Best Maui Snorkel Spots
Some of the best Maui snorkel spots are highly rated even within the state of Hawaii, making Maui one of the best destinations if you plan on spending a lot of time exploring sealife under the water. The colorful fish and unique sea creatures here are exotic and we're sure you'll squeal with delight when you see a Hawaiian green sea turtle bobbing next to you.
About The Best Maui Snorkel Spots
In order to have an amazing time in Maui's waters, we've gathered all of the best Maui snorkel spots into one list so you can check them out if you're headed to Maui. We'll answer some of the most common questions travelers have about snorkeling on Maui so you can have a safe and enjoyable time swimming with the fish. Here's what you need to know!
Best Maui Snorkel Spots
Snorkeling in Maui is mostly limited to the western and northwestern sections of the island due to poor conditions and rough waters on the eastern shore of the island. Here are the best spots in each region.
Wailea And Kihei Snorkeling
1. Turtle Town
Turtle Town refers to the stretch of shore surrounding Maluaka Beach, which Hawaiian sea turtles are known to frequent. If you’re looking to view these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat, there is no better place on the island. You’ll also see quite a few tropical fish along the reef; however, there are better areas to see fish if that's what you're interested in seeing.
If you’re a good swimmer and an advanced snorkeler, there’s another reef further down the coast from Maluaka Beach. The swim is about 15 minutes south. This area is also referred to as Turtle Town depending on who you talk to, so be careful not to get it confused with the easier snorkeling closer to Maluaka Beach.
This spot has restrooms at the adjacent parking lot, as well as along the beach. You can find plenty of places to rent gear just north of Turtle Town in Wailea at outlets such as Wailea Scuba, Surf & Paddle and Snorkel Bob’s.
Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Tor Johnson
2. Molokini Crater
Molokini is one of the volcanoes that helped form the giant island which split into the smaller islands that we know today: Maui, Lanai, Kahoolawe and Molokai. 200,000 years later, we are left with a crescent-shaped island that makes for some of the best snorkeling in all of Hawaii!
If you have access to a boat or are interested in a tour, Molokini has some of the best snorkeling in all of Maui. The islet is about three miles off the coast of Turtle Town and the natural protection from the crescent means the water clarity is superb, so you shouldn’t have any trouble spotting the beautiful marine life. Water visibility often reaches distances of 200 feet!
Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Blake Bronstad
This islet is a conservation district and nature preserve, so there are no facilities like bathrooms or lifeguards available. If you want to visit Molokini, you’ll have to take a tour since the waters between Molokini and Maui are too rough to kayak. Tours run from about $80-200 and supply snorkeling equipment.
3. Ahihi Kinau Reserve
Ahihi Kinau is also a protected district with several snorkeling spots. The best spot in the area is conveniently located near the road. In the small cove that Google Maps lists as Ahihi Bay you’ll find plenty of tropical fish and sea turtles. The mixed reef and lava rock make for excellent protection from predators for smaller marine life such as angelfish and butterflyfish so the populations here have really flourished.
Island of Hawaii Visitors Bureau (IHVB) / Kawika Singson
Lahaina And Northwest Maui Snorkeling
1. Black Rock Snorkeling Area
Located on the northern rocky end of the three-mile Kaanapali Beach, Black Rock features a vibrant reef and jutting lava rock peninsula, which protects the area from wind and harsh waves. This beach is conveniently located within Lahaina’s city limits, so if you don’t mind a crowd, this is an easy place to see some of Maui’s beautiful sea life. It's also one of the best Maui snorkel spots for beginners since the area is so well protected.
There are bathrooms in the adjacent hotels and resorts and the options are unlimited if you work up an appetite and are ready to chow down. In the surrounding area in Kaanapali, you can rent snorkel gear and equipment from shops such as Boss Frogs and the Snorkel Store.
Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA)
This small cove is protected from the rougher waters of the surrounding area, making it an attractive option for snorkelers. You’ll find plenty of sea turtles here, but this is a particularly good spot to see eels. Eels are not dangerous unless provoked, so don’t stick your hand down any holes you find in the reef. The rocky edges of the bay make for clearer waters, so we recommend heading to either end of the beach to snorkel.
During the winter, Honolua Bay is known for its outstanding surfing due to increased swells and larger waves. However, in the summer the waters settle down marking Honolua bay as one of the best Maui snorkel spots. This area is part of the Honolua-Mokuleia Conservation District, so you can count on an abundance of sea life.
Best Maui snorkel spots for beginners?
Black Rock and Kapalua Bay are the two best spots for beginner snorkelers. Both are protected by natural land formations that break most of the larger waves. In addition to these easy swimming conditions, the waters are also quite clear. The abundance of sea life means that beginners won’t have to look far to find Maui’s beautiful tropical fish, eels, and turtles.
Do I need a tour to snorkel?
You can certainly visit each of these snorkeling spots on your own; however, a tour can also help if you aren’t sure where to look for ocean life or are in need of equipment. Additionally, the easiest way to see the crystal clear waters of Molokini Islet is to book a tour.
How are Maui snorkel conditions?
Conditions depend mostly on region and season. During winter, the waters are rougher which creates murky waters and harsh swimming conditions especially along the northern snorkeling areas. The areas closer to Wailea usually have calmer waters for a larger chunk of the year.
How to snorkel responsibly?
When you're in Hawaii remember that the beaches and marine life are fragile. Please show your aloha by wearing reef safe sunscreen, respecting the animals - don't get too close or touch them EVER - and by leaving the beach better than you found it. For more on how to be a safe and responsible traveler when you visit Hawaii, click here.
Visiting Maui? Shaka Guide has 6 tours on the island. Check them out here!