Our family was hit hard with the snorkeling bug on our trip to Maui last June – we spent loads of time figuring out the best snorkeling spots near our hotel, The Whaler, on the western shore of Maui. Our three favorites were all within a 20 minute drive of Kaanapali Beach and well worth the effort to seek out!
Right outside our hotel on Kaanapali Beach is one of the best known snorkeling spots on Maui, Black Rock, right off the point of the Sheraton. You can enter the water in front of the Sheraton, or my favorite, walk around to the other side and enter the water in front of the Maui Eldorado. This allows you to swim with the current, get a little open water feel as you snorkel past the wall, and brings you back to the Sheraton side.
At Black Rock, we were always able to see at least one turtle, sometimes in the shallow area, most often around the point. There are also a few resident puffer fish that like to hang out. I really enjoy the rocks area at the very point – lots of corals and small fish to gaze at. As usual, this spot is better in the morning, avoiding the crowds and afternoon water surge.
Just 10 minutes north of Kaanapali is Kapalua Bay, another excellent snorkeling site. As seen in the picture above, the bay is an inlet from the ocean, well protected from the surge. The dark blue area of the water is where the snorkeling starts, just a bit off the sandy beach.
Kapalua Bay is a good place to take young or inexperienced snorkelers, as the calm waters are easy to navigate. We ended up spending the day here, my kids enjoyed the tidepools to the left of the bay, and we picked up lunch in nearby Napili Bay.
About 20 minutes up the road from Kaanapali, you come to two other bays. The first is Mokulela Bay, which we did not explore, but which looked great from the road above. The second is Honolua Bay, a Marine Reserve, and well worth the effort to find.
As you drive up the road, it becomes a little curvy and narrow. Just after passing over the white one-lane bridge, look for parking on the left. You will see loads of other cars, so you will have a pretty good idea. Take what you need for the beach, but remember to not leave any visible valuables in your car.
Follow the path to the beach, through the rainforest-like setting. Three minutes later, you come out to a rock beach with a beautiful bay. Don’t be alarmed if you see lots of folks on the rocks, there is more than enough snorkeling for everyone.
The day we went, a couple of the big snorkel boat operators were in the bay, confirming the greatness of the spot. We parked our stuff to the right of the path, and entered the water. Getting in is tricky, over rocks and stones, but once in, very comfortable.
Head to the right, and really go out there. Close to shore we saw some interesting things, including a couple of squid, but the visibility was murky. The further along to the right we went, the more interesting the scenery. Loads of coral, soft and hard, loads of fish, loads of color. Really beautiful!
What is your favorite snorkel spot in Maui?