Best 10 Snorkel Spots on Maui

 

 

UPDATED 2019: Best 10 Snorkel Spots on Maui

Maui is a great place for many reasons and if you're coming here to be in or around the water at all, you won't be disappointed. There are tons of beautiful fish, the ever-grazing turtles and corals systems on any side of the island. You could probably head down to the water's edge just about anywhere on the island and find a good spot to see something in the water, but we've put together a list of the best 10 snorkel spots on Maui.

One important thing to keep in mind: be safe. The ocean can get rough at any point.

And here‘s a checklist of things you may want to bring when heading down to the water.

Mala

First on our list is on the west side of Maui in Lahaina. Mala Wharf is a great all around spot for both snorkeling and scuba. In the 1990s, Hurricane Iniki came through and devastated the Hawaiian islands. Because of Hurricane Iniki, the pier at Mala Wharf was destroyed and is partially submerged at Mala Wharf. The sunken pier has become a habitat for all sorts of marine life. Snorkeling here, expect to see many varieties of Hawaiian fish, turtles, and even a white tipped reef shark or two.

If snorkeling here, be mindful of the boat traffic that will be going in and out of the area because Mala Wharf is home to Lahaina's boat ramp.

There are some boat charters that take people snorkeling here occasionally, but you can make it out to the tip of Mala Pier where the best snorkeling is from the northern tip of Baby Beach. Just be careful not to harm the coral on your way swimming out to the tip of the still-standing pier.

Map
Address

71 Ala Moana St

Lahaina, HI 96761

Coordinates

20.8843224,-156.6867722

 

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Mile Marker 14 in Olowalu

Home to one of Maui's Turtle cleaning stations, this is one of the bests spots to snorkel to get a good chance to see turtles in the water. Located on the west side of Maui, this snorkeling spot is just south of Camp Olowalu. This is also a spot that many boat charters take their passengers, but if you're confident in your swimming, you could get to the turtle cleaning station by parking on the side of the road by the beaches and swimming out there. There are some kayak companies that give tours out here as well and one of our favorite companies, See the Sea Maui, rents out clear kayaks at this spot so you can venture out on your own.

A turtle cleaning station is just that: a place where turtles go to get their shells cleaned up. Both fish and turtles converge here and the fish eat the miscellaneous growth off of the turtles shells. So while there's no guarantee that you'll see turtles here, this is one of the most likely spots you can snorkel at to see turtles.

Map
Address

Coordinates

20.804732, -156.614773

 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKfKKEUH_8s

 

La Perouse

La Perouse is on the southern side of Maui. This area has a lot of lava rock, so be careful when you're walking around because the lava formations can be sharp and could easily give you a nice scar to remember Maui by. La Perouse is a great spot to see coral and varieties of Hawaiian fish.

One thing to keep in the back of your mind however is that this is a spot known by locals to be a more common spot for sharks, including tiger sharks. Tiger sharks, if you don't know, are the species that are the cause for most of Maui's shark attacks. Remember, you are in the ocean and the marine life are wild animals so treat them and the ocean with respect.

Map
Address

8650 Must Hold Block Boundary

Kihei, HI 96753

Coordinates

20.5983625,-156.4222295

 

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=txfeY5LGUTE

Molokini

Molokini is only accessible by boat (unless you plan to swim two miles from Big Beach.) This is a great spot for snorkeling, however, and there are many options for boat charters (and Sail Maui's Paragon II is our favorite. Discount code DonSail will get you 15% off if you book on their website) who will take you out to experience this one of a kind snorkeling spot.

Molokini is a cone vent for the resident dormant volcano, Haleakala, and was created 230,000 years ago. One thing that can just about always be said of Molokini is the depth of visibility at this spot. On the back side of Molokini, it drops to hundreds of feet deep, but within the crater, it varies from roughly 6o ft to 10 ft.

There are state laws protecting the fish and wildlife at Molokini, which is designated as a wildlife preserve, however you are free to snorkel here. Just don't feed the fish.

Map
Address

Pacific Ocean

or

Maalaea Harbor

Maalaea, HI 96793

Coordinates

20.6323227,-156.497065

 

Honolua Bay

Honolua Bay is another great snorkeling spot on the northwestern side of Maui to check out. Honolua Bay is a cove that you have to hike a small distance to get to, but the short hike through a grouping of trees is a nice and relaxing, not to mention beautiful, walk that will put you in a great mindset to go hop in the water. Also home to many varieties of Hawaiian fish, you may see some eel here as well. Honolua Bay is a favorite for many to check out the marine life and as a surfing spot during the winter months.

One caution to note about Honolua Bay as that the water can get rough here, particularly in the winter. The waves make for great surfing. Waves that are great for surfing aren't the best conditions for snorkeling though. Always be smart when venturing out into the water and don't do anything you can't handle. It's a good idea to bring flotation when you're out snorkeling, either at Honolua Bay or any other place.

