Maui is home to the best snorkeling in Hawaii, which makes it a huge draw for visitors. Swimming in the crystal clear water and looking at the vibrant sea life is something that doesn’t get old.
While we enjoy snorkeling from the beach, we love treating ourselves to a good snorkeling tour. Snorkeling tours offer trips to difficult-to-access spots, a better chance at spotting a wide variety of marine life, and guides that can help you navigate the process. But with an abundance of tours offered, how do you choose?
After going on many snorkeling tours, we have a list of our favorite e snorkeling tours on Maui and we’ve included something for everyone.
Table of Contents
- Best Snorkeling Tours on Maui
- Best Maui Snorkeling Tour for Families
- Maui Snorkeling Tour FAQs:
- Make your trip planning so much easier
- Maui Pineapple Tour
- Maui’s Best Private Charter Sailing Experience
- Your 10-Day Oahu and Maui Itinerary
Best Snorkeling Tours on Maui
As I’ve said, we love snorkeling tours. And getting to live on Maui, we’ve been so lucky to experience many different tours. While we have generally liked most of our snorkeling tour experiences, these are the ones that really stand out in terms of quality of the boat, the crew, and the stops.
Add these to your short list of snorkeling tours to experience on Maui:
1. Kai Kanani Maui Adventure Sunrise Snorkel to Molokini Crater
This is hands-down our favorite Molokini snorkel experience because it is a trip that everyone can enjoy. The biggest pro is that Kai Kanani does a beach loading directly from Wailea/Makena, while most other boats depart from Ma’alaea Harbor, which is much further away. That means two things:
- you’re not spending half of your trip getting to and from the crater. You get more snorkel time!
- You are the first boat to arrive at Molokini Crater.
Being the first snorkeling group in the water is a huge perk. Since it is very popular, Molokini can get crowded. It is a real treat to see it empty! By the time the bigger boats show up, you’re on your way to the second snorkeling location.
Book the sunrise Molokini snorkeling tour with Kai Kanani. If sunrise is a bit too early for you, they also offer a later, deluxe Molokini snorkeling tour. The capacity on their catamaran is 80 people, but they keep their total less (40-60 people) to make sure everyone has a bit more room.
And want to experience it before you go? Here’s a video of our sunrise tour experience:
2. Sail Maui Lana’i Picnic
A day trip to Lana’i is a real treat and Sail Maui makes this day out even more special. It starts with a stop at the Manele Bay Marine Preserve for some snorkeling before continuing on to Hulopoe Beach. There you’ll enjoy 2 hours of beach time, a picnic lunch, and the chance to snorkel from the beach. Snorkeling at Hulopoe Beach might be my favorite beach snorkeling experience in all of Hawaii.
After that, you’ll enjoy a leisurely sail back to Maui. The trip on the catamaran is limited to 40 passengers, so you won’t feel like you’re in a huge crowd.
Use code HVG10 to get 10% off any Sail Maui Snorkeling Trips.
3. Ultimate Whale Watch & Snorkel Lana’i
If you are looking for a snorkeling adventure, put this high on your list. On this trip, you trade a sail boat for a power raft and that completely changes the trip. This is no longer a leisurely snorkeling ride — it crosses over to an adventure as you speed along six miles to the Lana’i coast.
Depending on the snorkeling conditions, you’ll get to visit 3+ snorkeling spots between Maui and Lana’i. Our trip started at Mala Ramp on Maui for turtle sightings before continuing on to Lana’i. On the ride out to Lana’i you might be treated to spinner dolphin sightings (not guaranteed but always an amazing experience!). Then you’ll get to snorkel at various spots on Lanai’ that are not accessible by boat.
We love the raft because we can speed to different spots quickly and it’s a small group experience (fewer than 20 people on the tour).
Check out our video of our Lana’i snorkeling experience with Ultimate Whale Watch & Snorkel. (We did the 6 hour sail) Bonus! Use code HVG for 10% off your tour booking.
4. Redline Rafting Molokini Back Wall
This tour isn’t the classic Molokini Crater snorkeling trip and it isn’t for everyone. But for the right (adventurous person), this is an amazing tour option. Nearly every boat company offers tours of Molokini Crater. But Redline Rafting will not only take you to the crater but to the back wall of the crater.
