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Maui Snorkeling Guide

Discover the Wonder of the Sea

Updated May 2024 ⋅ Written by Laura Schulthies ⋅ Edited by Daniel Mode

Maui Snorkeling
Maui Snorkeling

Welcome to Maui

If you’re looking for an unforgettable snorkeling adventure, Maui is a can’t miss destination. From volcanic craters and colorful reefs to exotic marine life and turquoise waters, Maui is a snorkeler’s dream. Our Maui snorkeling guide has everything you need to get the most out of your visit, including the top-rated tours so you can enjoy the best of what this underwater paradise has to offer!

If you’re looking for an unforgettable snorkeling adventure, Maui is a can’t miss destination. From volcanic craters and colorful reefs to exotic marine life and turquoise waters, Maui is a snorkeler’s dream. Our Maui snorkeling guide has everything you need to get the most out of your visit, including the top-rated tours so you can enjoy the best of what this underwater paradise has to offer!

Maui Map

Maui Map

Contents

Maui Snorkeling Turtles
Maui Snorkeling

Maui Snorkeling Sites

With Maui’s extensive coastline and clear blue waters, there are many unique snorkeling sites for visitors of all experience levels.

Molokini Crater

Maui Snorkeling: Molokini Crater
Maui Snorkeling Guide: Molokini Crater

1. Molokini Crater

Overview

Molokini Crater (or Molokini Cove) is a bucket list destination for snorkelers worldwide, boasting diverse marine life and crystal clear waters. A half mile in width, the crater was formed over 150 thousand years ago and is one of only three known volcanic calderas in existence. Rising an impressive 300 feet into the sky, the real magic happens beneath the waves, where it drops down over 300 feet offering refuge to hundreds of marine animals. Since this beautiful crater is a marine sanctuary and contains no dirt along its shores, snorkelers can enjoy unmatched visibility, sometimes stretching an incredible 150 feet!

How To Get There

Due to its offshore location and sanctuary status, the only way to reach Molokini Crater is with an approved boat tour. There are a variety of tours to choose from.

What You May See

Molokini Crater boasts an extensive array of fish and marine life, including thirty-eight hard coral and one-hundred algae species. It is also home to White Tip Reef Sharks, Moray Eels, Green Sea Turtles, Triggerfish, Yellow Tang, Threadfin Butterfly, Bottlenose Dolphins, Manta Rays, Humpback Whales, and Hawaiin Monk Seals.

What To Bring

Depending on your boat tour, you may need to bring your own snorkeling gear. Recommended supplies include coral-safe sunblock, UV-blocking swimwear, hats, and sunglasses. See our Hawaii Packing Guide for recommendations.

Amenities

The crater has no amenities; however, most boat tours include food and drinks as part of their snorkeling packages.

Turtle Town

Maui Snorkeling: Turtle Town
Maui Snorkeling: Turtle Town

2. Turtle Town

Overview

Turtle Town is considered one of Maui’s finest snorkeling locations and is suitable for visitors of all experience levels. Created by a series of extensive underwater lava formations, Turtle Town is a network of coral reefs teeming with marine life making it a favorite among locals and tourists. The relatively calm and clear waters are the perfect setting to relax and discover the unmatched beauty of Maui’s waters.

How To Get There

Turtle Town is only accessible by boat, so be sure to book a local tour.

What You May See

Turtle Town is home to many species of marine life but is most popular for its abundant Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle population. Snorkelers may also see Butterflyfish, Triggerfish, Eagle Rays, Eels, Trumpetfish, Octopus, Humpback Whales, and Angelfish.

What To Bring

Many boat tours provide equipment but check to see if you’re required to provide your own snorkeling gear. Recommended supplies include coral-safe sunblock, UV-blocking swimwear, hats, and sunglasses. See our Hawaii Packing Guide for recommendations.

Amenities

There are no amenities provided at the location; however, many boat tours provide food and drinks.

Kapalua Bay

Maui Snorkeling: Kapalua Bay
Maui Snorkeling: Kapalua Bay

3. Kapalua Bay

Overview

Kapalua Bay is an excellent snorkeling location for beginners, thanks to its abundant sea life that stays close to shore. The waters are clear, and the beach features soft sand, making it family-friendly and ideal for all ages. There are lava rock formations throughout, and it’s a favorite location for sea turtles in search of a tasty breakfast.

