So you want to go to snorkeling as part of your time on Maui!
Which are the best beaches on Maui for snorkeling?!
Is snorkeling free in Maui?
Yes, it’s possible to go snorkeling in Maui for free.
Although you need to pay to go to one of the most popular Maui snorkeling spots by doing a snorkeling tour, there are also free snorkeling spots in Maui!
🐠 See the best Maui snorkeling tours.
First, the quick list of the top 3 snorkeling spots that are a part of the Maui marine life conservation districts. (These include snorkeling from Maui beaches you can do on your own and Maui snorkeling that requires a tour.)
Then, a few more spots known for snorkeling on Maui to know about, including beaches you can get to by bus when you’re looking to go snorkeling in Maui without a car.
And then, a note on snorkeling alone on Maui and a quick list of what to pack for snorkeling on Maui.
3 protected snorkeling spots in Maui County
1. Honolua Bay + Mokuleia Bay
Honolua Bay and Mokuleia Bay are the only snorkeling spots on Maui that are part of a marine life conservation district and accessible on your own.
Molokini Crater is the most popular snorkeling destination for Maui snorkeling tours. You need to book a Molokini Crater snorkeling tour to get to Molokini Crater.
🐠 See the best Molokini Crater snorkeling tours.
3. Hulopoe Bay
So what makes these places among the top snorkeling spots in Maui?!
Marine life conservation districts on Maui
In Hawaii, there are what’s called marine life conservation districts.
This means that these areas just off the coast are more protected for marine life.
This can make them good snorkeling spots.
In Maui County, there are 3 marine life conservation districts, which are off the shores of 3 separate islands:
- Honolua – Mokuleia marine life conservation district (on Maui encompassing Honolua Bay and Mokuleia Bay)
- Molokini Shoal marine life conservation district (aka Molokini Crater)
- Manele – Hulopoe marine life conservation district (on Lanai encompassing Manele Bay and Hulopoe Bay)
So of these on Maui, you can access Honolua Bay and Mokuleia Bay on your own from shore. A bit more on this below.
Maui snorkeling tour or snorkel Maui on your own?!
There are many snorkeling spots in Maui that you can access on your own from shore.
So it’s possible to snorkel off the beach in Maui. (Many of these snorkeling beaches are listed below!)
So, if you want to go snorkeling in Maui, you don’t NEED to go on a snorkeling tour to do so.
If you want to go to what is often considered to be among the premier snorkeling destinations on Maui (aka Molokini Crater), then you DO need to book a snorkeling tour.
And while Molokini Crater is the most famous snorkeling destination in Maui, there are snorkeling tours that go to other coral reefs along the shores of Maui that attract fish and turtles too.
Aside from snorkeling, a snorkeling tour can also be about being able to get a Hawaii experience to remember with a day out on the water sailing the ocean!
See more about the best Maui tours: Maui tour or on your own?
More below about snorkeling in Maui on your own!
Here's some info on Maui trip prep!
- One of the most popular Maui activities: Haleakala sunrise tour at 10,000 ft
- Best shoes for hiking in Hawaii
- The perfect type of shirt for swimming in Hawaii
- THE top things to pack for Hawaii
There are affiliate links on this page.
You can read reviews for the best Maui tours.
I have a lot of 30-90 second Maui outdoor travel videos. A few of them might be on this page. If you can't see the video directly above, save the Maui video playlist to watch on youtube later!
MAUI TOP 3
- Haleakala summit on your own OR Haleakala sunrise tour
- Molokini + turtle town snorkeling tour OR Maui snorkeling on your own
- Road to Hana on your own OR Road to Hana tour OR Road to Hana helicopter
The big list: 50+ things to do on Maui (mostly free + outdoors!)
IMPORTANT!!! If you wanted to see the famous Iao Valley in the West Maui Mountains, unfortunately that won't be possible from August 2022 and the rest of the year. Check the Hawaii State Parks website to confirm.
And now a few more places to snorkel on Maui!
Best snorkeling spots on Maui from shore
aka snorkeling beaches on Maui!
All of the spots listed below are free.
1. Honolua Bay
Honolua – Mokuleia marine life conservation district, West Maui
To get to Honolua Bay, there is a small parking area on the side of the main road.
Then you’ll take a short 5 minute or so trail through a forest you’ll take to reach the snorkeling entry point.
This is also a spot that’s used for surfers to get into the water.
This is a rocky beach.
Read the reviews: Honolua Bay snorkeling
Should you worry about Maui sharks?
To be dramatic, you may want to stay closer to shore when you’re snorkeling in Honolua Bay.
