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Snorkeling at Molokini Crater

Molokini Crater

Molokini Crater is the tiny island located about 6 miles off the coast between Maui and the island of Kahoolawe. Since 1977 it has become both an Underwater Marine Reserve and a Marine Bird Sanctuary and enjoys the governmental protections that are provided by each. In geological terms it is referred to as an underwater caldera and is one of three such formations on the planet. Essentially, it is a volcanic cinder cone that  manages to peak  above water.  It’s cone provides a shallow protected area in the middle of the ocean that is reminiscent of a fish bowl. The center of the bowl is about 80’ in depth however the areas closer to the surface that are ideal for snorkeling are at the 20 to 25’ levels. The highest points of the island above sea level are about 160’ and the entire island covers about 18 acres, but you are not permitted to go onshore because of the extremely fragile ecosystem on the island. The back side of the island is quite sheer and descends straight down to depths of about 350’ and this area is only accessible  and recommended for experienced divers. Marine life here is prevalent and it is estimated that this is the home of over 250 species of fish. Off Maui’s coast, Molokini is a tiny sunken volcano island with some of Hawaii’s best diving and snorkeling. The best spots are in the channel and in the caved in section of the volcano which creates a protected area for marine life. Best snorkeling is around the shoreline which is also where the best feeding is. You’ll encounter jacks, eels, snapper, goatfish, emperor fish, wrasse, tang, butterfly fish, parrot fish, scad, hawk fish and manta rays, humpbacks and seals.

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