"Crystal Clear Water & Amazing Sea Life at Molokini" Molokini by dlytle

Molokini Travel Guide: 1 reviews and 16 photos

SCUBA Dive Molokini, It Is A Terrific Dive!

Hawaii is a diving destination that needs no introduction. Most people include these lush islands on their travel wish list, hoping to one day see the volcanoes and experience the rich traditions of Hawaii. Aside from the draws on land, islands like Maui offer a unique experience for divers. Many dive buffs rank Maui (and Molokini) as one of the top 10 dive sites in the world, partly because many species are unique to the area.

Of Maui's 450 species of reef fish, 25 percent are endemic to the island. Divers enjoy views of sea turtles, octopuses, anglerfish, conger eels and colorful pink and green parrotfish. In addition to the living wonders, an entire world of intricate lava tubes and caverns lie beneath the waters of Maui. The area is also home to rare black coral at lower depths.

Molokini is without doubt the most popular of the offshore dive and snorkel locations on Maui. Molokini crater is a marine sanctuary that was established in 1977 as the Molokini Shoal Marine Life Conservation District. It protects almost 200 acres of underwater area inside and surrounding the crater. Due to the protection granted by it's protected reef status, the marine life is plentiful and for the most part non-weary of divers.

A few miles off Maui's southwestern coast, Molokini is a crescent shaped islet that is the southern rim of an extinct volcanic crater. The northern rim of this crater lies below sea level, causing the interior of the crater to be flooded. Its crescent shape acts as a bastion that provides protection from large waves and powerful currents thus making this area one of the top ten SCUBA sites in the world.

Molokini has three separate areas that appeal to all levels of SCUBA divers. Molokini's crater basin affords protected waters and an abundance of sea life and is only 35 feet deep--ideal for beginning divers and snorkelers. The inner area goes to depths of 70 feet for intermediates, and the backside of the crater has depths of 350 feet that call to the intrepid expert diver. Larger creatures such as whales, manta rays, sharks and whale sharks dominate in this more treacherous section of Molokini.

The crater basin is a lush reef area that is home to about 250 species of fish - some of which are found nowhere else on earth. The inner crater region is home to "butterfly rock" a favorite hang out for yellow butterfly fish. This area is home to rockfish, scorpion fish and Hawaiian damselfish.

The east tip of the crater at the 125 foot mark is "Sharks Ledge". This is a series of outcroppings which white tip reef sharks love to call home. A drift dive on the east side is a real treat, but care must be taken due to the often-swift current and rough topside conditions. The west tip of Molokini is "Reef's End" its the shallow start to a good west wall dive. Like the east wall, care should be taken, as currents can be swift.

I have taken three dives, over the past 15 years, at Molokini and have never been disappointed. If you dive it, regardless of your certification level or experience, you will not be disappointed either!

Turtle Town / Five Caves near Makena State Park

Confusingly, this shallow-water (~45 feet) site has been known as Five Caves, Five Graves, Turtle Town, Makena Landing and Nahuna Point. No matter what name you call it, the dive site is a great shallow dive that offers an abundance of Green Sea Turtles, multi-colored fish, eels, archways you can swim through, coral, cleaner shrimp, and so much more. Eagle Rays have also made Turtle Town a frequent destination.

Turtle Town is a Maui coastal area home to families of large sea turtles. You are not allowed to touch the turtles (oils on our hands can cause ulcers on their shells), but you can get in the water to swim with them. The Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle is the most common of the sea turtles. These gentle creatures are frequented on the reefs very often. They are on the endangered list so only observation is permitted. They are found in the coral caves, sometimes sitting on a coral ledge and even resting on the sand of the beach. The average size observed on the reefs is 30 to 250 pounds but they can grow to be in the 300 to 400 pound range.

Sea turtles are graceful saltwater reptiles, well adapted to life in their marine world. With streamlined bodies and flipper-like limbs, they are graceful swimmers able to navigate across the oceans. When they are active, sea turtles must swim to the ocean surface to breathe every few minutes. When they are resting, they can remain underwater for much longer periods of time. Although sea turtles live most of their lives in the ocean, adult females must return to land in order to lay their eggs. Sea turtles often travel long distances from their feeding grounds to their nesting beaches.

A Manta Ray Encounter at Molokini

One of the real thrills of diving at Molokini is the slim chance of glimpsing the elusive Manta Ray.

Manta Rays are more common on the backside of Molokini but they occasionally come into the protected basin where SCUBA divers have a better opportunity of seeing them--even during the day or at dusk. Sometimes these gentle giants seem drawn to the SCUBA divers, possibly through simple curiosity or maybe because the divers are located near a food source of plankton. Whatever the reason, a close encounter with a Manta Ray underwater will become an all time favorite memory.

Manta rays are the largest rays and are closely related to sharks. These harmless rays have a short tail and no stinging spine. They are very acrobatic; they can even leap from the water. Remoras (Echeneida) are frequently seen with mantas, staying near the manta's mouth (even inside the gill cavities). The remoras probably feed on parasites on the manta's body and eat bits of the manta's food.

These graceful swimmers are up to 29.5 ft (9 m) wide, but average about 22 ft (6.7 m) wide. The largest weigh about 3,000 pounds (1350 kg). Mantas are dark brown to black on top with paler margins; they are mostly white underneath. Mantas eat microscopic plankton, small fish, and tiny crustaceans. They funnel the food into their mouth while they swim, using two large, flap-like cephalic lobes which extend forward from the eyes. Mantas are harmless to people and usually indifferent to divers.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Crystal clear water, an amazing variety of sea life, incredible Snorkel, SCUBA and SNUBA opportunities
  • Cons:Only reachable by boat and it can get fairly crowded in the summer
  • In a nutshell:I wish I could dive there every single day!
  • Last visit to Molokini: Apr 2003
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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