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Maui is one of the best, if not the best, of the Hawaiian Islands for snorkeling. If you’re planning a trip, there’s a lot to see underwater. But you won’t find better snorkeling anywhere on the island. Here are the 11 best snorkelling spots to see fish, coral, turtles and (if you’re lucky) dolphins.
10 Best Snorkeling Spots In Maui
Before we jump into the details, this map will help you get a quick overview of where these 11 best spots are. For detailed information on each, keep scrolling below.
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Honolua Bay is the best snorkeling spot on Maui’s west side. It is a Marine Life Conservation Area, which means fishing is prohibited in the bay. This allows fish to grow and reproduce without danger and creates excellent snorkelling spots.
In Honolua Bay you can expect to see a wide variety of fish, eels and turtles without having to swim too far from shore. In fact, sticking to the cliff side is often one of the best bets for seeing the biggest marine life.
Honolua Bay is one of the most difficult places to access. There are no official car parks and there is limited parking along the road. From the street car park you will need to walk 5 minutes to the rocky cove. Although it can take some time to get to and there is no great place to sit outside and enjoy the sandy beach, the underwater scenery more than makes up for it.
Just south of Honolua Bay is another bay with great snorkeling: Kapalua Bay. Here you will find a small crescent-shaped golden sand beach nestled among luxury rental properties. Kapalua Bay is a great place to enjoy a day on and off the water. This is a semi-protected cove, so you will often find that the water here is calm and easy to enjoy. You will see lots of coral and fish, dotted by the beach and sea turtles semi-regular.
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Out on the water you have a nice sandy beach, bathrooms, showers and equipment rental on the beach. If you need a break from the sand, you can head to the Kapalua Coastal Trail for a spectacular view along the coast. And while there are no dining options on the beach, there are plenty of restaurants and shops nearby where you can pick up everything you need.
You can read more about Kapalua Bay, amenities, and tips to enjoy your experience there to the fullest.
Napili Bay is just south of Kapalua and is a gem on Maui’s west side. Here you will find a beautiful sandy beach and a large bay off Kapalua without many waves. Like Kapalua, the bay is mostly protected by a reef (except on days with high surf and strong currents) and is a popular spot for families to enjoy the small waves and underwater marine life. In summer, you can usually find small waves in the bay, making it an ideal place for swimmers of all ages to enjoy.
In Napili Bay you will find many types of fish, especially concentrated near the sides of the bay. And on the south side, you’ll often see sea turtles swimming around. If you watch the sunset in Napili, you can see them bobbing their heads up and down along the shore. And in winter, you can often find whales from this place. They don’t come into the bay, but you will see them further out to sea.
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As far as amenities go, there are limited options. There is a public car park near the Napili Shores Hotel (just north of the hotel car park). There is limited parking in the car park, but there is additional street parking along Lower Honopilani Road.
There are two restaurants on Napili Bay: the famous Gazebo restaurant on the south side and the Sea House restaurant on the north side. Neither offer the usual beach snacks, but they are a great place to go for a meal. There is only one restroom near the Sea House Restaurant.
A step-by-step itinerary takes you to the best beaches, snorkelling spots, restaurants and sights. You’ll find six sightseeing days carefully planned to help you see, no matter how limited your time is.
Get all our itinerary details and download it for a memorable and easy-to-plan trip to Maui.
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If you stay in Kaanapali, you are steps away from one of the best snorkeling spots on the island. Black Rock offers excellent snorkeling along the reef, if you can beat the crowds there. Located at the north end of Kaanapali Beach, Black Rock is an easy snorkel spot with lots of fish (and often turtles!) just steps from shore.
Kaanapali Beach is one of Maui’s most popular beaches, with 3 miles of soft sand and turquoise blue waters. Along Kaanapali Beach you will find many large hotels and condo complexes, making it one of the most crowded beaches on this list. Jump into the water and swim along the rocks, being careful to avoid any jumpers from the top of the cliff.
Parking here can be challenging if you don’t arrive early. Free beach parking is limited. You can also park in the Whaler’s Village parking lot and shop or eat at stores that provide parking validation.
This spot will never make a list of the best snorkeling spots, but for a more experienced snorkeler, it’s a great spot. Mala Wharf is a very popular scuba spot because you can see everything here: fish, turtles and even reef sharks. The site is located in Lahaina and served as a fully operational pier until Hurricane Iniki destroyed most of it in 1992.
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Mala Ghat is located at the northern end of Baby Beach. There is a good sized car park and a small beach available. It is easier to enter the water during high tide. Once in the water, you can find fish and turtles by walking along the wreck of the wharf just offshore.
This is one of our favorite family-friendly South Maui beaches. And, it’s a great snorkeling spot. You will find a reef on the north side of Ulua Beach, which separates Ulua Beach from Mokapu Beach. The water is usually calm, and it’s a great place to walk in and explore, without going too far from the beach.
The facilities in this area are also useful. There is a good sized car park, although it fills up quickly, great washrooms and showers, and lots of shade with trees so you can stay out of the sun if you spend hours there.
This small beach is a gateway to excellent snorkeling and diving. It is not a good place for beginners because the waves can be a bit rough to get out in the water. But for those who are comfortable in the water, this is a great place to dive in and see amazing marine life.
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Makena Landing is a popular snorkeling spot in South Maui because it’s a great spot to go in and swim at Turtle City or the Five Tombs. You’ll often see Turtle Town advertised as a place where snorkelling boats take you – but if you’re a strong swimmer, and the conditions are good, you can make it there from the beach itself!
Note: The car park is very small and there is not much space on the beach, so it is only a place to get in the water and snorkel and then move on if you want a bigger beach to relax on.
We used to visit this beach often as it was a great place for the whole family to enjoy. It was only later that we realized this was a great snorkelling spot on the south shore. Although most of the bottom of the beach is sandy, you will find a nice reef as you head north. Snorkeling in the middle of the reef you will see fish and possibly even turtles.
This beach park includes a large car park, street parking availability, a large grassy area, trees for shade as well as a swingset and picnic tables. These facilities make it easy to spend a whole day here, snorkelling and relaxing on the beach.
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‘Ahihi-Kinau’ is a special area. It’s not just a great place for snorkelling, it’s also a designated natural area reserve containing 807 acres of marine habitat. Reserve waters are closed to motor boats and fishing. Only a small area of Ahihi Bay is open to the public. Signs will direct you to the best places to enter the bay and find fish and other wildlife to watch.
If you plan to snorkel here, be prepared. There is no room for food or water, so make sure you bring something with you before you go. Cell phone coverage is hit
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