The partially submerged Molokini crater, Hawaii’s only island marine sanctuary, is known for providing one of the best snorkeling/diving experiences in the world. The crater’s crescent-moon shape provides protection from waves and strong currents, and its crystal clear water down to 150 feet is the perfect setting for everything from beginner snorkelers through advanced scuba divers.
There are over 250 local marine species, and most are comfortable with human visitors. Some common fish you may see are the Four-Spot Butterflyfish, Potter’s Angelfish, Yellow-Tail, Rainbow Cleaner and Ornate Wrasse, Banner Fish, Moorish Idol, Bluefin Trevally, Picasso and Black Triggerfish, White-Spotted Damsel, Hogfish, and if you are fortunate, you may spot an Octopus, Sea Turtles, Manta Rays, or the occasional visiting Whale Shark. Don’t worry if you do see one, Whale Sharks eat plankton, and are not known to be dangerous to people.
Many seabirds make their homes on the slopes of the Molokini Crater, including Wedge-tailed Shearwaters and Bulwers Petrels, Brown Boobies and you may spot a Great Frigate or “Iwa” bird, whose wing span can reach 7 feet across.
Molokini’s rich reef is perfect for diving, SNUBA and snorkeling. SNUBA is a hybrid of SCUBA Diving and snorkeling, where the tank floats above the diver, allowing greater freedom of movement and flexibility. SCUBA certification is not required, making this a popular option for many visitors.
If you are going snorkeling or diving anywhere in Hawaii, make sure your sunscreen is reef safe! Hawaiian Sol sunscreen is an ocean-safe sunscreen, and is available in dive and surf shops. Some tour operators carry a supply as well. Remember to re-apply your sunscreen as soon as you get out of the water. You may find that it is a good idea to wear a t-shirt, rash guard top or wetsuit top during your swim, especially during snorkeling, to further protect your shoulders and upper back.