Where to go snorkelling in Maui

by Mihai Pinzariu on September 25, 2019

If you’re in Maui, you can bet you’ll be in the water. With some of the most diverse marine life available in Hawaii, here you’ll find world-class beaches with pristine waters and lots of beautiful surrounding nature to enjoy on land. You can see why it’s been voted best island in the world multiple times!

Maui also boasts the longest stretch of swimmable coastline in Hawaii, making it a prime spot for a snorkeling holiday. The snorkeling sites in Maui will either be in the west or south of the island – here are the best spots.

Fish in Maui:

  • Butterfly Fish, Box Fish, Damselfish, Eels, Goatfish, Humuhumunukunukuapua’a, Moorish Idols, Needlefish, Octopus, Parrotfish, Peacock Bass, Porcupine Fish, Scorpion Fish, Squirrelfish, Surgeonfish, Wrasse, and tonnes more.

Corals in Maui:

  • Antler Coral, Blue Rice Coral, Branching Rice Coral, Cauliflower Corals, Finger Corals, Lace Corals, Lobe Coral, Mound Corals, Pork Chops, Rice Coral, Thick Finger Corals, Urchins, Zoanthids, Sea Stars, and lots more.

Maui snorkelling map

Best places to snorkel in Maui

Ahihi Kinau Natural Area Reserve

Where: 10km south of Wailea
Details: If you’re after healthy vibrant coral life immersed in nature, this is your spot. One of Maui’s youngest and most delicate eco-reef zones, this conservation district features jagged lava rocks and lots of colourful coral life to explore. The calm, peaceful waters make this snorkel spot great for newbies and kids, and you’ll be able to spot lots of the usual sea life as well as turtles! The waters here start knee deep and gradually gets deeper but you don’t have to go very far to see the fish and coral life.


  • The most popular spot to snorkel is the small protective cove near the road, where you can enter from the sand patch on the right hand side. It’s the easiest entry but there are lots of different snorkel spots along the coast – just beware of stepping on the coral!
  • There are no stores or facilities at this beach.

Black Rock

Where: Ka’anapali Beach
Details: This award winning beach stretches for over 4.5 kilometres of pristine white sands, crystal clear waters, and a perfect surf. It’s a must visit in Maui for more than just snorkeling, but if you want to do that then Black Rock at the northern end of the beach is your spot. As expected, this spot is pretty popular but offers great visibility and lots of sea life to explore. The water starts at around 2.5 metres and gets as deep as 7.5 metres, and you’ll be swimming with lots of fish including Moorish idols, porcupine fish, and needlefish.


  • Ka’anapali beach is an extremely popular tourist destination with lots of restaurants, shops, and hotels lining its shores. You’re all set for food, shopping, rest, and snorkeling rentals!
  • Facilities:
  • Showers on-site but to use the bathroom you have to go into one of the hotels.

Honolua Bay

Where: 20 mins north of Lahaina Town
Details: The diversity and density of sea life in Honolua Bay is the best in Maui, making the snorkeling here second-to-none. A beautiful beach and Marine Life Conservation District area, fishing here is banned so the waters are crawling with an incredible number and variety of different fish. You’ll find humuhumunukunukuapua’a, peacock bass, eels, and turtles if you’re lucky. Most of the corals and sea life are concentrated on the right side of the bay, so try to enter that way for the best views.


  • You’ll have to walk through a beautiful little forest trail for about 100 metres to reach the shore. You’ll find the trail amongst the trees near the boat ramp,
  • The bay is nicely sheltered from the wind by high cliffs on either side, keeping the water calm and great for snorkeling but visibility is best between 7am and 11am.
  • There are no facilities, lifeguards, or stores near this snorkel site.

Kapalua Bay

Where: Northwest Maui
Details: One of the most picturesque beaches in Maui, Kapalua Bay is a C-shaped cove lined by palm trees, white sands, and pristine blue waters perfect for snorkeling. The calm waters make it perfect for novice snorkelers and kids, and there are two reefs to explore on either side of the bay. You’ll find lots of sea life to discover and some beautiful rock and coral formations on the left hand side. With depths of about 3 metres you’ll be swimming with huge schools of fish including scorpionfish and maybe octopus.


  • The further out you swim from the bay, the more fish and coral you’ll discover, but be careful not to go beyond the rocks as the current can be quite strong,
  • This beach is quite popular but still doesn’t seem overcrowded.


  • Toilets and showers on-site,
  • Parking available.

Maluaka Beach/Turtle Town

Where: 5km south of Wailea
Details: This is the best spot in Hawaii to swim with green sea turtles. The name ‘Turtle Town’ refers to a stretch of coastline, but Maluaka Beach is the hotspot. Less visited than other snorkel spots, you’ll get to enjoy white sands, calm blue waters, and an abundance of sea turtles and other marine life. To enter the snorkel site, walk to the rocks on the southern end of the beach. This is where the reef begins, and if you continue swimming south you’ll be surrounded by green sea turtles, squirrelfish, trumpet fish, eels, octopus, and more.


  • Most visitors accidentally drive past this beach – you’ll find it at the end of Makena Road, just off the main street. There’s a small car park, and the entrance to the beach is about 100 metres south of that.


  • Bathrooms and showers on-site,
  • Food stand available at nearby Westin Maui Prince Hotel.

Molokini Crater

Where: 4km off the coast of Maui
Details: You can’t snorkel in Hawaii without visiting Molokini. A one-of-a-kind snorkelling experience you can’t have anywhere else in the world, you’re basically snorkeling inside a volcano crater. Molokini is a crescent-shaped volcano island with some of Hawaii’s clearest waters and a huge abundance of marine life to discover. Visibility is excellent, and the waters within the crater are protected from ocean swells making it a safe spot for novices and kids. There are 250+ tropical fish species here – people have even spotted humpbacks, whale sharks, mantas, and Hawaiian monk seals.


  • You have to go with a boat tour to get to Molokini. Because the island itself is a protected bird sanctuary, you can only snorkel from your boat – but there’s lots of ocean around for everybody!

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Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

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