When it comes to snorkeling in Hawaii, we think the best island to snorkel on is Maui. Not only do you countless excellent spots to get in the water with fish, but you also have so many snorkel spots that are easily accessible for novice swimmers and snorkelers. It’s easy for nearly everyone to get in the water here.

While there are a lot of great places to snorkel on Maui, some stand out from the rest. Here we’ll lay out the best five places to snorkel on Maui and some tips to help your trip into the water be even better. 

The Best Places to Snorkel On Maui — Our Top Five

Before we jump into the locations, let me first point out what all spots have in common. Every location on our list has plenty of fish and other sea life. We’ve seen turtles at each location nearly every time we’ve snorkeled. 

These locations are all beginner to intermediate snorkeling locations, there’s no need to be an expert snorkeler to have a fantastic experience on Maui. 

You’ll also notice that every location on the list is either on West or South Maui. While North and East Maui have some great snorkeling spots, they’re less accessible to the majority of visitors to Hawaii and the water can get rough in the winter. 

While each of these five places are great, there are some differences. Ready to learn more? Let’s jump in:

If you’d prefer a video tour of these top five locations, watch our short video below:


1. Black Rock, Kaanapali

Our favorite place to snorkel on Maui is Black Rock in Kaanapali. It’s in front of the Sheraton hotel in West Maui. 

While yes, Kaanapali beach can get crowded, it’s for good reason. One of the most beautiful beaches on Maui, the white sand beach stretches for a mile. At the north end of this beautiful beach is Black Rock, a place to both snorkel and cliff jump. It’s easy to see plenty of fish and turtles in the shallow waters right off the shore. More experienced swimmers can snorkel along the rocks as the water gets deeper to experience even more. 

Aside from the stellar snorkeling, what makes Black Rock great is that you can spend the day on the beach without packing much. There are plenty of restaurants in Whaler’s Village so you can take a break and get out of the sun for lunch. And you’ll find activities on the beach like boat rides and scuba diving. 

Blackrock amenities at a glance:

  • Huge white sand beach
  • Plenty of parking
  • Bathrooms and showers
  • Cliff jumping
  • Plenty of food options

Get directions to Black Rock Beach

Black Rock best snorkeling maui


2. Kapalua Bay

Located on Northwest Maui is Kapalua Bay, a small bay that is an easy place to snorkel for swimmers of all levels. The protected cove gets few waves and has a beautiful beach. We love Kapalua because the water is crystal clear, the bay is protected from waves, and there is plenty of fish to see amongst the coral. 

Kapalua Bay also has amenities that make snorkeling easy. There’s a large parking lot (and more parking along the road), bathrooms and showers. Plus, you can end your day snorkeling with a drink on the patio at Merriman’s restaurant, on the south end of the bay. 

Kapalua amenities at a glance:

  • Sandy beach
  • Parking lot
  • Bathrooms and showers
  • One of the best restaurants on Maui

Get directions to Kapalua Bay

kapalua bay best snorkeling maui


3. Makena Landing (Turtle Town)

This is our only location on South Maui on this list, and it’s a good one. As the name suggests, this is an excellent place to see turtles. In fact, many of the snorkeling boat trips make a stop here to get their snorkelers in the water with turtles. But you don’t have to pay for the boat ride to have the same experience. 

You’ll also find a number of scuba divers enjoying this location because the variety of fish you can see here is stunning. 

That said, there are some challenges. The beach is extremely small (though it does have an area of grass near it), the parking lot is small, and getting past the wave break to the prime snorkel spots can be a bit challenging for a novice swimmer. 

Makena amenities at a glance:

  • Small beach
  • Parking lot
  • Bathrooms and showers
  • No food options nearby

Get directions to Makena Landing

snorkeling maui makena landing turtle town

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4. Napili Bay and Honokeana Cove

Back up in Northwest Maui, you can find these snorkeling spots just south of Kapalua. Napili Bay has a large, crescent-shaped beach with soft white sand, flanked by small hotels. On the south side of Napili Bay near the Napili Shores Hotel, you’ll find a large parking lot. If that’s full, there’s plenty of parking along the street.

While Napili can occasionally get some waves, you’ll most often find calm waters that make snorkeling and playing in the water easy for everyone. 

While you’re in Napili don’t miss breakfast or lunch at the famous Gazebo Restaurant. Yes, there will be a line and yes, it’s worth it. 

And if you’re looking for nearly guaranteed turtle sightings, head around the south corner to Honokana Cove. There’s no beach, but for turtle sightings, you’ll want to be in the water. The water isn’t nearly as clear as it is in Napili Bay, but look closely and you’ll likely find dozens of turtles moving slowly and eating.

Just remember in Hawaii it’s illegal to touch, feed, or harass turtles. You’ll want to keep your distance too: it’s recommended that everyone stay at least 10 feet away from turtles

Napili Bay amenities at a glance:

  • Big beach
  • Parking lot
  • Two restaurant options
  • No bathrooms

Get directions to Napili Bay

Napili Bay Maui Best Snorkel Spot


5. Honolua Bay

On the Northwest tip of Maui, you’ll find Honolua Bay, a protected Marine Conservation area that’s just perfect for snorkeling. To get to Honolua Bay, it’s a short hike through a gorgeous landscape before you arrive at the bay. 

Unfortunately for the sunbathers and sandcastle builders, there’s no sandy beach here, and entering the water can be a bit tricky (it’s slippery). But once you’re in the view is worth it. We see the largest fish here and a variety that is hard to find at other spots on the island. 

Amenities here are non-existent. There’s no official parking lot, no bathrooms, and no showers. Bring your own food because there’s no place to eat or get water. But what it lacks in amenities it makes up for in truly beautiful snorkeling. 

Honolua Bay amenities at a glance:

  • Protected bay
  • No parking lot
  • No bathrooms or showers
  • No food options

Get directions to Honolua Bay

snorkeling maui honolua bay 2


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Erica Gellerman

Erica Gellerman

I'm the co-founder, with my husband Jordan, of The Hawaii Vacation Guide. We live on Maui with our toddler Henry and our sweet but quirky dog Hattie. I am a planner! I love to plan island-hopping adventures, days out on Maui, and everything in-between. I spend a lot of my time on our SUP and my favorite time of year in Hawai'i is whale season!

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