Dive into Paradise: Discover the Best Snorkeling Spots in Maui to enjoy around the island (updated 2023)

Best snorkeling spots in Maui (nice beaches, coves and hidden spots to snorkel)
Dive into Maui’s Underwater Paradise: Uncovering the Best Snorkeling Spots

Maui not only has some of the best beaches to enjoy a beach day but also some of the best snorkeling in Maui places worth visiting for visitors to explore some of these cool venues. There’s plenty of great snorkeling spots around the island to explore and we share all of our favorite places around the island to visit with great snorkeling and sometimes with beaches to also lounge in.

I’ve asked a few of my travel writers and bloggers to share their favorite Maui snorkeling spots and why they love these places below so that you might be inspired to also visit and check out these fabulous snorkeling venues.

Many of these Maui snorkeling spots and beaches are well known and a few are more local areas to explore. Being outdoors and have an active snorkeling experience along Maui’s pristine ocean areas and snorkeling spots in Maui is truly “Maui No Ka Oi”, meaning Maui is the best.

Here’s some Maui snorkeling advise

We detail some great tips on snorkeling below but always do check out a snorkeling spot first especially if the weather isn’t good. Always check the local weather conditions and consider snorkeling in a different area that isn’t affected by the weather at the moment.

Look for kid friendly venues and places where there are lifeguards on duty

The sun here is harsh so make sure you use reef safe sunscreen and bring water and snacks for extended snorkeling adventures.

Be sure to wear reef shoes or fins to protect yourself from sharp rocks or coral or best try to avoid stepping on anything below you.

Check out more of our tips and safety for snorkeling below

How to get around Maui Island

Getting around Maui Island is essential for exploring its diverse landscapes and attractions. Here’s a guide on how to navigate the island:

Rental Cars: Renting a car is the most popular and convenient way to explore Maui. Rental agencies are available at Kahului Airport and other locations across the island. Be sure to book in advance, especially during peak tourist seasons.

Public Buses: Maui’s public bus system, known as the Maui Bus, serves many popular destinations. It’s an affordable option, but schedules can be limited, so plan your routes carefully.

Shuttles and Airport Transfers: Various shuttle and airport transfer services operate on Maui, offering convenient transportation to and from the airport and major resorts.

Taxis and Rideshares: Taxis are available on Maui, but they can be expensive. Rideshare services like Uber and Lyft also operate on the island, providing alternatives to traditional taxis.

Cycling: Maui offers scenic bike routes, and you can rent bicycles for leisurely rides. Be cautious on roads with heavy traffic, and always wear helmets.

Walking: Exploring towns like Lahaina, Paia, and Kihei on foot is enjoyable, as they have pedestrian-friendly streets with shops, restaurants, and attractions.

Motorcycles and Scooters: Rentals are available for motorcycles and scooters, providing a fun way to explore Maui’s winding roads. Ensure you have the necessary licenses and safety gear.

Guided Tours: Consider booking guided tours for specific activities like the Road to Hana or snorkeling excursions. Tour companies often provide transportation.

Inter-Island Flights: If you plan to explore multiple Hawaiian islands, you can take inter-island flights from Maui’s airports to destinations like Oahu, Hawaii Island, and Kauai.

Boats and Ferries: For trips between Maui and neighboring islands or for snorkeling and whale-watching tours, boats and ferries are available from Maui’s harbors.

Walking and Hiking: Exploring nature reserves and hiking trails on foot is a fantastic way to experience Maui’s lush landscapes.

Trolley Tours: In some tourist areas, trolley tours provide narrated rides, making it easy to learn about the island’s history and culture.

Bike Rentals: Renting a bicycle is a great way to explore certain parts of the island, particularly in areas like Upcountry Maui.

Before embarking on your Maui adventure, plan your transportation options based on your itinerary and preferences. This will ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience as you discover the beauty of the Valley Isle.

Here’s the best snorkeling in Maui spots and beaches to explore around the island

Best snorkeling spots in Maui
the Best Snorkeling Spots in Maui and swimmable beaches

Where’s the best snorkeling places in Maui to explore?

With all the spectacular beaches and rocky coastlines and outcrops, there are so many fantastic snorkeling options around the island to explore.

This short guide shares the best spots around the island from the north coast areas, west side, south side and central Maui district for you to experience. Included are cool video clips of the area and what you can actually spot in the water before you visit the area or decide where you want to explore when you snorkel around the island.

