Molokini Volcanic Crater island

Located approximately 2.5 miles off Maui Island is a small crescent moon-shaped, partially submerged volcanic crater island called Molokini. The Hawaii islet sits in the Alalakeiki Channel between the islands of Maui and Kaho’olawe. Molokini has a land area of 23 acres, it’s highest point rises 161 feet from the clear ocean waters. Studies indicate Molokini erupted more than 230,000 years ago.

The south facing shoreline; the outer rim of crescent moon-shaped Molokini features volcanic rock seacliff terrain which drop straight into the Pacific Ocean waves. The north facing shoreline rests in a bay-like coastal inlet cove featuring reef-filled clear calm waters. It makes for the perfect dive or snorkel spot.

Natural Habitat

In 1977 Molokini was declared a Marine Life Conservation District. This includes 77 acres of underwater ocean reef terrain surrounding the islet. Molokini is also a Hawai’i State Seabird Sanctuary.

Molokini is home to approximately 250 different marine species which include reef fish, shellfish and sea urchins. On occasions small whitetip reef sharks and moray eels can make appearances. The waters around Molokini contain 38 hard coral species and about 100 species of algae. The secluded islet is a perfect environment for nesting seabirds — wedge-tailed shearwaters, petrels and frigatebirds.

The most common way to get to Molokini is by sea; more so by watercraft, meaning by boat or vessel. The natural preservation is governed by both from the U.S. Coast Guard and the Hawaii Division of Forestry and Wildlife. Unauthorized landings and/or dropping anchor is strictly prohibited. Regulations also prohibit any fishing, spearing, netting, collection, or removal of specimens, and/or any feeding of wildlife. – Kapu.

Mythology & History

Archaeological evidence prove that early Hawaiians visited Molokini to fish. They also likely harvested seabirds, eggs and feathers.

According to Hawaiian legend, Molokini was a beautiful wahine. She and Pele, Goddess of Fire, were in love with the same man. The jealous Pele cut her rival in half and transformed her into stone. The woman’s head is supposedly Pu’u Olai, the cinder cone which over looks Makena Beach on Maui’s south shore.

Like the island of Kaho’olawe, Molokini was used for bombing and target practice by the United States Navy.

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