When it comes to scenic snorkeling, whale watching, and the perfect mix of outdoor activities, natural beauty and nightlife, Maui is everyone’s go-to Hawaiian getaway. No matter what your level of comfortability in the ocean, we guarantee you’ll enjoy one of Maui’s best ocean activities, whether it be snorkeling, surfing, stand up paddle boarding, windsurfing, outrigger canoeing, kayaking, sailing, parasailing or more.
Snorkeling in particular is one of the best, easiest and most cost-effective ways to see the beauty of the Valley Isle. While there are many guided snorkeling boat tours around Maui, it’s just as easy to grab a pair of fins and a mask and explore the sites yourself! Below we give you the best tips for where to snorkel in West Maui from shore, and we hope you enjoy your time in tropical paradise.
West Maui’s Best Snorkel Sites
While Molokini Crater is by far the most popular snorkeling site in Maui, there are plenty of exquisite options on the West side that don’t even require a drive to Maalaea Harbor.
We recommend renting snorkel gear from Boss Frog’s, who offer full-snorkel equipment rentals – including mask, snorkel, fins and a mesh carrying bag – by the day or week. Their pricing beats all other competitors in the area, and they offer a no-obligation reservations system online to rent Maui snorkel gear. Give them a call at 808.856.4264 for more information.
#1 Honolua Bay (Mile Marker #32)
Part of a designated 45-acre Marine Life Conservation District committed to keeping the natural beauty of the surrounding areas intact, Honolua Bay is also one of the best snorkeling areas in all of Maui. Located further West beyond the popular West Maui towns of Lahaina, Napili and Kapalua, Honolua Bay also doubles as an excellent surf spot in winter months (meaning snorkeling is best in summer months, when conditions are calmer).
While the entrance is rocky and a bit slippery, it’s worth the journey! Visitors to Honolua are restricted from wearing sunscreen (which damages corals), bringing dogs, touching corals, or doing any kind of fishing. You’ll be treated to excellent visibility, a ton of local marine life, and beautiful views of the surrounding rocky cliffs.
#2 Napili Bay
Tropical paradise is found at Napili Bay, a favorite West Maui spot for lazy beach days, paddleboarding, outdoor picnics, scenic sunsets, and when conditions are favorable, snorkeling or surfing. While the middle of the bay doesn’t have a ton of fish or reef, the left side of Napili (when looking at the ocean) is great for snorkeling during calm conditions. Sea turtles, surgeonfish, needlefish and humuhumunukunukuapua’a are typically seen in the area, and it’s only a short swim to reach the best snorkeling areas. Enjoy views of the neighbor island of Lana’i, and make the most of your day with a post-snorkel meal or cocktail at The Sea House Restaurant on the north side of the beach.
#3 Kahekili “Airport” Beach
Formerly the site of the old Ka’anapali Airport, Kahekili is one of the best areas for snorkeling around West Maui. As a part of the Kahekili Herbivore Fisheries Management Area since 2009, snorkelers are treated to an abundance of healthy reef and thriving marine life. Enter anywhere you see a sandy area, and you’ll soon be surrounded by coral reef and species like eels, goatfish, bluefin trevally, unicornfish, yellow tang, black triggerfish and more. This is a very kid-friendly beach with public restroom facilities, as well as an abundance of Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles.
#4 Hanakao’o “Canoe” Beach
A popular take-off point for local outrigger canoe clubs, Hanakao’o Beach is also one of the only West Maui beaches with a lifeguard. While the area is home to several kiawe trees (and their painful thorns!), once you get into the water, you’ll be treated to a large population of Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles and tropical fish. This beach makes for a great full-day hangout, thanks in part to its BBQ and picnic table facilities, shaded areas, public restroom facilities and relaxed swimming conditions.
#5 Wahikuli Wayside Park
Though there isn’t a huge sandy beach area (it’s quite small, actually), this park is yet another picture-perfect place to relax, take in some sunshine, have a picnic with friends and family, and enjoy stellar snorkeling. The entrance into the water is slightly steep, but once you swim out past the concrete slabs, simply swim to the left or right to see plenty of healthy reef, and marine species including Moorish idol, Achilles tang, yellow tang, pearl wrasse, brown surgeonfish and plenty of Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles! Facilities include public restrooms, BBQ grills, shaded picnic tables and plenty of grassy areas to spread out.
While there are more popular West Maui snorkel spots – we’re looking at you, Ka’anapali Beach and Olowalu – we hope you enjoy these somewhat lesser known snorkeling spots in the area. Aloha, and mahalo for reading!