One of the most popular destinations in Maui County is a submerged volcanic crater in between the islands of Maui and Kaho’olawe named Molokini. It is one of only three known submerged calderas on Earth. Home to over 260 different types of fish, Molokini is a top snorkeling destination. Visitors come to Maui from all over the world and many have Molokini written at the top of their bucket list. Molokini has a deep and interesting history that has led to it being a top destination today.
It was formed about 230,000 years ago by a volcanic eruption. In Hawaiian Folklore, Molokini was said to have been a beautiful woman who was fighting over a man with the goddess Pele who subsequently split Molokini in two. Molokini’s head is a cinder cone in Makena and her body, Molokini Crater. Based on archeological evidence, Ancient Hawaiians are said to have visited Molokini for fishing. During WW2, Molokini, and the nearby Kaho’olawe were both used as targets for military bomb practice. Molokini was chosen because it’s shape was said to have resembled a submarine or battleship. In 1977, the US government declared Molokini Crater a Marine Life Conservation District and Bird sanctuary.
Since then, Molokini has been able to recover and the fish returned in droves. It is now serviced by many different tour operators daily who bring groups of eager tourists to the Crater. This unique experience is a must-do for those visiting Maui. Once you are inside the crater, the walls grow larger and you are astounded by the beauty of Molokini. And that’s before you even enter the water! Calm, protected, crystal clear water waits for you to come explore. The crater is teeming with marine life from the vibrant reef to the colorful tropical fish and the meandering Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles. Tours operate out of the Lahaina Harbor, Maalaea Harbor, Makena, and the Kihei Boat Ramp. From your south Maui vacation rental, Kihei Boat Ramp is the most convenient departure point. Depending on where in Kihei you are staying, you may even be able to walk to the boat ramp! The lesser known Kihei Boat Ramp has many reputable companies such as Redline Rafting and Blue Water Rafting who both service Molokini. Because of the smaller vessels they use, you will have a much more personalized experience and you may be able to go to different spots around Molokini. Molokini is also only about 15 minutes away when you leave from the Kihei Boat Ramp.
Visiting Molokini is an incredible opportunity that you will cherish and remember forever. Hopping into the water at the Crater is unforgettable and you are immediately taken by your surroundings. It is one of the most picturesque locations in the world to snorkel and the life below the water is even more impressive. Be sure to check Molokini off of your list on your next Maui vacation.