Maui's allure doesn't end with it's lush rainforests, stunning beaches, perfect weather, or majestic volcanoes. The diverse and abundant sea life below the sea level is also amazing. Granted, it is not really one of the world's most biologically diverse or biologically abundant areas, but for a small island, you see quite a lot and many of the dive tour operators know the best places to go are. Some excellent spots are Slaughterhouse Beach, Turtle Cove, Molokini Crater (cool night diving there), Lanai and the cathedrals, the wreck of the St. Anthony with accompanying artificial reef and so many more.
There are also countless dive operations with which you can book your dive trips. Liz and I chose Triology and we were quite pleased. The staff was young, enthusiastic, fun, and most importantly, knowledgable. They have only recently begun their dive operations, but their staff has been diving the areas around Maui for a while and know Maui's best dive secrets well. Plus, most of their dive instructors and dive masters came from another popular dive company. If you pick up your copy of Maui Revealed (the guidebook) they will mention a number of good dive operations. Include Trilogy, especially for a night dive!
One last thing, always remember to tip the crew when disembarking from the vessel. They work hard to make sure you have a good time so the gratuity is only well deserved.
Equipment: All you have to bring is your certification card. They'll have everything else, but remember, the more of your own equipment you have, the more comfortable you will be diving.
For those of you who book your dive trip with Trilogy, you'll have the benefit of going out on a much larger vessel with plenty of cover. We really enjoyed our dive experience with Trilogy and we highly recommend them. If you book online, you save 10% of the trip price.
Equipment: All equipment included. Just bring your certification card.
Maui's diverse marine life provides for some of the best snorkeling in the world. Molokini Crater (see my tip on it) is one of those sites. There are several companies that will take you to Molokini Crater and provide you with all the equipment you need. They even provide food. We went to Molokini with the Pacific Whale Foundation vessel. They provided us with intuitive information and snacks. Both very important! Enjoy the snorkeling here and look for the Monk Seal (see travelogue on whale whatching and snorkeling in Maui).
When you get to Molokini, head to the left of the crater. Keep an eye out for the monk seal. Just keep your distance. Wild animals can be aggressive.
Equipment: Goggles, flippers, snorkel, and bathing suit. I recommend you buy your own like we did.
Snorkeling at Turtle Cove is excellent if you want to encounter green sea turtles in high numbers. The Pacific Whale Foundation's ship took us here and we found 3 turtles right by ship and never ventured out to find more. The 3 we found were so entertaining.
Please remember that this is an endangered species and you should respect their space. You can follow them but do not chase the turtles. Also, hanging on to a turtle is a big no-no.
Equipment: Goggles, Snorkel, Flippers, and bathing suit. I recommend you buy your own like we did.
Black Rock has an abundant amount of sea life. My wife and I encountered all types of fish from Lagoon and Picasso Triggers, to Green Sea Turtles and a spotted Eagle nose ray. Sadly we ran out of film just after the Green Sea turtles here. At that moment, the Spotted Eagle Nose Ray swam past and I cursed myself for not buying two underwater cameras!
None the less, we had an excellent time and you will certainly enjoy your snorkeling experience at the Black Rock.
Equipment: Snorkel, Goggles, Flippers, and bathing suit. I recommend you buy your own like we did.
If you’re into surfing, then you're in luck. There are several great beaches throughout Maui to choose from. Ho'okipa Beach on the North Shore is one of the more popular beaches attracting countless surfers and windsurfers alike.
Equipment: There are several surfboard rental agencies that will hook you up with the latest gear. Just type "Maui surfboard rental" on your favorite search engine, and you'll find them. Surfboards rent for about $100 to $120 a week, and many shops offer deals on daily rentals as well.
The Pipiwai Trail offers one of the best places to hike in Maui. The trail starts by the shore at the 'Ohe'o gulch (AKA 7 sacred pools). It's then up, up, and away to the Waimoku falls. Take your time going up as it's definitely exhausting for those who are not in the right physical shape. However, if you are, you can make it up to the top in 1.5-2 hours each way without breaking a sweat and still stopping at most of the spots along the way. The roundtrip can be done in 2.5 hours but you would probably miss everything along the way. Be sure to look at my travelogue and must see activities for tips on what's on the trail.
Equipment: Dress cool and bring some water along. While the water along the way up seems drinkable, you should never brave it!
