Maliko Gulch

Have Your Own Adventure on the Water at Maliko Gulch
Local Expert's Rating:
4 / 5
The Bottom Line:

Maliko Gulch is the locals’ choice for watersports that is away from the more popular beaches. Enjoy everything from diving to standup paddleboarding in the waters of this coastal cove.

- The Local Expert Team

Maliko Gulch provides a naturally protected area for a variety of watersports favored by locals and visitors. Whether you love surfing, standup paddleboard, diving, fishing, canoeing, or jet skiing, you can do it in these waters on Maui’s northside.

The gulch itself is a narrow bay where the freshwaters of Maliko Stream flow into the waters of the northern Maui coast. Over time, the river cut a deep ravine into the land and several underwaters. Where the fresh stream water meets the salty ocean water, you will find a refreshing place to swim.

Today, the gulch’s imposing sides cut by the stream protect the area from wind and heavy seas, which makes it an ideal spot for watersports and the start of various events throughout the year.

This gulch serves as the launching point for standup paddleboarders’ one-person canoes of the OluKai Hoolaulea Ocean Festival in May. This local festival brings together Hawaiians to honor both the Hawaiian culture and the ocean while giving back to the community. Feel free to join in as a spectator at this exciting race.

Another event is the Paddle Imua held in July. It is a race open to all ages in various paddle disciplines – standup paddleboard, outrigger canoes, prone paddleboard, hydrofoil, and more. This race benefits the Camp Imua Program, which provides kids with special needs a free week of camp. If you don’t want to participate, come as a spectator to this event.

When local events don’t happen, the waters of Maliko Gulch provide ample opportunities for several types of watersports. Check out some of the following popular activities to do in Maliko Gulch:

SCUBA Diving
The underwater portion of Maliko Gulch provides divers with several interesting sights. Commonly seen marine life in these waters include parrotfish, conger eels, pufferfish, octopus, spiny lobsters, ridgeback slipper lobsters, devil scorpionfish, turtles, and even tiger sharks. The last of these more often appears following heavy rains that make the gulch waters cloudy.

Before going underwater, you will want to surface swim out past the edges of the arms of the gulch. This puts you in deep enough waters to see the greatest number of animals. When diving, you can go to the west or east, but the latter has more interesting things to see. Diving out to the east side of the bay, you will see steamship anchors underwater, ample coral, and underwater ravines. The west side does not have ship anchors or ravines but still hosts a variety of marine life.

Standup Paddleboarding
Within the protected waters of the bay, you can practice standup paddleboarding on the mostly calmer waters. More advanced paddleboarders will want to follow the racecourses and go outside Maliko Gulch downwind along the coast. The prevailing winds just outside the gulch and the protected area inside make this a spot frequented by local standup paddleboarders.

Canoeing and Personal Watercraft
Canoeing is another watersport commonly seen on the waters of Maliko Gulch. As with standup paddleboarding, some outrigger canoes may venue beyond the gulch while others will stay in the bay. Team outrigger canoes often appear outside the bay and in races, but within the bay, people regularly paddle single-person canoes. Jet skis and other personal watercraft are also regular sights on the water.

No matter what you enjoy doing on or in the water, a trip to Maliko Gulch will provide you with the protected waters to enjoy your sport. Plus, you get to experience a local favorite spot for watersports, away from crowded tourist sites.

Insider Tips:
-Recent rains in the area send mud down Maliko Stream, making the waters in the gulch cloudy and not good for diving. Wait until drier periods to schedule your dive.
-Use a dive flag whenever diving in Maliko Gulch to alert boaters and other surface water users of your underwater presence.
-Don’t attempt to paddleboard outside Maliko Gulch unless you are with others and experiences. The rocks and waves outside the bay make the trek challenging but likely too advanced for beginners.
-There is no lifeguard at this bay. Swim and do watersports at your own risk. Wear personal floatation devices whatever you choose and go with other people.