One of the highlights of most trips to Maui is snorkeling. With shallow, warm waters all year round, the Valley Isle is a great snorkeling destination. Whether you bring your gear with you or rent from one of the various dive and snorkel shops, you need to know where to go. Don't waste your time searching all over the web. Spend more time snorkeling by diving into this post.
Honolua Bay located on the Southwest side of Maui is part of the Honolua-Mokuleʻia Marine Life Conservation District. Because of this, Honolua (meaning two harbors in Hawaiian) is a great snorkeling spot. The cove provides a safe place for snorkelers to enjoy plentiful fish, sea turtles (honu), and the reef. Parking is a bit tricky. Find a place on the road or at the overlook and walk down to the entrance of the bay, which is a Banyan tree tunnel. Honolua Bay's beach is all rocks. The best advice is to wear water shoes. Put on your snorkel gear near the water's edge. You'll witness the most marine life staying close to the sides of the cove, right along the reef.
Makena Landing is on the Southside of Maui very close to popular destinations, Kihei and Wailea. Many divers, snorkelers, kayakers, fisherpeople, and SUPers enjoy Makena Landing because of easy sandy entry and a protected small cove. A bonus of Makena Landing is that it has public restrooms and showers. However, because of its popularity, parking is limited. If the lot is full, just park alongside the road. The best turtle spottings are near the reef. For those that are SCUBA divers or good freedivers, there are multiple caves to explore. Personally, I've witnessed sea turtles, plentiful fish, and a reef shark while at Makena Landing. During whale season, I heard humpback whales singing in the distance while snorkeling and diving at Makena.
The Olowalu Marine Reserve is a local favorite. It located on the Southside, between Lahaina and Kihei. For best snorkeling, you must swim out to the reef, about a football field's distance. There you will witness a coral maze with tropical fish and sea turtles (see featured snorkeling with turtle). For those that don't enjoy snorkeling, there are kayak tour operators that launch from Olowalu Beach. The water is crystal clear. I've seen monk seals and sea turtles from a kayak at Olowalu. There's a reason its nickname is Turtle Reef.
ʻĀhihi-Kīnaʻu Natural Area Reserve is a coastal lava field and favorite snorkeling spot. It is located about twenty minutes from Kihei in close proximity to the Makena State Park, past the Wailea Resorts and Makena Landing. Look for the signs and drive a city block past the cove for parking. Like many snorkeling spots, parking is a hurdle. So, the early bird gets the worm. Because it is a lava field, getting in the water is going to be tough on your feet. The best advice is the wear water shoes from your car and carry your flippers until the water's edge OR don't use flippers at all. At this reserve, you are bound to see plenty of wildlife, both below and flying above the water. When snorkeling anywhere, remember that the reef is alive. Don't stand up on it or scrap the reef with your flippers!
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