Snorkeling in Maui on the North Coast areas

There’s a lot of cool snorkeling places to enjoy on the North shore to western side of the island. If you are looking to base yourself out in this area, check out the hotel accommodations for the following areas below:

Honolua Bay
best snorkeling Maui at Honolua Bay

1. Honolua Bay

Honolua Bay is a fantastic place for snorkeling in Maui. Located on the northwest corner of the island, Honolua Bay is set in a cove that helps protect it from strong winds. This means the water is usually calmer than on nearby beaches, making swimming easier and the waters clearer.

There is a large variety of colorful fish here as well as several large coral reefs to explore. You’ll almost always see green sea turtles as well and it’s not unusual to see dolphins nearby. To get the best view of the underwater wildlife, swim further out from shore along the sides of the cove and explore the coral in those areas.

Honolua Bay is part of a Marine Life Conservation District, which means you’re not allowed to take any natural resources from the beach. (That even includes rocks.) Since fishing isn’t allowed, the bay is teeming with fish, making it a fantastic spot to snorkel Maui venues like Honolua.

The beach itself is quite rocky and can be challenging to get in the water. This is also a popular location for snorkeling tours and you’ll often see catamarans in the bay. Booking a snorkeling tour is a good choice if you’d rather avoid entering the water from the rocky beach.

Getting to the beach itself is about a five-minute walk through a beautiful forest. There’s not much parking at the trailhead and there are no facilities on the beach, so you’ll want to plan accordingly. There are also no lifeguards at this beach, yet snorkeling at Honolua Bay remains one of the best things to do in Maui.

by Karee, Our Woven Journey

Check out all these popular and well reviewed hotels in the area here for inspiration and current prices.

Snorkeling in Maui on the West side of the island

If you are looking to snorkel Maui on the west side of the island, there’s a lot of cool snorkeling places to explore around the west coastal areas for snorkeling fun. If you are looking to base yourself out in this area, check out the hotel accommodations for the following areas below:

Black Rock Beach
Maui Hawaii snorkeling at Black Rock Beach

2. Black Rock Beach

One of the best snorkeling beaches in Maui is around Black Rock Beach at Maui’s popular resort town of Ka’anapali, Located just north of Lahaina on the Valley Isle’s west coast, is known for the many beachfront resorts and condos lining the pleasant boardwalk.

The powdery golden sand of Ka’anapali beach makes it one of Hawaii’s most acclaimed beaches. About halfway this stretch of sand is one of Maui’s sacred spots called Pu’u Keka’a or Black Rock.

This promontory was once the place where the souls of the dead vaulted into the spirit world but also the spot from where Chief Kahekili, the island’s last ruler, demonstrated his cliff-diving skills. A daily ceremony commemorates these cultural events.

The clear waters around this rocky peninsula make this landmark one of Maui’s most popular snorkeling spots. It’s publicly accessible and there’s parking close by. Despite the fact that the waters around Black Rock are frequented by less experienced swimmers and that drownings do occur here from time to time, there are no lifeguards at this part of the beach. The only lifeguard tower at Ka’anapali beach is located at the southern tip known as Hanakao’o (or Canoe) Beach Park. So, know your limits and don’t venture out into deep water.

There’s plenty of marine life to be found near the sides of Black Rock so there’s no need to swim around the rock where the current can be strong. Some of the sea creatures you may encounter are honu (Hawaiian green sea turtles), cornet fish, butterfly fish, parrot fish, sergeant and the humuhumunukunukuapua’a (Hawaiian triggerfish). The snorkeling site is accessible right off the beach and there’s a sandy bottom all along the rock. Clarity tends to be optimal at Black Rock. It’s recommended to arrive in the morning when there are less swimmers and cliff-jumpers on site.

Sarah with CosmopoliClan

Check out these well reviewed hotels and resorts in the Kaanapali area

Kapalua Bay
snorkeling south Maui at Kapalua Bay

3. Kapalua Bay

Another popular snorkeling beach in Maui is at Kapalua Bay. Located in the Napili area on the west side, Kapalua Bay has a nice sandy stretch of beach with amenities to include toilets, showers and parking.

The snorkeling is ideal at Kapalua on the north end side by the rocks where marine life and tropical fish is teaming with activity. Make sure you snorkel with a buddy since there are no lifeguard stations on the beach area.

Check out all these popular and well reviewed hotels in the area here for inspiration and current prices.

