The ocean, more than anything, defines the nature of Hawaii. It separates the islands, it has shaped the culture since our very first residents arrived in their canoes, it provides us with food, houses a vast array of biodiversity, influences the weather, anchors several exciting types of recreation, and many businesses depend on it, including our own. Those perfect postcard beaches draw countless visitors to enjoy their beauty. Considering the popularity of Maui ocean activities, and the fact that the state is currently working to increase ocean safety education for visitors, we'd like to share some tips so you have the best, safest ocean experience possible.

When you're out aboard one of our Maui ocean excursions, your safety is in excellent hands, but we're guessing you get in the water at other times too, so here are our tips:

Watch the weather: Always check the weather report to make sure conditions are ideal for getting in the water. Once that's done, and you're at the beach, keep an eye on the weather yourself. Conditions can be unpredictable on the ocean, just like with rivers and even lakes. Remember, Hawaii is right smack in the middle of the biggest ocean on Earth. These waters are powerful and changeable. Choose a calm, clear, sunny morning. Conditions are safest when the water is gently lapping against the shore, and there's little to no wind. If the wind and surf start to kick up, or the sky gets cloudy opt for dry land. Early mornings are generally the best time for these conditions.

Keep an eye on the water: When people say you shouldn't turn your back to the ocean, they are sharing some wise advice. This is true no matter where you are. Rogue waves happen, and they can be pretty fierce. All you have to do is keep the ocean in sight, at least in your periphery, and you can avoid these waves.

Know your limits: It's so easy to get swept up in the excitement of the moment, pun intended. On vacation, people tend to feel more adventurous than usual, and eager for interesting new experiences. If you feel yourself coming to that point in the ocean, check yourself. Are you a strong swimmer? Do you have any health issues that could complicate your ability to swim? Maybe you feel short of breath, or a little tired. Don't push yourself when you're in the water. Save that for the land, if you have to.

Solo is a no-no: Scuba divers know this rule, and that's why every safe diver has a buddy. The same is true even if you're going for a quick swim. Bring someone with you, at least to keep an eye out from shore. Snorkeling is a lot like diving, so please don't go alone. Even if your companion can't help, they can get help. Fortunately, here in Hawaii, there are a lot of powerful swimmers, many of whom have performed heroic deeds in the past. That being said, it's best if they don't have to, and you can't bank on the hope that they'll always be around.

Ask a resident: Statistics show that visitors get into trouble more often than residents, the difference being familiarity and experience with our environment. Just think how much you know about your area of residence compared to someone who might never have been there. So if you know a Hawaii resident who's had a lot of exposure to the ocean, it doesn't hurt to ask for a bit of advice. They may think of some tips that we haven't thought of!

That should be enough to get your safety bases covered, for now. If you're out on an excursion with us, and you have a question about safety, ask! Our expert crew is there to help you. Mahalo!

One of the toughest challenges if you’re visiting Maui is deciding what activities to book. Really, Maui has a reputation for having so much to do, you can end up exhausting yourself trying to see and do it all. You should definitely take a few trips to the island if that’s your goal, or one really long trip. But be careful, you might opt to stay forever! Most Maui vacationers go through a careful process of selecting activities based on who is in their group and what kind of things each person has always wanted to try, along with places each person has always wanted to see. The real challenge arises when inevitably, not everyone agrees. What if some of you want to go on a Maui ocean excursion, but some don’t?

To answer the question, you have to think about the reasons why someone might be reluctant to engage in an activity on a boat. Once you know the answer, you can address those concerns. Here are some examples of common concerns.

I can’t swim. Fortunately, on some of our excursions, you never dip a toe in the water. It’s not all snorkeling. We provide ferry services to and from Molokai, as well as dinner cruises off Maui’s beautiful west coast. We also carry life vests in case of any emergency.

I get seasick. You don’t want to put a damper on your vacation by getting queasy aboard an ocean tour, but there are a couple things to be aware of. Dramamine is really effective at preventing seasickness. If you’d rather avoid pills, just know that our craft are among the largest tour boats operating on Maui, and were built with cutting edge designs to maximize stability. Our fleet consists of fast, smooth and comfortable boats.

I’ve been on ocean cruises elsewhere. Maui no ka oi. That means Maui is the best. If you haven’t had dinner on the unobstructed top deck of the 120-foot-long Maui Princess under a flaming sunset in the sparkling blue Pacific, then you shouldn’t skip this opportunity. We have wonderful entertainment, delicious food, and in the winter months, you’ll probably see some humpback whales playing not far away.

Aren’t ocean tours expensive? They may be less expensive than you think. For example, our Molokini Snorkel Tour is affordable, with cheaper rates if you book online than if you book in person. Be sure to check current rates because they are subject to change over time. On this exciting outing, we’ll take you all the way from Lahaina Harbor to the charming crescent island of Molokini, off Maui’s South Shore. In fact, we are currently the only tour company taking guests to Molokini from the Lahaina Harbor. Once you’ve arrived, we’ll provide you with your gear and any instruction you might need. We also provide your food. Check our website to see what’s on the menu.

No matter how you choose to spend your vacation, we hope you have the time of your life. If you do choose to take a tour with us, we look forward to seeing you on Maui’s stunning coastal waters. Mahalo!

