3 Amazing Spots to Snorkel Off the Shore in Maui
No trip to Hawaii is complete without at least one snorkeling trip. The wide array of marine life that inhabits the Pacific Ocean is not to be missed, especially if you love sea turtles and the colorful state fish, the Humuhumunukunukuāpuaʻa – or reef triggerfish. While there are plenty of places to go snorkeling while you are vacationing on the island of Maui, there are three spots that are better than the rest.
Honolua Bay – where snorkeling is best when
the waters are calm
Located on the northwestern end of the island of Maui, Honolua Bay is part of a Marine Life Conservation District. Fishing is strictly prohibited here and the diversity – not to mention the density – of sea life in this area cannot be beaten. The bay is surrounded by high rocky cliffs, sheltering it from the wind which helps keep the water calm. The beach is split by a cement boat ramp. Here you will find grey powdery sand to one side and rocks and small boulders to the other. It is from the boulder side of the bay that you want to enter the water to go snorkeling. Most of the coral and fish are on this side of the ramp. Just be careful when traversing over the rocks. Once you’re in the water, you’ll find the center of the bay flat with white sand and about 15 to 20 feet deep. Bring your food and water as there are no facilities at this beach.
Black Rock at Ka’anapali Beach –
one of the best beaches in the world
Found on the western shore of Maui, Ka’anapali Beach is a three-mile stretch of powdery white sand that has been featured in travel magazines all over the world. At the northern end of the beach is a rocky peninsula called Black Rock and this is where the best snorkeling at this beach can be found. Here you will find clear blue water, calm surf, and plenty of warm sand that feels fantastic on your feet. You can make your way down the beach or along the beach walk that runs parallel to it and stop for a quick bite of lunch in Whaler’s Village. When you’re ready to hit the water, make for Black Rock. Going from a depth of about eight feet to 25 feet deep around the point, you can follow an underwater lava rock ledge in the hopes of seeing some turtles or swim out over the sand to enjoy the fish.
Kapalua Bay – a great cove for snorkeling
Finally, Kapalua Bay is a great C-shaped, sheltered white sand beach cove located on the northwest side of Maui. The cove is formed by two reefs that extend out from the land and helps keep the waters calm. This is the best place for someone who is learning how to snorkel to start and a good spot for the kids. While the water is tranquil and blue in most places, the center of the bay is sandy, and the water can be cloudy if you’re out on a windy day. For the best visibility and the most diversity in sea life, walk to the northern edge of the beach and snorkel along the rocky area. Not only does this give you clear water, but you also get a close-up view of the reef. While there is parking and bathrooms here, there is no concession stand, so make sure you bring your food and water.
A final thought on visiting Maui’s beaches
Snorkeling is a great way to see some of the most diverse sea life on the planet. There are plenty of shops where you can rent snorkeling equipment, so you don’t need to bring any with you. Before heading out to the beach, double-check the snorkeling conditions before you head out. While it may be a beautiful, sunny day, the conditions in the water may not be suited for your excursion.
Also, practice “Malama” – care for the island while you are there. Always pick up after yourself on the beach and properly dispose of your trash. Make sure you are wearing the proper sunscreen. Effective January 1, 2021, Hawaii has prohibited the sale and use of sunscreen containing oxybenzone and octinoxate. These chemicals can harm the reefs that surround the island. It’s best to wait and purchase your sunscreen once you arrive. Finally, never touch the coral or feed the fish. As tempting as it may be, it can harm the coral and teach the fish unnatural behavior.