Kahekili Beach Park or Airport Beach
Maui snorkeling beaches at Kahekili Beach Park

4. Kahekili Beach Park or Airport Beach

Mostly a local favorite snorkeling beach in Maui is Kahekili Beach Park. Kahekili Beach park has ample parking at this family friendly beach park with a nice large grassy field, amenities to include parking, gazebos and restrooms.

The reef is easily accessed from the beach area and is perfect for families and beginning snorkelers and swimmers. Located just north of Black Rock Beach, you’ll find this beach park is a very popular local and family style beach to enjoy.

Check out these well reviewed hotels and resorts in the Kaanapali area

Olowalu Beach park
snorkeling in Maui Hawaii at Olowalu Beach Park

5. Olowalu Beach park

A fantastic beginner beach park in Maui to spend some time in is Olowalu Beach Park. One the west side leading to Lahaina, Olowalu is known as “Coral Gardens” and is a great beginner snorkeling spot because of the calm waters, shallow water and easy entry to the beach area and reef.

Further out in the deeper part, you can snorkel to enjoy more tropical fish and corals further down the reef areas of Olowalu.

Napili Bay
best places to snorkel in Maui at Napili Bay

6. Napili Bay

One of the most popular beach parks on Maui’s west side is at Napili Bay. Located between Kahana and Kapalua is Napili beach in a quiet community of vacation rentals and residential homes but far from the crowded beach scene. With a beautiful beach area and reef area that is diverse and fun to explore.

Recommended time to visit here is in the afternoon to evening with a perfect sunset view to enjoy on the west side of town. Late afternoon to early morning is when you’ll find a lot of the green honu coming into to rest on the beach and rocky areas of the bay.

Most of the snorkeling action can be found of either edge of the beach where coral and food are attractive to the local tropical fish that congregate in these areas for shelter.

Check out these well reviewed hotels and resorts in the Napili area

Snorkeling Maui on the South side

There’s a lot of cool snorkeling places to enjoy on the South side of the island. If you are looking to base yourself out in this area, check out the hotel accommodations for the following areas below

Top reviewed hotels and resorts in Wailea

Top reviewed hotels and boutique inns in Kihei


7. Molokini Inlet

One of the best Hawaii snorkel spots is just off the island of Maui at Molokini Crater.  This location, which is between 45 minutes to an hour boat ride from Maui (depending on the port your charter departs from) is one of the best things to do on Maui.  It can only be reached by boat, but it is well worth every moment.  

With its clear blue waters and vibrant reef, this mostly sunken volcanic crater is home to some of Hawaii’s most beautiful sea life.  This spot is very popular for snorkelers and scuba divers for a reason. It looks like an aquarium from the moment you put your head in the water. 

Molokini Crater includes a protected reef where you will find some of Hawaii’s most beloved locals, including the humuhumunukunukuapua’a fish, a variety of tropical fish, barracuda, eels, sea turtles, and more.  You will definitely want to go on a charter for this experience because there is a current in the area, so it is best to go with guides who know what they are doing. They will also be able to educate you on all of the sea life – including some species indigenous to Hawaii – you will see on your snorkeling adventure.  

One of our favorites – and one of the best things to do on Maui with kids – is an eco-snorkeling adventure to Molokini Crater with the Pacific Whale Foundation.  It departs from Ma’alaea Harbor, near the Maui Ocean Center.  

Not only do they give you a wonderful experience including food, snorkel equipment, noodles, and life vests, but the guides also serve as lifeguards in the water.  Both to and from the crater, the guides provide educational talks to kids about the creatures they will see, conservation, and how they can be good stewards of the world’s oceans.  

Hawaiians have great respect for the Kai (Hawaiian word for ocean), and getting to see Hawaii’s treasured world under the sea is a must-do activity.  Molokini Crater is without a doubt one of the best Hawaii snorkel spots to visit on your next trip to Maui.

By Keri of Bon Voyage With Kids

If you’re looking for one of the best snorkeling tours of Maui and Molokini, check out this fun snorkeling tour here for more information and their itinerary of events.

Maluaka Beach or Turtle Beach
best place to snorkel in Maui at Turtle Beach

8. Maluaka Beach or Turtle Beach

One of the most popular snorkeling beaches in Maui that is also known for the honu that frequent the area is Maluaka Beach.

Located south of Wailea at the end of Makena road is Maluaka beach better known as Turtle beach for all the green sea turtles or honu that congregate and rest in the area. The snorkeling is good just off the beach area on the reef that is teeming with hundreds of tropical fish, coral and under water tunnels that are fun to explore.

