Active Adventures In Maui | Maui Ocean Center

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Embrace Adventure: Maui Ocean Center’s Guide to an Active Adventure in Paradise

October 3, 2023

Aloha adventurers! Welcome to Maui, the land of breathtaking landscapes and endless opportunities for excitement. At Maui Ocean Center, we’re not just about marine life – we’re about embracing the vibrant, active lifestyle that this island offers. Whether you’re a seasoned explorer or a first-time visitor, there’s something here for everyone.

Snorkeling in Molokini Crater

snorkeling at molokini crater

Start your Maui adventure with a splash! Molokini Crater, a partially submerged volcanic crater, is a snorkeler’s paradise. Molokini Crater is located about 2.5 miles off the coast of Maui that forms a natural marine sanctuary. The underwater world of Molokini is like a living aquarium. The waters are renowned for their exceptional clarity. With visibility often exceeding 150 feet.


At Molokini Crater, you can encounter a variety of marine species, each contributing to the vibrant ecosystem. With its protected status, the marine life here thrives. Molokini Crater is a designated Marine Life Conservation District, which means that certain activities, such as fishing or collecting marine specimens, are prohibited. This status helps ensure the continued health and vitality of the underwater ecosystem. 

Snorkelers can expect to encounter a diverse array of fish species, including colorful reef fish like parrotfish (uhu), butterflyfish (lauwiliwili nukunuku ‘oi‘oi), and yellow tang (lauʻipala). One of the highlights of snorkeling in Molokini is the chance to encounter the Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle, known locally as the Honu, a beloved resident of these waters. Another common sighting is the Hawaiian Spinner Dolphins, or Naiʻa.  Observing this marine life in their natural habitat is truly a once in a lifetime experience.

Hiking the Waihe'e Ridge Trail

For those who prefer to keep their feet on solid ground, the Waihe’e Ridge Trail promises an exhilarating trek through lush rainforests, across streams, and up to awe-inspiring vistas. The Waihe’e Ridge Trail is a challenging yet rewarding hike that offers spectacular views of Maui’s landscape. Stretching over 2.5 miles, the trail takes you through lush rainforests, and while the ascent can be steep, the panoramic vistas of the coastline, Makamakaole Falls, and the ocean are well worth the effort. The trail is well-maintained, with benches along the way for rest and a picnic table at the pinnacle. It’s recommended to wear comfortable, sturdy shoes, bring ample water, and embark early in the morning to beat the midday heat. The trailhead is accessed from the road across from Mendes Ranch, and a fairly large parking lot is available uphill from the starting point. Keep in mind that the hike can be slippery on the way back down, especially after rain. Overall, it’s a challenging but immensely satisfying trek offering unparalleled views into Waihe’e Valley and beyond.

Surfing at Ho'okipa Beach Park

Maui is a surfer’s dream, and Ho’okipa Beach Park is the place to catch the perfect wave. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a novice, the waves here cater to all skill levels. While it may not be ideal for swimming due to strong currents and a shallow reef, the beach offers plenty of other attractions. The narrow, uncrowded white sand beach provides ample space to relax and enjoy the stunning views. Honu can often be spotted in the water or lazing on the shore. The beach is divided into different surf breaks, with “Pavilions” being popular for both windsurfing and board surfing. 


The Ho’okipa Lookout offers a prime vantage point for watching surfers tackle the waves. The area also provides facilities like lifeguards, showers, pavilions, picnic tables, bathrooms, and port-a-potties for visitors’ convenience. Ho’okipa Beach, located at Mile Marker #8.8 on Hana Highway, is a must-visit destination for windsurfing enthusiasts and nature lovers alike.

Ziplining in Haleakalā

Feel the rush of adrenaline as you soar above the treetops in the spectacular Haleakalā National Park. Ziplining offers a unique perspective of Maui’s diverse landscapes, from lush rainforests to arid volcanic terrain. The Haleakalā 5-Line Zipline Tour provides an exhilarating experience with five ziplines that offer speeds exceeding 45 mph, spanning over 90 ft drops, and traversing through picturesque landscapes on the slopes of Haleakalā.


