Maui Mini Snorkeling Guide

Maui Snorkeling Basics:


No worries. You will not have a problem finding quality snorkel gear (mask, snorkel and fins) to rent or buy on Maui. 

Locals warn against trying to save a few bucks…it’s not worth it. You don’t want to go to Kmart or Wal-Mart for your gear, unless you want to be frustrated with the performance. The last thing you need is your mask filling with water, or pinching your face while you are trying to experience the serenity and beauty of Maui sea life…it kind of throws a wrench in the whole thing, you know?


Get yourself down to a dive shop. I recommend The Maui Dive Shop (phone: 808-879-3388) or Captain Nemo’s (phone: 808-891-0500). They both have a few locations around the island for your convenience. The crew members at these shops are not only knowledgeable, but friendly and helpful. They will help to custom fit you with gear that you should have no problems with during your stay.

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Okay, so you don’t want to think about the spooky stuff, or that there can be any harm done in a little snorkeling. We understand…but hear us out.

There are many snorkel hot spots that are a little “secluded”, and while these are fantastic and magical areas, please realize that seclusion is not always a good thing. Always take a buddy with you, make sure your cell phone has reception in the area, and don’t leave your common sense on the plane.

Nicole at the Maui Dive Shop recommends that if people are going to be doing snorkeling on their own (unguided) that they only snorkel at Maui beaches that have a lifeguard on duty. She wants to remind people that while dive shop crews are knowledgeable, they usually don’t know the specifics for all of the beaches on a given day—conditions change and the crew has been in the SHOP all day. A lifeguard on the other hand knows the condition of his or her beach and can give you the lowdown. 

As a side note: Fish, like women, are attracted to shiny things…to reduce your odds of getting assaulted in the water by little nibblers or…uh…BIG biters, take your jewelry off 
before entering the water.

“R-E-S-P-E-C-T…find out what it means to me”

You’re going to hear a lot about “respecting the aina (land)” during your stay. This respect should be carried over to the ocean. If you’re going to remove things from the water, it’s best to return them. Be gentle with the sea life and remember that we are guests in their “home”, not the other way around. Have fun out there and happy snorkeling!

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Maui Snorkeling Picks: 


Black Rock (The Sheraton): Black Rock is a fun beach in general. Good swimming, great lounging, fantastic snorkeling. There is a huge lava outcropping that is loaded with coral. It’s also a fun place to do a little “cliff” jumping (off of the lava outcropping).

If you are on Hwy 30 in Kaanapali, turn toward the ocean onto Kaanapali Parkway. There is free beach access parking, but it’s usually full. I think it’s easiest to just park at the Whalers Village shopping center. It is paid parking, but you can always go into the mall and buy a bottle of water and get your ticket validated.


Kahekili Beach Park (Airport Beach): The nice thing about Airport beach is that there are a lot of facilities—parking, showers, change rooms, restrooms, picnic areas, BBQ’s. The water is generally very calm and there is a lot of reef where you can see some great coral…where there is coral, there is fish…so you’re good to go.

To get there from Hwy 30, turn onto Puukoili Rd. It is just north of mile marker 25

Kapalua Bay: The experts say that the best snorkeling at Kapalua Bay is on the North side of the beach (that would be to your right if you’re facing the ocean). It’s also a nice beach to hang out at. The currents outside of the bay can get very strong and dangerous so it is highly recommended that you keep your snorkeling inside the bay.

On Hwy 30 you’ll see the Napili Plaza. Turn toward the ocean on Napilihau St. Then turn right at Lower Honoapililani Rd. Drive about a mile to the Napili Kai Beach Club. Turn toward the ocean when you see the shoreline access sign. 

Honolua Bay: Okay, so it’s more of a surf spot…but when the water is calm, and the surfers are bummed, it’s an absolutely fabulous place to snorkel. There are real nice coral formations and your chances of spotting turtles (honu) are excellent. It may not be the best snorkel spot if it has been rainy for the past few days—run-off really ruins the visibility here.

From Hwy 30, heading north of Napili, go about a half mile past mile marker 32.

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Kamaole Beach Parks I, II & III: These beach parks are great places to spend the day—lots of grass to picnic on, facilities galore and great weather just about 365 days of the year. Snorkeling can be fun, although sometimes the waves and undertow at these beaches can be big and strong. Nicole at the Maui Dive Shop says that they often recommend these beaches to snorkelers because there is a lifeguard on duty for ocean info and safety.

If you’re heading south down South Kihei Rd, the beach parks will be directly to your right. You can’t miss them. If you’ve hit the Kihei Boat Ramp, you’ve gone too far.

La Perouse: This is Maui snorkeling at its finest. On a non-windy day you will be sure to see lots of fish and turtles. Want to swim with the dolphins? If you head out early enough, there is a pod of dolphins that cruise the area almost every morning. It’s a magical place with a sacred feel to it. Just make sure you take a friend with you as there are no lifeguards. Also, make sure your cell phone works in the surrounding area so that you can call for help in case of an emergency. This place is a little off the beaten path. 

South of Wailea, past Makena, past the Ahihi marine reserve. You know your there because you’ll hit the end of the road….literally…and don’t even think about off-roading in that rental car.

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I never quite understood what the big deal about Molokini crater was until I actually went out there. It was then that I realized that it wasn’t over-rated (like I had assumed) but is truly awesome.

Molokini is a crescent shaped crater that looks like a little island. If you’ve been in South Maui or Upcountry you’ve seen it… Anyway, you won’t get out there unless you go through one of the many tour companies.

Lots of fish, spectacular views, the feeling of being in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. It’s fun, and a must for your stay on Maui.

The only drawback is that there tends to be as many people out as there are fish. On one hand, it’s like a big party…on the other, if crowds bother you look for a company that tries to beat the crowds first thing in the morning.

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