Who doesn’t have snorkeling on their bucket list? We all had it at some point in our lives. It is famous as a fascinating sport where one gets to explore the turquoise blue ocean and the fascinating life underneath it.
The underwater sea life is different from the one above it. With colorful fishes swimming around and remarkable corals, it is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Snorkeling was enjoyed even in the past when hollow reeds were used as snorkels. It is different from a scuba dive where one explores the depths of the water.
Snorkeling is enjoyed on the surface of the water with the help of snorkeling gear and swimming fins. It can be enjoyed by both swimmers and non-swimmers. The latter can wear floating devices and snorkel in shallow waters.
Snorkeling In Maui
Maui is a pristine island situated in Hawaii also known as the ‘Valley Isle’. Surrounded by coconut trees it is
like surfing, scuba diving, and snorkeling.
The Hawaiian islands undoubtedly have the best snorkeling in Maui. There are all kinds of snorkeling bays for beginners as well as experienced snorkelers. The Leeward side has calmer seas and is often a preferred location.
The ocean is massive, and so is the life under it. So gear up and get ready to explore some of the best snorkeling in Maui.
16 Best Snorkelling In Maui
Here are 16 wonderful options for snorkeling in Maui.
1. Molokini Crater
A remarkable crescent-shaped crater formed over 150,000 years ago serves as one of the best snorkeling in Maui.
Home to many endemic species, Molokini crater has 250 varieties of fish ranging from the porcupine puffer fish to the spotted box fish.
The journey to the Molokini crater can be done only by boat. Throughout the boat trip, the instructors give valuable information about the partially submerged crater and the volcano which last erupted around 230,000 years ago.
Photo by Farid Askerov on UnsplashThe waters are known to have great visibility up to 100-150 feet. It is a safe area for families to snorkel and explore marine life. Make sure to carry your towels, hats and sunscreen.
A continental breakfast and refreshments are provided during the journey. If you’re lucky enough, you can spot dolphins on your way too! The morning timings between 8-3 am are preferable due to the calmer seas.
The eye-catching marvels here are the Hawaiian green sea turtles also known as ‘Honu’. They weigh about 300 pounds and primarily feed on algae.
The main harbors from where one can reach the Molokini Crater are:
- Maalaea Harbour
2. Turtle Town
Turtle Town located on Maluaka beach is the best place to spot the Hawaiian green sea turtle. These turtles are primarily brown and can hold their breath for about 4-5 hours!
Turtle town hosts many unique species and makes its spot among the best snorkeling in Maui. Apart from the turtles, one can spot many unique species of marine animals. You can also spot whales during the whale season.
There are picnic spots to have a day out with proper washrooms and parking facilities. Kids and families can snorkel around in the shallow waters while experienced snorkelers can adventure further.
3. Kapalua Bay
Situated in the northwest of Maui, Kapalua beach holds a mesmerizing view of the island. With pretty sunsets and the white sand beach, this is a picture-perfect location for a relaxing getaway.
Kapalua bay bagged the title of ‘America’s best beach’ back in the early 1990s. The waters are calmer in Kapalua and a variety of marine life can be found near the shore. It takes the shape of a cove and hence the calm waters.
It is among the most preferred location among the Maui snorkeling spots. Kapalua Bay is equipped with public washrooms and parking lots which is another benefit for tourists.
The best time to visit this beautiful sandy beach would be before 10 am when the sea is calmer and the crowd is less. The Merriman’s Kapalua restaurant situated here is perfect for brunch after snorkeling.
4. Napili Bay
Napili bay is much similar to Kapalua bay and is less deep which makes it suitable for beginners to snorkel around. While snorkeling here, you can encounter green sea turtles, colorful fish, and some corals.
Napili bay has more rocks and comparatively fewer corals. The famous reef triggerfish can be spotted here.
The sea house restaurant is famous in the Napili Bay Beach resort. Explore the underwater world right from the shore to the depths. But make sure to stay out during high tides.
5. Honolua Bay
Honolua bay is a part of the marine life conservation district aimed at improving the marine population of endemic species. Located in West Maui, Honolua bay has a rocky shoreline.
Sharks are present here but they are generally not a threat or something to worry about. The journey to Honolua bay is an adventurous one where you get to cross a jungle to reach there.
Visibility slightly increases when you move further away from the shoreline where the water is less muddy and more clear.
The bay is famous for both surfing and snorkeling. Honolua is also a marine reserve and hence no fishing in any form is allowed.
