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The best places to snorkel in Maui
Snorkeling is one of the best things to do in Maui, and in all of Hawaii. If you’re planning a Maui vacation and looking for the best places to snorkel in Maui – look no further!
Maui has the best snorkeling in all of Hawaii and even though some places (such as Molokini Crater) require a tour, there are plenty of other places to snorkel in Maui where you can just hop in the ocean.
This should go without saying, but you’ll need a rental car in Maui. If you don’t have a rental car yet, I recommend Discount Hawaii Car Rental. You’ll find the best deals on any of the Hawaiian Islands.
The 10 best snorkeling in Maui
So, where are the best snorkeling spots in Maui? Let’s get right to it. By the way, I have lots of other tips for planning your Maui vacation, so make sure to check them out when you’re done here.
- The ultimate guide to the Road to Hana
- The ultimate guide to Upcountry Maui
- 50 things to do in Maui
- 7-day Maui Itinerary
Where to snorkel in Maui
There are so many options for snorkeling in Maui. You can snorkel at almost any beach (or rock beach) but some snorkeling spots in Maui are obviously better than others. Here are 10 of the best places to snorkel in Maui. At the bottom I’ll share some Maui snorkeling tips + my favorite snorkeling gear too.
1. Molokini Crater
I could write an entire blog post about snorkeling at Molokini Crater. In fact, I have! Molokini is a crescent-shaped volcanic crater about two miles off the coast of Maui. It’s known as one of the best places to snorkel in Maui, and although this list isn’t in order, I mentioned it first for a reason.
Molokini Crater is simply one of the best places to snorkel in Maui. Although all of the tours take away some of the “magic” it’s still a great place. Unless you are fortunate enough to have your own boat, you’ll have to take a boat tour. The boat tours are lots of fun and part of the experience.
My favorite Molokini snorkeling tours include meals (typically breakfast and lunch) and you’ll also see other Hawaii wildlife such as dolphins, turtles, and even whales in the winter season.
My favorite Molokini Crater tours include:
Make sure to book your reservations in advance as Molokini Crater is a popular place and the tours tend to sell out!
2. Black Rock at Kaanapali Beach
Black Rock is located on Kaanapali Beach. You may even be staying on Kaanapali Beach if you’re staying at one of the popular resorts such as the Hyatt Regency Maui, Sheraton Maui, Westin Maui, Westin Kaanapali Villas, and others.
Located at the far north end of Kaanapali Beach, Black Rock is easily accessible for those staying in the west Maui area. The water is almost always calm, and although it’s not particular deep you’ll always find a variety of colorful fish.
The beautiful Kaanapali Beach and Black Rock. Photo Credit: Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Tor Johnson
Pro tip: Check out Black Rock at sunset. There is a nightly sunset ceremony where a man lights torches and dives off the cliff into the water.
3. Honolua Bay
Sometimes, when you are on vacation, you simply want to find a hidden destination. When you vacation in Maui, that hidden spot is Honolua Bay. It is on the western side of the island and can be reached via Honoapiilani Highway.
Getting to this snorkeling area in Maui is much easier now too. Years ago, you would have needed to take a boat to the bay. Now, you can simply walk through the cleared out section of the forest to the water.
The beach area doesn’t have much sand. However, that isn’t important since the main reason for your visit will be to snorkel!
There is no fishing allowed in this bay. That is due to the fact it is part of the Marine Life Conservation District. So, there is always plenty of fish to see. And the views of the surrounding cliffs above water are amazing too.
Those cliffs keep the water calm most of the time. The water is quite murky close to the shoreline. It is necessary to swim out a bit before you reach clearer water. Just don’t go out too far on the northern side of the bay. The waves really pick up out there. But the surfers love that!
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4. Kahekili Beach Park (Airport Beach)
One of the best places to snorkel in Maui is Kahekili Beach Park. This beach is on the northern half of Ka’anapali Beach. It is often called North Beach by the locals.
This beach might be part of the most popular beach on the island. But it is not as crowded. Therefore, you will have large sections of the long stretch of sand all to yourself.
The water is mainly calm with very few waves. It is quite shallow near the shoreline, but perfect for snorkeling further out. You can see numerous types of fish here. The best fish though is the state fish, which is humuhumunukunukukuapua’a.