Ahihi-Kinau Natural Area Reserve
maui best snorkeling at Ahihi-Kinau Natural Area Reserve

9. Ahihi-Kinau Natural Area Reserve

Past Wailea and Makena beach, Ahihi-Kinau is a natural reserve area managed by the state and is protected from boating and fishing that bears a very healthy fish and reef population along with other marine life. This includes marine life like honu, monk seals, dolphins and a host of parrot fish, trigger and butterfish Moorish Idol and surgeon fish along with so many other colorful tropical fish that is thriving in the area.

You have to pay a $5 entry fee for non-residents which helps with future preservation of the area.

Keawakapu Beach

10. Keawakapu Beach

Located between Kihei and Wailea, Keawakapu Beach (called the “Hidden Cove”) has free public parking across the street and the beach has shelter with trees located on the .7 mile beach. Amenities on the beach includes showering facilities but no bathroom or lifeguard stations on the beach area.

Easy surf and easy to get into the water and a few rocks and outcropping to explore for snorkeling. You’ll find this beach also great for marine life, seeing humpback whales and green sea turtles (honu) resting on the beach areas.

11. Mokapu Beach and Ulua Beach

One of the coolest beaches to snorkel in South Maui is Mokapu Beach. Located in the south side at Wailea-Makena area, Mokapu is a beautiful 1/4 mile sandy beach that fronts the Andaz resort and a great swimming and snorkeling spot.

The rocky outcrops around the beach areas make it a perfect spot to find a variety of tropical fish and marine life. The parking lot is shared with Ulua Beach which is also a popular swimming and snorkeling area and not as crowded as the other south shore beaches.

Check out all these popular and well reviewed hotels in the area here for inspiration and current prices.

La Perouse Bay

12. La Perouse Bay

Just south of Ahihi-Kinau is La Perouse Bay at the end of the road and similar in terrain to Ahihi-Kinau but it is not a natural reserve area. The area is filled with jagged lava rock areas with corals and tropical fish are sheltered in the deeper waters.

The area is exposed with no shelter or amenities to make sure that you come adequately prepared for snorkeling fun in the area. La Perouse is also one of the most scenic places to watch a gorgeous sunset in South Maui area.

Kamaole Beaches I, II and III

13. Kamaole Beaches I, II and III

Some of the best snorkeling beaches in Maui are located on the south side of the island at the Kamaole beaches. All the Kamaole Beaches are all located along South Kihei Road in Kihei. You will find that each beach is typically separated by rocky outcroppings between each beach that are ideal snorkeling spots.

Kamaole Beach 1 has its own parking lot area located at the center right of the beach. Also, you’ll find showers, picnic tables BBQ areas, and a restroom along with lifeguard stations at the beach areas. There are grassy areas with trees for shade to relax under.

Kamaole ll has There’s a restroom, on-street parking, two water fountains, a shower, and ADA-accessible ramps from the beach park to the beach.

Kamaole lll has more rocky areas which are perfect for snorkeling in but the beach is the smallest of the three beaches. This beach has a large grassy area also good for lounging or picnicking. If you are snorkeling at this beach, be very careful of waves that can surge above and around the rocks making snorkeling challenging so always keep alert to the changing conditions.

Top reviewed hotels and boutique inns in Kihei

14. Wailea Beach

A very popular beach area in Wailea and also a good snorkeling spot to explore the beach area. To the leaft of the beach are cliff areas and outcrop rocks that are easy to get to and snorkel to find some of the interesting tropical fish and corals in the area. Calmer waves and snorkeling is best in the morning hours when the waves are more tame and the ocean is calm.

Check out this short video here to give a look at the beach area and snorkel spots on the left side.

Other details and tips to snorkeling in Maui

Go early

Many of the Maui beach parks parking lots fill up quickly so go early to secure a spot or take public transportation or Uber to get to your snorkeling destination.

Surf and wind on the south and Western side beaches

Do to being more sheltered from rough surf, protection from surrounding islands and being on the leeward side, beach areas in Makena, Wailea and Kaanapali area are usually calmer places and also shallower beach parks and snorkeling spots to go to.

But, typically the winds and surf do pick up later in the afternoon on the western and southern side of the islands.

Hang out where the fish need shelter

Typically, tropical fish hang out in the reefs or rocky areas where they have shelter and food supply. Just be mindful of currents and incoming waves around the reefs and rocks in the shallow areas or places that can be dangerous.

