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10 Best Snorkel Tours in Maui

by / Monday, 13 June 2016 / Published in Maui Blog
10 best snorkel tours in maui

These are the 10 best snorkel tours in Maui.

Maui is one of the most sought after vacation destinations in the world. There’s something about the air, the water, and the people here that have folks coming back time after time. You may already know that Maui has several different climate zones – from the sometime snow capped peak of Haleakala volcano to verdant green rain forests, but by far the thing that attracts us the most is the turquoise Pacific, which of course hosts these awesome snorkel tours.

When you visit Maui for a relaxing beach vacation, keep in mind that adventure awaits you, too! You can explore the jungle on hiking tours, see the Road to Hana on comfy coach tours, or enjoy the land from a new perspective while riding a helicopter or horse. If you came to this island to see the sea, however, what you need are some snorkel tours. Our dynamic world ocean is not only beautiful, it is home to countless life forms – an estimated 91% of which have not even been named yet!

One of the best ways to experience Maui is by snorkeling the reefs – especially Molokini Crater!  Over hundreds of years, coral polyps have found Molokini Crater to be a perfect spot to settle and grow.  All the beautiful fish living among the corals couldn’t agree more, especially since their crater was named a Marine Life Conservation District!  (No fishing is allowed, although the seabirds there never follow that rule.)  You and your family will have an incredible time when you snorkel Molokini, which sits just three miles off the Maui coast.  Several different and exciting vessels can take you to Molokini as well as the wonderful snorkeling sites off the island of Lanai!

If you’re considering snorkeling (which you probably are, you’re reading this, after all), I must don my mother hen hat. Make some chicken noises for me, will you please? Thank you. (Wow, you’re really good at that!) All right, here’s the deal:

Snorkeling looks easy, but it is actually quite an athletic activity that takes a lot of energy and coordination. You use unfamiliar equipment, and you exercise muscles that may not have been swimming in a long time. If you don’t know how to swim, don’t try snorkeling. If you do know how to swim, and you’re ready to go, snorkel tours are awesome!

Always snorkel with a buddy, and listen to the safety tips provided by your boat crew. If you snorkel off the coast (as in, getting into the water straight from the beach), stay close to the shore as you explore, and be aware of your surroundings. Wind and waves can change at any moment, and I want you to stay safe. Speaking of safety, please don’t touch anything unless you’re in trouble – especially the reefs. They are delicate organisms who do not like to be touched. And if you touch a turtle, it’s not only disrespectful, but you can be fined for it. They’re a protected species.

All right my friends, that being said, read on to see which of the Top 10 Maui snorkel tours floats your boat!  We shall begin with the Malolo. . .

1. Malolo


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The Malolo motorized catamaran is 55 feet long and outfitted with everything you could want for a Molokini snorkeling tour. You and your family have a great crew at your service, a continental breakfast and savory lunch served up throughout the day, and all the gear and instruction you’ll need for a great time on the water! This boat comes complete with a water slide for splashing right in. There are also kick boards with portholes for those who want to keep their face above water for their snorkel tours. The visibility in this volcanic crescent can be an incredible 150 feet! Snorkeling in the crater, you are sure to find Moorish idols, red slate pencil urchins, parrotfish, bluefin trevally, and more. If you are lucky, a spotted eagle ray may glide by as you float on the surface. And after exploring Molokini, the Malolo brings you to a second magnificent site called Turtle Town. This place is a underwater paradise for sea turtles, and it will feel like paradise for you, too. If you prefer to sleep in, the Malolo also offers afternoon snorkel excursions to Molokini or Coral Gardens. Molokini is always the first choice, but the weather dictates the best site. The Malolo is ready and waiting!

 


2. Quicksilver

10 best snorkel tours in Maui - Quicksilver
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The Quicksilver is a high-speed, double-decker catamaran and one of the best boats you can take to Molokini. This boat has a water slide for folks who are ready to dive right in. There are kick boards with built-in viewing portholes for anyone who doesn’t want to put their face in the water. And for those who prefer to stay completely dry, there is a totally awesome glass-bottomed viewing room below deck! With Quicksilver, everyone in the family can enjoy the incredible beauty of the coral reef at Molokini!

You’ll need sustenance for this fun sport, so the day starts off with a tasty continental breakfast. The crew gives you all the snorkel equipment you will need, as well as a detailed explanation of how to use it. The gear includes prescription masks and comfortable flotation aids. Quicksilver’s crew will make sure you feel comfortable before you begin snorkeling. Once you’re in the water, they focus on your safety while you focus on hanging out with the fish!

The Quicksilver will also motor you to another marvelous snorkel site called Turtle Town. (Two snorkel tours in one day!) Many Hawaiian green sea turtles spend time here, and you will love being a guest in their ocean home. Once you’ve had your fill of turtles, you’ll climb back aboard the boat to find a delicious hot lunch prepared for you!

