Molokini Can Be Crowded

We’ve all seen the photos of Molokini.

A giant half-moon volcanic crater, seated like a flaky French croissant in a perfect sea of crystal blue water. How could there be a better snorkeling destination? But the word has gotten out, and without savvy planning, Molokini can be a crowded experience.


With the increased popularity of Molokini, the term “Cattle-maran” has developed to describe a large boat tour where up to 150 passengers are crammed on board!



If loud music and kicks from nearby snorkelers isn’t your thing, don’t despair! Molokini is still one of the most spectacular natural wonders in Hawaii. Here are some tips to help you find your best experience at Molokini.


A small, agile boat will allow you to dodge the cattle-marans, and find a nook where you can swim with tropical fish, green sea turtles, in a world of colorful reef!

  • A small group setting of 16-40 passengers is ideal for exploring Molokini’s exotic natural beauty!
  • Get tons of attention from your friendly, knowledgeable snorkel guide
  • Skip the long lines on deck for gear

Redline Rafting – Forbidden Coast & Molokini


The big boat tours all go to Molokini in the morning.  If you can go a little later, you’ll arrive at Molokini just as the hordes are leaving!

  • Take the Molokini Express from 11:30 – 1:30 and you’ll have the volcanic crater virtually to yourself
  • Sleep in, or plan another activity in the morning
  • Enjoy more than 250 species of tropical fish in an ideal, small group setting!


Try west maui or lanai?

Molokini is amazing, but it is actually only the 3rd best snorkel location in Maui.  West Maui’s world famous coastline, and the island of Lana’i, are considered better destinations for interacting with colorful, tropical fish and green sea turtles!

Paragon Sailing Charters – Molokini Morning Snorkel


One of the best snorkel trips around is The Snorkel Safari, a private of the gorgeous West Maui coastline, with a world-class free diver as your guide!

  • This small group trip, with only 6-8 passengers, is the best-reviewed snorkel tour on the island!
  • Your free-dive expert will bring an urchin, or octopus from the bottom of the ocean for your viewing pleasure
  • You can return to these insider snorkel locations all week long for free

A pencil Urchin on The Snorkel Safari Tour


The island of Lana’i is the pristine snorkel destination Molokini was 40 years ago!  A trip to Lana’i is the eco-adventure you’ll never forget.

  • Dolphin sightings are commonplace in Lana’i’s warm ocean habitat
  • Explore blowholes, lava caves, and shipwrecks, on a snorkel tour that circumvents the entire island of Lana’i!
  • Snorkel multiple spots with extremely different physical geographies


Molokini or bust?

If you want to see the giant croissant, seated squarely in the center of the Pacific Ocean, no one is going to blame you!  Molokini is pretty awesome.

To avoid the crowds, consider booking a small boat tour that leaves a little later in the morning. If it’s just colorful, tropical fish and green sea turtles you’re after, try out West Maui, or Lana’i! These stunning locations offer some of the best snorkeling around, and plenty of space to enjoy it.

Aqua Adventures – Molokini & Turtle Town Snorkel


Pacific Whale Foundation – Molokini & Turtle Arches

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