10 Best Snorkeling Spots in Maui

The best snorkeling in Maui transports you from scenic tropical beaches to a vibrant underwater world full of sea life. As one of the top snorkeling destinations in the world, Maui has snorkeling experiences suitable for all skill levels.

Get your first glimpse into the world of snorkeling In beautiful coves with calm, shallow waters. If you’re experienced, there are plenty of underwater reefs where you can find rare and endemic species—and, of course, the Hawaiian green sea turtle (called ‘honu’ in Hawaiian).

Snorkeling is always a top activity for guests staying in our One-of-a-Kind Maui Getaway vacation home. Take a deep breath, and let’s take a deep dive into the best snorkeling spots in Maui.

Molokini Crater

Photo Credit: Marina Riley

Best for: Guided excursions on snorkeling tours.

That crescent-shaped island floating off the south shore is actually the lip of a submerged crater. It sticks up just enough for visitors to locate a place with the best snorkeling in Maui, with more than 250 different species of fish.

Escape to a less crowded snorkeling spot at this boat-only access location. Boat tours are popular to bring snorkelers from the nearby Makena Beach or Kihei area to explore for a few hours. Duck below the water to wade in the inner reef and venture around the back wall to see how many species you can find.

Pro Tip: Book a Sunrise Deluxe Molokini Crater tour for the ultimate snorkel experience!

Turtle Town

Photo Credit: Greg Amptman

Best for: The best place to see green sea turtles.

Seeing green sea turtles while snorkeling in Maui is easier than you think—especially if you know where to look! Visit Makena Landing Park near Wailea for a one-way trip to Turtle Town.

This reef system is popular among endangered species because of its algae-covered lava rocks and calm ocean waters for feeding and resting. You might spot turtles napping on the beach, but there are plenty more in the water.

Remember, sea turtles are a protected species in Hawaii. You have to keep your distance—and don’t touch them.

Black Rock

Photo Credit: Victor Orr via Flickr CC2.0

Best for: Great for beginners.

Morning is the best time to snorkel the calm waters at Black Rock. This site sits on the northern end of Ka’anapali Beach and is a go-to spot for beginners.

If this is your first time using snorkeling gear, easy water access will help you adjust. You don’t have to venture too far from the shore to start seeing the abundance of marine life. You’ll see lots of the Fish Reed Triggerfish (Hawaii’s state fish), goatfish, Moorish Idols, and butterflyfish.

Use this location to nail down your breathing technique and start exploring other spots on our list for the best snorkeling in Maui.

Honolua Bay

Photo Credit: Ivan_Sabo

Best for: Summertime snorkeling fun.

If you’re visiting Maui during the summer months, you’re just in time to see what makes Honolua Bay a great snorkeling location the season. During the winter, this spot on the island’s north shore is a hotspot for surfers, with waves reaching 20 feet tall. However, during the summer, the waters calm down. Visibility increases to reveal the colorful reef ecosystem below the water.

Get ready for a rainbow of colors swimming beneath you. Spot the vibrant blues of the parrotfish, the brilliant yellow bodies of Yellow Tang, the uniquely spotted cowfish, and the hard-to-miss red snappers.

Kapalua Bay

Photo Credit: arkanto

Best for: Fish-filled reef protected by a sheltered cove.

The u-shaped Kapalua Bay perfectly protects one of Maui’s coral reefs to flourish with marine life. The rocky points shield the bay from waves and wind currents. What’s left is a tranquil bay with clear water for underwater sightseeing.

The best spot to snorkel at Kapalua Bay is along the rocky wall to the right of the bay. It’s home to a healthy reef system. You’ll see a diverse group of fish, such as surgeon fish, damsel fish, unicorn fish, porcupine fish, and moray eels.

Olowalu Beach

Photo Credit: jeff clune via Flickr CC2.0

Best for: Best coral reef ecosystem.

Fun fact: The coral reef at Olowalu Beach is one of the oldest and largest in the Hawaiian Islands. Its reefs date back hundreds of years and showcase the marine life’s rich biodiversity to snorkelers.

The coral reef covers more than 450 acres and extends approximately 3,000 feet from the shore! It’s home to exciting marine life, including manta rays, black-tip reef sharks, and many vibrant reef fish. Be mindful of where you step to avoid damaging this important reef system.