After you rest a bit, you’ll see that your day on the Quicksilver is still going strong. You’ll get a chance to run by La Perouse Bay, a favorite hangout spot for spinner dolphins. And if it is whale season, there is always the possibility for a sudden humpback whale watch as you return to the harbor. Awesome!

 


3. Ali’i Nui

10 best snorkel tours in Maui - Alii Nui Molokini Snorkeling
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Maui Dive Shop offers the Ali’i Nui, an incredible luxury catamaran, for your trip to Molokini. A hearty breakfast with scrambled eggs, bacon, and more is served as you leave the harbor. Once you reach the marine and bird preserve of Molokini Crater, you’ll have hours to spend in the water. The Ali’i Nui has all snorkel gear and instruction ready for you. Their array of equipment includes the fabulous dry snorkels. You can decide to huka dive, if you like, which is like snuba diving and will add to the depth of your coral reef experience. Regardless of your activity choice, you will have an amazing time getting to know the colorful Molokini fish. The fun and friendly crew will serve up an amazing lunch once you’re finished exploring. The Ali’i Nui boasts heated freshwater showers for you to rinse off with, and plenty of room to chill out.  You will have time to rest before heading back to Maui.  And there’s no way you can go wrong with Ali’i Nui’s complimentary transportation to and from your hotel!

 


4. Blue Water Rafting

Blue Water Rafting Molokini Snorkleing Tour
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If you’re up for some real adventure, Blue Water Rafting’s Molokini tour is the one you’re looking for. Not only do you get to visit the crater, but this fun craft will take you to snorkel Turtle Town and see the Kanaio Coast and La Perouse Bay! That means two snorkel tours and two sightseeing tours wrapped into one excursion. The raft accommodates just 24 passengers, and 60% of the vessel is shaded. Hang on tight while enjoying your continental breakfast and searching for dolphins in the early morning. The fabulous crew will explain how snorkeling works, hand out your gear, and get you in the water for some amazing underwater vistas. The brilliant fish living at Molokini and the sea turtles resting at Turtle Town are sure to make a lasting impression on you. A delicious deli style lunch is served between snorkel spots. As part of your amazing day with Blue Water Rafting, you’ll zoom over to Maui’s south coast. The Kanaio Coast and La Perouse Bay are full of fascinating jagged lava formations to see and photograph. If the water is calm enough, you may be able to get in the water here, too!

 


5. Four Winds

Four Winds Molokini Snorkeling
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The Four Winds 55 foot motorized catamaran brings extra fun to your Molokini snorkeling trip. They provide some awesome amenities. There is a water slide, a below deck viewing room with a glass bottom, and excellent tunes on the stereo sound system. During your time on the water, enjoy a continental breakfast and barbeque lunch. Relax as all of your snorkel gear is brought right to you, including special prescription masks if needed. Haven’t snorkeled in a while, or ever? No problem! The experienced Four Winds crew will give you the rundown. They’ll not only make sure you’re comfortable in the water, they’ll be in the water with you, watching you have fun. An underwater photographer is also on hand to document your family’s adventure! The photos are shown in a slide show on board during lunch, and you can buy them if you wish.  If you have any questions about the magnificent sea life at Molokini, a marine naturalist is on board for you to ask. If you’re not an early bird, you can hop aboard the Four Winds in the afternoon to explore Molokini or Coral Gardens (another gorgeous site)! No matter when or where you go, a Maui snorkeling tour with Four Winds is a great time—guaranteed!

 


6. Friendly Charters

Friendly Charters Molokini Snorkeling Tour
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Every Maui morning, the excellent crew at Friendly Charters is ready to take you out to Molokini! They bring you aboard the Lani Kai – their large motor catamaran – with aloha. You’ll have a great continental breakfast while you enjoy the trip to the crater. All your snorkel gear is provided, and you can even upgrade your activity to a snuba dive! The Lani Kai crew will teach you how to watch the fish in safety and comfort. No matter which fun you choose, no experience is necessary, other than knowing how to swim. After enjoying the beautiful reef tour of Molokini, you will motor over to see Turtle Town, too! This place is a popular sea turtle rest stop, so you are sure to see some of these awesome animals. Lunch is served after you get out of the water, beaming, at this second site. After some rest of your own, you and your family will return to the shores of Maui, full of excitement about your incredible sunny snorkel tours with Friendly Charters. Just an FYI sidenote here: let’s say you want to sleep in on your vacation, which I totally understand. Well, the Lani Kai also takes explorers out in the afternoon to see Molokini or Coral Gardens! So you’re all set!