The back wall is deep — 300+ feet — but your visibility of it will be less, so it looks like it’s falling off into the ocean. It’s also more thrilling than the partially enclosed crater as you’re open to the ocean.
You’ll then continue your snorkel to La Perouse Bay, a spot where you can often find spinner dolphins.
The power raft tour leaves from the Kihei small boat ramp, which is another perk. You don’t need to drive to Maalaea Harbor to start your journey.
Learn more and book with Redline Rafting.
5. Kayak Snorkeling with Maui Adventure Tours
Looking for something a little different? Skip the big boat experience (and crowds) and head out with a guide on a kayak. Maui Adventure Tours leaves from Olowalu Beach in West Maui (10-minutes south of Lahaina) to take you out snorkeling the pristine reef and clear water of Olowalu reef. No kayaking experience is required.
While you won’t be paddling to Molokini Crater or Lana’i, you’ll stop at different snorkeling locations and look for turtles, octopus, fish, and more. During whale season, you might even get to see some whales up close.
If you’re planning a trip to Maui, we have a full guide dedicated to planning the best vacation. From where to stay, what to do, and where to eat, we have you covered. Check out our Maui Guide for everything you need to know for a great vacation.
6. Maui Custom Charters to Coral Gardens and Olowalu Reef
Are you looking to ditch the crowds on your snorkel trip? Try a private charter with Maui Custom Charters. Up to 6 passengers can enjoy sailing to the famous and pristine Olowalu reef or under the Lahaina cliffs in Coral Gardens, two snorkel spots that are only accessible by boat.
Whether you want to snorkel, watch the sunset, enjoy some cocktails, learn to sail, celebrate a special occasion, or just lay back and relax then a private charter is your best option. They can customize the perfect trip as the boat and crew are at your service! Their most popular chartered tours are the morning or afternoon 4 -hour snorkel and sail.
Save 5% on all their charter tours with promo code HVG5!
Best Maui Snorkeling Tour for Families
Finding a good snorkeling tour can be tricky when you’re traveling with kids. Some boats don’t allow very young children and babies on board. And if they do, coaxing your child into the ocean so you can all snorkel together can sometimes be a challenge.
While we’ve taken our preschooler on both Kai Kanani and Sail Maui tours, there are two other tours that we think are exceptional for kids.
Traveling with kids? Here are our favorite kid-friendly beaches on Maui.
7. Four Winds II Molokini Snorkel
Family fun is the focus on the Four Winds Molokini Crater tour. It’s a larger boat tour than you’ll find in our previous recommendations, but they have some specific amenities that can make going with a larger group totally worth it. Note: their boat capacity is 149 people but they advertise that they keep their tours smaller than that to ensure comfortability.
On their Molokini snorkeling tour, you’ll get to snorkel Molokini Crater but kids are front and center on the tour. There is a waterslide (that even adults enjoy), a glass-bottom viewing, cookies, temporary tattoos, and more. In the glass bottom room, a few kids or adults can take a peek at what’s underwater, without actually having to get into the water.
Learn more about Four Winds II Molokini Snorkel and book.
If not everyone can snorkel in your family, consider a submarine tour. The Atlantis Submarine and ReefDancer Semi-Sub leave out of Lahaina harbor. They are great for the whole family.
8. Maui Snorkel Tours
This is a unique guided snorkeling tour. They offer shore-based tours, meaning no boats are involved at all. You’ll head out in a very small group with a guide (or a private tour) after a briefing on land about marine biology and how to snorkel.
Why is this great for the family? On a tour boat, there’s no one available to teach you how to properly snorkel. With a guide, they are taking you step by step through how to snorkel, where to snorkel, and equipping you with the knowledge that you can use on future shore snorkeling trips. Whether it’s kids or adults learning, everyone in your family can have a great time underwater and walk away with knowledge about snorkeling and the ocean.
Learn more about Maui Snorkel Tours and book.
If you want to look for even more tours, head to our Tours & Activities page for Maui for a full list of our recommended snorkeling, whale watching, ziplining, and more tours.
Maui Snorkeling Tour FAQs:
If you’re heading out on your first snorkeling trip or trying to decide if paying for a trip is worth it, we have you covered with some FAQs.
Are snorkeling tours on Maui worth it?
