Turtle-topia: Mala Wharf

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Turtle-Topia: Snorkel to the Underwater Paradise at Mala Wharf, Lahaina

Experience the charm of Lahaina’s Mala Wharf, a hidden gem off the beaten path of Front Street. Once a port for pineapple and sugarcane crops, this artificial reef is now a beloved destination for snorkelers and scuba divers eager to see sea turtles.

Mala Wharf’s Transformation: From Port to Paradise

Constructed in 1922, the steel-reinforced Mala Wharf underwent a dramatic transformation over the years:

  • Originally intended as a transport hub for pineapple and sugarcane agriculture, the wharf faced challenges due to local tides, coastline, and ocean activity.
  • Despite its initial purpose, docking at the wharf was a struggle, and the structure was eventually condemned in the 1950s.
  • A few decades later, Hurricane Iniki in 1992 further damaged the structure, creating the artificial reef we see today.

The Artificial Reef: A Bustling Marine Ecosystem

The artificial reef at Mala Wharf, teeming with marine life, is home to:

  • Whitetip Reef Sharks: Taking advantage of the countless hiding spots offered by the collapsed wharf.
  • Goatfish, Tang, and Triggerfish: These species have made the area their habitat.
  • Green Sea Turtles: The main attraction of this unique snorkeling spot.

The Green Sea Turtles of Mala Wharf

The Green Sea Turtles frequent Mala Wharf, drawn to the reef and its cleaning station where cleaner wrasse and tangs feast on algae off their shells. While snorkeling, you might encounter 10-15 turtles waiting for their cleaning session, but remember to keep a safe distance and avoid touching them.

Experience Mala Wharf: Snorkel Tours in Lahaina

The best way to explore Mala Wharf is by boat. You can reach it from shore, but it can be quite shallow depending on the tide. This stunning and important reef system is a testament to how nature can adapt and flourish, emphasizing the importance of wildlife and coastline preservation.

Join us in caring for our oceans and wildlife by booking an eco-snorkel tour with us. Check out our Lanai snorkel tours from Lahaina today, and embark on an underwater adventure at Mala Wharf!