The top 6 snorkeling spots on Maui

by Eileen Strauss on March 27, 2022

 

Maui is known as the best Hawaiian Island for snorkeling, offering protected bays, calm seas, translucent waters, and vibrant sea life.  

Whether you’re a novice or a pro, there’s a perfect snorkeling spot on the island for you.

 

#1 Black Rock

 

A great place for confident beginner snorkelers, Black Rock is located on Ka’anapali Beach in West Maui. Ka’anapali Beach encompasses over 3 miles of white sandy beach, a boardwalk, resorts, hotels, restaurants, shopping, and nightlife.

Popularly known as “the rock you jump off”, Black Rock is surrounded by fabulous underwater reef formations, calm and clear blue water, a soft sandy ocean floor, and perfect weather. The water at Black Rock starts at about 8-feet in-depth and gradually extends to approximately 30 feet, making it ideal for snorkelers of all levels of experience.

Marine life: Green sea turtle, Moorish Idol, Surgeonfish, Snapper, Hawk Fish, Porcupine Fish, Needlefish, Jacks, Invertebrates, Box Fish, DamselFish, and Parrot Fish.

 

#2 Kapalua Bay

 

Kapalua translates to “kapa” and “lua” in the ancient Hawaiian language, meaning “two borders.” Perfectly positioned between Oneloa Bay and Honokahua, named “Best Beach in the World” by many travel apps and publications, it is one of the best beaches for snorkeling or just hanging out on Maui.  

The beach is protected in a crescent-shaped cove, making it ideal for both marine life and swimmers to gather. The laid-back vibe of the surrounding town, abundant marine life,  and calm waters make Kapalua Bay one of the best vacation destinations for snorkelers on Maui.

Marine life: Scorpion Fish, Cornet Fish, Jacks, Butterflyfish, Parrotfish, Goatfish, Moorish Idol, Box Fish, Perch, Triggerfish, Chub, and various invertebrates.

 

#3 Turtle Town

 

Appropriately named, Turtle Town is the best place to go snorkeling on Maui if you want to see lots of Hawaiian green sea turtles.

Located on the southern coastline of the island, between Nahuna Point and Black Sand Beach, Turtle Town is best-known for providing some of the best snorkeling in Maui, especially if capturing great photos of large sea creatures is on your agenda. Visitors to Turtle Town can expect to see   friendly turtles getting up close and personal. They’re gentle and approachable, so don’t forget to bring your waterproof camera. 

The calm wind conditions, clear waters, and gentle slope — which allows all snorkelers to find a comfortable ocean depth – are all good reasons to head to Turtle Town when on Maui. 

Marine life: Green sea turtles, wrasse fish, butterflyfish, perch, chub, snapper, goatfish, bigeye scad, needlefish, crustaceans, trumpetfish, and Hawaii’s former state fish, the humuhumunukunukuapua'a.  

 

#4 Coral Gardens

 

Coral Gardens is located adjacent to Olowalu Reef, and just South of Historic Lahaina Town. This in-the-know Hawaii snorkel spot is only reached by boat on a Maui snorkeling tour. 

Originally, the Coral Gardens reef was created by a lava flow from the West Maui Mountains, Pu’u Kukui. The lava created ‘fingers,’ flowing into the sea, and is now decorated by coral reef shelves filled with a myriad of marine life.  

Marine Life: brightly colored fish, breathtakingly gorgeous coral reef formations, and the occasional Hawaiian green sea turtle.

 

 

#5 Five Caves

 

A destination for the more experienced snorkelers,  Five Caves is a fantastic spot for some of the best snorkeling on Maui. Also known as ‘Five Graves’ – because of its close proximity to an ancient graveyardit is also a popular location for experienced scuba divers. 

 

Note: Sleeping White Tip sharks have regularly been spotted in the caves, so use your discretion when visiting Five Caves. 

Marine life: Green sea turtles, vibrant tropical fish, Eagle Rays, Sleeping White Tip Sharks, and a diverse living underwater landscape. 

 

 

#6 Ahihi Kinau Natural Area Reserve

 

One of the most delicate and youngest eco-reef zones on Maui, this small cove is a great snorkeling spot for small groups with young children or those who don’t feel comfortable in open water.

The coastline is jagged, consisting of intermixed coral reef formations and lava rock. Tropical fish are abundant in the shallow watts close to the shoreline, making this an excellent destination for beginners.   

Marine life: Green sea turtles, tang, squirrelfish, goatfish, jacks, needlefish, chub, butterflyfish, parrotfish, and sea cucumbers.

 

 

 

Hawaii offers an ideal year-round climate, with each island providing its own unique beauty and opportunities for amazing snorkeling adventures. Some of the calmest ocean conditions, beautiful beaches, and best snorkeling beaches, however, are on the South and West facing shores of Maui where leeward shores are hidden from the Pacific trade winds and deep ocean swells. 

 

These conditions keep the waters surrounding Maui clear and calm throughout the year, making this one of the world’s best snorkeling destinations on earth. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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