We took this tour because “Snorkeling at Molokini” seems to be on everyone’s top 3 or 5 list of what to do on Maui. We both love to snorkel and this seemed to be the best place to visit. Our resort pushed this particular tour company and since there are maybe 20 to choose from we figured we had to pick one.
We arrived at Ma’alaea Harbor well before our printed check-in time of 7 am since we saw that parking is at a premium unless you want to walk quite a distance from the aquarium. We filled out the liability release forms and got in line with well over 100 of our new closest friends. The boat was big enough to hold us all. We went out front in the sun to a nice area where we could see the shore as we left. The boat ride to Molokini (maybe 10 miles offshore?) was pleasant. There were muffins and fresh fruit for anyone who was hungry as well as non-alcoholic beverages. The staff was very attentive to pass out snorkels, fins as well as renting wet suits and underwater cameras. There were floats and “swim noodles” for anyone who required one. The captain went over safety signals in case there were issues.
Our boat was not the first nor was it anywhere near the last to moor at Molokini. The crescent shaped submerged crater is a wildlife preserve so humans are only allowed in the water, not on the land. The boats all lined up in a row inside the center of the arch. Passengers were required to snorkel within a prescribed area near the boat with crew members on boards watching to make sure everyone was safe. Each boat had a relatively small section of water proportional to the number of passengers. I spent at least 50% of my focus on fellow humans and their flippers so I would not either swim into them or be hit by them or their plastic appendages.
The snorkeling itself was fine. The water is indeed blue and clear so you can see the fish. It is a fairly deep area so many of the fish are quite far below the swimmers. There are many of the usual fish you would expect in the Hawaiian waters. My complaint is the distraction of SO many other people that I never felt relaxed and in tune with the fish as I was constantly being nudged and brushed against by others.
They opened the cash bar after we got out of the water and I had a rum punch. There was also beer and wine. Lunch was tasty barbeque – I had a delicious pulled pork sandwich with the usual fixin’s and some tossed salad. After lunch we headed to what they call “Turtle Town” but because of the swell, it was not safe to go in the water at that location. At least they knew ahead of time so we stayed at Molokini longer than usual.
I have been on a number of other boat trips, for snorkeling, to see whales and just for the ride/view. This crew was as good as any. I believe that most crews are – they depend on tips so most crew members are pretty attentive and pleasant to the customers or they don’t last. So this review is NOT specific to this crew or boat, but more to the experience. I am not claustrophobic so 100+ people on my bot do not bother me. We knew breakfast and lunch was included (but hey, it is basic food cooked on a boat for a crowd). You can decide based on the size of the boat, offerings and number of passengers resulting in the price buy doing an online comparison and decide which is best for you.
If I were giving advice about a snorkeling excursion on Maui, I would try going to Lana’i instead as I learned that only a few boats go there – or I might snorkel off the shore by my resort and go on one of the several sail boats just for the ride. To me, Molokini was way overrated.