Best Places to Snorkel

Maui’s Top Places to Snorkel

CAUTION: Maui has many different snorkel spots. However snorkeling on Maui has become a high-risk activity, especially recently there have been many snorkel-related deaths. So be sure that you know all the risks before deciding to snorkel. Always follow directions of the lifeguards and if in doubt of you condition, ability, equipment, or the weather, then do not go out.

1. Olowalu- 14 Mile marker: This is located at the 14 mile road marker, (Lahaina is Mile 17), so all you will see is a lot of cars parked by the road next to the water. The beach is very narrow and has Kiawe trees right up to the water’s edge. Park on the ocean side of the road, there are many places to enter the water here. Some have sandy channels between fingers of reef. You don’t have to go far to see a lot of stuff. The water gets a little clearer a short way off the beach. Do not go too far out, because the sea life is quite active here. Stay away from fishermen, and divers too. Also avoid this spot after heavy rain or if there are any waves here. Usually the waves are blocked by the reef here. This place is in a wind shadow so it can be good snorkeling all day. Do not snorkel after sunset.
2. Ahihi Bay: This is a little gem. On the Makena road before La Perouse bay, and after big beach. The road curves past a v shaped bay that has almost no parking, the sea almost touches the road. There is no beach. To park drive past the bar and park alongside the road or at the parking lot on the right. Lock your car, and walk back to the bay do not bring any valuables. The easiest entrance is a stepped ledge and tiny sand area on the right side of the bay. Be careful climbing into the water. This is usually a morning only place. The water will get choppy when the wind is up, and the visibility will be reduced. There is no need to go too far out. The fish will swim right up to you. Be prepared to see big fish, and hopefully some turtles too. Take care is there is any swell as it makes ingress and egress difficult.
3. Honolua Bay: H bay is better known as a surfing spot. But in Summer when the waves are down it is actually a popular diving and snorkel spot too. Start out parking at the bay (good luck with that) then lock your car, or course, then you can go to the rocky beach, and swim out. The best snorkeling is along the edges of the bay, I prefer the right side stay along the wall and you will see more fish. Take care here especially if it is windy , and do not go too far out. Do not snorkel here after rain, there is a river mouth that dumps dirty water here. Of the water is brown don’t go down.
4. La Perouse bay – this is at the end of the road. It has a rocky ledge so you will need aqua-sox to get over the rocks or tough feet. (It is not recommend to wear your fins s you climb over rocks because you could trip and fall over hurting yourself. The water gets deep fairly quickly. This is a remote location so be sure to dive with a buddy. Usually gets blown out in the afternoons. This can get very rough when it is windy, so only go here in calm conditions only.
5. Ulua Beach: Ulua is a nice resort beach on Maui’s south shore. You do not have to be a hotel guest to use this beach, there is a public parking area but it fills up quickly. Park/lock and walk to the beach. The most sea life is at either end of the beaches around the rocky headlands., take care as currents get stronger around rocky headlands too. You might see some fish coral and some honu.
6. Makena landing: This is a great Snorkel but you have to work a little bit for this one. Park at Makena Landing. Then enter the water via the little sandy beach. Follow the wall on the right hand side all the way out to the finger reefs at the end. Sea life, is visible all along the reef, expect to see turtles and fish and maybe some reef sharks too.
7. Little Beach: This is located off Big beach, you have to cross an embankment at the right side of big beach and hike over to little beach, Little’s is the southernmost trip on the island, so the currents can be strong here. (little beach is a clothing optional beach, so be warned), be prepared to see whatever swims your way. Keep in mind that the deep water species can sometimes come in here and have a look at you so don’t panic if they do. You might also be able to hear whale song while underwater here during whale season. December 15 to May 15th.
8. Black Rock: Black Rock at Ka’anapali the most popular snorkel spot on the west side. The black rock was a one time sacred Hawaiian site. Now the site of the Sheraton hotel. The end of the Kaanapali beach can be accessed through one of several public access ways. The beach is public the hotel grounds are for guests only. Morning are best here. The wide sandy beach makes for a pleasant spot to picnic and sunbathe. And when you get too hot you can grab your snorkel gear and snorkel out. Like every beach, There is not much to see on the sand flats, but if you stick to the sea wall, at the headland, you will see more. The fish hang out around the coral which grows on the rocks here. Avoid walking on the rocks, they are made of sharp lava. Do not get too close to the rocks of there is a swell running because you might get thrown on the rocks, sucked up in a surge, or the water can suddenly get shallow and you will scrape on the seafloor. Do not swim over shallow areas for this reason. Near the end of the headland the water is deeper and the visibility is better but you will encounter a current too. Avid the deeper water of it is windy and choppy because you might get some water down the end of your snorkel, This is a deep water spot so you must know how to clear your mask and snorkel while treading water. Do not stand on any rocks or reef to clear your mask. Even is it seems like an emergency to you.
9. Molokini Crater: Molokini is accessibly by boat only, there are many tour boats and dive boats that go here. The smaller boats go from Kihei Boat ramp, and the bigger boats leave from Maalaea harbor. Molokini is located just off the coast in Kihei between Maui and Koohalawe island. It is a crescent shaped volcanic crater that abounds with fish and sea life, the boat ride itself is fun. And you might catch a glimpse of some whales on the way (in season). Boats depart early usually at 6:30am, bookings are essential;. Make sure that you have arranged your snorkel gear, and brig it with you, some larger boats may have some gear on board. The water at the crater is deep 15-30 feet deep so there is no standing anywhere. So you must be a proficient at clearing your mask and snorkel in deep water. Bigger boats may have a swim-step which s a kind of ledge to stand on and put on your mask, Other smaller boats will have a swim ladder. Do not stray too far from the boats, and do not go outside the crater. The currents can be strong here and you could swept out and lost. Bigger sea life cruises outside the crater and scuba divers can do a “back wall drift dive”. The back wall is where you will tend to see the bigger pelagic species, definitely experts only .
10. Coral Gardens – Papalua: This spot is more intermediate/advanced, because you enter the water at the beach at Papalua Wayside, then swim around the left hand headland for a few hundred yards to the reefy area. This spot is nicknamed coral gardens, and is popular as a PM snorkel spot when everywhere else is blown out. Of course it is better here in the mornings. Do not swim too far out or you will find your self in deep water. If you cannot see the bottom you re too deep or the water is too murky. Neither of these situations is desirable.
11. Airport Beach Lahaina/Kaanapali: Some average snorkeling here too, but a nice beach to hang out on.
CAUTION: Snorkeling on Maui is a high risk activity. Please be aware of the dangers and risks before you venture out. Always be sure that you are in good health before snorkeling, and use a local guide whenever possible. Be familiar with the equipment you are using, and always snorkel with a buddy. The risks increase when snorkeling on a non-lifeguard beach. Be sure to get training if you are new to the activity.


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