Map
Address

Honolua Bay

Hawaii 96761

Coordinates 

21.0150237,-156.640876

 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eSE24CHRr6k

Black Rock

Black rock is another great spot on the west side of Maui to check out the marine life. It is also a great place to people watch. There are definitely a lot of people here at any given point because it's right off the beach at Kaanapali Beach, where the majority of the resorts stand on the west side of the island.

That being said, the ocean is a big place and there's plenty of room out there to find fish and turtles. Also, if you're looking for a little more excitement than lounging on the beach, you can swim out to black rock and jump off the 25 foot cliff into the ocean.

Map
Address

2605 Kaanapali Pkwy

Lahaina, HI 96761

Coordinates 

20.926843,-156.697398

 

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CCuXcay0uzQ

 

Airport Beach

Airport beach is just north of Black Rock and is a great place for snorkeling and scuba diving as well. Depending on the day, the water can be rough and it's usually a little rougher than some of the snorkel spots mentioned earlier because it's neither blocked off by land nor in a cove. That being said, the western side of the island isn't typically the windiest part of the island and airport beach is easy to access with its own beach parking lot.

Map
Address

Coordinates 

20.936578,-156.6948968

 

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Coral Gardens

Coral Gardens is a snorkel spot that is usually only accessed by boat but can be accessed by swimming if you're a good swimmer. It is located between Lahaina and Maalaea Harbor and the nearest point of land is rock and cliff; however, there's a sandy beach to the north somewhere around 600 yards.

Coral Gardens is a great spot for snorkeling and it isn't too far from the turtle cleaning station in Olowalu, so there's a great chance you'll see turtles. The aptly-named Coral Gardens is home to some beautiful coral heads which are awesome to check out up close. This spot doesn't get too deep so you can get an up-close look at some of Maui's coral systems if you're a good swimmer.

A handful of boat companies regularly take passengers to this spot from Maalaea Harbor and our favorite is Sail Maui's Paragon II, however the Pacific Whale Foundation, Four Winds, another favorite Lani Kai and Pride of Maui all have trips that go to this spot, usually in the afternoon.

Map
Address

Pacific Ocean

Coordinates 

20.788281599999998, -156.5613707

 

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Turtle Town

Also known as Maluaka Beach, Turtle Town is a great snorkeling spot and is somewhere you will likely encounter Hawaii's hard-shelled friends, the Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle. Located on the southwestern side of the island, Turtle town is easy to access with a designated parking area and you can make your way to the water without much difficulty.

Map
Address

Coordinates

20.6496852,-156.4457188

 

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Napili Bay

Napili Bay is a nice place to hop in the water because you don't have to worry about running into coral within the bay. If you swim a littler further out, you will come across a reef barrier that can be a good place to check out the coral. Sitting on the western side of Maui, north of Kaanapali, Napili Bay is easy to access and is a great all-around beach for lounging, swimming, exploring and, when you're through with the water, eating at the nearby restaurants.

Map
Address

Coordinates 

20.994154,-156.6688757

 

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5 Caves

5 Caves, also known as 5 Graves, is an awesome spot for snorkelers and freedivers. At this spot, there are underwater caves for those more advanced swimmers and freedivers can go check out, given that they can hold their breath long enough.  It is located on the southwestern side of Maui and isn't far from Makena Landing.

Map
Address

Coordinates 

20.65404,-156.4429527

 

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Manele Bay and Hulopoe Beach

While not on Maui, the island of Lanai is still considered Maui county. To get to this spot, you'll either have to take a ferry and go on your own or hop on boat that will take you over to snorkel on the island of Lanai.

Map
Address

Coordinates

 20.740545,-156.8979347

 

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Snorkel alternative

Also, if you want to experience the ocean and everything beneath its surface but you want to try something other than snorkeling, you have a handful of other options.

Best 10 Snorkel Spots on Maui best 10 snorkel spots on maui 1

Clear Kayaks with See The Sea Maui

One of our favorites is newer to the island but perfect for the tropical paradise that Maui is. See the Sea Maui offers 100% clear kayak rentals and they will deliver to some of the better spots on our snorkel list.

Renting from these guys gives you the freedom to explore as you please

Also, at the time of writing, in honor of their grand opening, they are renting waterproof cameras out for free, as long as you agree to let them use your videos and pictures to help get the word out.

Clear Kayaks with SeeTheSeaMaui.com

Duration

Two person, 1-hr: $65

Website

Main: www.seetheseamaui.com

Clear Kayak Rental: https://www.seetheseamaui.com/shop/the-completely-clear-kayak/

 

Other

Recommended Snorkel Gear

Snorkel Mask

Snorkel Fins

Underwater Camera

Danger of Full Face Snorkel Masks

While seemingly a cool new gadget that lets you experience snorkeling in a new way, the full face snorkel masks are developing a history of being an unsafe alternative to the typical snorkeling masks. Worst case scenario, you black out and could drown. Be careful if using these. For more information, check this out. And this. This one too.

 

References

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Molokini

https://www.deeperblue.com/drownings-hawaii-experts-raise-questions-equipment-safety/

 

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