Hawaiian legend has it that Molokini is the result of a jealous rage. The volcano goddess, Pele, had a dream lover, Lohiau, who lived in Maalaea. Lohiau married a mo’o (lizard) and in anger, Pele bisected the lizard. Her head became Pu’uolai Hill in Makena (near Turtle Town) and the tail turned into Molokini Crater.


The ocean around Molokini was declared a marine preserve by the State Marine Life Conversations District in 1977. It is home to more than 250 species of fish, some of which are endemic to Hawaii. The island itself is off limits to humans but serves as a bird sanctuary. Birds seen at Molokini include one of Hawaii’s largest species, the Great Frigate bird known in Hawaiian as Iwa, or thief due to its habit of stealing fish from other birds. Also seen at Molokini is the wedge-tailed shear water bird, known in Hawaiian as uau kani, or “moaning petrel.” The shear waters nest at Molokini and are distinguished by their hooked bill and distinctive wedge-shaped tail. Also nesting at Molokini is the Bulwer’s petrel. to see more of the wide variety of species, we invite you to visit our photo album.


The tiny, crescent-shaped island of Molokini lies 4.2 km (3 miles) offshore of Haleakala volcano, East Maui. Molokini is a volcanic cone that rises about 150 m (500 ft) from the submerged flank of Haleakala to a summit only 49 m (162 ft) above sea level. The cone is capped by a crater 540 m in diameter (1770 ft), although the northern rim is below sea level and the crater is flooded by the sea. It was active about 230,000 years ago–give or take 90,000 years–according to an age measured from lava fragments contained in the cone. Molokini lies along Haleakala’s southwest rift zone. Much of the rift zone is mantled with lava, cinders, and ash erupted during the past 50,000 years. For that reason, geologists have always assumed that Molokini was a fairly young volcanic formation. But the 230,000-year age suggests that Molokini is much older, probably older than Haleakala Crater itself.


Swim with the Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles at Maui’s Turtle Reef. When you book a Maui snorkeling adventure aboard the Mahana Nai’a, we’ll take you to where the sea turtles live! The Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle is listed as a threatened species in the United States. World wide the Green Sea Turtle is considered an endangered species. The Hawaiian name for these turtles is Honu.

The Mahana Nai’a catamaran will take you to pristine calm waters off the coast of South Maui. There, you’ll swim with and snorkel in the natural habitat of the turtles. The underwater habitat includes large coral formations with small caves and crevices. The area is not easily accessed from the shore and our catamaran is the perfect way to explore the opportunities presented when entering from the rear of the reef by boat. Whether you have snorkeling experience or you are just a beginner, the crew on the Mahana Nai’a will make your trip pleasant and safe. Our crews are well versed and educated about the marine life and habitats you may experience while snorkeling with us!