If you visit Maui, you should really take a snorkeling trip. The most popular area for snorkeling is Molokini, a small crater-like island off the southwest coast of Maui. While you'll see fish at Molokini, the area is really crowded with people and boats.
If you're looking for a more relaxed snorkeling environment, try a trip out to Lanai, a beautiful island just to the west of Maui. I highly recommend the Pacific Whale Foundation's boats, because they do not pack them full of people (like many tours do) and they bring along naturalists who can help you identify and fish or dolphins you see. There are several different places on the coast of Lanai that offers good snorkeling. It will just depend on the weather and currents on the day that you sail as to where you end up. Have fun!
Equipment: Most snorkeling tours include fins and masks in the price of your admission, but it doesn't hurt to ask.
You will need to bring your own towel... and don't forget to apply LOTS of sunscreen.
And it would be a good idea to take some Dramamine before the trip. I've seen lots of people get sick when seas get rocky.
I love to go snorkeling and while the boat tours are a nice way to spend the day, there are also ample opportunities to snorkel from the beach at no extra cost. If you don't bring your own gear, we saw places in Lahaina that rented gear, I assume by the day.
The place we snorkeled from the boat, Honolua Bay, was also accessible from Highway 30, we saw a bunch of cars parked just off the highway and saw a lot of people who were snorkeling from the beach. I don't think there was a charge and this is a great place to snorkel, there is relatively little current in the bay and there's a reef on either side of the bay plus it's very common to see Sea Turtles here.
Equipment: Bring your own mask, snorkel and fins plus a towel and aqua shoes
We couldn't resist their ads for $1.99 scuba gear rental. Of course once we got there we are shown what the $1.99 will get you, scuba gear circa 1940 so we ended up paying $9 each for decent gear. Furthermore, we were warned by "Maui Revealed" that this company tends to be rude and pushy. They were right. We thought it couldn't be that bad to just rent gear from them but we found them phony, pushy and untrustworthy.
Instead head to Maui Dive Shop for great service and gear.
So, here is another water sport activity you can do in Maui. The idea of kayaking through caves is appealing but this is not possible on Maui. However, there are some great snorkeling spots that are not accessible from the beach or difficult to get to. To snorkel at Coral Gardens or Olowalu would be amazing as there are acres of coral reef and tropical fish. Coral Gardens is not accessible from the beach so kayaking to it would makes sense! Kelli's Kayak tours offers two excursions to this area. One for 2 1/2 hours at $64 or one for 4 1/2 hours at $89 snacks, beverages are provided - lunch is provided on 4 1/2 hour tour.
Kayak tours offer kayaking experiences at other beaches as well.
Equipment: Bathing suit
Kayak tour to provide the rest of the equipment
There are lots of biking tours available in Maui. And, most of them cost about $100 per person. That can be an expensive activity for most families. We found one that has an express tour for $55 per person and we found it to be worth while. They skip the crater tour for the express tour. So, if you don't mind that, it's still about a 1/2 day activity.
Take your mp3 player or ipod for the ride down. Sunglasses and sunscreen a must! The bike company provides transportation up the mountain, the bikes, helmets, protective clothing, back packs and gloves. You must wear the helmets but not required to use the other items that are available.
Meet at the Haiku Market shopping center.
