As this was our first visit to Maui, we were keen to see what the island had to offer. We completed a mental checklist of what we wanted to get done while visiting this beautiful island:
- Relax by the beach – check
- Road to Hana – check
- Visit and snorkel the beautiful Molokini Crater – well we better check that off, too
If you are not familiar with the Molokini Crater, the only way to get there is by boat, and we elected to go with Pride of Maui. The main reason for this is that not only do you get to snorkel the famous crater, but they take you snorkeling at Turtle Town as well. I’m a turtle lover, so being able to enjoy snorkeling in both locations made it an easy decision!
We set sail on the 5-hour tour from Maalaea Harbor. The harbor is centrally located so it is easy to get to no matter where you are staying on the island. The journey out to the crater is an enjoyable ride. You are surrounded by the beauty of the Pacific Ocean and the splendor of Maui as a backdrop. You can see the crater island on the horizon as it grows in size as you approach.
You need to keep an eye out during the trip for pods of dolphins that are common in the area. On our trip we saw 3 separate pods with at least 50 dolphins in each group. Seeing them slice though the water effortlessly is a sight to behold.
If you are lucky enough to be traveling during whale season (generally January to March), you are in for an incredible experience as whales are abundant in the area. During our tour we saw dozens of whales, some incredibly close to the boat. The majestic creatures carried on about their daily business as if we weren’t there. Watching them breach is one of natures greatest sights. The captain of the boat will point them out and even stop the boat when they are close for those sitting back and enjoying the Hawaiian sun.
Before you know it, you will be in the stunning
As soon as you jump in, you know that the tour was worth it. The water is as clear as anywhere in the world. It is so clear that it feels like you can touch the coral at the bottom, even though it is 35 feet (10 meters) deep. You will feel like you have jumped into an aquarium as you are immediately surrounded by aquatic life that’s close enough to reach out and touch (but don’t!). The fish don’t seem threatened and will swim around you as if you were a fellow fish.
You have a full hour to enjoy the water here, and when it’s time to go you won’t want to get back on the boat. The good news is when you do get back on the boat they reward you with an incredible lunch, which you will enjoy as you make your way to the next stop, Turtle Town. The lunch is a ‘make it yourself’ burger and /or hotdog. The meat is cooked on a barbeque at the back of the boat ensuring freshness. You can also enjoy a drink (they even serve alcoholic beverages after your swim at Turtle Town!).
The second snorkeling spot is ‘Turtle Town’. Here you will enjoy your time over a reef just off the Maui coast. The reef is famous for their turtles, but make no mistake there is plenty of other marine life in the area as well. While the water is not as clear here as it is at Molokini Crater (the reef is in the open ocean and not in the protected area of a crater), the visibility is still very good and you will have no problems finding fish and turtles to follow around. After another hour of snorkeling, you will be well and truly happy with your time in the water.
The tour is professionally run, and the crew is very friendly and more than willing to help you out. The boat is first class, and you can enjoy sitting out in the sun or undercover if you want some protection from the UV rays.
We highly recommend anyone visiting Maui go on this tour. You will have an incredible time and get to swim in some of the most beautiful water you will ever see. When you are not swimming, you will get to sit back and relax with a drink in hand as the dolphins and whales play in the ocean around you. What more could you want?
Have you enjoyed snorkeling Molokini Crater and Turtle Town?
(Due to us not owning an underwater camera, the underwater photos above are supplied by The Pride of Maui website)