The Best Day Cruises from Maui

The Best Day Cruises from Maui

MauiMaui Activities

By Bonnie Carpenter
April 2015

The Exotic Estates Hawaii Experts on Maui have picked their favorite day cruises for you. These trips typically involve the option of snorkeling or diving due to the incredible underwater life that thrives in the clear Pacific waters around Maui.

With a variety of above-surface island settings, abundant sea-life and endless visibility, it’s no wonder why Maui is known as the #1 Hawaiian island for underwater experiences. Above or below, in one day, miles of ocean can be conquered and countless breathtaking memories can be made!

Molokini Crater

Cruising to Molokini crater is a quintessential “Maui” experience. One of only three sheltered volcanic calderas in the world, this site is known for its crystal-clear visibility (often up to 150 feet!), vast quantities of tropical fish, and unique location off the coast of South Maui in the ocean channel between the islands of Maui and Kaho’olawe.

While you do not have to go under the water to be wowed – the caldera rim above water is pretty spectacular - this area is a prime location for those looking to interact with Maui’s ocean life in an unforgettable location. Day trips to Molokini are offered by a multitude of tour boats, and are perfectly suited for those looking to snorkel, SNUBA, or scuba dive Maui’s most popular boat tour site. Experienced divers can drift dive off the 300-foot sheer outer wall, while snorkelers stay within the current and wave protected crescent shaped caldera.

Fun Fact: Molokini was used by the United States Navy during World War II for target practice, as the islet resembled the shape of a battleship. Extensive recovery efforts have resulted in the removal of all unexploded ordinances in the area, with the only lasting evidence being the clearly damaged southwest rim of the crater.

Local’s Tip: For those looking to avoid some of the often sea-sick inducing effects of the wind and surf, morning boat trips are recommended! Early morning trips are also known for best snorkel and dive conditions, and can sometimes also be less crowded at this popular spot!



A short nine-mile trip off the coast of West Maui, across the Au’au channel, is the Hawaiian island of Lana’i. Lana’i is not only home to the longest stretch of coral reef in Hawaii, but more excitedly, one of Hawaii’s largest spinner dolphin pods.

A cruise to Lana’i will often be incomplete without an encounter with these majestic mammals, often found along the South coastline of this Hawaiian island.

Lana’i is not only known for its frequent dolphin encounters, but also its crystal-clear water - home to some of the best snorkeling Hawaii has to offer.

Divers will also find a day trip to Lana’i particularly enticing, as this island offers the unrivaled lava tube diving sites known as the “Lana’i cathedrals.” Most day tours also offer opportunities to disembark and explore the small island, in addition to snorkeling and diving stops!

Fun Fact: Lana’i is the only Hawaiian island to be primarily owned by one Owner, as 98% of this island was purchased in 2012 by Larry Ellison for a reported $500 million dollars.

Local’s Tip: The best time to boat travel to Lanai (when possible) are during winter months, as you will often get an up-close-and-personal whale watching session as you cross the channel – at no additional cost to you!

Exotic Estates has a new and fabulously exclusive home on Lana’i for those who want to get to know the island!


Sea Caves Off Maui’s Coast

Feeling adventurous? Take an ocean rafting adventure to tour the rugged and remote Kanaio coast off the South tip of the island of Maui. This coast is inaccessible by road, and is known for its lava-formed sea caves, arches, and grottos. In this area of diverse volcanic landscape, dolphins are often encountered amongst turtles and abundant coral marine life. However, possibly the most noteworthy part of this experience, is the opportunity to absorb a view unlike that of any other on Maui – complete with lava rock cliff sides spilling into crystal clear blue water.

This experience is often found via a much smaller, rigid-hulled inflatable boat, and is well-suited for those looking for a unique and uncrowded snorkel experience!

Fun Fact: The Kanaio Coast area of Maui was formed when the South facing slope of the now dormant Haleakala erupted 500 years ago.

Local’s Tip: Those with back or neck irritations or problems should consider avoiding smaller, raft-style boats, and instead opt for larger, more stable boat tours for their Maui ocean experience!

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