Ultimate Guide to Snorkeling in Maui

Whenever you’re in Maui, seeing the ocean wonders is just a snorkel away. All you have to do is don your gear, set your sights on the perfect beach, and kick through the waves. As the beautiful sights come into view, you’ll never again want to leave the oceanside. Ready to start enjoying your island snorkeling adventures? Here’s all you need to know about snorkeling in Maui.

Why Snorkel Maui?

Maui boasts over 120 miles of coastline to explore, giving you plenty of places to go on your snorkeling adventures. Much of the shoreline is beginner-friendly, too, thanks to its relatively calm conditions. Experienced snorkelers have seemingly endless opportunities for fun as well, which makes it a great place to learn the ropes and keep coming back for more.

All across the island, there are more than 25 excellent snorkeling spots, including the ever-popular Turtle Town near Wailea. For even more adventures, you can jet on over to the Molokini Crater by boat before taking a dip into the water. At the various sites, you’ll find coral reefs, sea caves, and other amazing structures to explore plus tons of marine life.

Marine Life

As you take a look under the water’s surface through your snorkel mask, you’ll see all kinds of marine creatures, like:

  • Green sea turtles
  • Monk seals
  • Manta rays
  • Mako sharks
  • Spotted moray eels
  • Tropical reef fish
  • Sea urchins
  • Crabs

If you’re lucky, you might even get to see spinner dolphins moving along in their pods nearby. In the winter months, it’s common to see humpback whales in the distance as they travel along the coastline.

Top Spots for Snorkeling

To find the best snorkeling spots in Maui, you’ll want to stick to the western coastal stretches. The area stretching south of Wailea to just past Kihei has over a dozen amazing spots to explore:

If you want to get to Turtle Town, you’ll need to travel over to Maluaka Beach. Start your adventures near the south end of the beach and slowly make your way north to see all the best sights. The Molokini Crater sits about two miles west of that point, so you’ll need to take a boat ride out there if you want to see all its marine life and more.

Even more snorkeling adventures await all along the beaches on the coast of West Maui. At the northwestern corner, you’ll find Honolua Bay, Mokuleia Bay, DT Fleming, Kapalua Bay, and Napili Bay. Since Mokuleia Bay was designated a Marine Life Conservation District, don’t miss out on a chance to visit Slaughterhouse Beach located right on its coastline.

The rest of the prime West Maui snorkeling spots start at Kaanapali and go south past Lahaina. The most popular spots to snorkel around there include:

Don’t forget to go to Kaanapali Beach for a chance to dive off Black Rock in between your snorkeling fun.  

Where to Find Guided Tours

As you can probably imagine, snorkeling is big business in Maui. Many top-notch guided tour companies offer two- to four-hour snorkeling excursions to all the top spots on the island. You just have to book your spot well ahead of time to ensure you can join in on all the fun.

To help you find your perfect tour company, here are 10 to consider:

  1. Pride of Maui
  2. Sail Maui
  3. PacWhale Eco-Adventures
  4. Maui Snorkeling
  5. Four Winds II
  6. Blue Water Maui
  7. Seafire Snorkeling Adventures
  8. Sail Trilogy
  9. Kai Kanani
  10. Redline Rafting Co

Most of the top snorkeling tour companies in Maui allow you to book your trip online. You just have to navigate to their website, select your ideal departure dates and times, and then submit your request. After that, simply follow their onscreen instructions regarding arrival times, items to bring, and what to expect along the way.

What You Will Need for Snorkeling Fun

When joining a snorkeling tour, your guides will bring all the gear you need, including a mask, snorkel, and fins. You’re welcome to bring your own gear if you want, however, but it’s definitely not required. Most tours provide snacks and beverages as well.

For the tour, you’ll want to wear comfortable swimwear plus bring a lightweight jacket in case it gets chilly out on the water. Beyond that, be sure to have reef-safe sunblock, sunglasses, and a towel.

When going out on your own, you’ll need to rent your snorkeling gear before heading out. The top beach gear rental companies include:

If you prefer to buy your equipment and take it back home with you, many of these shops will let you do that instead. Either way, expect to get fitted for your mask before walking out with your snorkeling gear. Getting the right fit definitely makes all the difference in how well you can see underwater.

When to Go on Your Maui Snorkel Adventures

Warm temperatures grace Maui year-round, but that doesn’t mean you can snorkel every season. Late spring, early fall, and all summer long are the best times of the year to head out. During the winter season, the surf conditions often get too rough to truly enjoy your waterside adventures.

The time of the day matters, too, when it comes to getting the most out of all your snorkeling excursions. For the best views, plan your outing for around 10 am to 2 pm. In the late morning to early afternoon hours, the light shines through the water just right to highlight the scene around you.

That said, don’t miss out on a chance to go on a guided night snorkeling tour at least once. On that trip, you’ll get to gaze in awe at the huge manta rays feeding on plankton in your midst. The boat lights will illuminate the view just right, so you don’t miss a moment of that magical experience.

As you head out on all your Maui snorkeling trips, keep this guide on hand for help navigating the waters ahead. With that move, you’ll have all the info you need to enjoy your adventures to the fullest and make great island memories.