So, you’ve booked a trip to the Hawaiian Islands and now you’re ready to test out your brand new H2O Ninja Mask, but where do you start? With some of the most pristine beaches in the world, Hawaii’s coastlines do not disappoint in terms of underwater adventure, but figuring out where to go, when and on what island can be kind of daunting. In this series, we will break down the best snorkeling spots on each island so you can make the most of your adventure. Our series on snorkeling in the Hawaiian Islands started on Oahu and today we are exploring Maui!
Nicknamed The Valley Isle, Maui is the second largest island in the chain of Hawaiian Islands. Measuring 727.2 square miles, Maui is home to the famed Haleakalā volcano, which rises more than 10,000 feet above sea level, as well as the seaside town of Lahaina, where humpback whales are known to migrate in the winter months.
A snorkeling trip to Maui would not be complete without jumping in the waters off Molokini Crater. The crescent shape isle 2.5 miles off Maui’s south shore is surrounded by lush reef and a plethora of local fish — think parrotfish and butterflyfish — but the occasional eel and reef shark have been spotted. Head out to the crater in a small tour boat early in the morning to get the best visibility. Don’t forget to pack your fins — waters off the shoreline get up to 50 feet.
Also located along Maui’s south shore is the lush snorkeling spot between Nahuna Point and Black Sand Beach, known by many as Turtle Town. If catching a glimpse of Hawaii’s Green Sea Turtle is at the top of your list, you don’t want to miss this spot. Because Turtle Town (Maluaka Beach) is protected by Haleakalā from winds, the waters remain relatively calm and create the perfect spot for those who are new to snorkeling. A sloped reef creates an adventure for any depth of water you are comfortable swimming in, around 30 feet at the deepest point.
Traveling up the coast toward the west side of Maui, you will stumble upon Coral Gardens. Home to a large number of local fish and intricate coral reef formations, Coral Gardens is located in a protected ocean bay, where octopi and trigger fish like to hang out. Like Turtle Town, the waters at Coral Gardens are protected making them smooth, but take caution — the swim from the shore to the best snorkeling spots is rigorous. If you are a weak swimmer, consider taking advantage of Coral Gardens by boat, or checking out another spot on Maui.
On the north west side of Maui sits the white sand beach of Kapalua Bay, a protected cove and ideal snorkeling location. If you’re looking at the cove, walk to the far right rock jetty and enter the water there. Be on the lookout for butterfly fish, porcupine fish and the state fish of Hawaii, Humuhumunukunukuapua'a. Be advised that although this is a beach and naturally protected cove, there is no lifeguard on duty.
Sheltered by high rock cliffs on both sides, Honolua Bay is a pristine natural masterpiece. Because the bay is off-limits for fishing, a bevy of sea life awaits once you get in the water. 20 feet at the deepest point, Honolua is home to damsel fish, snapper and multitudes of invertebrates. Snorkelers have even spotted large jacks and barracuda, so keep your eyes open! If you plan to visit Honolua, check the surf report first; the Bay is home to one of the fiercest surf breaks on island. Tune in next week if you plan to snorkel along Hawai’i’s (also known as the Big Island) coastline!