Molokini Snorkeling Maui – Family Friendly Adventure With Pacific Whale Foundation

by forsomethingmore
(Last Updated On: November 25, 2020)
Molokini Crater Snorkeling is family friendly
Family Snorkeling at the Molokini Crater is one of the best outdoor adventures you can enjoy on Maui.
By Keri Baugh – Bon Voyage With Kids

Molokini Crater Snorkeling A Thrilling Outdoor Family Adventure

Families traveling to Maui are often looking for what to do to enjoy the specialness of the island. One of my absolute favorite things to recommend is a family snorkel at the Molokini Crater casually know as “Molokini snorkeling.” And it’s not just ANY family snorkel experience.

I always recommend a family snorkeling experience at the Molokini Crater with the Pacific Whale Foundation. Not only is it an incredible way to see some of the most spectacular sea life, coral reefs, and volcanic craters off the island’s shores. But, this particular ecotour experience is ideal for families.  With educational talks for kids, Certified Marine Naturalists, and safe and fun snorkeling, it’s a very unique family experience. If you have any questions/comments, leave them below!

Why Molokini Snorkeling At This Crater Is Must Do

the pacific whale foundation headquarters in maui hawaii
Meeting at the Pacific Whale Foundation headquarters near the Maui Ocean Center, you will prepare for your snorkel adventure.

The Molokini Crater is located about 45-minutes from Maui, by boat of course. It has a crescent shape and is the result of an extinct volcano. It is a world-famous snorkel and SCUBA dive site because of its vibrant coral reefs and thriving populations of sea life. 

The crystal clear water is also a draw to many ocean adventurers.  With such colorful coral and fish, it feels like you are snorkeling in an aquarium!

the Molokini Crater
Many companies guide family snorkel tours of the Molokini Crater. The Pacific Whale Foundation is an educational choice.

This area is a great place to see the humuhumunukunukuapua’a, or Hawaii’s state fish, as well as other tropical and indigenous fish species. Sometimes you may even see a sea turtle, barracuda, eels, or dolphins!  

The Molokini Crater is very scenic, and therefore one of the “must see” places to visit on Maui. Many locals will tell you Molokini is a kid-friendly snorkeling destination. They’ll say this largely because of the clear water and the fact that it somewhat shelters snorkelers from the rough ocean.

Why Family Snorkel With Pacific Whale Foundation

While there are many tour companies who charter snorkel trips to Molokini, the Pacific Whale Foundation’s eco-adventure snorkel trips are my family’s favorite.  Not only do you get an expert-guided experience to snorkel the waters off of Molokini Crater, but you get the benefit of Certified Marine Naturalists on board.

In addition to staffing the boat and serving as life guards, these expert naturalists provide on-board educational talks through their Junior Naturalist Program for kids.  

marine naturalists teaching kids about conservation
The Certified Marine Naturalists on board teach kids about the ocean life they are about to see.

My kids learned about the animals they might see in the ocean, as well as environmental efforts they can make to protect the oceans. The Pacific Whale Foundation designed this program specifically for kids. They ensuring the messaging resonates with these mini-naturalists in the making.

Turtle Arches – Nice Addition to Molokini Snorkeling

Our family snorkel tour also included a stop afterward at Turtle Arches where we did indeed snorkel with a few green sea turtles.  We kept our distance, on the instruction of the naturalist guides, and per the animal protection laws of Hawaii.

This snorkeling adventure helps kids learn about the importance of protecting our planet’s oceans and sea creatures. It also brings this point to life in a hands-on and authentic manner – via a family snorkeling adventure!

children in an informal marine biology class
Kids also learn about the importance of protecting the oceans from the Certified Marine Naturalists on board.

Thinking about protecting sea turtles takes on a whole new meaning when kids see them up close.  This is one of the reasons this eco-adventure tour with the Pacific Whale Foundation is so special.