How To Get There

Kapalua Bay is located on Maui’s North West side. Take the Honoapiilani Highway (Highway 30), and turn left when you reach Napili onto Napilihau Street. For more detailed directions, click here.

What You May See

Kapalua Bay is home to Green Sea Turtles, Tangs, Moorish Idols, Butterflyfish, Unicornfish, Humuhumunukunukuapua’a (say that three times fast!), and Hawaiian Monk Seals.

What To Bring

There is no equipment rental available, so be sure to bring your own snorkeling gear. Recommended supplies include coral-safe sunblock, UV-blocking swimwear, hats, and sunglasses. See our Hawaii Packing Guide for recommendations.

Amenities

Parking is available, and there are toilets, water fountains, and showers at the beach entrance. However, food options are limited.

Kahekili Beach (Airport Beach)

Maui Snorkeling: Kahekili Airport Beach
Maui Snorkeling: Kahekili Airport Beach

4. Kahekili Beach (Airport Beach)

Overview

Kahekili Beach is known to locals as “Airport Beach” as it was the home of the Kaanapali Airport until it closed in 1986. While it no longer houses planes, the site is one of the best for snorkeling due to its inclusion in the Kahekili Herbivore Fisheries Management Area, creating a thriving underwater ecosystem and its easy access beaches.

How To Get There

Take Highway 30 North and turn left on Puukolii Rd. The entrance is on the left, past Kai Ala Drive. For more detailed directions, click here.

What You May See

Airport Beach contains extensive wildlife, including Bluefin Trevally, Eels, Goatfish, Black Triggerfish, Yellow Tang, Humuhumunukunukuapua’a, Green Sea Turtles, and Unicornfish.

What To Bring

Be sure to bring your own snorkeling gear, as no rentals are provided. Recommended supplies include coral safe sunblock, UV-blocking swimwear, hats, and sunglasses. See our Hawaii Packing Guide for recommendations.

Amenities

Amenities include restrooms, free parking, and showers.

Hanakaoʻo Park (Canoe Beach)

Maui Snorkeling: Snorkeling Hanakaoʻo Park
Maui Snorkeling: Hanakaoʻo Park

5. Hanakaoʻo Park (Canoe Beach)

Overview

Hanakaoʻo Park (known locally as Canoe Beach) is an excellent location for those seeking the added comfort of a manned lifeguard station. It has more amenities than many other beaches in the area while still offering excellent snorkeling and relatively calm waters. Beachgoers should wear sandals or water shoes since the area is lined with Kiawe trees which drop sharp thorns on the ground.

How To Get There

Canoe Beach is on the north side of Wahikuli Wayside Park past Mile marker 23. Turn right after you enter the gates to reach the parking lot. For more detailed directions, click here.

What You May See

Canoe Beach is home to Sea Turtles, Triggerfish, Yellow Tang, Sergeant Majors, Achilles Tang, and Eels.

What To Bring

Bring your own snorkeling gear but enjoy the food and amenities offered at this family-friendly location. Recommended supplies include coral-safe sunblock, UV-blocking swimwear, hats, and sunglasses. See our Hawaii Packing Guide for recommendations.

Amenities

Canoe Beach has many amenities, including BBQs, canoe rentals, picnic tables, restrooms, and a lifeguard.

Launiupoko Beach Park

Maui Snorkeling: Launiupoko Beach Park
Maui Snorkeling: Launiupoko Beach Park

6. Launiupoko Beach Park

Overview

If you’re looking for a family friendly snorkeling location, Lauiniupoko Beach Park is the perfect spot! A natural rock enclosure makes the ideal spot for young snorkelers, while the abundant sea life will intrigue the most experienced. It is recommended to wear water shoes as there can be urchins on the rocks.

How To Get There

Take Highway 30 south to the Kai Hele Ku intersection and turn right into the parking lot. For more detailed directions, click here.

What You May See

Marine life at Launiupoko Beach Park includes Green Sea Turtles, Sea Urchins, Jelly Fish, Triggerfish, Unicornfish, Eels, Goatfish, Monk Seals, and Yellow Tang.

What To Bring

Bring your own snorkeling gear, as none is provided. Recommended supplies include coral-safe sunblock, UV-blocking swimwear, hats, and sunglasses. See our Hawaii Packing Guide for recommendations.

Amenities

Amenities at this family friendly location include parking, restrooms, benches, trash cans, picnic tables, and showers.

