Find Great Snorkeling Locations on Maui and Oahu

Jun 2, 2021 | General Information

Maui and Lanai have more snorkeling sites within easy reach than any other Hawaiian island. There is snorkeling for every snorkeler, no matter experience, age, fitness or any other factor. Maui certainly has enough snorkeling options to keep people coming back again and again with families, loved ones and friends.

On Maui and the other Hawaiian islands, with hundreds of miles of coastline, and huge numbers of public and other beaches, finding suitable locations for beginner, intermediate and even advanced snorkeling is not that simple. Prevailing trade winds can have profound effects on water conditions. Shoreline access can be difficult if not dangerous. Waves, tides, currents and surges that vary at different times of year can produce hazardous conditions Many beautiful reefs have plenty of colorful tropical fish and other creatures. But reef composition and topography always vary in ways that can make a big difference for snorkeling experiences. For all of these reasons, snorkeling tours, some that include kayaking, are well worth considering on any Hawaiian island.

Many snorkeling sites on Maui have easy entry from calm, sheltered bays, and sandy beaches. Maui offers many choices of diverse, excellent snorkeling sites that visitors can reach on their own. But snorkeling tours provide a guaranteed way to find the best snorkeling with the least waste of time, hassle and unpleasant experiences. Snorkeling tours are available to all of the best snorkeling spots around Maui, Lanai and Molokai.

Some of our favorite snorkeling locations are really beautiful. Beautiful Honolua Bay, north of Lahaina, for example, offers great snorkeling in its Marine Life Conservation District. Honolua Bay has many large colorful fish of every variety. No surprise, the Bay attracts many snorkel boats. When it’s calm, Honolua Bay is like a lake with some of the best snorkeling in Hawaii. But near the excellent snorkeling also is a famous surfing break. Check the weather and surf reports before heading to Honolua.

On the way to Honolua Bay, Mokuleia Bay is part of the same marine reserve but beginners should stick with Honolua. In winter, big swells often roll into both bays. Honokohau Bay to the north of Honolua is another beautiful location, adjoining a lush valley. Honokohau also needs attention to winter weather and swells. For many snorkeling sites on Maui and in Hawaii, time of year and exposure to swells and surf are important considerations.

South of Lahaina, Mile 14 along Hwy 30 marks Olowalu Beach. Waters adjoining long Olowalu Beach provide plenty of coral and fish, especially in outer, deeper waters. Kayakers and snorkelers are likely to see sea turtles and monk seals. Nearby Coral Gardens with large healthy coral heads spread over a wide area is a very popular snorkeling destination

The coast of South Maui along the Wailea area is a great place for snorkelers. The reef that extends far out to sea hosts lots of turtle and pelagic fish. Kayak and snorkel tours along the south coast of Maui in the vicinity of Makena Landing and Turtle Town provide individuals and families with sightings of green sea turtles and lots of tropical fish. The southernmost part of South Maui, from Makena all the way to Hana, has some beautiful beaches, coves and snorkeling sites waiting to be explored, but are best seen on kayak tours.

Everyone planning to snorkel on any coast of Maui needs to know about kayaking tours. Kayaking is one of the best ways to see marine life up close. You skim over beautiful coral. Fish or dolphins are swimming by and whales in winter months. Cruise along in a single or double kayak for a couple of hours. There’s not much to learn about kayaking in order to enjoy the experience. The most challenging part of the day probably will be getting into the water through a surf break.

Kayak and snorkeling tours around Maui or any of the other islands are relaxing experiences with sightseeing under the sea and along coastlines. In addition to dolphins at any time, during winter months kayakers are likely to see whales around Maui. Like on Maui, kayaking tours on other islands can be one of multiple watersports that include surfing or standup paddle boarding lessons or just lots of fun. Kauai is the only Hawaiian island offering kayaking on navigable rivers. In summer months Kauai kayaking can include both a scenic river and the fantastic Na Pali coast.

On Oahu kayakers can kayak to the tiny Mokulua Islands just a mile off the coast of Kailua on the eastern shore. Oahu is the only island in Hawaii that offers kayaking between islands. Kayaking also is an option in Oahu’s beautiful Kaneohe Bay as part of an excursion to Kualoa Ranch. The Ranch offers a wonderful array of activities and tours including zipline, horseback, ATV riding and bayside snorkeling.

A large part of Kaneohe Bay is covered by Heeia State Park. Waters of the park are protected by Oahu’s only barrier reef. Thus coral grows abundantly and sea life thrives. The protected waters of Kaneohe Bay are perfect for kayaking and snorkeling. The Bay is a favorite of catamarans. Park and Bay offer stunning views of the Koolau mountain range. The Park provides a beautiful setting for weddings and other special events.