Skyline’s guides are experienced and certified. They undergo an extensive 80-hour Guide Training Program, including certifications in first aid, CPR, and defibrillator training. They share their knowledge about Haleakalā National Park’s history, ecosystems, and cultural significance. Due to its unique location, the weather at this zipline course can be different from other parts of the island. It is typically 10-15 degrees cooler than sea level so dress accordingly.


Skyline is actively involved in environmental conservation efforts. They are part of 1% for the Planet, a group of businesses committed to contributing at least 1% of all sales to environmental conservation. They also support various community and health nonprofits.

Kayaking to Honolua Bay

Kayaking to Honolua Bay offers a unique and intimate way to experience one of Maui’s most treasured marine environments. The journey begins with a picturesque paddle along Maui’s northwest coast, allowing you to take in the stunning shoreline, lush greenery, and dramatic cliffs. Honolua Bay is nestled along Maui’s northwestern coast, and is rich with historical significance and ecological importance. Designated as a Marine Life Conservation District, the bay prohibits fishing and resource collection, echoing the stewardship practices of early Hawaiians. Its cultural, historical, and environmental value is recognized by modern-day Hawaii. Once a vital trade hub for Honolua Ranch, the bay now beckons as a premier destination for snorkeling and surfing enthusiasts. While its rocky shoreline and occasional odors from nearby agriculture may deter sunbathers, the expansive bay offers a thriving marine ecosystem beyond the shore. With fishing restrictions in place, Honolua Bay teems with underwater life, promising rich snorkeling and scuba experiences.


When snorkeling, it’s crucial to exercise caution and refrain from touching or disturbing the coral and marine life. This helps protect the fragile ecosystem and ensures that future generations can enjoy its wonders.


Honolua Bay, with its historical legacy and conservation efforts, stands as a cherished testament to the delicate interplay of nature, culture, and recreation.

Sunset Sail along the Coast

sunset sailing cruise in Maui

Wrap up your action-packed day with a serene sunset sail along Maui’s stunning coastline. Sunset sails in Maui offer a magical way to experience the island’s natural beauty. These leisurely boat cruises take place in the late afternoon, allowing guests to witness the breathtaking sunset over the Pacific Ocean. Depending on the time of year, guests may have the opportunity to spot marine life such as dolphins, sea turtles, and even humpback whales (during the winter months). A typical sunset sail lasts around 2 to 2.5 hours, giving guests ample time to enjoy the scenery, relax, and soak in the tranquil ambiance.


Many sunset sails offer a catered experience, providing guests with a selection of beverages, including cocktails, and often a spread of appetizers or light snacks. Some sunset sails feature live music or entertainment, adding a festive and enjoyable atmosphere to the experience. Musicians may play traditional Hawaiian tunes or popular songs.

Catch Humpback Whales in 3D

The Humpbacks of Hawaiʻi Exhibit & Sphere at Maui Ocean Center offers a groundbreaking opportunity to intimately connect with the majestic humpback whales of Maui. This innovative experience, open daily from 10 am to 4 pm, provides showings every half hour. While no reservations are required, it’s important to note that the Sphere is not suitable for children aged 3 and under due to potential risks to their developing optical nerves.


Inside the Sphere, guests are immersed in the underwater realm of these incredible ocean mammals through cutting-edge visual and audio technology. This includes 4k imagery, 3D active glasses, and a 7.1 surround sound system, offering an unprecedented level of engagement. The Sphere stands as a testament to the fusion of technology and marine observation, made possible through collaboration with science and technology experts.


Embracing the adventurous spirit of Maui opens up a world of incredible experiences, from the vibrant underwater life at Molokini Crater to the breathtaking vistas along the Waihe’e Ridge Trail. Whether you’re riding the waves at Ho’okipa Beach Park, soaring through the treetops in Haleakalā, or kayaking to the historic Honolua Bay, each adventure promises a deeper connection with Maui’s natural beauty. 


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