Hawaii bureau chief Doug Oakley spent an afternoon snorkeling
at Molokini crater on a Maui Dive Shop tour. His report
Molokini crater sits off the Wailea coast in deep, clear blue
water and is one of the most popular snorkeling spots in the
For visitors, the only practical way to get there is to book a
snorkel tour on a boat.
Maui Dive Shop, a dive and snorkel outfit with seven shops on
Maui, was recommended to me by personnel at the Kea Lani Resort in
Our snorkel tour went first to Molokini, then to a spot closer
to shore and unofficially called Turtle Town, so named for the
large numbers of sea turtles swimming in the area.
I found Maui Dive Shop guides personable, knowledgeable and
Although our boat was about 40 minutes overdue from its previous
morning tour because of a ruptured radiator hose, the operation
gained my respect by the way it handled the situation.
While waiting at the Kihei boat ramp for our tour to begin, we
were told by a representative that the returning boat was idling in
on one of two engines and that a mechanic was waiting on the dock
to replace the hose.
He also told us that even though the boat could make our tour
with the one remaining engine, it wouldn't leave until both engines
were working properly.
The boat came in, the hose was fixed, the mechanic tested the
engine and away we went.
We headed for Molokini, about 25 minutes away.
On this particular day the seas were very calm, an anomaly for
the 10 a.m. tour that we were on.
Calm seas make for good snorkeling. The morning tour, which
leaves at 7 a.m., usually has better snorkeling conditions due to
Maui Dive Shop fed us coffee, soft drinks and muffins. The
guides offered instruction to those who had never used a mask and
snorkel and gave us a brief rundown of the kinds of fish we might
see as we snorkeled around a crater in the middle of the ocean.
After about an hour at Molokini, we headed for Turtle Town for
another 40 minutes or so of snorkeling with sea turtles. This time,
a guide came with us into the water and led us to the place where
we could see the turtles.
The Molokini & Turtle Town tour costs $39.98 for adults and
$35.88 for kids ages 4 through 12.
Maui Dive Shop also offers scuba-diving trips and other snorkel
trips. It rents snorkel gear for those who want to go snorkeling by
themselves from the shore.
The Maui Dive Shop publishes the Maui Dive Guide with a map of
shore-snorkeling spots along with information on how to get in and
out of the water, how much experience you need for a particular
spot and the availability of bathrooms and showers.
Maui Dive Shop has locations in Lahaina, Kaanapali, Honokowai
and Kahana on the west side of the island, in Maalaea on the south
side and in Kihei on the east side.
For information on tours, call (800) 542-3483 or visit the Web