Five Wonderful Places to Snorkel on Maui + One To Avoid

Posted by Evan Harlow R(S) 82003 on Saturday, January 9th, 2021 at 8:34pm.

Relax and Enjoy The Scenery

Evan Harlow Maui Realtor

Have you searched for great spots to snorkel on Maui? The beautiful tropical island appeals to ocean lovers from around the world and has a treasure trove of snorkeling sites. Maui's warm coastal waters team with a wide variety of marine life and coral to see. Reef fish, manta rays, turtles, and many other extraordinary sights await at these top snorkeling spots.

#1 Honolua Bay

Honolua Bay Maui

Located on the far northwestern corner of Maui past Kapalua, Honolua Bay attracts the interest of both novice and experienced snorkelers. Reach this rocky beachfront by hiking along a dirt path through the Honolua Valley, a thick forest. The waters in this location form part of the 45-acre wide Honolua-Mokule'ia Bay Marine Life Conservation District.

In the future, this site will comprise part of a state park. In 1976, scientists seeking to reenact a canoe trip between the Hawaiian Islands and French Polynesia embarked from this beachfront.

Most experts agree upon the best hours to go snorkeling in this bay: between 8 a.m. and 12 p.m. during the summer months. This lovely cove lies at the base of a steep hillside with its shoreline consisting mainly of rocky outcroppings extending for some distance into the water.

Although the beach is mainly rocks and does not provide a good place to sunbathe, a variety of interesting marine life thrives here. Snorkelers enjoy searching for turtles, tropical fish, corals, and other sea creatures.

#2 Ulua Beach

Ulua Beach Maui

Ulua Beach in Wailea supplies one of the most popular fine sand beaches in South Maui. It offers excellent views of distant Hawaiian islands. Yet both corners of this crescent-shaped beach provide popular snorkeling locations, too.

Mokapu Beach extends directly to the north. Many snorkelers enjoy exploring the rocky outcroppings between these two scenic beachfronts. A variety of corals and many unique species of tropical fish intrigue divers and snorkelers.

#3 Kapalua Bay

Kapalua Bay Maui

Along the western shore of West Maui, directly in front of the Coconut Grove condo resort, Kapalua Bay provides one of the most acclaimed snorkeling spots. Both ends of this horseshoe-shaped fine sand beach include rocky outcroppings. These sites furnish an ideal location for snorkelers to find a rich array of crustaceans, Hawaiian sea turtles, and tropical reef fish including the Humuhumunukunukuapua'a, the Hawaiian state fish.

In fact, two coral reefs at Kapalua Bay extend into the Pacific Ocean at either end of this popular beach. To some extent, they shelter the shoreline against incoming waves. Coupled with the soft sandy surface of the bay, these conditions appeal to numerous beachgoers.

Experts caution novice swimmers to avoid swimming past the outermost extensions of Kapalua Bay on either end; the depth of the water increases significantly as you move away from these rocky extensions into the ocean.

#4 Black Rock

Kaanapali Beach Maui

On the far northern end of Ka'anapali Beach, a large Black Rock attracts the attention of numerous people. Many ancient Hawaiians viewed this location as an important spiritual site. The location still serves as a striking local landmark. Known in the Hawaiian language as "Pu'u Kaka'a," the rock, formed from hardened lava, today draws snorkelers in large numbers.

An underwater rock ledge completely encircles this rocky outcropping. The depth of the ocean at this site varies from 8 feet to 25 feet while numerous marine creatures reside within the immediate area. Some possible sightings include Hawk Fish, Convict Tang, Butterfly Fish, Sea Turtles, Damsel Fish, and the distinctive Humuhumunukunukuapuaa Fish.

Visitors notice different types of corals here, too. Snorkelers should remain alert for divers jumping off the rock into the ocean. Additionally, avoid swimming too far away from this landmark, due to strong offshore Pacific Ocean currents in the area.

#5 Molokini Crater

Molokini Crater

Perhaps the most widely known snorkeling location in Maui County lies about three miles off the Island's western shore, in the vibrant channel between Maui and Kaho'olawe. Today, the partially submerged Molokini Crater forms one of the special conservation districts within the federal Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale Marine Sanctuary.

Chartered boats regularly transport visitors to the atoll to enjoy tightly controlled snorkeling and scuba diving excursions. Regulations forbid visitors from collecting shells or disturbing marine life at the site. However, the waters today offer a popular location for observing recovering coral reefs in a natural setting.

The interior of the Molokini Crater features comparatively shallow, clear water. Over 200 species of tropical fish and many types of corals live in this area. Snorkelers have fun paddling within the submerged remains of an ancient caldera. The deeper waters on the exterior edge of the crater appeal to experienced scuba divers. The only way to snorkel here is to book a charter, I recommend a reputable operator like the Calypso or Alii Nui. 

A Few Points to Remember When You Snorkel on Maui

Although snorkelers don't venture as deep into the ocean as scuba divers, snorkeling is a great opportunity to see many different forms of marine life. Snorkeling on Maui provides a wonderful way to observe sea turtles, tropical fish, corals, and a variety of crustaceans. Snorkelers who visit protected waters like marine sanctuaries sometimes capture exciting photos of underwater environments.

Whenever you visit a Hawaiian maritime conservation district, remember not to touch, handle, or remove marine life. Regulations prohibit feeding these wild ocean creatures, too. For safety reasons, it remains important to stay at least 100 yards away from any visiting Humpback Whales.

The 1 Place To Avoid

While Sugar Beach is a great beach to walk along, set up shop with your chair and umbrella, or even go out spearfishing, the visibility conditions and scenery are not as good as the other many iconic snorkeling locations. There isn't as much reef in this area so it's definitely worth the drive down to Kamaole Beach Park 3 or further to Wailea to snorkel on the south side.

Wherever you go, be safe and always go with a buddy. Keep an eye on the visibility and each other!

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