Value For Money

The value for money of the Pacific Whale Foundation coupled with the quality of experience is what makes it worthwhile and our top choice. We found the pricing very reasonable considering that it included equipment rentals, breakfast, lunch, drinks and the educational program.

children preparing to do Molokini Snorkeling with the pacific whale foundation
Everything you need to snorkel is included, including snorkeling equipment and floaties. 

Safety First When Family Snorkeling With Pacific Whale Foundation

Another benefit of a family snorkel experience with the Pacific Whale Foundation is their emphasis on safety.  The Certified Marine Naturalists served as lifeguards in the water while our family was snorkeling. 

Qualified staff members float on surfboards, and they monitor the snorkelers to ensure everyone is safe in the water. Simultaneously, these staff members create a “border” which shows the safe area in which guests can snorkel.

While the waters off of Molokini Crater are pretty clear, and generally deemed fairly safe for snorkeling and kid-friendly adventures, it is still the open ocean and there is a bit of a current.

people Snorkeling in the Molokini Crater in Maui Hawaii
The Certified Nature Specialists also serve as lifeguards in the water, focusing on safety for the snorkelers.

Snorkeling with kids in the open ocean can feel a bit nerve wracking at times. So, having the extra security of the guides in the water with us made the experience more reassuring.  You can also use life vests or floaties which are complimentary provisions of the boat.

The guides also discuss how to stay safe when swimming near the reef, as well as how snorkelers can protect the reef and sea life while observing them. This is particularly helpful for first-time snorkelers. Reef-safe sunscreen is available for purchase.

Costs of Pacific Whale Foundation Molokini Snorkeling Tour

One of the other benefits we enjoyed was the affordability of this family snorkel experience at Molokini Crater.  The experience departs from Ma’alaea Harbor, next to the Maui Ocean Center.  

At the time of writing, pricing for adults is $125 for ages 13+ ($100 for members); $50 for children ages 7-12 ($60 for members); Free for children ages 0-6. 

delicious food the pacific whale foundation provided
Breakfast and lunch are included during the tour.

The ticket includes:

  • Five hour family snorkel tour to Molokini Crater and Turtle Arches
  • Certified Marine Naturalists onboard
  • Premium Snorkel Gear
  • Flotation Devices
  • Onboard Jr. Naturalist Program
  • Free Marine Wildlife oversized postcards
  • Continental Breakfast On Board
  • Grilled Lunch On Board
  • Refreshment (unlimited non-alcoholic and one complimentary alcoholic beverage for adults)

Additional Tours With Pacific Whale Foundation 

Though the headquarters are near the Maui Ocean Center, the Pacific Whale Foundation offers many types of snorkeling tours and other types of ocean adventures.  Some leave from Ma’alaea Harbor and others from Lahaina or other locations. For more information, visit the Pacific Whale Foundation website.

the ocean odyssey boat
The Pacific Whale Foundation offers many tours families might enjoy, but Molokini Crater is not to be missed!

Molokini Snorkeling Final Thoughts

When visiting Maui with the family, snorkeling is one of the best things to do with kids in Maui.  Not only is it a chance to see the “Kai” (or Hawaiian word for ocean) and to discover the incredible underwater world around the island. But it is a great family adventure for creating lasting memories.

Doing so with a high quality organization like the Pacific Whale Foundation makes this experience extra special. Because in addition to the lasting family memories, you are also creating young citizens who will learn about becoming good stewards of the ocean for the future.

If after you snorkel, you want an activity that’s not in the water , consider hiking the Waihee Ridge Trail. This scenic ridge is most suitable for families with older kids, think 10+.

Whatever you do, if you have questions/comments, leave them below, and then go plan your own family Molokini snorkeling adventure!


Keri Baugh is a USA-based family travel blogger for Bon Voyage With Kids.  She, her husband, and three children travel often and have been to Maui eight times.  In addition to traveling often to Europe, Hawaii, the Caribbean, and throughout the USA, Keri and her family love to snorkel, scuba dive, hike, horseback ride and ski together.  They love creating family memories and opening their kids’ eyes to the world through travel. 


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