 


7. Paragon

Paragon Maui Molokini Snorkeling Tour
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Paragon will sail you out to Molokini on a 47 foot catamaran.  The beautiful boat leaves the harbor with a maximum of 38 passengers, so you and your loved ones have plenty of room to explore.  The amazing crew serves a tasty breakfast on the way.  A deli style lunch buffet is ready for you once you’ve finished snorkeling.  Paragon really cares about the coral reef you’ll be exploring, and they demonstrate this on all of their snorkel tours.  They offer reef-safe sunscreen for you to use all day long!  Once you arrive at Molokini, you’re sure to enjoy yourself with Paragon.  The crew provides all the snorkel instruction and equipment you could desire.  This includes fabulous flotation aids and outstanding optical masks!  While you’re looking at the incredible reef fish, be sure to keep an eye out for the strong and graceful spotted eagle rays as well as interesting eels.  When the humpback whales are in Maui, put your ears beneath the surface at Molokini and listen closely for their song. By the way, in case you’re not a morning person and/or family, Paragon goes out to Coral Gardens for an afternoon adventure, too. 🙂

 


8. Redline Rafting

Redline Rafting Molokini Snorkeling Tour
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If you are looking for an ocean thrill ride on the way to Molokini, you’ll want to take Redline Rafting!  Their fun, 35 foot, rigid hulled rafts will bring you to Molokini very quickly.  You will arrive before most of the other snorkel tours do, which places you at the front of the line to see the fish.  This is actually the only company that guarantees you’ll go to Molokini.  Sometimes the water is a bit too rough for good visibility inside the crater.  When that is the case, these guys take you to the open ocean side of Molokini for snorkeling!  Both the inner crescent and this back side of Molokini are gorgeous coral reef habitats.  You will love getting in the water there.  Redline boasts a great crew, a delicious breakfast and lunch, a restroom on the raft, and all the snorkel equipment you’ll need! In addition to snorkeling Molokini with Redline Rafting, you’ll get a chance to sightsee the “Forbidden” south coast of Maui.  This wild area includes La Perouse Bay, where there is a good chance you will see spinner dolphins.

 


9. Trilogy

Trilogy Molokini Snorkeling Tour
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Trilogy’s outstanding crew will take you to Molokini in style! Their fantastic fleet of sailing catamarans is the oldest family-owned excursion company on Maui. How do Mom’s homemade cinnamon rolls sound for breakfast?  And what about a barbeque teriyaki chicken lunch (with vegetarian option, of course) after snorkeling? Trilogy gives you all that on your voyage, as well as personalized service and any snorkel gear you could ask for.  When you are really interested in watching the fish (and you will be at Molokini), you tend to stay still and float.  The wetsuit tops that Trilogy offers will keep you warm, so you’ll be able to spend more time in the water.  Also, if it is your first time snorkeling, the friendly crew will teach you how everything works.  If you want to try something a bit different, they offer a snuba option, too. Whether you snorkel or snuba, you’ll be checking out the butterflyfish, yellow tang, surgeonfish, and humu-humu-nuku-nuku-a-pua’a before you know it! Trilogy also takes you to Turtle Town. This second site is as exciting as its name suggests – there are sea turtles all over the place!  You will love snorkel tours with Trilogy!

 


10. Ocean Riders

Maui Ocean Riders Molokini Snorkeling Tour
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And last but not least, Ocean Riders can take you on a really remarkable rafting adventure to Lanai. The raft leaves Mala Wharf – on the west side of Maui – early in the morning. This raft is so much fun to ride! It’s 30 feet long, and the bottom is extra heavy, which makes the ride extra smooth. This is actually the same type of raft used by the U.S. Coast Guard for search and rescue operations! You’ll find shade and padded benches on about 50% of the raft, and only 18 passengers are on each of their snorkel tours, so there’s lots of room! The best part about taking this raft is that it goes all the way around Lanai. Because the vessel has such a shallow draft, you can go very close to all kinds of sites. You’ll actually get off the raft to explore secluded beaches. You’ll also see sea caves and get to experience some of the most amazing snorkel sites on Lanai, simply because the bigger boats can’t go there. You’ll get to motor around a huge shipwreck on the back side of the island, and you’ll even pass sacred burial caves, tidepools, and blowholes. Off Lanai with Ocean Riders, there is always a good chance to encounter pods of the acrobatic spinner dolphins. Spinners are one of the three mammals native to the Hawaiian Islands. Two of them are marine mammals, and the third can actually take flight! I gave you the spinner dolphin a few sentences ago, but do you know what the other two mammals are? I’ll let you think about it for a bit . . .

Are you thinking? Yes? Thank you, you’re fantastic!

If you said the Hawaiian hoary bat and the Hawaiian monk seal, you are correct! (If not, tell me the animals you did come up with in the comments section, below!)

 

Big mahalos to you for reading about the 10 Best Snorkel Tours on Maui. We look forward (not aft) to seeing you on the boats! 😉

Until next time Dear Readers, this is Maui Amy, signing off. Aloha for now!

(I think I’m going to have to hop on one of those snorkel tours again.  They are awesome!)

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