Always snorkel with a buddy

Not all of these areas have life guards so always go snorkeling with someone that you can keep an eye out for each other

Be respectful

The reef is alive and fragile so don’t walk on it even if it looks like rocks or green coral, there are still thousands of organisms that thrive in the coral environment include the fish that lives and eats from the coral reefs.

Use Reef Safe Sunscreen

Hawaii law passed a law in January 2021 that bans outlets in the state or use of sunscreen that includes oxybenzone and octinoxate which are both harmful chemicals that are bad for coral and marine ecosystems. These are mandated in using these reef safe sunscreen for snorkeling in Maui, Hawaii.

Check in with the life guards for iffy weather

Always check in with the lifeguards stations for changing weather patterns or suggestion on better places to snorkel for the moment.

Do not touch any marine life of coral

Sealife, marine life and coral in Hawaii is fragile and against the law to touch or walk on, so please act with respect when you are in the water.

Weather and best time to visit Maui for snorkeling fun

Maui’s tropical climate provides excellent conditions for snorkeling year-round, but the weather and ocean conditions can vary depending on the season. The best time to visit Maui for snorkeling fun is during the dry season, which typically runs from April to October. During these months, you can expect warm temperatures, calm waters, and excellent visibility for underwater exploration.

In particular, the summer months of June to September offer ideal snorkeling conditions, with clear waters and abundant marine life. The ocean is generally calm during this time, providing a tranquil and safe environment for snorkelers of all skill levels.

It’s important to note that Maui’s winter season, from November to March, brings occasional rainfall and stronger ocean swells. While snorkeling is still possible during this time, certain areas may experience rougher waters and reduced visibility. However, some spots like Molokini Crater and Honolua Bay can offer excellent snorkeling conditions even during the winter months, as they are protected from strong currents.

To make the most of your snorkeling adventure in Maui, consider checking the weather forecast and ocean conditions before heading out. Additionally, it’s recommended to book snorkeling excursions or tours with experienced guides who can provide insights on the best locations based on the current conditions.

No matter the time of year you visit, Maui’s stunning underwater world is waiting to be explored. With its vibrant coral reefs, colorful fish, and the possibility of encountering sea turtles and other marine creatures, Maui offers an unforgettable snorkeling experience for nature enthusiasts and water lovers alike.

Check out these other posts on visiting Maui below

Best Luau to choose from in Maui

Free things to do in Maui

Top 20 things to do in Lahaina, Maui

Horseback riding in Hawaii and Maui

Things to do in Paia and Haiku now

35 things do do in and around Maui

Fun and cool things to do in West Maui now

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Best snorkeling spots in Maui
Best snorkeling spots in Maui
Best snorkeling spots in Maui

Any more snorkeling spots we missed in Maui?

Which of these fun snorkeling spots in Maui will you do first? Share it in the comments below.

Conclusion to the Best snorkeling spots in Maui

In conclusion, Maui is a haven for snorkelers, offering a plethora of incredible spots to explore beneath the waves. From vibrant coral reefs teeming with marine life to crystal-clear waters and breathtaking underwater landscapes, Maui’s snorkeling opportunities are truly unmatched. Whether you choose to snorkel at popular locations like Molokini Crater or venture off the beaten path to discover hidden gems, you’re in for a remarkable experience.

The best snorkeling spots around Maui offer a variety of sights and experiences, from swimming alongside graceful sea turtles in Honolua Bay to exploring the diverse marine ecosystem of Ahihi Kinau Natural Area Reserve. Each location has its own unique charm and surprises, ensuring that every snorkeling adventure in Maui is filled with wonder and discovery.

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  1. Jennifer

    What about The Dump(s)?

    • emorata

      Awesome, thanks for sharing this other area worth checking out in Maui

  2. Cristina Abdala

    You failed to mention other great ones on the South side, Keawakapu, all the Kam beaches, Ulua in Wailea. Those are all wonderful and lots of people go to snorkel there!

    • emorata

      Awesome, thanks for sharing all the other fantastic south side places to snorkel on the island



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Noel Morata this Hawaii Life

Meet Noel Morata

Noel Morata is the creator of This Hawaii Life along with a small team of contributors. Living on the Big Island and traveling regularly to the neighbor islands, Noel and team actively search and share the latest information and updates to Hawaii travel, food, adventure and various lifestyle activities on the islands for your planning and vacation. Aloha and enjoy This Hawaii Life.