Maui Boat Ride Considerations
10 things to consider when booking a boat ride
#1 What type of excursion are you after?
Maui offers a variety of tours to choose from. All are unique and all are sure to be a wonderful Maui memory. Here are some of our favorite choices: snorkeling, rafting, whale watching, dinner cruises, sailing, dolphin adventures, and fun sunset cruises with live music and dancing.
#2 How long would you like to be out on the water?
1 hour, 1/2 Day, Full Day
Some snorkel tours will give you an option of a 2 or 5-hour tour, while most whale watching tours only run 1 to 2 hours. It’s important to know your limits and ask questions at the time of booking. This is one of the biggest Maui boat ride considerations.
#3 Where will you go and what will you see?
Molokini and Turtle Town are two very well-known snorkel locations. Molokini is a crescent-shaped islet about 3 miles off of Maui’s southern coast. It is a marine sanctuary that is home to a variety of fish. Turtle Town, as you may have guessed is home to many of Maui’s favorite shelled friends – the sea turtles. Lanai, known as the pineapple isle, is home to only about 3000 residents. The pace is slow and relaxed, and the vistas are breathtaking. Some select boats offer excursions to Lanai, which involve some combination of dolphin sightings, snorkeling, and/or beach landing. Kanaio and La Perouse, an area along Maui’s south shore, is rough, untouched, with gorgeous lava rock formations. Honolua Bay, along Maui’s West Side, is a famed surf spot and home to turtles and several tropical fish.
#4 Size and Type of Boat?
The ocean is usually calmer in the morning as compared to late afternoon. However, Maui captains are trained to provide the most enjoyable ride possible at all times. Larger boats are more stable on the water. However, smaller boats can provide a more personal experience with special attention to your needs from the crew. Sailboats breeze across the water like the wind. Zodiac boats offer a bit more adventure, they are smaller, more flexible in their maneuvers, and can take passengers to hard-to-reach exotic locations. They also provide a more intimate experience during whale season, as they are lower to the water; and whales are known to hug their sides! Perhaps you are not an avid swimmer, well Maui even has options for you: Submarine and Glass Bottom Boats.
#5 Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, or Pupus (appetizers)?
Be sure to bring your appetite! Many boats offer spreads of delicious or fresh grilled fish, ribs, or burgers. Others provide only light fair. If you are taking an early morning tour, will there be coffee and muffins? These are all things to be aware of at the time of booking to make sure you have a fantastic experience on the water.
#6 Cocktails and/or Open Bar and Music
Let’s face it, many adults come to Maui to enjoy themselves! Live music and dancing out on the high seas, what could be better? Most sunset dinner cruises and some snorkel tours have a bartender mixing Mai Tais on demand!
This can be very important for many guests. Be sure the boat you choose can accommodate your needs.
• Bathrooms on board
• Wet suits for rent
• Photographer on Board
• Water Slide
• On Board Shower
• SNUBA – Breathe through a regulator and hose that is connected to the boat. Go as deep as 30 feet, no certification is necessary.
Whales, Dolphins, Turtles, Tropical Fish, and Sunburnt Tourists make for entertaining creatures to watch in Maui waters. If you’re looking for whales, it’s best to go in the peak season (February is usually the best month.) If you want to see turtles and fish, you should do some kind of snorkeling tour at Molokini, Turtle Town, or Coral Gardens. For dolphins, see if any boats go to La Perouse in the mornings or to Lana’i at Manele Bay or Hulopoe Bay. And you usually can’t do anything without seeing some sunburnt tourists. Do yourself a favor, and don’t join them in their misery. Sunblock, shade, drinking water, and protective clothing all help.
#9 Where will you depart from?
As many snorkel tours start early in the morning, to avoid the rougher conditions that can arise in the afternoon, your drive time to the harbor is an important factor.
• Kaʻanapali Beach – West Maui
• Lahaina Harbor – West Maui
• Mala Wharf – West Maui
• Maʻalaea Harbor – Central Maui
• Kihei Boat Ramp – South Maui (shorter distance to Molokini)
• Makena Beach – South Maui (shorter distance to Molokini)
#10 Certified Naturalist on Board
This is even more important during whale season. People come from around the world to enjoy the whales from Dec. 15 – May 15 every year. There are so many amazing facts about these enormous mammals. A naturalist explains their mating, birthing, feeding, and social habits in real-time, while you view them in their natural environment.