6. Keawakapu Beach
Keawakapu is a sandy beach and is undoubtedly one of the best in Kihei. Palm trees surround the beautiful beach and the waters welcome snorkelers to explore.
Keawakapu beach has ample parking space and restaurants to enjoy the island’s cuisine. You can find many lava rock formations here as well
In some cases, you can spot eels and octopuses in the ocean waters. There are no lifeguards at Keawakapu, make sure to stay out in case of high tides.
The artificial reef constructed here makes it a famous spot for scuba diving and snorkeling. There are no beach umbrellas here, so make sure to carry one for shade from the sun. Keawakapu beach with its beautiful sunsets has one of the best snorkeling in Maui.
7. Ka’anapali Beach
Ka’anapali beach has one of the best snorkeling spots in West Maui. It was also awarded as ‘America’s best beach’ in the early years.
The famous Black Rock point on the northern cliff is known for its diving game. The chief Kahekili was an excellent player of cliff jumping and yet today people jump off the cliff into the waters.
The Black Rock area is usually crowded and often water currents are spotted in the ocean. The shore has fewer reefs and more fish like parrotfish and hawkfish.
The snorkeling location can go up to 8-25 feet deep. Be aware of the water currents especially if you are a beginner at snorkeling.
8. Hanakao’o Canoe Beach
The Hanakao’o beach is a lively location known for its famous canoe races. Several canoes are launched back and forth.
The beach is a perfect family spot and is among the few beaches to have lifeguards. Having one of the best snorkeling on Maui, the beach also has picnic tables and barbecue spots.
Hanakao’o connects with Kaanapali beach in the south. There is frequent water quality monitoring to test the quality and Ph of the Maui waters.
9. Wailea Beach
With a three-mile beach path, Wailea beach is one of the most beautiful beaches on Maui. Surrounded by trees, it is an amazing spot for snorkeling or just spending time at the beach.
Wailea comes from the term ‘the water of Lea’. The sandy beach often has good conditions for snorkelers and scuba divers.
It hosts the two main resorts – Four Seasons and Grand Wailea. You can book a room at the resort or just explore the beach. Either way, it is a must-visit.
The right end of the water has better visibility and you can spot the famous green sea turtles too. Consider doing further deep rather than the shoreline as the water gets clearer. The waters are home to unique species like the needlefish and flag tail.
10. Makena Beach
Makena beach is amongst the largest beaches in Maui which are divided into the Big beach and the Small beach. Laden with soft sand, snorkeling at Makena is a great choice.
The waves are usually small but sometimes waves hitting off rocks might seem a lot to beginners. Makena beach does have one of the best snorkeling in Maui.
Snorkeling at the north end is a better option. You can also find an underwater cave around 10 feet deep in the water. It is more convenient for experienced snorkelers to explore this cave.
Food trucks are all over the beach offering mouth-watering snacks. If you’re lucky enough, you can hear whales singing under the water during their migration season.
11. Coral Gardens
Stretching from the south of Papalua the Coral gardens is famous for its coral passages and colorful reefs. The name comes from the distinct corals lying underwater with unique shapes and designs.
Coral Gardens is a more secluded and less crowded area that is accessible only by boat. You can spot dolphins in the summers and green sea turtles throughout the year.
The tropical fish is famous here and you can explore the naturally formed reef underwater. Coral Gardens undoubtedly have one of the best snorkeling in Maui.
12. Charley Young Beach
Charley Young beach in Kihei has a sandy beach surrounded by beautiful ironwood trees. Early morning is the best time to snorkel with gentle waves lapping over the sea.
It is situated on the north side of Kamaole Beach park and is also famous for swimming and paddle boarding. Snorkel near the rocks for a better experience. You will find this beach less crowded than the other.
13. Airport Beach
Airport beach in the west of Maui got its name as earlier it was the only landing platform for planes in the west. Situated near Black Rock, the Airport Beach is laden with grass lawns and makes a perfect outing spot for families.
Snorkeling here is a great idea and apart from hosting one of the best snorkeling in Maui, the beach has green sea turtles visiting right at the shore.
You would be amazed to find the shoal of fishes underwater with all colorful and patterned skins. Rent a beach umbrella and spend some time on the lawns or snorkel your way in the blue waters.
14. La Perouse Bay
Located in South Maui, La Perouse Bay makes its place among the tourist favorite. The Haleakala volcano eruption years ago caused the lava rock formations which are visible even today.
A hike through La Perouse would be a difficult one due to the rocky shoreline and the hot environment which is explained by the lava rocks.
