Snorkeling ranks high on the list of things to do when visiting Maui. But you can’t just snorkel anywhere there’s a beach. Well, you can, but you might not see more than the back of your hand. To help you get started, we’ve put together a list of commonly asked questions. Let’s get to it…
Where are the best beaches for snorkeling?
Oh boy, where to start! Depending on where you’re staying and whether you have access to a car, there are numerous locations with great snorkeling. We put together a full list here. But, to keep it short, our two favorite places are Turtle Beach (Maluaka Beach), in Makena (South Maui), and Honolua Bay, just past Kapalua (West Maui). Turtle Beach, surprise, features lots of turtles, while Honolua Bay is simply gorgeous, with abundant marine life.
I forgot to mention, we have children. Do have any recommendations for families and beginning snorkelers?
Turtle Beach is, actually, great for families, so that’s our top choice. But, the Kamaole beaches, in Kihei, Kapalua Beach, and Napili Bay are also fantastic for families and beginner snorkelers. If your beginner snorkeler is wary of the water, ask your hotel. Many of the hotels have “beach shacks” with experienced watermen (and women) who offer courtesy snorkel instruction.
My only goal for this trip is to see turtles. Where can I snorkel that I can be pretty sure I’ll see turtles?
Turtle Beach. Are you beginning to see a pattern? But, beyond Turtle Beach, on the West-side, Napili Bay is also great for seeing turtles.
How about places for more advanced snorkelers?
Mokuleia Bay (AKA Slaughterhouse Beach), near Kapalua (West Maui), and Black Rock Beach, at the tip of Ka’anapali (West Maui), both offer excellent sea life for more advanced snorkelers. The surf at these places can be difficult to navigate, especially in the winter.
Ok, we know where we want to snorkel. But we don’t have any equipment. Is there a place you recommend?
There are several rental shops on island. But first, one thing to consider is ordering gear from Amazon, and have it shipped to your resort/condo. Check with your place of stay first, but if they allow it, and if you think you’ll be going out on multiple days, it may be cheaper than renting. When your trip is over, you can send it back home via mail, pack it, or donate it. If that’s too much of a hassle, or you’re only going out one or two times, we recommend Lahaina Water Sports, on Front St., or Snorkel Bob’s and Boss Frogs, which, both have multiple locations, on island, for easy returns.
It would be a real bummer if I rented gear, drove out to the beach, and then found the water is cloudy due to weather or tides. Is there a place I can check water conditions?
For water visibility reports, Hawaii Weather Today serves up daily water reports for snorkelers and divers.
I’m ready for an adventure. Are there snorkeling places that you can only reach by boat?
There are! We offer full-service snorkeling excursions to Molokini and Lanai.
The Molokini boat takes you into the Molokini crater, which is a partially submerged volcanic crater. How many times can you say you’ve snorkeled in a volcano?! Because there’s no sand, and the crater acts as shelter, you’re bound to have crystal clear water unaffected by wind or waves. This is generally regarded as one of the greatest snorkeling venues in the world. The catamaran leaves from Lahaina Harbor, so it’s perfect if you’re staying on the West-side; you’ll spend more time on the water, and less time in traffic. Learn more
Another recommended excursion is to the island of Lanai. Because Lanai is privately owned by Oracle-founder, Larry Ellison, you’ll find that it is nearly devoid of other people. The waters, off of Sweetheart rock, are simply gorgeous. Turtles, spinner dolphins, and many varieties of fish can often be seen. We find this trip to be seriously underrated. If you have kids, they may appreciate this trip more than Molokini because of the possible dolphin sightings… and the boat has a fun slide! Learn more