A snorkel tour can take you to this great spot off Wailea, but you can snorkel to it from shore.

Maui Snorkeling Secrets - Secret #1

You can reach the best snorkel spots in Maui right from shore!

If you Google the search term "Snorkeling in Maui," the overwhelming number of listings will link to companies that sell snorkel trips. If you pick up a free magazine at the Kahului airport you'll see tons of ads for these same companies. If you walk into a Maui snorkel rental shop, one of the first things they'll do is try to book you on a cruise.

It's no surprise people get the idea that if you want to snorkel in Maui, you need to hop on a boat. Fortunately, it's just not true. With the exception of Molokini, you can reach the best snorkel spots in Maui right from shore. Which means you can go where and when you want without even opening your wallet.  You can also avoid the crowds of snorkelers all clamoring to see the sights—and sometimes you may even have a great spot all to yourself.

That's not to say you shouldn't take a snorkel cruise. They're actually a lot of fun and we've been out with several great companies. They provide everything you need (often even a meal) and seeing the island from the water is a special treat. But if you're on a budget and you still want to experience some fantastic snorkeling, you can do it right from shore and it comes at a great price—FREE!  What's not to like about that?

Just get yourself a good snorkeling guidebook—we recommend ours! :) Mask, Fins, & Snorkel: The Adventure Guide to Maui's Best Snorkeling —will guide you to Maui's best snorkeling beaches and provide you with detailed maps showing you where to park, where to find nearby amenities, and what part of the beach to snorkel for optimal conditions and underwater sights. Pick up a copy before your trip.  You'll have a fun read for your flight and be ready to hit the beach when you arrive!  "Happy Snorkeling," we know you'll love it!

Kayak - Snorkeling in Maui is a fantastic way to snorkel the island's best spots!

Snorkeling by Kayak in Maui

If you’re up for an adventure and can handle a little exercise, a great way to snorkel some of Maui’s best spots is from a kayak. It’s a blast and an experience you’re unlikely to forget. Whether you go on your own or with a local kayaking outfit, you’re able cover a lot of ground and hit the water before most people are even on the beach. If kayaking the waters of Maui sounds like something you’d like to try, you have two options:

Guided Kayak Snorkel Tours: These outfitters provide everything you need, often throw in lunch, and do a good job leading their tours to some of the best spots. They charge around $70 a person for a half-day outing and operate frequently out of Makena Landing in South Maui and Olowalu in West Maui. While we’ve never been customers, we’ve encountered them often and have been impressed with many of their guides. Most are knowledgeable, friendly, and intent on providing you with a great experience.

Unguided Excursions: If you’re confident in your abilities and like to go your own way, you can skip the tours and rent your own kayak. Several beachfront hotels rent kayaks right at the beach and while spendy, it's a no-hassle approach. A more cost-effective option is contacting a kayak tour operator to reserve a kayak and arrange delivery. Locations vary, but morning excursions from Makena Landing seem to be a fairly regular offering.

For more information and detailed maps on great areas to kayak and snorkel in Maui, pick up our book:  Mask, Fins & Snorkel:  The Adventure Guide to Maui's Best Snorkeling.

Where to see surfers in South and West Maui.

Surf's Up and Snorkeling's Out?—Life's Still Good on Maui!

You've got your gear. You've picked a spot. You're all set to experience some of Maui's best snorkeling. Then you hear the two words that are sure to darken any snorkel fanatics day, "Surf's up!"  Bummer, right? Not at all. Just means a change of plans—because when the surf's up and snorkeling's out, life's still good in Maui! Greet it as an chance to check out some of the island's awesome surfers.

If you're in South Maui and the waves are pumping, consider venturing to Ahihi Bay. It's a popular spot for some very skilled riders. It's not the most comfortable place—think lava rock seating—but you're sure to catch some great surfers and awesome waves. With the action being fairly close to shore, it's also a great spot to capture some amazing surfing shots.

A more remote location is La Persouse Bay. Since the closure of "Fish Bowl" and the "Aquarium," we're not huge fans of the snorkeling here, but we love venturing to the area nonetheless. This end of the road, "lava–meets–sea" landscape is uniquely gorgeous. And when surfing conditions cooperate, the ocean can produce some monster waves. The biggest seem to occur a few coves down the shoreline path. It's a hike—but wow—it's worth it. The guys who surf here are phenomenal. It's a great place to grab some epic surf shots—think magazine cover.

