Molokini Crater in Hawaii isn’t exactly a short drive away from anywhere in the continental United States. But it’s worth mentioning because this year is the 30th anniversary of the 77-acre Molokini Shoal Marine Life Conservation District, part of a network of U.S. marine protected areas. The crescent-shaped islet is the southern rim of an extinct crater. The shallower inner cove is the crater’s submerged floor. The islet is three miles off Maui’s southwestern coast, and access is by boat only. Stepping onto the crescent-shaped island is prohibited, as it’s a state seabird sanctuary and off-limits to anyone.
Depths to: Novice divers will be more comfortable diving inside the cove where depths are relatively shallow. On the outside of the crater along the wall, depths plunge to more than 300 feet (91 m).
Visibility: 100 feet (30 m) in the cove.
Aquatic life: Octopuses, moray eels and white tip, black tip and gray reef sharks, manta rays, dolphins, and schooling fish.
Fees: Check with a local dive shop.
On-site amenities: None.
More info: Visit www.hirsa.net, click on “Members” and then click on “Maui”; or visit http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/dar/marine-managed-areas/hawaii-marine-life-conservation-districts/maui-molokini-shoal/.
Getting there: Dive operators are based in Lahaina, Maalaea Harbor and Kihei.