Molokini is a small island three miles from Maui that is a volcanic cinder cone that has eroded over time. Molokini is an excellent snorkel and dive location. Several tours leaving from Lahaina's marina are available. They can book up, so advance reservations are a good idea. The boat will take you to Molokini, whose waters are home to about 250 different species of fish. Once at Molokina, the snorkelers can dive right into the water. "Noodle" floats and life jackets are available. The water is deep and can also be a bit rough, so a float might not be a bad idea. The visibility is typically fantastic and you can see a great variety of sea life.
Many trips also take you to a second snorkel location. A snorkel site known as Turtle Town is a popular choice for the second location. There you get to swim with green sea turtles. Other trips might take you to another island. The trip we went on visited the waters near Lanai. The snorkeling was good, but the current was stronger than we expected that day.
If you visit in whale season, the skipper might try to do some whale watching on the way home. We saw several on our trip. In general, these are pretty enjoyable trips.
The Beaches of Hawaii are Famous Worldwide!!! There is a reason -- because they are FANTASTIC!!! This is what you came here for, right? You will not be disappointed!!! I could live at these beaches!
Relax on the beach, go for a swim, go snorkeling, take pictures and make memories! You won't want to forget this place!!!
There are so many, it is good to save a few for the next trip! Snorkel or SCUBA. There are numerous beaches from Honolua Bay to Wailea and beyond. Check with a dive shop for tips on snorkeling - they can help match your swimming skills with the appropriate beaches. The dive shops are also a good source for aids to identify the fish. Once in the water, just relax and go with the flow. For shore entry beaches, Kapalua has about the easiest entry and greatest variety of fish close to the shore of any beach I have visited. You're not likely to see turtles there, though. North Kaanapali beach and Black Rock at Kaanapali are also good beaches for fish and encounters with turtles. Encountering a turtle underwater is an incredible and startling experience. They swim (glide) effortlessly and can appear out of nowhere, unless you are acutely aware. They glide gracefully to the surface and gently sink back to their resting place on the bottom, almost always at a 'head up' angle, resting their shell on the coral or other bottom feature. They are very adept at blending in when resting on the bottom, so be attentive to detail.
For good coral formations accessible from the shore, both North Beach and Olowalu are excellent. Olowalu beach is very shallow near the shore, so before you enter, walk up or down the beach looking for the green water leading out between the coral that indicates a coral free path to the deeper water and coral formations that project perpendicular from the shoreline. In February, 2001, I went further out (snorkeling) than I had previously done and saw a good variety of fish, spectacular coral, and a couple of turtles. Just pay attention to the 'landmarks' so you can find an easy path back in to the shoreline!
These are all accessible shorline snorkeling sites, with beaches good enough for warming up and relaxing between forays into the water. The dive shops can provide access to other less frequented sites for both snorkeling and for SCUBA. Molokini is accessible only by boat, but it is one of the best dive sites in the islands. Unfortunately, the snorkel and cruise concessions know this, so it is almost always crowded there. NOTE: Before you plan a day at Olowalu beach, be aware that it does not have 'amenities'.
Become a certified Open Water diver
For about US$300 you can become a certified Open Water diver in the space of two and a half days. This is a really great deal - I found out it costs about US$500 to do exactly the same thing in Waikiki, and I'm pretty sure I remember being quoted US$500 on the Big Island when I was there. If you aren't certified, you can still go diving on 'Discover Scuba' dives, like I did last year on the Big Island, but being cerified opens up a whole new world of deeper, more interesting dive opportunities.
If you have the time, and are interested, then go for it. You have to put in some work yourself reading the PADI dive manual beforehand, then spend two mornings doing fairly simple academic reviews and tests, and an afternoon in sheltered water doing 'pool work'. Don't worry, the book learning isn't rocket science! Then for two afternoons you go diving for real in the open sea, to practice the stuff you read about.
Round off completing your certification with a 'real' dive to Molokini, and you'll feel like you really accomplished something instead of just sitting around on the beach watching the surf!
With water temperatures almost in the 80s (F), there's nothing like a swim to cool yourself off while lazing around on the beach.
There are basically two kinds of beaches in Maui - swimming / snorkeling beaches, and surfing beaches - essentially distinguished by the size of the waves.
Swimming beaches are amazingly calm, with clear turquiose waters that are shallow out to some distance from the shore. Go on, go for a swim!
Take a boat trip to Molokini for the best snorkeling and diving in Maui
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