• Stephanie Maher

Molokini Crater Adventure with Maui Diamond Sea Sports



The visibility astounded me when I jumped into the ocean within Molokini Crater for the first time! It was an epic moment to experience sea life in a different area of Maui after shore diving many times in Lahaina since we arrived in December of 2021.



(Photo Credit David Fuller @ Maui Diamond Boat Charters )




We dove with Maui Diamond Sea Sports for Chad’s Birthday; a 2-tank guided dive at Molokini Crater and a dive site just west of Ma’alaea Harbor. Check in was at 6:15am at Ma’alaea Harbor. The dive vessel left promptly at 6:30am. This tour is only for experienced certified divers. Light snacks and juice are provided, and you can rent gear for $20.





The crew of the 40’ dive vessel “The Maui Diamond II” included captain Joe and three other dive guides, Dave, Laurel, and Michelle. They are all extremely helpful and informative, and made all twenty divers (including Chad and I) feel very comfortable and safe throughout the trip. The divers were split into three groups. Chad and I had been grouped with the most advanced divers with Dave as our guide. While heading out to Molokini, Dave briefed us on the dive site and the rules of the boat. (The boat ride took about an hour.) After, we quickly suited up because our group was the first to enter the ocean.





Molokini Crater is located about 2.5 miles off Makena State Park’s West and Ma’alaea Bay’s South [1]. When the dive vessel moored at Molokini Crater, I couldn’t help but notice all the interesting birds nesting around the entire crescent shaped islet. The exposed crater has a diameter of .4 miles, and a max height of 161 feet [2], extending 310 feet underwater [3]. The exposed crater is a Hawaii state Seabird Sanctuary, and is home to the Wedge Tailed Shearwater, and Bulwer’s Pretels. The Wedge Tailed Shearwater is a large bird with a thin beak that feeds on goatfish and crustaceans, and they have been recorded to reach depths up to 216ft (66m) [4]! Our max depth on the dive was 30m!

Bulwer’s Pretel is a small bird with a large wingspan and pointed tail mainly feeding off plankton on the ocean’s surface [5]





The north wall of the crater ”sunk” into the ocean and it is the exposed southern wall that protects the inside of the crater from the strong currents within the Alalakeiki Channel[6]. The reef within Molokini Crater is free from rain runoff and other types of pollution which allows up to 150 meters of visibility and is home to many endemic species of fish[7]. It is obvious the popularity of the site because of the many snorkel boats and dive boats that visit the vicinity. However, ecotourism has minimized the constant damage from dive boats and snorkel tour boats by limiting the number of moorings in the area[8]. In 1977, Molokini crater was announced as part of the Marine Life Conservation District; it is against the law to fish, collect or destroy within the area[9], making Molokini Crater a special place to observe and visit. Diving Molokini Crater broadens your perspective of the divine beauty of nature.



(Photo Credit David Fuller @ Maui Diamond Boat Charters )




(Photo Credit David Fuller @ Maui Diamond Boat Charters )


Our dive group was the first to jump off the boat and it was an epic moment (my favorite moment of the dive adventure) as I evaluated the aquatic environment as the cool ocean engulfed me. The water temp was a relaxing 32 Celsius (89.6 Fahrenheit). I quickly realized I was in a very special place and I was lucky to immerse myself within this crystal paradise. I was so thankful for all my previous experiences that I had while traveling and diving around the world, because it prepared me for this unforgettable experience.






Within the shelf of the crater our dive group hovered over the vast expanse of coral that displayed a rainbow of all different colors. There are about 38 species of coral within the crater and over 100 species of algae[10]. Our dive group followed Dave within the eastern side of the preserve following the natural decline of the shelf that drops to a little over 30 meters (90ft), which was our max depth. The visibility was so clear, I started to fight against my fear of heights! At the depth of 90ft, Dave pointed out a large white tip reef shark that swam out from underneath a coral formation. At this point we experienced a strong current that was pushing out to the east. Dave directed us to turn around to prevent us from getting swept out to sea.






I followed Dave closely and he pointed out all the interesting marine animals that dwelled within the coral, such as the sand octopus and curious moray eels that poked their heads out of crevices. It was a spectacle to see clusters of Racoon Butterfly Fish, Yellow Tangs, and Moorish Idols[11]. Dave took amazing pictures of Chad and I and the many sea creatures that we had observed, and he shared the pictures with us.




(Photo Credit David Fuller @ Maui Diamond Boat Charters )



At the end of the dive, Chad and I hovered under the dive vessel at 5 meters/ 15ft for 3-minutes to release the excess nitrogen from our blood before we surfaced. From here I could see many snorkelers and other divers having fun observing the gorgeous aquatic garden. Captain Joe helped Chad and I out of the water and we were provided with snacks and drinks that we ate while enjoying the view of Molokini Crater at the top deck of the dive vessel. Molokini Crater was formed approx. 200,000 years ago[12] by a volcanic eruption as the Pacific plate created Haleakala’s southwest rift zone[13].






(Photo Credit David Fuller @ Maui Diamond Boat Charters )


Archaeological evidence of ancient stone sinkers and fishing lures, found by researchers and scuba divers, indicates that Molokini Crater was a sacred place where the first Polynesians had hunted for fish [14].






For our surface interval, we sailed back across the channel to the next dive site which is situated just west along the coast of Ma’alaea Harbor. On social media Maui Diamond Sea Sports posted that they had seen a whale shark in this area a few days prior!



(Photo Credit David Fuller @ Maui Diamond Boat Charters )



The highlight of the second dive was the basketball sized frog fish clustered together on a piece of coral. We must have seen about 5 frog fish in total! I have never seen frog fish so big before in my life. I have only seen small ones on rare occasions. Frog fish are hard to find because they camouflage so well within coral formations. Their bodies have a coral like appearance, and it takes a keen eye to spot one.







Overall, I recommend diving with Maui Diamond Sea Sports! The crew had a very upbeat spirit and made everyone feel happy and cheerful throughout the trip. It was an amazing experience, and I can’t wait to experience another dive adventure with them in the future!




(Photo Credit David Fuller @ Maui Diamond Boat Charters )

HAPPY BIRTHDAY Chad!!!





[1] Molokini Crater - WorldAtlas [2] Molokini Crater - WorldAtlas [3] Molokini Geological History | Malolo Molokini (molokinimaui.com) [4] Life at Molokini Crater | Marine & Bird life at Molokini, Maui, Hawaii [5] Life at Molokini Crater | Marine & Bird life at Molokini, Maui, Hawaii [6] Molokini Crater - WorldAtlas [7] Molokini Crater - WorldAtlas [8] Life at Molokini Crater | Marine & Bird life at Molokini, Maui, Hawaii [9] Life at Molokini Crater | Marine & Bird life at Molokini, Maui, Hawaii [10] Molokini Crater - WorldAtlas [11] Molokini Fish Guide (snorkelmolokini.com) [12] Molokini Crater - WorldAtlas [13] Molokini Geological History | Malolo Molokini (molokinimaui.com) [14] Molokini Crater Island | Best Places on Maui Hawaii (mauikayakadventures.com)

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