Snorkeling at Coral Gardens

Sep 30, 2018 | General Information

Odd as it may seem, the popularity of Coral Gardens is actually directly related to the popularity of Molokini. There is no question that Molokini is the ‘Goliath’ of snorkeling destinations on Maui. This is the spot everyone wants to go. Sometimes however, you can’t. Occasionally the trade winds will come in early to the central valley of Maui and will funnel strong wind right between its two mountains of Haleakala and the West Maui Mountains. Conditions such as these will drive the wind right out to sea and target Molokini. That doesn’t work for a great snorkel adventure. On days like this when you have been booked for Molokini but can’t go, what do the boats do?

Every boat varies but here is a likely scenario: The captain will head out toward Molokini and make a valiant effort to get there. Sometimes this is successful and sometimes it is not. Mid way he may announce to the passengers on board that the likelihood of making a successful voyage to Molokini to enjoy the day snorkeling is really not an option any more. He will then suggest a great place that will be suitable for the day’s snorkel, a place called ‘Coral Gardens’, and he will then maneuver the vessel to that location. It is usually a great spot to go.

Coral Gardens in the default location.
‘Coral Gardens’ will be the default location. So, what do you do with this information? Certainly you will be disappointed that Molokini was not available. Would it be worth your while to see Coral Gardens instead? In almost all instances the answer would be yes. The first reason might be that you would be unable to reschedule because the days in front of you are already booked by other passengers. This is your opportunity to snorkel on Maui. Why waste it. You will have a great time anyway and the sites you see will be amazing. Sometimes its just better to make the best of the hand you’ve been dealt and enjoy the process. The second reason you might want to go is answered by the question: “Is Coral Gardens really a ‘weak sister’ when paired against Molokini”. Probably not.
We have spent many days over the years snorkeling at Coral Gardens and it is blessed with some beautiful coral and fish life. Turtles are generally on the menu as well and this is something you are not likely to see at Molokini. The fact is that you could spend hours snorkeling here and not be disappointed. It is ‘seriously’ protected from the strong trades by immense 60′ to 80′ cliffs. You will find it to be a little ‘oasis’ in the midst of otherwise churning seas. Honestly, the conditions there are likely to be like a calm lake. You will still enjoy the companionship of those you came with and those new friends you have made on the boat. Your lunch will be just as good and your cocktails will speak for themselves. Coral Gardens has saved many a day and allowed multitudes to enjoy a great day of snorkeling on Maui.

Also, Coral Gardens, is the ‘go to’ spot for the shorter afternoon snorkel tours that leave for a 3 hour snorkel adventure. Usually these tours are from perhaps 1 pm to 4 pm and there simply is not enough time to motor out to Molokini and back. Coral Gardens is the primary destination for these afternoon adventures and it provides a great way to get into the water on a warm Maui afternoon and enjoy some ‘pupu’s’ and perhaps a beer or wine on on the ocean.

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