The humuhumunukunukukuapua’a. AKA reef triggerfish. Photo Credit: Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Tor Johnson
When you are not snorkeling at this beach, you might want to take a long walk along the boardwalk.
5. Mokule‘ia Bay
Mokule’ia Bay is not one of the most family-friendly places to snorkel in Maui. There are no restrooms. Plus, the long flight of stairs that leads to the shoreline is not very child-friendly.
Other than that, it is an excellent place to snorkel in Maui during the spring, summer, and fall. Large stones are buried down into the sand underneath the water. Those stones have been used to create habitats for the marine life within this bay.
When you are snorkeling in this area, you will be able to see all sorts of fish and turtles.
I do not recommend snorkeling in Mokule’ia Bay during the winter months. The waves can be quite powerful. If you do visit at that time of the year, it is best to stay on the beach.
6. La Perouse Bay
La Perouse Bay can be found on the south-eastern end of Maui. You will have reached one of the best places to snorkel in Maui when you reach mile marker 7 on Makena Alanui Road. The parking lot after the lava field is closest to the bay.
The parking lot is very rocky, so it is best to wear sturdy shoes to walk down to the bay.
Snorkeling is best over to the right of the shoreline. It is there where you can see all types of fish, as well as dolphins. The currents can change in La Perouse Bay at a moment’s notice. You should pay close attention to the water conditions and get out if you notice the waves getting stronger.
7. Ahihi Kinau
Ahihi Kinau is a natural area reserve in Maui. You will find this amazing place to snorkel in Maui on the southern side of the island.
The marine life in this area lives within a mixture of coral and lava rocks. The lava rocks create hidden gems underneath the water, which makes snorkeling even better. In addition to fish, you can see turtles swimming around.
The best time to snorkel at Ahihi Kinau is earlier in the day. The water is clear at that time. Once the afternoon winds arrive, the water becomes cloudy.
There are no showers or lifeguards at Ahihi Kinau. Yet, the parking lot fills quickly, so it is always a good idea to arrive really early.
8. Maluaka Beach (aka Turtle Town)
This area just south of Wailea (nicknamed Turtle Town) is one of the best places to snorkel in Maui. Although this is a popular site for Turtles, keep in mind that these are wild animals and may or may not be present.
Although you can access Turtle Town on your own, it can be fun to do kayaking and snorkeling tour. Local guides will help you find the best spots. If you do encounter turtles, make sure to keep your distance. It’s not only the right thing to do, it’s the law.
9. Kapalua Bay
Over on Maui’s northwestern shoreline, you will find Kapalua Bay. This is where Maui’s once named best beach in the country, Kapalua Beach, is also located. This bay is perfect for snorkeling if you want to see fish and green sea turtles.
There are no lifeguards at Kapalua Bay, but there are restrooms. This area can become crowded quickly on nice days. (Okay, so practically every day in Maui!) I recommend arriving early, so you have a prime choice for snorkeling areas.
When you are not snorkeling, you may want to relax under a palm tree and simply enjoy the views.
10. Five Graves
The easiest way to reach this best place to snorkel in Maui is via boat or kayak. You can do this on your own or you can join a tour group. Another option is to swim from Makena Landing, but that can be difficult for even the best swimmers.
When you reach this area, you will be able to snorkel and explore the five caves. The currents are stronger here than at other snorkeling areas in Maui, so you must be able to swim well.
As you are snorkeling, you will see all types of fish, sea turtles, octopus, and eels. There are also reef sharks in the first cave.
If you are looking for one of the best places to snorkel in Maui with lots of marine life, this area should be near the top of your list.
Want to learn more about Maui? Don’t miss some of my most popular Maui tips: The best hikes in Maui, Where to find a black sand beach in Maui, Maui vs. Kauai, The 10 best honeymoon hotels in Maui, What is the best luau on Maui? The best 5-star resorts on Maui, How to spend 4 days in Maui, , and The 7 Best things to do in Maui.
The best places to snorkel in Maui
So, what did you think of this list of the best places to snorkel in Maui? Did your favorite Maui snorkeling spot make it on the list? If not, I’d love it if you shared in the comments below! Maui has so many great places to snorkel, it was hard to mention just a few!
If you need some help planning your Maui vacation, reach out! I am a Hawaii Travel Agent and that is what I do. I am selective about how many clients I work with, so reach out as soon as possible for the best availability. You can contact me to learn more.
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