Just kidding maybe.
Honolua Bay was the location of a deadly shark attack on Maui in December 2020.
A surfer was reportedly paddling out to sea when it happened.
But well, if you were to be rational about it.
Think about how many people enter the waters of Maui each year, both visitors and residents.
For visitors alone, it was reported that 3 million people visited Maui in 2019.
Many if not most of those people probably entered the water.
Many of those people probably entered the water several times during their Maui trip.
And comparatively, there are very (very) minimal shark encounters.
Out of those millions of people that were in the water, there were reported to have been 3 shark attacks on Maui in 2019.
You can read the Hawaii shark attack stories.
2. Slaughterhouse Beach (Mokuleia Bay)
Honolua – Mokuleia marine life conservation district, West Maui
Mokuleia Bay is the other part of the Honolua – Mokuleia marine life conservation district.
Honolua Bay is generally considered to be more beginner friendly.
Rougher waves are possible at Mokuleia Bay so Honolua Bay is generally better for snorkeling.
Mokuleia Bay is located pretty much right next to Honolua Bay, but the beach access point is different.
The parking for Slaughterhouse Beach is on the side of the main road.
Then you’ll take a short set of stairs to reach the beach, which is a sandy beach.
If you want to do some things while you’re “in the area” of Honolua Bay and Mokuleia Bay, see the list of things to do in West Maui, the far north area.
You can see Maui’s rugged coastline!
Keep driving further, and you’ll end up on the “back road” of West Maui and it’s an area that less tourists visit.
Read the reviews: Slaughterhouse Beach snorkeling
3. Ahihi Cove
Ahihi Kinau natural area reserve, South Maui
This is another protected area of Maui’s shores, this one in the form of being a Hawaii natural area reserve.
There are 2 snorkeling spots located in the Ahihi Kinau natural reserve.
Ahihi Cove is located right off the side of the road.
There isn’t much of a beach here.
4. Kanahena Beach aka the dumps
Ahihi Kinau natural area reserve, South Maui
And then for the other snorkeling spot, once again even though they are a part of the same conservation area, the snorkeling access is different.
The other snorkeling spot a part of the natural reserve is a couple minutes drive further south from the first snorkeling spot.
There is a parking lot here, and then you’ll take a short trail to the beach. This is a rocky beach.
If you want to get in some hiking before you go snorkeling at the Ahihi Kinau natural reserve, at the end of the road in far South Maui is La Perouse Bay and the start location of the hike across lava fields. (One of the best hiking trails on Maui! You might think even a short hike from La Perouse Bay is worth it!)
This is located around a 5 minute drive from the Ahihi Kinau parking lot.
Read the reviews: Ahihi snorkeling spot (This is the map location of Kanahena Beach)
See more about this Maui snorkeling spot: Ahihi Kinau Natural Area Reserve
There’s an area of Maui called Turtle Town.
This area is called turtle town, because, well, it’s a spot that you can go where you have increased chances of swimming with turtles!
Turtles are wild animals (marine life) so there’s no guarantee, though!
If you’re lucky, you might also be able to see turtles without getting in the water, as they might stick their head up out of the water occasionally!
There’s a nice sandy beach here.
There are also bathrooms and outdoor showers here, as well as a picnic area off to the left of the beach as you’re facing the ocean.
You might see if you can get find the Jawz fish tacos truck and eat it there!
The Makena Beach parking lot that’s just down the road from Maluaka Beach is usually a reliable spot for the food truck, and you might see one on the way to Makena Beach as well.
If you’re on Maui without a car and you’re motivated to go to Turtle Town, then the nearest bus stop to Maluaka Beach is a 3 mile walk one way.
Read the reviews: Maluaka Beach
See more about this Maui snorkeling spot: Maluaka Beach
6. Black Rock at Kaanapali Beach
Kaanapali is one of the main resort areas of Maui.
And if you are staying in Kaanapali, then Black Rock is your snorkeling spot!
Being a popular resort area, this means that there are parts of Kaanapali Beach that can get crowded.
One of those crowded areas is the area of the snorkeling, which is to the far right side of the beach when you’re facing the ocean.
This spot is known to also have strong currents so it’s generally recommended to only snorkel here in calm waters.
It could also be better to not swim too close to the rocks, where you may have a greater chance of encountering a current.
If you’re visiting Kaanapali, you can walk the Kaanapali coastal trail (Kaanapali Beach Walk) that runs right along side the beach.
There are many bars and restaurants in this area.
