If you are cheap – like me, and don’t like to spend all your cash while on vacation or while living in Hawaii – you do everything you can to save money. When it comes to snorkeling, I would much rather drive over to one of my favorite spots – whether on Maui or Oahu, and hike a short bit and jump in. Money spent? Zero.

fair winds by Glenn Simmons is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0. Image may have been resized or cropped from original.

However, there are excellent snorkeling places in Hawaii that cannot be reached by car or foot and you have to take a boat. Molokini Island Preserve off the southeast coast of Maui is one of these spots. You must take a tour boat.

Tour boats CAN be a good experience, but here are some things you’ll want to take into account when choosing a tour boat for your next Hawaii snorkeling adventure.

Know this… basically all the tours to Molokini in the same price range – are nearly the same. There are some variations, but most likely you will have an enjoyable experience snorkeling this paradise, and you won’t have many complaints. Research the tour and read as much as possible about a few of them so you can compare and choose the one right for you. The tour providers all know what most tourists want by now – and they give all they can to keep you happy and talking about it when you return home and tell your friends that might be journeying to Hawaii in the near future.

1. Time of Year – Molokini is best visited during any month outside of the cold winter months. Really, I know it sounds funny, but a cold day in Maui on the open water – can be a disappointing day. Go when it is hot and sunny, and good weather is expected. I have been on the open water during winter, and it’s not fun – it’s just too cold for me. Keep in mind that many of the Molokini tours start early morning when it’s extra cold. Note – if you want to see whales too – go during winter!

2. Number of Tourists – the bigger tours have large numbers of snorkelers, and you might just feel like a number. Of course, you’re probably paying a better rate that a private tour that will cater just to you and your needs.

3. Video Service? Some tours, for the past almost decade, have been offering underwater capture of your snorkeling action. They give you a presentation on the boat before you get in – and see who might be game to have a DVD made of their snorkeling. The guys and girls doing this are usually good at what they do and they can whip up a nice video of you and your family that will help you remember the trip. It also frees you up to really explore – and not worry about bringing waterproof cameras and getting the right shot. You can just relax and snorkel and pay the video folks for what they do best.

4. Tour Focus – while all Molokini snorkeling tours focus on giving you a great experience in the water, there are also secondary focuses like education, whale spotting, or finding Hawaiian sea turtles. Whale spotting during the winter is highly recommended!

5. Multi-Location Snorkeling – some boats will hit a number of different spots in the same day. This is a blast, and gives you the most for your money. If your boat hits Molokini and Turtle Town in southern Maui – wow, it will be something to talk about for a long time.

6. Sea Sickness – catamarans with two hulls are the most stable boats traveling out to Molokini. If there are any waves, you’ll be happy to be on one. If you have the tendency for sea-sickness, do take some dramamine before boarding.

If you have a good experience on a tour boat to Molokini or one of the other snorkeling attractions only reachable by tour boat – will you leave a comment and let us know?


Peter Kay

[Photo credit – flickr.com member, tedmurphy]