Snorkeling on Maui

Snorkelers in Maui, if nothing else, are blissfully spoiled for choice.

With 120 miles of coastline, Maui has dozens of snorkeling spots that are rung by coral reefs, and hundreds of colorful species of fish that call the shoreline home. Take a look out over the sand, out towards the open blue, and you may spot eagle rays flying on by, or turtles surfacing for air, and it’s always fun when a camouflaged he‘e (octopus) darts out from its home in the rocks. Snorkeling on Maui means the possibility of new experiences each day, and in winter it all takes place to the soundtrack of whales singing in the distance.

One of the most popular places to a go snorkeling in Maui is Kā‘anapali Beach, at Pu‘u Keka‘a, also known as “Black Rock,” in front of the Sheraton resort. Here at this volcanic promontory that juts out into the waves, Hawaiian sea turtles nibble on limu (seaweed), and silvery schools of akule and chubs patrol the fringe of the reef. Kahekili Beach, just one mile north is another popular spot, since the large reef helps thin the crowds and fish are found in abundance.
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Further north, Napili Bay and Kapalua Bay are neighboring snorkeling hot spots, and Honolua Bay in the summer months has arguably the best snorkeling on Maui. In South Maui, Mokapu Beach and Ulua Beach are separated by a small, volcanic headland that teems with fish and sea turtles, and down in Makena, Kanahena Cove—also known as “Dumps”—is spectacularly rugged and remote. Or, for an easy snorkel in shallow water, check out the north end of Keawakapu Beach in front of the Mana Kai resort.

Despite the wealth of options, however, that run along Maui’s coastline, none compare to the aquatic bonanza that’s found at Molokini Crater. Just three miles off the coast of South Maui, this volcanic caldera is home to over 200 species of fish—many of which are endemic to Hawaiʻi, only found here in the islands. Granted, because the spot is so popular, finding these different species of fish entails avoiding the crowds, so book a boat that gets there early before the onslaught begins. Even on days when the crater is crowded, the water clarity is reason enough to grab a mask and snorkel, and as is the case with snorkeling on Maui—and Molokini in particular—you never know what might swim by to put on an underwater show.

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