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Molokini Facts

two whales playing

In 1977, the same year Apple II computers were first sold and NASA first took a Space Shuttle for a test flight, a great thing happened for fish and water enthusiasts in Maui – Molokini became a Hawai’i Marine Life Conservation District. Protecting Molokini for future generations was the right thing to do for this very special place.

The Birth of Molokini

Scientists date the birth of our beautiful, crescent-shaped snorkeling paradise to over a series of volcanic eruptions over 230,000 years. In fact, we can trace Molokini’s yellow earth to a series of shallow marine eruptions. When a volcano erupts under water, the water turns erupting magma into glass crystals. Glass erodes much faster than dry land volcanic material and that’s where Molokini gets it yellow earth from, as opposed to the red earth of Haleakala, which comes from magma that cooled on land.

All About Islets

Technically speaking, Molokini Crater is an islet. There are thousands of islets around the world and they go by many names. In the Caribbean, where Kai Kanani II was custom-crafted for our Hawaiian waters, Molokini would be called MolokiniKey. In Ireland – Molokini Skerry. And closer to home in Polynesia we’d call Molokini, Molokini Motu.

An Ancient Hawaiian Fishing Area

Because of its ideal deep-water position in the Alalakeiki Channel between Maui and the neighboring island of Kahoolawe, Molokini has long been appreciated for its fish population. Ancient Hawaiian fishing techniques were incredibly varied and complex. Many of the Hawaiian fishing traditions that may have been practiced at Molokini continue to this day, including hook and line fishing, spear fishing and net fishing.

Rare Species of Plants

Molokini is home to especially rare species of plants. One such plant, the Ihi Molokini is endemic in only one other place in the world and that is very close by on neighboring Kahoolawe. The Ihi Molokini is a succulent – other succulunts include aloe plants and cacti – and it has beautiful yellow flowers.