Honolua Bay

Maui Snorkeling: Honolua Bay
Maui Snorkeling: Honolua Bay

7. Honolua Bay

Overview

For those looking for an immersive snorkeling experience, Honolua Bay offers diverse sea life nestled along a tropical rainforest paradise. Emerging from a short walk through the stunning forest, snorkelers will enjoy the established coral reef and tepid waters. While the water is generally calm, it is important to note the waves can get intense when a swell comes through, so be sure to check the conditions before heading to this stunning location.

How To Get There

Honolua Bay is located 15 minutes north of Ka’anapali. For more detailed directions, click here.

What You May See

Honolua Bay is home to a variety of sea life, including Green Sea Turtles, Octopus, Peacock Groupers, Manta Ray, Butterflyfish, Morrish Idols, and Yellow Tang.

What To Bring

There are no rental booths available, so you will have to bring your own snorkeling gear. Recommended supplies include coral-safe sunblock, UV-blocking swimwear, hats, and sunglasses. See our Hawaii Packing Guide for recommendations.

Amenities

There are no amenities located at Honolua Bay apart from parking. However, there are restaurants and shopping nearby.

Charley Young Beach

Maui Snorkeling: Charley Young Beach
Maui Snorkeling: Charley Young Beach

8. Charley Young Beach

Overview

Charley Young Beach is a favorite among snorkelers thanks to its ease of entry and soft sandy beachfront. Slightly offshore, a lava peninsula makes for excellent snorkeling as it is home to many different species of wildlife, including coral. While the waves can get stronger in the evening, they are generally gentle in the morning, making this an excellent location for beginners or less experienced swimmers.

How To Get There

Take the AlanuiKe Alii Parkway to South Kihei Road. Turn left onto Kaiau Pl. For more detailed directions, click here.

What You May See

Charley Young Beach is home to many exciting species of marine life, including Green Sea Turtles, Coral, Parrotfish, Goatfish, Manini, Trumpetfish, and Sea Urchins.

What To Bring

There are no rental booths available, so you will have to bring your own snorkeling gear. Recommended supplies include coral-safe sunblock, UV-blocking swimwear, hats, and sunglasses. See our Hawaii Packing Guide for recommendations.

Amenities

Charley Young Beach has basic amenities available, including parking, restrooms, and showers.

Keawakapu Beach

Maui Snorkeling: Keawakapu Beach
Maui Snorkeling: Keawakapu Beach

9. Keawakapu Beach

Overview

Located steps away from Mana Kai Maui Resort, the beautiful Keawakapu Beach offers unforgettable snorkeling for all experience levels. Lava fingers along the beach’s right side are prime grounds for fish and other marine life and make an excellent spot to explore. Snorkelers should be mindful of water conditions as the area is prone to rougher seas, which can reduce visibility and may pose a danger to beginners or less experienced swimmers.

How To Get There

Take South Kihei Road south past the 5 Palms Restaurant and Mana Kai Maui Resort. Turn right at the next road and turn left into the parking lot. For more detailed directions, click here.

What You May See

Keawakapu Beach is a favorite among snorkelers thanks to its abundant sea life, which includes Saddleback Wrasses, Brown Surgeonfish, Green Sea Turtles, Goatfish, Trumpetfish, Butterflyfish, Unicornfish, Humuhumunukunukuapua’a, Coral, and Sea Urchin.

What To Bring

There are no rental booths on the beach itself, so remember to bring your own snorkeling gear. Recommended supplies include coral-safe sunblock, UV-blocking swimwear, hats, and sunglasses. See our Hawaii Packing Guide for recommendations.

Amenities

While there are basic amenities available, including parking and restrooms, it is only a short walk to nearby resorts and restaurants.

Po'olenalena Beach

Maui Snorkeling: Po'olenalena Beach
Maui Snorkeling: Po'olenalena Beach

10. Po'olenalena Beach

Overview

Po’olenalena Beach, also known as “Chang’s Beach”, is a favorite among locals thanks to its stunning views of Puu Olai wilderness habitat and its exciting underwater landscapes. Both sides of this soft, sandy beach are lined with lava rock, which provides many nooks and crannies that many species of marine life call home. Since the waves can get rough, this site is recommended for intermediate and experienced snorkelers only.

How to Get There

Po’olenalena Beach is located on Makena Road, south of Polo Beach. For more detailed directions, click here.