We were going to go to Maui for one reason - SNORKELING! My boyfriend says the snorkeling there is better than Kauai or Oahu (I loved the north shore of Oahu). So, my expectations are huge. Here are some snorkeling spots to check out on Maui - all to the west coast of the island starting with the most southern end (Beg-Beginner, Int-Intermediate, Adv-Advanced):
La Perouse-Excellent place to snorkel if it isn't too windy. There is a pod of dolphins that frequents the area - usually in the early morning hours. If you are lucky they will swim with you! Located past Ahihi Reserve, this is end of the road unless you have 4-wheel drive & a lot of clearance. Beach is rocky to none. Int to Adv
Ahihi Keanau Reserve-We snorkeled in this spot. There's isn't much of a sandy beach at all so walking on the rocks is challenging when you are bare footed. But getting in and out of the water isn't too hard. The current is mild (on this particular day) and lots of fish in the area, The water wasn't too clear but I imagine there are better days here in this bay. Located south of Wailea & all of the hotels, after the road narrows & follows the coast closely, you will begin to see Ahihi Keanau Reserve signs. Beach is rocky. Beg to Adv
Five Caves-Is a snorkel or scuba spot. Abundant marine life including many turtles. Not for beginners due to the swimming distance. Many caves and "swim-thrus" for advanced scuba divers. Visibility is sometimes poor after rain or south swells. Located south of Wailea on Wailea Alanui, turn toward the ocean on Makena Rd, just south of the Makena Surf Condos. In about 1/4 mile, you will see some dirt parking on both sides of the road & a small graveyard between the parking and the ocean. Follow the trail to the sea and look for an inlet for entry. No Beach. Int to Adv
Polo Beach-by the Kea Lani Hotel. This is a pretty sand beach with the best snorkeling area to the right. Nice coral formations and plenty of fish. Located between Wailea and Makena in front of the Kea Lani Hotel. Take Kaukahi (the road on the south side of the hotel) toward the ocean and turn right at the bottom of the hill, following the beach access signs. Showers, change rooms, restrooms. Nice sandy beach. Beg to Int
Mokapu and Ulua-two beaches separated by a nice little snorkel point. This is a nice place for the family, especially if you are staying in the Wailea area. Parking lot may be full if you are not there early or later in the afternoon. Located in Wailea between the Renaissance & Outrigger hotels. See the sign on Wailea Alanui and turn toward the water. Showers, change rooms, restrooms. Nice, sandy beach on either side of snorkel area. Beg to Int
Kamaole Beaches-1, 2, & 3 are stretches of sandy beaches along South Kihei Road. Each beach is bordered by rocky points. These points are the best snorkeling. Great family beaches with plenty of stores and restaurants close by. Located on South Kihei Road in Kihei. Showers, change rooms, restrooms, lifeguards, phones, park facilities. Nice, sandy beach. Beg to Int
Coral Gardens-lots of coral and tropical fish. Good spot to see turtles. Unless you are on a boat, this is only recommended for advanced snorkelers due to the long swim & sometimes difficult access. Located on Hwy. 30, about 1/2 mile north of the tunnel. The first parking area north of the Pali (cliffs). Enter by parking area and swim south in front of the cliffs. Showers, change rooms, restrooms. No Beach. Adv (Beg to Int from a boat)
Olowalu-Acres of coral reef. You could spend the whole day here and not see it all. If it's a little murky at first don't get discouraged-just go further out. This area stays shallow for a long way out. Follow the sand channels until you are deep enough not to scrape your belly on the coral. This location is also a good choice in the afternoon as it more protected from the trades. Located on Hwy. 30 at mile marker 14, about 10 miles south of Lahaina. See mile marker post on the mountain side of the road. Be careful not to park in soft sand! Narrow sandy beach. Beg to Adv
Wahikuli Park-Located just north of Lahaina on Highway 30. Across the street from the Post Office & Lahaina Civic Center. Showers, change rooms, restrooms. Sandy beach. Beg to Int
Black Rock-wall dive for snorkelers. A lava outcropping with coral attached. Swim from the South end up to the north & back again. If there is no ocean swell, this can be a very clear snorkel. One usually sees turtles along the way and an occasional tako (octopus). A common spot for night dives. Located on Hwy. 30 in Ka'anapali turn toward the ocean on Ka'anapali Parkway. Look for the free beach access parking. If it's full, you'll have to park at Whaler's Village parking. If you decide to eat or buy something at this mall or have lunch, you can have your ticket validated. Lots of parking (some free some not - see above), showers, change rooms, restrooms, pay phones, shops and restaurants. Beautiful sandy beach. Beg to Int
