Maui is a top snorkeling destination, thanks not just to the incredible displays of marine life, but also the sheer number of beaches that are good to snorkel at.
The west-facing coast teems with fish and corals, and, protected by other islands, avoids the worst of the coastal swells.
But that doesn’t mean you can just jump in the water anywhere on Maui and expect to see a turtle. Here are our favorite beaches on Maui for snorkeling!
The 10 Best Beaches On Maui For Snorkeling
Honolua Bay is perhaps better known as a surf spot, but when the waves are quiet, the snorkeling comes alive. Look for established coral reef formations, Hawaiian sea turtles, and passing schools of tropical fish.
Honolua Bay is a rocky beach, rather than a sandy beach, so entrance can be tricky. Enter slowly, and use the boat ramp at the right of the beach. The views under the water more than make up for the awkward entry.
In winter, Honolua Bay is visited by strong swells that render swimming impossible. Snorkeling is only safe in summer, when the conditions calm down.
Protected by large rock formations stretching out into the sea, the water at Kapalua Bay can sometimes be as still as a swimming pool.
These lava rock protrusions also add to the excellent snorkeling experience. Take a look around for a chance to see needlefish, parrotfish, and even the humuhumunukunukuapua’a!
The best entry is to the right-hand side of the beach, where the sandy slope avoids the delicate coral. Once you’ve finished exploring the water, the cushioned sands at Kapalua Bay are an excellent place to relax.
A trip to Kahekili Beach is an easy choice for snorkelers. Just a stone’s throw from Ka’anapali Beach, it’s easy to visit, easy to explore, and it’s easy to discover colorful fish beneath the surface!
The sand at Kahekili slopes gently into the water, and the reef sits just back from the shoreline.
Kahekili Beach is also known as airport beach, as planes to West Maui used to land here before Kapalua Airport was built. No planes land on the sand anymore, but the name has stuck!
Ka’anapali Beach And Black Rock Beach
Fronting many of Maui’s most popular resorts, you can expect to find the crowds at Ka’anapali Beach. Families flock here, thanks to the soft sand, clear waters, and numerous conveniences within walking distance.
The best snorkeling at Ka’anapali Beach is at Black Rock, to the north end of the beach. Snorkel close to the rocks for a chance to see trumpetfish, butterfly fish, and maybe even the blacktip reef shark!
But watch out for cliff jumpers—thrill seekers love to leap from Black Rock itself.
Olowalu Beach, otherwise known as Mile Marker 14, is a long coastal stretch just south of Lahaina. Snorkelers come to Olowalu because of the easy accessibility of the reef.
As soon as you step into the water, the reef is waiting for you.
Olowalu Beach isn’t ideal if you want to actually enjoy the beach itself. There’s limited sand, and the road runs right behind the beach.
However, as the reef comes almost up to the shore, it’s an excellent spot for easy snorkeling. Enter near Mile Marker 14, for a slight break in the reef.
Mokapu And Ulua Beach
Mokapu Beach is considered to be the first real beach of Wailea, and it’s joined via a coral reef outcrop to Ulua Beach next door.
Both beaches offer excellent snorkeling, particularly around this coral formation. Smaller Ulua tends to have better marine life, but Mokapu is more convenient.
Avoid the decision by swimming from one to the other, and spying the fish along the way!
Convenience wins at Wailea Beach, which is why it’s one of our top choices for snorkeling! You can find better diversity elsewhere on the South Maui coast, but few beaches compare to the ease of a trip to Wailea Beach.
Visit as early as possible, for a quieter beach, and quieter currents.
Wailea Beach may not have the thriving wildlife of other areas along the coast, but there’s still a decent amount to see. And when you’re done in the water, you can retreat to a spectacular beachfront.
5 Caves/5 Graves
5 Caves, otherwise known as 5 Graves, is a small beach with advanced snorkeling.
It’s quite a swim to the best snorkeling areas, so we only recommend 5 Caves to advanced snorkelers with strong swimming abilities.
Although it isn’t an easy spot, don’t let the name put you off! 5 Graves is a reference to a nearby graveyard, rather than a comment on the water conditions.
As well as marine life, 5 Caves is notable for the fascinating coral and rock formations.
Maluaka Beach in Makena is better known for its famous offshore neighbor. Off the coast of Maluaka is a destination known as Turtle Town, a reef famous for its abundance of, you guessed it, Hawaiian sea turtles.
If it’s Turtle Town you’re after, the best way to visit is via a boat trip. However, nearby Maluaka Beach is good for snorkelers who like easy access to dry land.
The turtles do visit regularly, and the sandy entry makes it a convenient beach to visit.
Ahihi-Kinau Natural Area Reserve
As part of the natural area reserve, the sea life at Ahihi-Kinau is protected from boating and fishing. This allows for an incredible diversity, and the fish here are often bigger than elsewhere on Maui.
Lucky visitors might be able to see dolphins and monk seals, although snorkelers should keep a safe distance for the safety of the animals.
There isn’t a sandy beach at Ahihi-Kinau Reserve, and be careful when entering the bay so as not to damage the reef.
The beaches of West and South Maui are generally excellent for snorkeling, although these 10 are our top picks.
Arguably the best snorkeling spot on Maui isn’t a beach at all! Molokini crater is an offshore islet that teems with sea life and has incredible visibility.