Updated: June 14, 2015

Best Maui Snorkel and Dive Spots

A favorite pasttime when vacationing on any tropical island is swimming with the tropical fish - weather with a mask and snorkel or full scuba gear, the allure of these blue, crystal clear tropical waters is undeniable. Maui is home to many top locations when it comes to a snorkel or dive adventure. Along the northwest coast, from Honokahua to Maalea, you'll find a number of good spots to snorkel while on your Maui vacation, many appropriate for beginners. Please keep in mind that rocky, coral beaches can be very difficult to get in and out of when you are wearing flippers and waves are pounding around you. Stick with sandy beach access if you are a beginner or going out with children - nasty cuts on your shins and knees are no way to start a vacation! Check out some of the best locations listed below:



Where to Snorkel on Maui Vacation

The Coral Gardens are off of route 30 just north of Maalaea (about half mile after the tunnel). There is parking on the side of the road and a sandy beach access. Good reef fish here, usually not very crowded. A little further north near Lahaina is Wahikuli Park. Not so much dramatic coral here, but perfect for beginners with sandy beach and easy access. In Kaanapali, in front of the Sheraton Resort, you will find the famous Black Rock area. You can park at the resort and access the beach as a visitor, no problem. This is a lava rock area with lots of fish and great snorkeling.
A little further north is Kahekili Beach (near Napili Bay, north end of Kaanapali). The Sugar Cane Trains stops right nearby, making this an accessible, popular spot for a protected snorkelling area. The beach area here is good for families as well. Another place with nice reef formations and lots of fish is the area right off the shore in front of the pink pyramid Embassy Suites resort just north of Kaanapali Beach. You can park at the Kaanapali Shores resort next door. There are buoys in the water between these two resorts - swim out through the sandy channel area and have a nice snorkel visit -- am always impressed by the number and variety of fish I see here. Closer to Wailea, check out the area in front of the Mana Kai Hotel (on South Kihei Rd.) - sandy beach access - or the Waliea beach area between the Grand Wailea and Four Seasons Resorts (they put these expensive resorts in prime locations for a reason!). Another popular area nearby is the Molokini Crater. This requires a boat trip out, and as such, is very popular and often crowded - don't plan on a calm peaceful experience!
Snorkeling is usually best during the morning hours on Maui, before the wind and waves pick up, disturbing the sand and making it more difficult to see.

Another option, besides hitting local beaches, is to look into a snorkel charter boat service. These boats can take you to some of the more quiet and less accessible areas, giving you a unique, personal day of guided underwater exploration. Keep in mind that many will also stop at Molokini Crater, where it will be more crowded. One company we have personally done Maui Snorkeling with is Pride of Maui. Located out of Maalaea Harbor, their 5 hour morning Molokini snorkel trip is a blast. They take you out to Molokini first thing in the morning when waters are the most calm, and you get to spend over an hour in the water there. Then on to Turtle Town for a second snorkel spot. In between is a barbecue lunch, and after is an open bar on the way back to the harbor. They provide all the snorkel gear you need - you can even try to Snuba if you want! Not the most fun for small kids, but great for bigger kids (who don't mind ocean swimming) up through adults. We had a great day, had great service from all the employees, and would recommend this trip to others wanting to visit Molokini. Ticket information and prices are at their website. You can find out more information about Molokini here. And read a detailed trip report of our Molokini tour here.

Many other companies offer snorkel and boat trips as well - check out the Lani Kai or Maui Classic Charters (out of Kihei) for some other options.

Our Maui Guide Continues: