The Best Snorkeling Spots in West Maui

by | Last updated Feb 8, 2023 | Maui, Snorkeling

Maui is famous for its drastic landscape with mountain as well as ocean. If we skip snorkeling from favorite things to do in Maui list, then it won’t do the justice, because the ocean here is so gorgeous. In many ways, it’s nicer than Oahu, simply because not as many people visit here like in Oahu and the environmental impact is less in Maui.

We are focusing on the West side of Maui for this list, but if you are planning on going to other areas of Maui during your trip, check out the total list of best snorkeling sports on Maui also.

We are going to share going around the island counterclockwise from Kapalua area. We aren’t listing every single spots, but you will find these as gems 🙂

1. Honolua Bay

Honolua Bay is one of the favorite spots for surfers as well. Roughly 20-minute drive north from Lahaina. Winter months gives a powerful wave, but during summer months, it is a popular spot for snorkeling and scuba diving. It’s part of the Mokuleia Marine Life Conservation District, the area is preserved well and you will be able to spot various fish and coral reefs. The sand necessarily is not the best for sunbathing with the beach being a little rocky. You may spot boats coming here for snorkeling too. No amenities here, like restrooms or showers, bu it’s a great spot for snorkeling, scuba diving, and surfing.

2. Mokuleia Bay – aka slaughterhouse

There used to be a slaughterhouse on one of the cliffs, hence the name. This area was designated a Marine Life Conservation District and it provides a great snorkeling location. It can be accessed by a stairwell from the road to the bay. There has not been a lot of development and this adds to the charm of the beach. The waves can be brought in the winter season, so if you are not trained for such condition, you should move along and find a calmer beach. Ocean wave is to be respected and not be ignored.

You will find more interesting marine animals to the right side (going north side) at Mokuleia Bay. The landscape underwater is pretty drastic too, so you will enjoy the scenary there as well.

There are no amenities like showers and bathrooms. Compared to Honolua Bay, the beach is much more sandy and should be able to relax and sunbathe. I’d say this beach would be kid friendly (not in winter months) most of the months.

3. DT Fleming Beach

Ok, so this might not be a super snorkeling kind of a beach, but given that there is a life guard on this beach, we wanted to sneak this in the list. If you want to engage in some snorkeling activity, but want to feel extra protected, then this might be a good beach to engage in snorkeling. There is a public restroom available, which is a plus, and would consider this kid friendly. Plenty of beach space to lounge around and soak in some sun.

4. Kapalua Bay

This gorgeous beach is probably one of the more famous beaches on West Maui. The current is no super strong inside the bay, and it’s a solid option for all ages including kids. There are abundant marine lie close to the shore and which makes is very easy to enjoy snorkeling on this beach.

There is public restrooms on the beach. There is a good chance you will be able to spot turtles (esp. in the morning) to the left (south) – looking out to the ocean. You would be able to enter on the left side with nicely sloped area and ease in to snorkeling. Right side tends to be rockier, something to keep in mind.

5. Napili Bay

Another kid friendly beautiful sand beach that family visitors will enjoy. This beach has a little something for everyone, surfers, boogie boarding, paddlers, loungers, and snorkeling as well. Although, you do have to keep in mind, if there are a lot of surfers out there, then that means the water is a little on the rougher side for snorkeling. There are no big resorts alongside and some small resorts are present. There is a good chance that you will be able to spot a turtle here as well.  There is also a restaurant at the end of the bay which makes the place to visit and give you a chance to relax for a few hours without worrying about getting hungry.

6. Kahekili Beach – Airport Beach

There used to be a Kaanapali airport here, hence the nickname airport beach. nowadays it makes a great place to snorkel and the reef off the beach is inside Kahekili Herbivore Fisheries Management Area which give some protection for the marine life here. You may find humuhumunukunukuapuaa, unicornfish, and trigger fish among other fish you will be able to see. The coral reef is present throughout the area, so you will have a lot of fun snorkeling on this beach. This makes it also a great spot to scuba dive. You will be able to see the reef right off the shore.

7. Black Rock

This is probably one of the most popular spots for snorkeling on the island. One of the reason is that there is a pretty big resort located here, but the resort is here, because it’s such a nice spot 🙂 It has one of the popular cliff jumping point on this beach as well. Also, during winter time you will be able to see whales off the coast as well, may perhaps even hear them.

You will be enter the water next to the Black Rock in a sandy section of the beach and will be able to see lots of marine life pretty close to the shore. Turtle spotting is not uncommon and that’s always a plus.

8. Wahikuli Wayside Park

This is one of the spots that are not on the radar for most people yet, so take advantage of it. The shoreline isn’t as protected, so the wave might get a little big, in those time be cautious with snorkeling. However, with public bathrooms available and picnic tables and BBQs, you will enjoy your stay here on top of your snorkeling sessions on north side of the beach.

9. Baby Beach

We had to include this beach in the list for those with little ones. The beach is surrounded well by coral reef and it calms down the wave really well. This calm water along with shallow depth allows you to be able to enjoy the beach with very little ones also. There is little shades here, so if you are actually coming with a baby, make sure to rent a beach umbrella or get a little sun-shade tent with you.

10. Olowalu

This area is considered to be one of the oldest reef systems on the Hawaiian Islands. over 450 acres of coral reef protects this area and it naturally leads to a great place to snorkel. Some of these are considered to be half a millennium old (that’s 500 years!)

This massively extended beach and coral reef gives you plenty to explore and see. Because of the massive size, you do have to travel little a little far out of the shore to enjoy the well established reefs, so save some energy to be able to get out there. Many people use a tour company because of this reason.

There are many many spots on Maui that you will be able to enjoy your snorkeling. A lot of people make the whole trip focused on snorkeling and there is a good reason for it here. We hope you were able to find a place that you can keep it with you in your memory for a lifetime.

Aloha!

Hi, we are the Kim Family. We wanted to share our experiences living on Oahu and traveling around Hawaii.  We have four kids and who enjoy all sorts of outdoor activities.  We’ve learned a lot raising our kids here and wanted to share with you.  We hope it helps with whether you are visiting, living, or a little bit of both.

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Please note that many of these places we have visited personally or have been recommended by one of the more seasoned travelers within our friends-and-family circle. As someone who was born and raised in Hawaii and then had the experience of being a transplant from the mainland as an adult with a spouse and children, we want to make sure that we recommend things we enjoy or would like to do ourselves. Thank you for your support!

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