Best Time To Visit Maui For Snorkeling

Maui is something of a snorkeler’s paradise. There are numerous beaches where the reef comes right up to the shore, and where sloping access makes it easy to dive right in.

But if you’re excited to explore Maui waters, when is the best time of year to visit?

Snorkeling is good basically throughout the year on Maui, but it tends to be at its best between May and September. If you’re visiting Maui for snorkeling, you can expect to find the best, and most consistent, snorkeling conditions in summer.

Read on to learn more. 

Person snorkeling near a coral reef.

When Is The Best Time To Visit Maui For Snorkeling?

It might come as a surprise, but there is a best time to visit Maui for snorkeling, and that’s summer!

May through to September is when you’ll find snorkeling on Maui is at its best, thanks to a combination of better weather and more active fish. That said, you can snorkel on Maui throughout the year. 

Let’s start with the weather. Surfers tend to visit Maui over winter, which is when the storms lead to large swells hitting the island, particularly the north and east.

These storms might be fantastic for surfing, but they’re not so great for snorkeling. When the seas are rough, not only is snorkeling unsafe, but you also won’t be able to see very much. The bad weather will churn up the seas, ruining visibility.

The other issue is the fish activity. First, rough weather keeps the fish away, as few venture out when the storms are hitting.

Second, fish tend to be less active over the winter, although this is less of an issue on Maui, where waters are consistently warm.

Can You Snorkel On Maui Year Round?

Summer might be the best time to visit Maui for snorkeling, but you can snorkel on Maui year round. It’s really all about consistent conditions.

During summer, you’re more likely to get the calm conditions that lead to good snorkeling. During winter, heavier winds might lead to fewer days with calm seas, so fewer days for snorkeling.

The winter swells also hit parts of the island differently. To the north, the winds can completely destroy visibility.

Meanwhile, on the exact same day further down the coast, the seas can be quieter, especially around the protected bays.

But Maui does see plenty of marine life activity throughout the year, plus numerous close to shore reefs that are exciting to explore.

If you visit in winter, expect to have many opportunities to snorkel in the calmer mornings. You just might have to look slightly harder to find the right beach.

What Time Of Day Should You Go Snorkeling On Maui?

Snorkeling might be good on Maui throughout the year, but there are definite times of day when snorkeling is at its best.

On Maui, snorkeling is better during the mornings, when the winds are calmer and visibility is better. Mornings on Maui tend to be quieter, with stronger winds moving in throughout the day.

By the afternoon, the winds have picked up, and taken the waves with them. Not only is it more dangerous to snorkel in these conditions, but you also won’t see very much. The waves churn up the seafloor, ruining visibility.

And this is true across Maui, even in relatively sheltered beaches.

You might find the occasional afternoon with clear seas, but for the most part, the snorkelers will be leaving the water in the afternoon, and the boogie boarders will be getting in.

Waking up early on vacation might not sound very fun, but much of the island is up with the sunshine. The milder morning weather makes it an excellent time to explore the island.

And if you’re flying in from the mainland, you’re likely to find you wake up naturally early, anyway. Make the most of your internal body clock by heading to the beach, and taking a peek beneath the waves.

Snorkel gear laying on the beach near the tide in Maui.

Best Places To Stay On Maui For Snorkeling

In the same way that snorkeling is good throughout the year, most places on Maui are excellent destinations for snorkeling!

Most visitors choose to stay on West or South Maui, and in either destination you’re a stone’s throw away from good snorkeling.

If you stay on West Maui, Ka’anapali Beach is easy to access and offers good snorkeling. Head slightly further north for Kahekili Beach Park, for a reef that comes right up the shore.

Napili Bay and Kapalua Bay Beach on Northwest Maui are also excellent snorkeling destinations. Further south, Olowalu Beach has an easy-to-access reef (there are some pros and cons to Olowalu snorkeling).

On South Maui, Kamaole II is a snorkeling beach popular with locals, and has plenty of facilities which appeal to families.

Ulua and Mokapu are resort-front beaches, and Ulua is popular with those learning to dive. The smaller beaches of Makena are also excellent for snorkeling.

Try Makena Beach Landing for easy access and family-friendly snorkeling. 

Visiting In Winter? Don’t Worry

As we mentioned, winter might not be the best time to visit Maui for snorkeling, but you can still expect a few good days to explore beneath the waves.

And while you might struggle to discover the smaller fish of Maui waters, this is the best time to see Maui’s biggest marine visitor: the humpback whale!

Whales visit Maui over winter, and are there from roughly November through to roughly April (there are always a few stragglers at either end)!

These gentle giants are best seen from South and West Maui, and many of the beaches have exceptional views of breaching whales. And you don’t need to snorkel to get a look at a whale!

Final Thoughts

Maui is an exceptional snorkel destination. Visit in summer if you want the most opportunities to snorkel, but even over winter, there are still plenty of fish to see.

Just make sure to check the conditions before you dive in! Mornings are always the best time for snorkeling on Maui, as this is when the sea is at its calmest, and visibility is heightened. 

Scroll to Top