Have you ever thought about a membership with Hawaii Ocean Project? There are several benefits, but in these times, it means a lot to join a business with integrity. Not only are we supremely concerned with the health of our marine ecosystem, but we also send part of our earnings to scientific researchers who work hard to better understand our oceans. For example, 100 percent of the profits from our merchandise sales go to these scientists, helping to ensure their ability to keep doing the vital work that they do. We also give 100 percent of your membership fee to these researchers. If you support us, you will be supporting them.

As for the benefits you'll enjoy, a membership can be a wonderful thing, especially if you've booked with us on more than one occasion. First, we provide you with a 25 percent reduction on the prices of the following ocean excursions:

You will also receive our quarterly newsletter to keep you apprised of all our latest events, changes, and special announcements. If you're a Maui resident, the newsletters are a great way to stay in the know. If you're a Maui visitor, they can help keep you connected to our efforts out here in the big blue Pacific.

Since every member is not the same, we offer a few levels of membership, so you can choose the one that suits you best. Each one is unique, just like our members. Here is a list of what you will receive under each membership level. Remember that 100 percent of your membership fee goes to our Research Direct Program that funds the work of brilliant marine research scientists.

  • Sea Level $50.00 – Basic benefits plus a HOP Beach Towel
  • Spyhopper $100.00 – Basic benefits, a HOP Beach Towel, and a copy of Dr. Jim Darling's Hawaii's Humpbacks: Unveiling the Mysteries, with photographs by Flip Nicklin
  • Full Breach $350.00 – Basic benefits, 2 HOP Beach Towels, a copy of Dr. Jim Darling's Hawaii's Humpbacks: Unveiling the Mysteries, with photographs by Flip Nicklin, and your membership being highlighted in the next HOP newsletter

We look forward to you joining as a member, so we can work together to support marine research! Mahalo!

Sea Link of Hawaii provides the only ferry between Maui and Molokai. This provides residents and visitors alike with an alternative to flying, a travel method that isn’t always convenient or preferred. Best of all, it gives Maui and Molokai folks what people like most: a choice. In the spirit of providing choices, Sea Link of Hawaii will be adding a special voyage to the regular schedule this month.

October’s current schedule provides trips on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. The departure times are as follows:

  • Maui to Molokai: 6:00 am
  • Molokai to Maui: 5:00 pm

However, on Wednesday, October 21st, an additional voyage will be added. The ferry will depart from Maui at 3pm on the trip to Molokai. It will depart from Molokai at 5pm for the return trip to Maui. We wanted to make you aware of this special voyage just in case it happens to be ideal for your travel preferences.

If you need more information or if you would like to book a trip, visit www.MolokaiFerry.com or call 1-808-667-6165. Mahalo, and we look forward to seeing you on your next visit to Molokai!

So you want to get out on the beautiful blue Pacific Ocean off Maui’s sublime coastline, but what kind of outing to choose? There are several options, and it’s just a matter of picking the one that’s right for you and the rest of your group, whether you’re visiting with family, children, friends, business associates or your sweetheart. Here’s a brief rundown of our choices, to help you decide.

Snorkel Tours – Want to get in the water and explore the teeming coral reefs that Hawaii is so well known for? We have two tours to choose from. The Molokini Snorkel Tour will take you to the charming and tiny crescent-shaped island of Molokini off South Maui’s coast. Since the island has no beaches for wave action to churn up, this snorkeling site is among the clearest in the world. You really get a great sense of how far the reefs sprawl in every direction. We are the only tour company that runs from Lahaina Harbor to Molokini. Our Lanai Snorkel Tour will take you to the beautiful neighboring island of Lanai, which is known for its tiny human population, which only consists of a few thousand people. As such, it’s vibrant snorkeling sites tend to be much less crowded than those around Maui.

Sunset Dinner Cruise – If you want to get on the water but not in the water, perhaps a dinner cruise would be just right for you. They can be romantic, lively, soothing, and entertaining all at once. You’ll be riding aboard Maui’s largest and most stable yacht, the 120′ Maui Princess. Flaming sunsets, unobstructed ocean views, sumptuous cuisine and fabulous entertainment all come together to make your trip special as you dine and dance the night away.

Molokai Tours – We just so happen to operate the only ferry between Maui and Molokai. As such, we can bring you to the fascinating island of Molokai and set you up with a car rental for your self-guided exploration of the island, or we can take you on a tour with a knowledgeable driver/tour guide who can take you to all the best spots and tell you about each location. The choice is yours!

Whale Watching Tours – Humpback Whales grow up to 45 feet long, and happen to be the most acrobatic of the baleen whales, so get ready for an amazing show. If whale watching all the way from shore just isn’t satisfying enough, why not book a tour? Whale season begins in December and ends in May, but we are offering the opportunity for pre-booking on this popular activity. Our craft are the largest and most stable that you could hope to find here on Maui, so we pride ourselves on being the best option for those with sensitive stomachs. The size of our tour boats also helps ensure that there is plenty of space along the railings so that everyone can get the best view. Best of all, we guarantee whale sightings or we’ll give you your money back.

Private Tours – If you need a tour for a special private event, let us know. Over our 40 years of experience, we’ve provided private group snorkeling trips, exclusive sunset wedding receptions, family sightseeing adventures and private whale watch trips. Just give us a call and we’ll work with you to provide the best experience possible for you and your group.

That’s the rundown of the ocean tours that we provide to our wonderful guests. If you’re interested in booking with us, you’ll find our contact information at the bottom of the page, and you can also contact and book with us from the website. We look forward to seeing you out on the water with us. Mahalo!