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Travel and Leisure

A Beginner’s Guide To Snorkeling In Maui

Whether you’re a newbie or just easing into this water sport, you should go on a snorkeling adventure in Maui for an unforgettable experience. The calm water, coral reefs, tropical fish, and sea creatures add up to an incredibly memorable excursion.

Just make sure you are prepared, have the proper equipment, and keep in mind that marine animals are protected.

Getting Started

The beaches of Maui offer some of the best snorkeling in Hawaii. However, it’s important to know a little bit about the ocean and its wildlife before you jump in.

It’s also important to respect the delicate ecosystems you encounter. Coral reefs protect coastlines from erosion and provide a habitat for a wide array of marine species. Touching and stepping on coral can break it apart or expose it to pathogens. Please be careful when snorkeling, and always maintain a healthy distance of at least 6 ft. from turtles and fish.

If you’re new to snorkeling, try snorkeling in Honolua Bay, which is a protected marine life conservation district. Its beautiful coral reef is home to a manta ray cleaning station, black tip reef shark nursery, and Hawaiian green sea turtles.

Keawakapu Beach, between Kihei and Wailea, is a great spot for snorkeling. The southern part of the beach is well protected from high swells, and beginner snorkelers can enjoy exploring the underwater world above rocky coastal benches teeming with tropical fish.

For a more advanced snorkeling adventure, head out to Ahihi-Kinau Natural Area Reserve on the north side of Maui. Here, snorkelers can swim above an underwater lava rock ledge that’s teeming with tropical fish and is located next to the famous cliff jumping location at Black Rock.


You can snorkel just about anywhere with a mask and fins, but some beaches are better for this activity than others. The best snorkel spots in Maui are found on the south and western parts of the island, which are sheltered from the trade winds that blow from the northeast. These areas have calm waters and clear visibility, making them ideal for newbies.

If you’re looking for an easy way to get into the water, check out local snorkel gear rental stores. Many shops allow you to rent equipment for up to 10 days, making it easy to stay in the ocean longer. Two of our favorites are The Snorkel Store and Boss Frogs. Both offer rentals in all of the major Maui destinations.

Keep in mind that coral reefs are delicate marine ecosystems. They provide a home for many different species and protect coastlines from erosion and storms. It’s important to respect their delicate nature and follow the “leave no trace” rules of snorkeling. This helps to ensure that future generations can enjoy the wonders of Maui’s underwater world, too.

If you’re an experienced snorkeler, consider joining a guided tour to explore some of the best snorkel sites on the island. Take a half day excursion from Lahaina Harbor to explore the coral reefs at Molokini Crater and Turtle Town, and see marine life up close. This experience includes a personal snorkel-gear fitting and tips from a guide to help you get started in the water.


For those not confident in their water skills, it’s a good idea to book a snorkeling tour or use a flotation device. It can be easy to lose track of how far out into the ocean you are, especially if the ocean conditions change. And a single panicked moment can turn an otherwise positive experience into a bad one.

Snorkelers should also keep in mind that marine life is a little nervous, so sudden movements can scare it away and cause it to hide. Chasing or following marine life is not a good idea either, since it will only make it more scared of you and less likely to be visible. Just move slowly and calmly, and you will find that the marine life is much more willing to show itself.

For beginners, Honolua Bay is a great place to start. The water is usually very calm here, and it offers an excellent introduction to the reef. It is also home to a large population of green sea turtles and is a popular spot for snorkeling tours and lessons. Just be sure to leave a tip for Uncle Jimmy on your way out of the bay; it is his livelihood, and his work is very appreciated. Also, remember to wear protective water clothing like a rash guard, and be sure to apply sunscreen that is reef safe.

Getting Out of the Water

While snorkeling, do your best to keep your distance from marine life. They are very sensitive to the germs we humans carry and a gentle touch can easily harm them. Likewise, do not touch coral or rocks as this can dislodge them from their habitat and cause irreparable damage. Also, do not swim directly into the sun or you may get a painful burn.

When it is time to head back out of the water, first make sure you have your snorkel float tube with you. Then, place the mask strap around your neck so that it sits comfortably on top of your head (not too tight). Once you have your float tube attached, remove your snorkel and put on your rash guard or wetsuit. You will want to do this right before you exit the water so that your skin is protected from any scrapes and cuts.

Snorkeling is a fun and exciting activity that can be enjoyed by all ages. Maui is known for its amazing underwater scenery and offers many beaches where snorkeling is possible. However, if you are a beginner and don’t feel confident in your ability to explore safely, consider booking a snorkeling tour with a professional guide. In addition to providing safety tips, tours can also offer a more relaxing and stress-free experience.


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