The ocean surrounding Maui is diverse and abundant with coral reefs, tropical fish and a variety of different sea life. People say it is one of the best locations in the world for snorkeling! From beginner to advanced snorkelers, there is an option for everyone in the family. Maui’s west facing beaches are perfect for seeing beautiful coral with a variety of different reef fish, turtles, and other ocean and marine life. Here are some of the best places to snorkel in Maui. (You can click the titles for a google map of each location)
Beginner and Family friendly (When accessed by boat) / Intermediate (by land)
Honolua bay is a famous snorkel spot on the West side of Maui, about 25 minutes north of Lahaina. It is a large bay that is usually protected from the wind. If you want to choose to drive here you will have to go on a walking path down from the street through the jungle, and then enter cautiously as the beach is made of large mostly round boulders and rocks. From there you can swim across the bay (we recommend going to the right side if you are facing the ocean). If you take a boat trip here, it is much more family friendly with easy access getting in and out as well as less distance swimming. There is an abundant diversity of fish here, since it is a protected marine perserve. There are large schools of fish that will swim around you, plenty of turtles and other life under the surface. You might even get lucky and see our local Barracuda friend “Barry” (Don’t worry, he won’t bother you!) We offer a West Maui snorkeling trip and performance sail that will visit the Honolua Bay or an equally amazing snorkel spot depending on the conditions that day.
Family friendly / Beginner-Intermediate (Based on conditions)
15 minutes north of Lahaina on the sunny west side of Maui is Airport Beach. This is not protected like some bays, so the wind and current can sometimes be a factor but more often than not, the conditions here are beautiful! Airport beach has a stunning reef system. A straight walk from the parking lot and past the pavilion (where there are bathrooms, picnic benches and a bbq area) you will have the option to sit in grass or sand. Look for the bright blue water when entering to make sure you only step on sand and not reef. When you enter the water and start swimming you will immediately be greeted by a lively reef system with a variety of tropical fish, turtles, eels, rays and more. If you want to relax on the beach, the beach path that follows the long stretch of sand will bring you to a nice spot a little away from the main crowd.
Family friendly / Beginner-Intermediate (Only accessible by boat)
Molokini is one of Maui’s most incredible and unique snorkeling destinations. The crescent shaped crater off the coast of Maui is a natural marine preserve, and is home to over 250 species of tropical fish. Leaving from Maalaea Harbor, Sail Maui provides a fun performance sail in the trade winds when en route to this epic snorkeling destination. It is an amazing experience getting to snorkel in the protected, crystal clear water at Molokini Crater with an abundance of tropical fish. Enjoy a continental breakfast on the way there and a delicious lunch on the way back. During whale season (December – May), spot the humpback whales as they swim nearby! This is one of the best snorkeling tours in Maui!
Family friendly / Beginner-Intermediate
About 20 minutes north of Lahaina is a picturesque Kapalua Bay. Palm trees line the beach and provide a nice shade if you are looking to get out of the sun in between snorkeling sessions. It is a soft sand and easy entry into the bay, nice for all levels of snorkeling. Here you will see an assortment of different reef fish and the occasional turtles passing by. There is a parking lot and street parking available, as well as a bathroom/shower area.
Family friendly / Beginner-Intermediate
Sail Maui is proud to offer a destination snorkel sail to the exclusive island of Lana’i. Lana’i is famous for remote tropical beaches, pristine reefs, and the pod of spinner dolphins who can frequently be seen jumping out of the water along the coast. Our go to snorkel stop is the marine preserve of Manele Bay, but depending on conditions, we’ll seek out the most ideal snorkeling spot for the day. Once on the island of Lana’i, Hulopo’e beach is just a 10 minute walk away, and one of the most stunning beaches in all of Hawaii. Here you can enjoy your lunch at one of the many picnic tables, under a palm tree, or stretched out on the golden sand. Feel free to take our snorkel gear with you, or bring your own, as the reef here is incredibly beautiful as well!
We hope you get a chance to experience some of the best snorkeling in Maui! Remember that when you are in the water, you are entering the ocean as a visitor. Please keep your distance from the turtles, fish, coral and other marine life so you do not disturb their natural habitat or cause them any stress. Something else we cannot stress enough is to please wear reef safe sunscreen! Traditional sunscreen has chemicals that are toxic (and now banned in Hawaii) to the reef, so any natural mineral or zinc sunscreen is safe to wear during your time in the water. But don’t worry if you forget yours, we supply some free of charge on our boats. It’s important to protect both you and our oceans!