Sea turtles may have given their name to Maui’s Turtle Town, but a snorkeling tour in this Hawaiian paradise reveals so much more of the underwater world.
Off the coast of Maui, coral gardens teem with tropical fish and green turtles frequent the warm waters. Two sites are particularly lively: the one unofficially known as Turtle Town, located between Makena Landing and Makena Cove, and the Molokini Crater, a semi-submerged volcano just offshore. The best way to experience both Turtle Town and Molokini Crater is on a snorkeling tour. Below are four of the best, based on various factors, including the price, itinerary, duration of the trip and the environmental awareness exhibited by tour operators. Most depart from Maalaea Harbor.
Molokini or Coral Gardens Snorkel on Malolo
The best value snorkeling tours tend to be shorter, allowing enough time to visit only one site properly. As Molokini Crater can only be reached by boat, a tour is a perfect way to glimpse the incredible marine diversity there, with surgeon fish, spotted eagle rays, turtles and parrot fish just some of the marvelous critters living below the surface. Because this tour departs in the afternoon, prevailing winds and water visibility can occasionally mean a trip to a separate site, such as Coral Gardens. Regardless of which site you visit, fascinating sea creatures are ubiquitous at both. Snorkeling gear is provided. From $70 per person.
Premium Turtle Town Kayak and Snorkel Tour
The beautiful shoreline of Maui is great to see from a catamaran, but even more captivating from a kayak, which keeps you close to the water. Your tour will include a three-mile paddle and stops at two or three snorkeling spots, with the benefit of often avoiding the other boat tours in the area. The itinerary is crafted to suit the weather conditions, but is usually around Makena Bay, home to Turtle Town and plenty of other thriving underwater communities filled with tropical fish. From $134 per person.
Molokini and Turtle Town Snorkel with Deli Lunch
Swimming with green turtles and snorkeling over underwater lava formations teeming with fish is a notable highlight to any Maui trip. This boat tour takes you directly to the two best places to get this experience. Your catamaran departs from Maalaea Harbor early in the morning (around 6.30am) in order to reach the snorkel sites while they’re still at their most vibrant and lively. But don’t worry, a continental breakfast will be provided on the journey. A deli lunch is also included with soft drinks during this tour that ends around midday. From $150 per person.
Molokini Snorkeling Adventure from Ma’alaea Harbor
Sheltered by the pretty crescent of Molokini Crater, which pokes up to 300ft (91m) above the water, you can spot some of the 250-plus species that thrive below the surface, including manta rays, urchins and turtles. Look out also for coral, black triggerfish and sharks in this protected marine preserve. Your ride is aboard the Calypso, a glass-bottom catamaran with three decks and two water slides. Over at Turtle Town, there are more chances to see creatures like green turtles before having a barbecue lunch. From $200 per person.