I used to find myself squarely on one side of this debate: snorkeling tours were not worth the money. However, as I’ve done more of them (and gone on great tours), I’ve come to really appreciate that a good snorkeling tour is definitely worth the time money for a number of reasons:
- You can snorkel in hard-to-access areas: Some tours will take you to spots that are easily accessible from the shore. But others treat you to spots that would be challenging (or impossible) to reach without a boat, like Molokini, spots off the coast of Lana’i, Coral Garden, and Namalu Bay.
- Access to a naturalist: You’re there to snorkel and have fun, but there’s also something to be said about actually learning more about Hawaii, the ocean, and sea file while you’re on your tour. The best boats come with fantastic naturalists who can educate you on what you’re seeing and answer any questions that you have.
- A crew dedicated to keeping you safe: Snorkeling is a fun activity but there are times when it isn’t so safe. When you head out on a quality boat tour, you have a crew that is dedicated to making sure their passengers stay safe. That means providing you with good gear, having people in the water to help anyone in distress, and making sure to take you to places that are safe.
- Excellent gear: We own our own snorkeling gear but we almost always leave that at home and use what our tour provides. Why? The quality of the equipment is great, they take away any hassle of cleaning it, and we get to try out new brands.
- Easy and all-inclusive: Beach days require some planning — bringing the gear, finding a spot, packing enough food and water. A snorkeling tour requires a lot less planning. They take care of the food and drink for you. Just bring your towel and your favorite reef-friendly sunscreen!
- Better reef and environmental protection: Protecting the reef and the sea life in Hawaii is very important. When you travel on a guided snorkeling tour, there is little chance that you’ll find yourself stepping on and damaging coral or violating any of the animal protection laws that are in place.
While there are a lot of benefits of snorkeling with a tour, that’s not to say that you should skip snorkeling from the shore. If you are an experienced snorkeler and want to visit some of Maui’s best snorkeling spots, you will have a great time.
But we think that doing one good, quality snorkeling tour on Maui is worth it for just about everyone.
Is snorkeling at Molokini Crater worth it?
Molokini Crater is one of the most popular snorkeling destinations in Hawaii. It’s a crescent shaped, partially submerged volcanic crater located just a few miles off Maui’s south shore. It’s also a marine life sanctuary and a Hawaii state seabird sanctuary.
Molokini is a very popular spot, but is it worth it? We think that with the right tour, a trip to Molokini is absolutely worth it. The water is incredibly clear, you’ll see a wider variety of fish than you would snorkeling on the beach, and most tours include additional snorkeling stops, which means you’re not just snorkeling the crater.
That said, not every Molokini Crater snorkeling tour is equally as good. We’ve listed our favorites (and why we picked them) to help you find the right tour for you.
Is a snorkeling trip to Lana’i worth it?
I have to be honest: we love snorkeling on Lana’i. So we are firmly in the camp that thinks a snorkeling trip to Lana’i is worth it. And there are a few reasons why.
First, it’s another island which is just a fun adventure in itself. Second, there are fewer people who make the trip out there compared to other snorkeling spots. Third, you will often see spinner dolphins along the coast and finding your boat in a pod of dolphins is a memorable experience.
Check out our video of our trip to Lana’i with Ultimate Whale Watch & Snorkel. It was an adventure on a small power raft and one that we can’t wait to go on again soon.
What can you expect on a snorkeling tour?
While all snorkeling tours are a little bit different, there are some things that you can generally expect to find on your tour
- A naturalist or experienced guide: These guides can educate you on what you’re seeing as well as how best to keep you and the marine life safe. They are extremely knowledgeable, so when they talk be sure to listen!
- Snorkeling gear: If you don’t have snorkeling gear (maks, snorkel, fins) your trip will usually provide you with a high-quality set. And they’ll make sure it fits you well so you can have the best experience possible.
- Food and drinks: It can be a long day out on the water and the tour will usually provide everything you need to stay happy and hydrated. There’s a range as to what you’ll find on board — some tour operators focus on food and drinks as a selling feature while others provide good food, but the meal and bar isn’t their focus.
Before you head to Maui, read our Maui Guide. It’ll make your trip planning so much easier. From where to stay, what to do, and where to eat, we have you covered. Check out our Maui Guide for everything you need to know for a great vacation.
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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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