Kapalua Bay-prettiest beach on Maui & a good snorkeling spot. Best snorkeling is on the north side of the bay unless you are very experienced, you should stay within the bay due to the potential for strong currents outside. Located on Hwy. 30, at the Napili Plaza, turn toward the ocean on Napilihau Street. When Napilihau Street "T's" at Lower Honoapi'ilani Road, turn right. Drive almost a mile to Napili Kai Beach Club and turn toward the ocean at the Shoreline Access sign. Park in the lot and walk through the tunnel to the beach. The best snorkel access is on the north side of the bay. Showers, change rooms, restrooms. Sandy beach. Beg to Int
Makulei'a Bay-known as "Slaughter House" to surfers, is a good place to snorkel. The snorkeling isn't quite as good as Honolu'a, but if there are some in your group that want to just hang out on the beach, this would be a good compromise. If you are an experienced swimmer, you could snorkel around the northern point to Honolu'a. There are coral formations on each side of the bay and lots of colorful fish. The chance of spotting a few turtles here is good. This is a marine reserve so you are not allowed to take anything. Located north of Napili on Hwy. 30, at mile marker 32, you will see a chain link fence at the top of the cliff. Park where you can and walk down the concrete stairway to the beach. Be sure to park off the road. If you are not completely outside of the white fog line, you may get ticketed. Sandy beach. Beg to Adv
Honolu'a-The website below indicates this is the best Maui snorkeling spot on a good day. We enjoyed this place a lot. The beach is very nice, not too crowded. The snorkeling to the east side or right side of the bay is better. I did see one turtle thought the water was sorta murky, I did get a photo. A good day here is when there have been no recent North swells or rain. During North swells, this is a world class surfing spot & not for good snorkeling. If there has been a recent rain in the area, the run-off enters at the mouth of the bay and ruins the otherwise great visibility. Most of the time this is a great place to snorkel or dive. There are coral formations on each side of the bay & lots of colorful fish. The chance of spotting a few turtles here is excellent. This is a marine reserve so you are not allowed to take anything. Located north of Napili on Hwy. 30, about 1/2 mile past mile marker 32, you will see a metal gate (teal colored fence) down in a wash. Park where you can & walk around the gate, through a canopy of trees and to the water. Be sure to park off the road. If you are not completely outside of the white fog line, you may get ticketed. Large beach, smooth rock. Beg to Adv
Info obtained at the website listed below:
Equipment: Snorkel Tube and Goggles
Flippers (I don't like to use these)
Reef Shoes for rocky lava areas
Bathing suit (I don't think swimming naked is allowed)
To prevent goggles from fogging up - wipe inside of goggles with your own spit (sounds gross but it really works)
My husband snorkelled the outside Molokini Crater Wall & St. Anthony's Wreck. He loved it and said it was worth every penny. Keep in mind he was a boat captain for a scuba co. in Costa Rica and has done 100s of dives. He saw tons of fish, sharks, eels, etc. He dove with ProDiver who is rated #1 in the book "Maui Revealed". He said they were extremely professional and love their jobs. Because it hadn't been good weather only my hubby and one other person booked the trip, Prodiver didn't cancel the trip even though they didn't have 6. They essentially got a private trip. The cost was $149US; gear included. You leave at 5:45am and return at 10:30am. Need certification card. 34ft. long fiberglass dive boat. Certified to take 16 but only take 6 people.
Equipment: Excellent gear included.
This was only the 2nd time I snorkelled; the first being for 20 mins. the day before in shallow water at the beach. Oh and I don't swim well at all and am terrified of deep water...but I did it. Maui Dive Shop took us out and they couldn't have been better. Our two guides were totally understanding about me being a beginner and gave me great instruction and a snorkel flotation vest.
We had two guides and 5 other snorkellers. Usually they said they would have 24 people. Because they have a 32' boat they get an anchoring spot on the left side of Molokini Crater which is the best part of the crater to snorkel so say many including "Maui Revealed". It didn't disappoint! It was stunning. It was crystal clear and there were colourful fish everywhere!!!!! We also saw an eel. Luckily I didn?t see a shark but others in our group did. After we had fully explored the crater our boat took us a few miles away to Turtle Town. The water here wasn?t as clear but we still got to swim with a few turtles.
7am - 10:15am - daily
$49.95US adult/$44.95 age 4-12
Snacks and beverages included.
If you want a larger boat and a bbq go with the larger companies. Some of them take 140 people at a time and most cost around $100US.
Equipment: Maui Dive Shop provided all equipment (dry snorkel sets and wetsuit top) and it was included in the price of $49.95US per person. The equipment was good equipment and they had lots of extras for beginners, ie. snorkel vest (pfds), boogeyboards, etc.
We have stayed at Napili Point Condos six times and are returning again this February for a month....more
What a lovely little facility this is. Maui Oceanfront in Kihei has been recently taken over by Best...more
1533 Uakea Rd, Hana, Hawaii, 96713, United States
Good for: Solo