When to Snorkel in Maui
When it comes to snorkeling, bright sunshine and calm water create the best conditions. Fortunately Maui has plenty of both. However, you'll find the best time of day to snorkel in Maui is usually in the morning. Snorkeling later can still be good, but Maui's trade winds tend to pick up the later it gets. Wind creates waves that can make snorkeling conditions less than ideal. Not only does it make the water choppy for swimming, but the wave action kicks up sand from the sea floor creating cloudy water and low visibility—kind of a bummer for snorkeling when the whole idea is "seeing" underwater features and creatures.
Fortunately the trade winds on Maui are predictable. Most days start out calm. By late morning the winds usually begin to pick up, then build into midday, and are blowing hard by afternoon. So plan most of your snorkeling excursions for morning—we can't think of a better way to start the day! Occasionally there may be times when you get to the beach early and still find choppy waves and high surge. Usually this means Maui's waters are just catching the last remnants of a distant storm. If that's the case, you're better off waiting a day to give waters time to clear as ocean conditions calm.
Bright sunshine also adds to ideal snorkeling conditions. If it's overcast or intermittent clouds keep blocking the sun, you'll notice things look different underwater; the colors of fish and coral are less vibrant than on a cloudless, blue-sky day. That’s not to say you can't still have a good time, but in terms of optimal snorkeling and taking great "fish pics," the difference can be like turning on a bright light in a dark closet. If you're marathon snorkelers like us, you'll notice that as the sun gets higher, the water clarity and underwater sights just get brighter and better! At some point though, the wind starts in and conditions begin to change. So our advice: Get an early start and enjoy the best of both of both worlds!
Thankfully you'll find Maui offers plenty of sunshine and relatively calm water on most days. In fact of all the islands in Hawaii, you won't find more access to awesome shoreline snorkeling! But if conditions are less than ideal, just be flexible… hop in the car and try a different spot, or if all else fails save your snorkeling for another day and remind yourself—you're in Maui! There's always something to do! For ideas, check out our Explore Maui posts or great surf spots, we're sure you'll find plenty to enjoy!
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. Happy Snorkeling!