Exploring Hawaii’s coral reefs, marine life, and pristine blue waters is an absolute requirement while visiting Maui. Head out on a glorious snorkeling adventure to Molokini with the Pride of Maui!
*This post was written in collaboration with the Pride of Maui. All opinions are 100% my own.*
Can you believe it? I have never been snorkeling before! I’m not usually one for venturing far into the ocean. I get just a wee bit nervous about all the sharks, jelly fish, and crabs…oh my! Plus growing up frequenting Atlantic beaches where visibility is low or nonexistent didn’t put snorkeling high on my list of beach activities. But while planning our itinerary for Maui, I knew I wanted to brave the deep blue so I could meet a turtle or two and perhaps see a magnificent hump back whale.
I’m so glad I pushed myself to don some snorkel gear and dive in because our snorkeling adventure to Molokini and Coral Gardens was absolutely stunning, and probably S. and my favorite part of our whole trip!
We could not get over how blue the Pacific Ocean was around Maui. The water is the richest, deep royal blue I’ve ever seen. Visibility at both snorkel locations was excellent at 150 feet or more, and the water temperature was comfortable with a wetsuit top. We saw an abundance of sea life from turtles and raccoon butterfly fish to slate-pencil sea urchins and otters.
- Use the de-fogging solution on your mask before you get in the water.
- To get a good seal on your mask push all your hair out of the way and relax your face muscles. Don’t smile while putting the mask on as that will prevent the rubber from sealing properly.
- If you get water in your mask, tilt your head back and slightly lift up on the bottom of your mask to release.
- Bite down gently on the snorkel and wrap your lips around the mouth piece.
- Swim horizontally using a floatation device and move slowly, looking slightly ahead of yourself.
About Molokini & Coral Gardens
Molokini Crater is a partially submerged volcanic crater that features some of the clearest water for snorkeling anywhere in the world. The islet’s concave shape protects divers from waves and strong currents, and with over 250 diverse species in this tropical sanctuary there is plenty to explore. It is located 2 miles off the coast of Maui and the most popular snorkel destinations in Hawaii.
Coral Gardens is renowned for the incredibly beautiful and massive coral heads of several different varieties. It is a natural reef formation located in a naturally protected bay, on the West-side of Maui. Coral Gardens is home to Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles and a variety of other marine life.
Pride of Maui
S. and I chose to take a half day snorkeling adventure to Molokini with the Pride of Maui, a top notch snorkeling charter service that leaves from Maalaea Harbor. The boat is a 65 foot Maxi Power Catamaran boasting 3000 sq ft. of deck space, which means plenty of room for comfortable seating and panoramic viewing. The trip started early in the morning with boarding at 7:30AM and lasted about 5 hours, returning just after 1:00 PM.
The staff could not have been anymore helpful, polite, or professional, willing to do anything to ensure you had the best experience. Plus they were fun and excited to share Maui with us tourists! The trip includes a continental breakfast, which was good if basic, and a tasty grilled lunch of hamburgers and hotdogs, which was perfect after all that swimming. It was rather hard to eat on the upper deck because of the wind conditions, so I recommend staying downstairs to enjoy lunch without it flying in your face. Yes, I ended up with mustard everywhere! At the end of snorkeling, the bar opens with local microbrews and mai thais!
The Pride of Maui provides all of your snorkel gear from masks to flippers, and they show you how to use it. Everything is sanitized and cleaned. The Captain even offered a mini-snorkeling lesson before the first stop at Molokini to help beginners have the best experience. I felt really safe with the crew. They got in the water with us, and were quick to point out sea life as well as potential dangers.
Know Before You Go
- Be sure to bring: sunglasses, hat, bathing suit, cover-up, towels, nausea meds (if you are prone to motion sickness), a zippered tote to store your stuff, and your camera.
- The Pride of Maui will supply you with your snorkel gear, reef safe sunscreen, food and beverages, wet suits for $10, floats, and underwater camera rental.
- Protect the coral reefs – do not touch the marine life, especially the reefs and sea turtles! Plus a calm swimmer is more likely to see more marine life.
- Go early to pick your seating (we liked the back of the upper deck – it is a bit more stable there and offers great views).
- Parking is free at the harbor but the Pride of Maui also has a shuttle to certain hotels.
- Bring cash to purchase any of the on board extras like the wet suits or camera rental.
- Spray sunscreen is not allowed on the boat.
- Apply and re-apply sunscreen often!
- Be patient with the lines for food and getting in the water and out.
- Watch for whale water spouts on the way to and from the crater, and enjoy every minute of your snorkeling adventure to Molokini!