If you have ever dreamed of swimming or snorkeling with green turtles, Maui in Hawaii might well have the destination for you. It has been touted as Maui’s best-kept secret, which we all know means that in a decade it’ll be overrun with day trippers and every visitor to this corner of Hawaii under the sun. So, it’s time to see what all the fuss is about before that happens. The area known as Turtle Town (an unofficial name) can be found between Makena Landing and Makena Cove, south of Wailea. For an even remoter marine bounty, the Molokini Crater offshore can only be reached by boat on a snorkeling tour.
The underwater world around the shores of Maui is famed for its remarkable marine life, particularly turtles and coral gardens, teeming with tropical fish. The best way to experience both Turtle Town and Molokini Crater is on a snorkeling tour from Maalaea Harbor. The sheer number of options available can be quite daunting, so we have filtered out the best snorkeling tours based on various factors, including the price, itinerary, duration of the trip and environmental awareness of the operators, while taking previous customer reviews into account as well. Here are the best three.
FROM: $80/per person
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 about eating before heading out the door, a continental breakfast will be provided on the journey. Over five and a half hours, you’ll head to the Molokini Crater, which can only be reached by boat, for the first glimpse of the incredible marine diversity that can be experienced here, such as yellow tang and parrotfish. Then head to the coral gardens near Turtle Town for a chance to see the eponymous creatures in their natural habitat. A deli lunch is also included with soft drinks, although alcoholic beverages can also be purchased separately.
From $117/ per person
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 of fish that thrive below the surface. Look out for coral, black triggerfish, rays and sharks in this protected marine preserve. Take a ride on the Calypso and get a sneak preview through the vessel’s glass bottom windows over a light breakfast before donning fins and a mask to get a closer look. Over at Turtle Town, there are more chances to see creatures like green turtles and manta rays before having a barbecue lunch, then heading back to Maalaea to cap off the six-hour tour. This trip begins at 7.30am and, as with all tours on this list, snorkeling gear is included in the fee.
From $40/ per person
If you’d prefer to spend a little less money and choose only one spot to snorkel during the course of a three-hour trip, then this afternoon boat tour is a great alternative to those listed above. And it’s ideal for anybody who prefers to get up later in the morning. This tour, which runs four times a week, heads to one of either Molokini Crater or Turtle Town. The decision over which destination is chosen is made on the day, depending on the prevailing winds and sea condition at the two snorkeling sites. Regardless of which you’ll end up at, fascinating sea creatures are ubiquitous, with surgeon fish, spotted eagle rays, turtles and parrot fish just some of the marvelous critters going about their business below the surface. Snacks and drinks are available for an additional fee on this tour.