Just 2.5 miles off the Southern coast of Maui lies the sunken crater of Molokini Island. With crystal clear, tropical waters, Molokini teems with fish painted in every color of the rainbow. Molokini is a national marine preserve and is protected by the state of Hawaii. The rich fishing to be had in it’s sheltered bay has caused the island, lying between Maui and Kahoolawe, to be declared a protected marine area. Because of its crescent shape, Molokini provides a natural barrier against the waves and currents and its clear, blue, waters are always calm. Inside the crater it is particularly suitable for beginner to intermediate snorkelers. But the back-side of Molokini (or as they call it... "the back-wall") boasts some of the most advanced diving for scuba divers. Boats sail every morning from Maalaea and Lahaina to Molokini.
This famous crater was formed by an underwater erruption. It is actually the remains of a cinder cone that rose above the surface and erupted thousands of years ago. Hundreds of ancient cinder cones can be found all around Maui, but Molokini is unique, in the fact that it one of the few that rose all the way from the deep ocean floor and erupted above the water. Many of these never break the surface of the water and actually erupt below the surface.
When our islands were young, molten lava flowed beneath the surface of the ocean through porous tubes. These tubes also trapped water within their rocky structure. When the flowing lava heated this water to temperatures in excess of 100 degrees Celsius, the water turned to steam and caused an earth moving explosion. Rock and cinder were spewed into the sky and formed a crescent shape as they fell. That familiar crescent we know as Molokini Island.
The Hawaiian people have a very different story of how the tuff cone of Molokini was formed. The ancient legend goes something along the lines of this story... "Many sunsets ago, the powerful fire goddess Pele fell in love with a handsome Prince. Unfortunately, a lovely mo'o, or gecko, also had eyes for the Prince. An angry Pele settled the dispute by cutting the lizard in half and turning her to stone. The head of Pele's rival is said to be a cinder cone near Makena Beach and the tail forms Molokini, a sunken crater just off the coast of Maui."
Whichever version you choose to embrace, Molokini remains at the top of the list of "must see" attractions when on Maui. The snorkeling is some of the best in all of Hawaii. But what makes this truly special is to be far off of Maui's coast within the shelter and protection of Molokini's unique shape. So you see species of fish that normally you would never see when you snorkel along Maui's shoreline.
Maui Classic Charters has been taking lucky passengers to this pristine snorkeling environment for many years. They also maintain two of the premium mooring positions within the crater as dropping anchor is strictly prohibited to protect the fragile coral. Both the Maui Magic and Four Winds II visit this special place daily (weather permitting).