawk fish, jacks, trumpet fish, cornet fish, needle fish, eels, crustaceans, octopus and other invertebrates.
There are no turtles at Molokini (other than the very rare sighting of a single Hawksbill Turtle). But don’t worry. We will take you also to the Turtle Town, where you will see Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles.
The Green Sea Turtles at Turtle Town stay close to their reef habitat and sanctuary, but sometimes they swim to shore, crawl up on the beach, and warm up in the sun to regulate their body temperature. The turtle’s tend to go to the surface to breathe every few minutes though able to remain submerged for more than two hours.