What’s The Best Hawaii Island For Snorkeling?

02/07/2018 | by Conrad O'Connell | Vacation Rentals
“Snorkeling In Maui” by SNORKELINGDIVES.COM is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Many of our guests planning their Hawaii visit want to take in all of the sights, sounds and experiences that each island has to offer. A common question that we have when first-timers are visiting Hawaii is locating the best place to snorkel in Hawaii. The best Hawaii Island for snorkeling is Maui. Whether you’ve visited Maui (also known as the Valley Isle) before or you’re planning your first visit, snorkeling must be on your bucket list. The beautiful clear waters off Maui’s beaches or the small island of Molokini are both highly desirable locations to see amazing marine life.

Honolua Bay

“Honolua Bay Maui” by Hawaii Savvy is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Honolua Bay is located on the island’s north western end and is a Marine Life Conservation District. It’s also near the town of Lahaina, one of Maui’s most desirable cities to visit. Since fishing is not allowed, you’ll be able to view a diversified assortment of protected sealife. Sheltered from winds by the surrounding high rocky cliffs, the calm water is a perfect place for snorkeling. The waves are far enough away that snorkeling isn’t affected. The best snorkeling is along the rocks to the right side of the shore. There are no stores selling refreshments, so bring your own food and drinks.

Kapalua Bay

“Snorkeling at Kapalua Bay, Maui” by SNORKELINGDIVES.COM is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Kapalua Bay is more suited for beginning snorkeling and children. It’s located on Maui’s north west side, not far from Honolua Bay. Two reefs protect this white sandy beach offering calm waters and an array of fish and coral. There are showers and restrooms nearby for your convenience, but you’ll still need to bring your own food and drinks.

Black Rock

“Kaanapali Beach” by Curt Smith is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Black Rock is located on one of the world’s most popular beaches, Ka’anapali Beach. Located on Maui’s western shore, you’ll find three miles of white powdery sand. Black Rock is the rocky peninsula at the northern end of the beach and is the perfect place to snorkel after enjoying a nice walk on the beach. The water near Black Rock starts off at around 8 feet deep and increases up to 25 feet, but visibility is excellent, even in the deeper waters. Be on the lookout for large turtles that frequent the area. Along the shoreline, there are several resorts, hotels, restaurants, and vacation rentals.

Turtle Town

“Maluaka Beach, Maui” by Lance Shields is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Turtle Town is located on the south shore of Maui on Maluaka Beach. If seeing the beautiful Hawaiian green sea turtles is on your bucket list, then Turtle Town is a must visit. You’ll love seeing these beautiful protected creatures in their own environment. The turtles are generally located near the reefs at the south end of the beach.

Ahihi Kanau Natural Area Reserve

“Ahihi Cove” by Peter Stevens is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Ahihi Kanau Natural Area Reserve is just south of Turtle Town. Here you’ll find a mixture of coral and lava rock. You’ll be able to snorkel in the shallow waters and see many colorful fish. You may also see a few turtles. It’s also a very good place to snorkel with children. Parking is on the side of the road and there are no restrooms, showers, or food.


Molokini is a volcanic islet about three miles off Maui’s southwest coast and is only accessible by tour boat. It’s rated as one of Maui’s best snorkel and dive spots because of the clear water. Visibility may even exceed 200 feet. The volcanic crescent shaped crater allows for the plentiful marine life with mornings being the best time to go snorkeling. Tour guides offer guidelines and tips. It’s also best to snorkel with a partner. The island is also a protected bird sanctuary.

Many of the fish you’ll see while snorkeling off Maui’s coastline are: butterfly fish, damsel fish, parrot fish, surgeon fish, wrasse, flag tails, goat fish, snapper, peacock bass, jacks, mullet, trigger fish, soldier fish, squirrel fish, moorish idol, eels, and turtles. Barracudas can also be found on occasion.

While other islands offer beautiful beaches too, Maui ranks as the best Hawaii island for snorkeling. You’ll experience some of the most spectacular fish and corals not seen anywhere else in the world. It truly is paradise!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.