The athletic spinner dolphins can be spotted throughout the year. There are numerous archaeological sites along the rocky edge and the wildlife abundance in La Perouse bay is great.
However, the snorkeling site is best suitable for advanced snorkelers rather than beginners. This is due to the extreme winds and waves. The bay has less visibility but the coves can be explored for snorkeling.
La Perouse bay has the best snorkeling in Maui for strong swimmers and experienced snorkelers.
15. Ulua Beach
The Ulua Beach named after a Hawaiian game is the best spot for picnics. It is a family beach with a plethora of activities like scuba diving, boogie boarding, and also the best snorkeling in Maui.
The beach also has scuba instructors who guide you to the underwater world and offer the best scuba diving experience.
16. Baby Beach
Baby Beach by its name is the top spot in Lahaina for kids to play and snorkel in the shallow waters. As calm as they can be, the waves are gentle enough for little ones.
The beach has a break-line which slows down the large waves. The waters are shallow but have great clarity with numerous aquatic species.
The beach has all the facilities like restrooms and snack bars. The all-in-one features make it among the best snorkeling in Maui for little ones.
Boat Tours In Maui
The boat facilities are immense and have naturalists who guide you to the best snorkeling in Maui.
- Maui Whale-watch tour – Lahaina Harbour
- Premium sunset dinner cruise – Ka’anapali beach
- Maui sunset Luau dinner cruise – Ma’alaea Harbour
- Adventure Sail – Lahaina Town
- Semi-submersible glass bottom boat adventure
- Afternoon snorkel – Ma’alaea Harbour
- West Maui half-day snorkel – Kaanapali beach
- Turtle Reef kayak tour of Makena
Some Tips To Enjoy The Best Snorkelling In Maui
- Weather is always unpredictable and hence it’s best to sign up for the ‘snorkel reports’ by the snorkel store to be well aware of the weather conditions and suitable timings.
- Always make sure to carry your towels, mineral-based sunscreen, bathing suits, etc, and snorkeling equipment. The tours usually provide the equipment or you can rent snorkeling gear from suitable places.
- If you are a beginner, do carry floatation devices if needed and snorkel near the shore. Advanced snorkelers should take care of their safety as well so that they can enjoy the best snorkeling in Maui.
- The snorkeling sites in Maui are not just tourist attractions, they are marine reserves with endemic animals and coral reefs residing in them. One must always be careful to not harm them in any way.
- Worrying about sharks is the last thing you should do. But be well aware in case there is a warning issued.
- Always be accompanied by someone, so you can look out for each other while exploring the best snorkeling in Maui.
- Know the beaches which have bathroom facilities and the ones which do not.
- Know all the necessary items to pack while traveling to Maui.
- Snorkeling is dangerous, but with a few precautions and safety measures, it is a magical experience where you can explore underwater marine life.
- Take your time and choose the best snorkeling in Maui.
Discover The Serene Underwater World
It is a surreal experience to swim across waters laden with distinct species of fish and coral reefs. The water underneath tells a different story and the massive ocean holds the most diverse species.
Snorkeling opens your eyes to the beautiful underwater world and one cannot describe the beauty in words. Having the best snorkeling in Maui, the Hawaiian island is a famous tourist spot for scuba divers and snorkelers all together.
You can adore the famous Hawaiian green sea turtles all over the snorkeling spots. Whitetip reef sharks are also found in the Hawaiian reefs.
The beaches are not only attractions but are also a part of the marine life conservation district and hold utmost importance in protecting the endemic species of all the Hawaiian islands.
The best snorkeling in Maui can be found at the Molokini crater, Kapalua Bay and Wailea Beach while family-friendly snorkeling spots are available all around the famous beaches.
The land fascinates one and all, so imagine what fascination the ocean would offer. Discover every bit of it in Maui and appreciate Mother Nature. Every drop of water has a compelling story to offer.
Frequently Asked Questions:
- The crystal-clear water (with an average visibility of 150 feet) at Molokini Crater is a huge part of why this is one of the best Maui snorkeling locations on Maui. Molokini is a popular location for beginners and experienced snorkelers alike and is especially great for morning snorkel tours in Maui.
- The best Maui snorkeling season is definitely the summer, from May through September. This period provides ideal conditions with calm waters, good visibility and an average sea temperature of 82 F/27.7C. The warm water allows you to feel comfortable staying in the water and exploring marine life.
- Sharks are present all year round and can be active throughout the day. When shark attacks do happen, they are most likely to happen during the day, from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM
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