Due to a change in travel dates, we didn't have many options for a Molikini Crater snorkeling excursion. The first ones the Fairmont's concierge recommended were sold out, but they learned Blue Water still had spots left for their Express Molikini package (11 a.m. to 1 p.m.) Their brochure boasted that (a) this tour headed out after the other tour companies were gone and (b) they are the only tour company that snorkels on the outside of the crater, too. With no real alternatives, we paid the $50/person price and headed out the next day.
The first worrisome factor was the less-than-pristine public boat ramp the company uses. There were a few other "tour companies" launching there, too, some with hand-painted signs on the side of coolers and some with pretty banged-up looking gear. Blue Water's boat looked to be in good shape, which was more important than those other variables.
To avoid back-injury, I highly recommend you ride toward the back. The ocean was very choppy, but the ride wasn't too unpleasant on the way out. We saw a few dolphin pods on the way out, which they slowed for us to view.
But, once we got out to the back of Molikini, we quickly learned why the other tour companies were already back at dock and why they didn't snorkel on the back-side of the crater. I think the time of day was a huge variable in how choppy the ride was and how unpleasant the waves were when we were snorkeling.
Despite Dramamine, I quickly became motion sick in the water, which has never happened over my countless boat excursions, cruises and the like. We also learned just before we got out of the boat that they couldn't anchor because the water was 200' deep . . . which even in clear water makes for completely worthless snorkeling. There were a few colorless fish in the area and the wall of the crater did have what appeared to be a few coral formations, but all in all it was not the Molikini experience we had read about or hoped for. All the children on board were too scared to stay in the water more than a couple minutes even with flotation devices and/or were suffering motion sickness on the boat. The parents felt helpless and appeared equally disappointed.
We fairly quickly loaded everyone back on the boat and headed to Turtle Bay. I think a single turtle was spotted . . . 1 less than we saw as we were originally leaving the dock. I spent the 15 to 20 minutes there puking over the side of the boat, joined on-board by about half of the passengers . . . all of whom had clearly had enough.
The ride back to the dock from there was painfully slow due to the wind and the rough seas. We frequently had to motor down to ease ourselves over the numerous swells that would have otherwise made us completely airborne. Those of us sitting on the left side of the boat were not only being buffeted by the waves like everyone else, but also suffered a constant spray of salt water into our faces. That would have been completely bearable if the overall experience was better and if the seas weren't so dangerously choppy for a relatively small water craft.
So, in summary:
* Time of day (11 a.m.) resulted in extra choppy waters, I think.
* The outside of the crater might be good for scuba (can one scuba to 200'?), but it was terrible for snorkeling.
* Bumpy boat ride likely experienced in any scenario due to the boat's size, although that would have been a welcome aspect of the adventure if there were any more redeeming qualities to speak of.
* I'm not risk-averse, but definitely felt snorkeling on the outside of the crater in such choppy seas and in 200' of water next to the raft's dual running outboards was a bit unsafe and, as a result, I spent more time trying to look over the wave for my adult kids than I spent looking down into the abyss.
* Worst of all, perhaps our one and only opportunity to snorkel inside the reportedly picturesque Molikini Crater was wasted. Once out at the crater, they told us the conditions inside the crater would be "really ugly" as a result of the wind/waves, which was hard to fathom since that's exactly how I'd describe the conditions outside the crater, too.
* Our 2 young tour guides seemed sincerely nice and tried to keep the energy/excitement/enthusiasm level high despite the puking participants, crying kids and rocky seas.
* My adult children and I enjoyed their music selection.
* The "free" water allowed me to rinse my mouth out after every bought of motion sickness.
I wish these young entrepreneurs the best, but I think they need to land on some alternative ways to differentiate themselves from the larger, perhaps more-established tour companies already out there. Their cool, fast raft is actually one good way of doing so . . . as long as they don't combine it's already rough ride with times/conditions that make snorkeling unpleasant and arguably unsafe or the outside-the-crater stop, which made for worthless snorkeling.
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