Looking out from South Maui you'll see the atoll of Molokini rising above the ocean surface. Snorkel trips to Molokini are one of the most unforgetable expereinces for visitors. Formed by an eruption over 230,000 years ago and roughly two and a half miles away—and little more than fifteen minutes by boat from Kihei. The cone is half submerged in water and looks not only lovely from shore but also it's sheltered area offers some of the most spectacular snorkeling and diving you will see. It is rated one the the top ten diving sites in the world which make it one of the best choice for experienced divers and novice snorklers.
The atoll of Molokini is small, only 23 acres and reaching only 161 feet above sea level but the water that surrounds it is some of the clearest on Earth. The clarity reaches up to 80 feet deep and 250 marine creatures call the crater home: yellow tang, Bluefin, Moorish idol, octopuses and large whale sharks....
The land mass is an official Hawaii State Seabird Sanctuary and is the home for wedge-tailed shearwaters, Bulwer’s petrels, and great frigatebirds to name a few. Thanks to the watchful eye's of the tour boat operators the marine life feel safe around people and offers a rare opportunity to see marine and seabirds relaxed in their natural environment.
Experienced divers love the back wall of Molokini, a vertical wall that drops 350 feet with approximately 150 perceptibility. The back side is considered a drift dive that’s subjected to currents, good buoyancy control is a must, as well as an ability to descend and ascend without a line and maintain a 15-foot safety stop.
Since the back side was used by ancient Hawaiians for the fishing fishing lures and old sinking stones can still be found by delighted divers. The variety of marine life is amazing: pyramid butterfly fish and long-nose hawkfish to white-tip reef sharks and jacks—as well as moray eels, slipper lobsters, eagle rays, cauliflower and Elkhorn coral, cleaning stations, and deep crevices that provide residence to pipefish, crabs, and shrimp. Molokini offers the chance to see some of the ocean’s largest and most astonishing creatures. Given that part borders the open sea, one never knows what will come in from the Pacific, whether it’s a manta ray of epic proportions, a pod of sleek spinner dolphins, or a Humpback whale during the winter months.
Researchers measuring ancient ocean levels believe Molokini Crater would have been on land rather than on water at the end of the last ice age, in which sea levels, due to melting ice caps, were believed to exceed 400 feet. This fits with Hawaiian mythology which tells that Molokini is the tail end of a mo’o—or sacred lizard that Pele cut in half in a fit of jealousy; the head is “Red Hill,” the literally red cinder cone of Pu’u O’lai across the channel.
Part time Maui resident sharing my Kihei condo with guests when I'm staying in my mainland home.