You can reach Olowalu with a short drive from Lahaina—look for Mile Marker 14. For a bonus, check out the nearby Coral Gardens after this spot.

Pro Tip: Book a kayak and snorkel combo tour to discover the wild sea turtles off Olowalu with Let’s Go TRAVEL MAUI for a three-hour adventure that covers all the quintessential Maui bases!

Kahekili Beach Park

Photo Credit: Matthew Paulson via Flickr CC2.0

Best for: Best visitor-friendly snorkeling spot.

All of the beaches on Maui are open to the public. But not all of them have different facilities available for visitors. Kahekili Beach Park (Airport Beach) has everything you need to enjoy a day of snorkeling at one of the best beaches in Maui.

Whether it’s your first time snorkeling or a frequent snorkeler, you can enjoy Kahekili Beach Park. The reef runs parallel to the shore with depths up to 10-15 feet, so it’s easy to see anything that moves on the ocean floor.

Some of the amenities at the park include a shower and restroom, a boardwalk for leisure between snorkeling sessions, shops nearby to rent snorkeling gear, and a free parking lot.

Napili Bay

Photo Credit: Eugene Kalenkovich

Best for: The best kid-friendly snorkeling spot.

Families visiting Maui can add snorkeling fun to their itinerary at Napili Bay. With some of the calmest waters and abundant fish, it’s a place where even kids can feel safe while exploring the underwater world.

The two coral reefs lining both sides of this tiny cove make it unique compared to other good snorkeling locations. It provides more options for exploring some of the water residents, like the peacock flounder, yellow longnose butterflyfish, Black Durgon, and octopus. You can stay close to shore and still see lots of tropical fish swimming by your feet.

Ulua Beach Park

Photo Credit: RenAri

Best for: Easy access snorkeling.

The gentle slope of Ulua Beach makes it one of the most accessible Maui snorkeling spots. The rocky outcrops flanking the sides of the beach are excellent for intermediate snorkelers. But trust us—beginners will have as much fun if they stay by the coast.

Just a few steps into the ocean, you can spot sea life. The rocky barrier on the right side of the beach is a favorite spot for seeing fish and other sea creatures. Continue around this point, and you’ll end up on Mokapu Beach.

Listen up while underwater to hear the hum of whale songs.

Ahihi-Kinau Reserve

Photo Credit: Stephen Bakin

Best for: Protected waters where fish live undisturbed.

Ahihi-Kinau Reserve was destined to have some of the best snorkeling in Maui. The natural reserve was established in 1973 to protect the water and other geological landscapes in the area. Even fishing is prohibited, so these fish have multiplied in these waters for decades.

The friendly fish happily welcome snorkelers to experience a glimpse of their world. See sea urchins decorating the rocky walls, see one of Maui’s famous turtle cleaning stations, and more.

After snorkeling, dry off on the coastal Ahihi Bay Trail for scenic views over the bay.

Things to Know Before Snorkeling in Maui

Maui is one of the best snorkeling destinations in the world. From its biodiversity to ideal warm water conditions to the other worldly scenic backdrops, it’s easy to see why it’s a favorite for anyone visiting Hawaii.

Snorkeling is one of the best things to do in Maui, but it’s important to remember that it involves interacting with nature. We must do our part to help protect Maui’s reefs and marine life to keep it a thriving snorkeling destination for generations to come.

Here are a few things to keep in mind before snorkeling in Maui:

  1. Staying safe: Nature can be unpredictable, so monitor weather and snorkeling conditions before entering the water. Sign up for local snorkeling reports before your visit, and pay attention to signage at each site. For added safety, pick popular beach locations with lifeguards.
  2. Protect the reefs: The reef’s health depends on how you treat it—it’s part of the aloha spirit! Remember always to use reef-safe sunscreen and avoid stepping on the reef. When possible, use rock shoes.
  3. First time? Go with a Guide: There are plenty of excellent snorkeling outfitters around Maui who have all the equipment and local knowledge to guide you on an adventure of a lifetime. They may also know a few secret spots!

Best Place to Stay for Snorkeling in Maui

The island’s leeward side (West Maui) has the best snorkeling in Maui. It’s considered the dry shore that gets more sun, less rain runoff, and clearer water for underwater visibility.

Looking for an excellent option for snorkeling trips and other outdoor activities in Maui? Book our luxurious One-of-a-Kind Maui Getaway situated in Wailea on the south side of Maui.

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