If you're on the West side of Maui (northwest, really) the place to catch some fantastic surfing is also one of the best spots to snorkel in Maui – Honolua Bay. Always a favorite of snorkelers, when the surf is pounding it's even more popular with surfers. It's a wide open area with multiple spots to catch waves and the action here can get crazy. With a full set of waves, riders can cover the horizon. The best viewing can be found at the paved overlook on the south side of Honolua Bay.

So remember, when the surf's up and snorkeling's out, life's still good in Maui! For more Snorkeling Secrets and cool things to do in Maui, check back often and pick up a copy of Mask Fins & Snorkel: The Adventure Guide to Maui's Best Snorkeling.

Shimmering Bigeye Scad in Honolua Bay are a sight to see!

Back to "School" with Maui's Best Snorkeling

"Back to school" has us thinking of something we love to see when we're snorkeling Maui – "schools of fish!" It's not every day you'll spot a large school, but if you know where to look there are several areas around Maui where you'll likely have the good fortune of seeing them.  One spot we always encounter a school or two is Honolua Bay in West Maui.  Honolua Bay is a marine preserve and home to wide variety of sea life, including a huge school of Bigeye Scad.  We can always tell when snorkelers new to Honolua have spotted the bay's "resident Bigeyes" by their excited shout-outs to nearby friends.  We usually hear something like, "Whoa!!! Get over here quick!"  We can't blame them, it's truly a sight to encounter this huge mass of silvery scad swimming in synchronization along the north side of the bay.  If you quietly glide over to the shallows, just below the boulders, you just might see them too!

While you're at Honolua it's also worth a bit of a swim to check out the reef toward the center-right of the bay.  We often see large groups of striped Convict Tangs here interspersed with a wide variety of surgeonfish as they feed over Honolua's extensive coral reefs. 

Another great area for spotting large schools is off the shores of Olowalu in West Maui.  If you're up for a kayak-snorkel trip, you can join one of the frequent kayak tours here where you'll see pristine coral, large schools of fish, and numerous sea turtles all awaiting your discovery at this beautiful spot!

One small reminder... never feed the fish. Years ago it was a common practice for snorkelers and divers to feed fish in the hope of getting "up-close and personal" with sea life.  We highly discourage feeding any sea creatures.  It creates aggressive behavior and can change the types of creatures that frequent an area.  It's bad for marine life and can be detrimental to people too. ...Consider the diver who lost his thumb when a moray eel became "overly eager" for the hot dogs the diver tried to feed it! We can't emphasize it enough—feeding wildlife is a seriously bad idea.

For more information on the best snorkeling spots in Maui and where to snorkel once you get there, pick up a copy of  Mask, Fins & Snorkel: The Adventure Guide to Maui's Best Snorkeling.  Best of luck to the new year of school and in seeing your first "school of fish" while you're snorkeling in Maui!  Happy Snorkeling!

Coral Gardens in Maui - Snorkeling Secrets

Maui Snorkeling Secrets - Adventure Awaits

The most common places to snorkel in Maui tend to be just off the rocky ends of Maui's beautiful sandy beaches. But if you have a keen sense of adventure and advanced swimming skills, it's possible to get off the beaten path and snorkel in some truly interesting spots.

The secret involves finding a spot and doing a little reconnaissance. Whenever we're driving around the island we're always looking for new spots to snorkel. Once we see something intriguing, we scout it out. We'll stop by to get the general feel of the area and look for access points to get in and out of the water safely. We also take note of any nearby restrooms and showers—it's always nice to know where you can get cleaned up afterwards.

When to snorkel is another consideration. Whenever we're planning to snorkel a remote spot we check out the surf forecast for that part of the island. Swells and surf can vary considerably depending what side of the island you're on. If it looks like the waves are going to be thumping, we save our snorkeling adventure for another day. This is especially important if your snorkel spot requires entry and exit from a rocky shoreline. You don't want to get tossed against lava rock—definitely not a pleasant vacation memory.

While we're on the subject of lava rock...if you don't have a pair of cheap reef shoes, do yourself a favor and pick up a pair in Maui. They are no match for the nasty thorns of a kiawe tree, but they're a "treat to your feet" when you're ambling over rocky shorelines. And unlike leaving valuables in your car, you can usually leave a pair of reef shoes on shore and still find them when you get back!

If you're interested in out of the way places and marathon snorkeling adventures while you're visiting Maui, pick up a copy of Mask, Fins & Snorkel:  The Adventure Guide to Maui's Best Snorkeling.

Maui's Premier Snorkeling Guidebook

Snorkeling Guide Book for Maui - Front Cover of Mask, Fins & Snorkel: The Adventure Guide to Maui's Best Snorkeling

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