The vast variety of beaches and coral create perfect Maui snorkeling places along the west and south sides of the island. Most of them are great for beginners, and many spots are shallow enough to allow your feet to touch. For the best conditions, snorkel when the sun is shining brightly - it lights up the colors of the fish and the coral. On the west side of Maui, snorkeling is best before the afternoon winds begin to pick up and impact your visibility.
In addition, the water can be murky when there is a large swell or for a few days following a big storm, so try to embark on your Maui snorkeling adventure when the weather is good. Below are the best places to go snorkeling on maui.
Olowalu Beach Olowalu Beach is popular with snorkelers who want to see turtles, but you have to swim about 150 to 225 feet from shore - here you'll find a turtle-cleaning station (where turtles line up to have small parasites removed by the cleaner wrasses). Pretty awesome. The problem though with swimming so far from shore here is that Olowalu is one of the more dangerous spots for sharks. I prefer to see the turtles on a snorkel cruise, at the Maui Ocean Center or on the Big Island's Punalu'lu Beach.
Ka'anapali The expanse of white sand that makes up Ka'anapali is probably one of the best-known beaches in Maui. It is a prime snorkeling spot, especially along Black Rock. This lava jetty extends out into the ocean at the north end of the beach and is teeming with colorful fish. You may even spy a sea turtle from time to time, or an occasional octopus. The beach is lined with resorts and shopping, so there are plenty of facilities and ample parking. Ka'anapali gives you a memorable Maui snorkeling experience.
Honalua Bay Situated on the northwest shore of Maui, Honalua Bay is just outside the beautiful village of Kapalua. It is normally fairly calm, but can be very rough if there is a large swell. Swim to the right side of the bay for the best viewing of undersea life. Honalua Bay has a rocky shore rather than a sandy beach, so water shoes are beneficial.
Access is not as easy here - you must park along the road and follow a trail down to the beach. However, the effort is well worth it because Honolua Bay has one of the highest concentrations of fish of any Maui snorkeling spot.
Kamaole The beaches of Kamaole encompass three separate areas spread throughout the town of Kihei. All of the beaches have grassy parks with plenty of trees, and you can snorkel along the lava outcroppings, which is where the fish seem to prefer to gather. Parking is plentiful, and access to the beaches is easy. You'll find lots of locals at this Maui snorkeling location.
Coral Gardens This Maui snorkeling spot is located just one-half mile north of the tunnel on the highway that leads from Kahului to Lahaina. The reef is long ways from the beach, so it is only recommended for advanced swimmers unless you are snorkeling from a boat. This is a great place to see lots of Maui's famous green sea turtles.
La Perouse Bay La Perouse Bay is located south of the village of Wailea, on the southwest tip of Maui. This is a very private area for swimming and snorkeling, and it is not at all unusual to find that you have the place all to yourself. The water tends to be cooler on Maui's southern shores, and summer can produce some large southern swells. You should be able to see plenty of fish, and you will have a great view of Molokini Crater. Just remember to use some caution and good water safety habits when enjoying this remote Maui snorkeling area.
Molokini Crater The most famous spot for Maui snorkeling, you can only reach Molokini Crater by boat. Once you arrive, you can explore the waters within the old cone of a long-dormant volcano, and enjoy the pristine waters. The water can be deep under the boats, up to 100 feet in some places. It is so clear that some people experience a sensation of vertigo, similar to what you would feel when looking down from great heights, when they look towards the ocean floor.b