You can get to Kaanapali Beach by bus. There’s a bus stop in the Kaanapali Beach resort area, and it’ll be about a 10 minute walk to Black Rock. See more about the basics of getting around Maui by bus.
Read the reviews: Black Rock
7. Ulua Beach
This is basically at the northern end of the general Wailea beach resort area. There is a parking lot at Ulua Beach.
There’s sandy beach here, so it can make for a good beach to hang out at too. There are bathrooms and outdoor showers here.
From here, you can also go for a nice beach walk by walking north, or you can head south to walk the Wailea coastal trail (Wailea Beach Path).
You can get to Ulua Beach by bus. There’s a bus stop located about a 15 minute walk from Ulua Beach.
Read the reviews: Ulua Beach
8. Makena Landing
This is another little small area that’s just off the side of the road, called the Makena Landing Park.
There are bathrooms and outdoor showers here.
There is a little bit of a small sandy beach here.
Read the reviews: Makena Landing
9. Kapalua Bay
Kapalua is the other resort area of West Maui, and this is a sheltered bay in the area with a sandy beach.
Turtles are also known to frequent Kapalua Bay.
If you’re looking for a quieter beach in the area, you can try Ironwoods Beach.
You can get a bus to Kapalua Bay. The nearest bus stop is a few minutes away.
Read the reviews: Kapalua Bay
And those are some of the best snorkeling spots on Maui to consider making a part of your trip to Hawaii!
Snorkeling alone in Maui (and the dangers of snorkeling)
While it is best to not snorkel alone on Maui (or anywhere), if you are traveling to Hawaii alone, these listed snorkeling spots I would generally say would be fine if you are a solo snorkeler on Maui, for the reason that there will likely be many people around.
This at least gives you more of a chance that someone sees you if you get into trouble in the water.
The waters also tend to be calm.
The snorkeling beaches on this list with the most people are likely Kaanapali Beach (Black Rock), Ulua Beach, and Kapalua Bay Beach.
These are the beaches that are more directly in the resort areas.
There will likely be people at the other beaches too though.
If I recall correctly, none of the beaches on this list have lifeguards.
That said, people have died snorkeling alone on Maui… on “safe” beaches, in calm conditions… and some were even with others but were noticed too late. Read the stories.
Whether you are snorkeling alone or you have a snorkeling buddy, be sure that you take care when snorkeling, always!
The ocean is beautiful, but it’s also powerful and can be dangerous!
NOT snorkeling alone will always be safer…
Joining a Maui snorkeling tour can also give you comfort in knowing there’s someone experienced in ocean safety looking out for you.
What to pack for snorkeling in Maui
Pack a waterproof phone pouch for snorkeling for a CHEAP way to waterproof your phone so you can capture some underwater memories!
2. Water shoes
Pack this if you won’t be wearing fins when you snorkel.
Water shoes can help to protect your feet from hidden rocks on the beach and if you accidentally hit coral reef.
Coral reef is sharp!
Sign at Slaughterhouse Beach put up by locals on Maui.
The type of sunscreen that you wear is kind of a big deal for locals in Hawaii.
There is now a ban in sales in Hawaii of sunscreen that contain certain chemicals.
Now, you could buy any sunscreen you like back home and then bring it to Hawaii.
But… it would likely be very appreciated if you wear a type of reef-safe sunscreen that locals prefer!
See more about how to know if your sunscreen is the good type for snorkeling on Maui: Best sunscreen for Maui
4. Snorkeling set
Pack this to have your own snorkeling gear for your future snorkeling trips too!
It is possible to rent snorkeling gear on Maui, and you can also find some basic snorkel sets sold in convenience stores, like ABC Store in Kaanapali and Wailea.
But it can be convenient to not have to spend time shopping for this when you don’t have a lot of time during your Hawaii vacation!
See more of snorkeling essentials for Hawaii, including why to wear a rash guard when snorkeling and why swim with a person buoy float when snorkeling!
Headed to another island in Hawaii? See more snorkeling spots on other Hawaiian islands!
And plan more of your trip to Maui!
- Best things to do in West Maui
- Best things to do in South Maui
- Best hikes on Maui
- Lots more things to do on Maui
HAPPY SNORKELING IN MAUI!
More of the best things to do in Hawaii:
- Things to do in Maui
- Things to do in Haleakala National Park
- Things to do in Lanai
- Best things to do in Oahu
- Things to do in Kona
- Things to do on the Big Island
- Things to do in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
- How a cheapo waterproof phone case works
- Why wear water shoes for the beach
- Why a personal swim buoy is an essential for snorkeling and swimming in the ocean
- Essentials to pack for Maui
- Best shoes for Maui
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