What You May See

There are so many species of marine life at Po’olenalena Beach you’ll want to come back again and again. Some examples include Cornetfish, Saddleback Wrasses, Pencil Urchins, Brown Surgeonfish, Morish Idol, Green Sea Turtles, Humu, and Eels.

What To Bring

Since there are only limited amenities available, you should bring your own snorkeling gear. Recommended supplies include coral-safe sunblock, UV-blocking swimwear, hats, and sunglasses. See our Hawaii Packing Guide for recommendations.

Amenities

Limited amenities are available, including parking and portable restrooms.

Maui Snorkeling Tour
Maui Snorkeling Tour

Snorkeling Tours

Something For Everyone

Embark on unforgettable adventures with one of many exciting snorkeling tours in Maui. Choose from a variety of options tailored to suit your preferences, whether it’s exploring hidden coves, visiting famous snorkeling sites like Molokini Crater, or venturing off the beaten path to discover secret spots. Experienced guides can provide expert knowledge, ensuring a safe and educational experience. Dive into the turquoise waters, encounter stunning marine life, and create lifelong memories on a snorkeling tour in Maui!

  Explore various Maui snorkeling tours here.

Maui Snorkeling
Maui Snorkeling

Best Snorkeling Gear

Best Budget

This great set from U.S. Divers comes in 6 colors and includes a semi-dry snorkel, vented fins and a durable, three-way adjustable mask.

Best High-End

Check out this top tier set from Phantom Aquatics that comes in 12 colors. It features everything you want, a panoramic mask, dry snorkel, vented fins and a compact design for travel.

Don’t forget to bring some snorkel mask defogger along as well!

Maui Snorkeling
Maui Snorkeling

Responsible Snorkeling In Maui

Below are tips to ensure you stay safe while snorkeling and protect the local sea and plant life.

  • Only wear UV-blocking swimwear or reef-safe sunblock.
  • Never touch or feed the sea life.
  • Don’t touch the coral.
  • Never step on seagrass or coral.
  • Pick up any trash you discover.
  • Wear appropriate snorkeling gear.
  • Stay relaxed.
  • Have fun!
Maui Snorkeling

The Best Time to Visit Maui

There is not a bad time of year to visit Maui, although the best time of year to visit is April through May and September through November. Peak season on the island typically falls between June and August, as well as the month of December. You’ll find that Maui is the least crowded during shoulder season. We suggest visiting during April, September, and October for perfect temperatures and fewer crowds. Be sure to check out our Best Time To Visit Hawaii Guide!

There is not a bad time of year to visit Maui, although the best time of year to visit is April through May and September through November. Peak season on the island typically falls between June and August, as well as the month of December. You’ll find that Maui is the least crowded during shoulder season. We suggest visiting during April, September, and October for perfect temperatures and fewer crowds. Be sure to check out our Best Time To Visit Hawaii Guide!

December – March

Visiting Maui in winter means higher airfare and room rates. The temperatures hover in the high 70s, but the waters around popular beaches tend to be too rough for swimming.

April – May

Springtime temperatures fall between high 70s and low 80s during this shoulder season. Winter tourists have left the island but summer tourists haven’t arrived, making it a great time to get deals on airfare and accommodation. There are also several festivals that take place during April and May celebrating Maui’s culture.

June – August

Maui is an incredibly popular destination during the summer season. Warm temperatures paired with gentle waters bring an influx of families to the island. Summer in Maui also boasts a full social calendar including events such as festivals, food, movies, and music.

September – November

If you want to visit the Road To Hana then fall is a great time to visit Maui. During the fall season temperatures remain warm in the 80s. You’ll also find flight and hotel deals during this time of year.

December – March

Visiting Maui in winter means higher airfare and room rates. The temperatures hover in the high 70s, but the waters around popular beaches tend to be too rough for swimming.

April – May

Springtime temperatures fall between high 70s and low 80s during this shoulder season. Winter tourists have left the island but summer tourists haven’t arrived, making it a great time to get deals on airfare and accommodation. There are also several festivals that take place during April and May celebrating Maui’s culture.

June – August

Maui is an incredibly popular destination during the summer season. Warm temperatures paired with gentle waters bring an influx of families to the island. Summer in Maui also boasts a full social calendar including events such as festivals, food, movies, and music.

September – November

If you want to visit the Road To Hana then fall is a great time to visit Maui. During the fall season temperatures remain warm in the 80s. You’ll also find flight and hotel deals during this time of year.

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