Maui

Molokini Crater

Offshore marine preserve just three miles off the coast of Maui sits a crescent-shap’ed islet, a marine preserve that abounds with tropical fish and calm waters.  Molokini was declared a State Marine Life Conservation District in 1977 and is considered one of Maui’s top snorkel sites.

Legend has it that Molokini is the result of a jealous rage.  The volcano goddess, Pele, had a dream lover, Lohiau, who lived in Maalaea.  Lohiau married a mo’o (lizard) and in anger, Pele bisected the lizard and the tail became Puuolai Hill in Makena and the head turned into the Molokini islet.

An uninhabited land mass, Molokini rises 156 feet above sea level.  Its northern rim has eroded away to form a protected cove perfect for diving and snorkeling.  Numerous water activity boats make Molokini a daily destination, touting its crystal clear waters and variety of marine life.  It’s home to more than 250 species of fish, some of which are endemic to Hawaii.  There are even instances of manta rays entering the bay.

Explore the islet’s pristine waters on a snorkel or scuba charter.  “It’s one of the best dives I’ve ever been on,” said a smiling Charles Mckee after returning from his Molokini dive charter.  “The visibility was great, the water was warm, we saw all kinds of fish and an eel, a turtle, and we had our dive instructor take underwater photos of us.”

If you’re interested in spending a day at Molokini, you can contact several vendors: Ocean Activities Center, Trilogy, Maui Classic Charters or see a Pleasant Hawaii Tour Desk for more info.

DID YOU KNOW?

-Fish feeding is banned at Molokini as it throws off the natural balance between prey and predator.

*Corals look like rocks but are actually colonies of tiny animals that build their coral home over a long period of time.  Accidentally brushing against coral, hitting or stepping on it can cause harm. *Removing marine life from their homes can have a cumulative effect considering the fact that many people visit Molokini on a daily basis.

Honolu’a Bay
Kapalau Bay
Kamaole I, II, III
Olowalu
Kahekili Beach
Coral Gardens
West Side
Diving and
Snorkeling Overview

These are maps we accumulated covering shore, wreck, open water, advanced types of diving around Maui. The Crater shows most of the boat’s favorite snorkeling spots. They are all on the West side of the island because that’s where the water is generally safer. When North swells come in, it is best to snorkel at the southern locations, i.e. numbers 7 through 15. During South swells, numbers 1 through 6 are best. Generally, ocean swells come from the North in the Winter and South in the Summer. This isn’t always the case so the best course is to check on weather when you get here for the latest report.

Honolu’a Bay

Honolu’a may well be the best Maui snorkeling spot on a good day. A good day here is when there have been no recent North swells or rain. During North swells, this is a world class surfing spot and for obvious reasons not good snorkeling. If there has been a recent rain in the area, the run-off enters at the mouth of the bay and ruins the otherwise great visibility. Most of the time this is a great place to snorkel or dive. There are coral formations on each side of the bay and lots of colorful fish. The chance of spotting a few turtles here is excellent. This is a marine reserve so you are not allowed to take anything but pictures.

Location: North of Napili on Hwy. 30, about 1/2 mile past mile marker 32, you will see a metal gate down in a wash. Park where you can and walk around the gate, through a canopy of trees and to the water. Be sure to park off the road. If you are not completely outside of the white fog line, you may get ticketed. Do not leave valuables in your car.

Facilities: none

Beach: Large, smooth rocks

Experience Level: Beginner to advanced

Makulei’a Bay

Makulei’a Bay, also known as “Slaughter House” to surfers, is a good place to snorkel. The snorkeling isn’t quite as good as Honolu’a, but if there are some in your group that want to just hang out on the beach, this would be a good compromise. If you are an experienced swimmer, you could snorkel around the northern point to Honolu’a. There are coral formations on each side of the bay and lots of colorful fish. The chance of spotting a few turtles here is good. This is a marine reserve so you are not allowed to take anything but pictures.

Location: North of Napili on Hwy. 30, at mile marker 32, you will see a chain link fence at the top of the cliff. Park where you can and walk down the concrete stairway to the beach. Be sure to park off the road. If you are not completely outside of the white fog line, you may get ticketed. Do not leave valuables in your car.

Facilities: None

Beach: Beautiful, sandy beach

Experience Level: Beginner to advanced

Kapalua Bay

Kapalua Bay, known as the prettiest beach on Maui is also a good snorkeling spot. The best snorkeling is on the north side of the bay. Unless you are very experienced, you should stay within the bay due to the potential for strong currents outside.

Location: On Hwy. 30, at the Napili Plaza, turn toward the ocean on Napilihau Street. When Napilihau Street “T’s” at Lower Honoapi’ilani Road, turn right. Drive almost a mile to Napili Kai Beach Club and turn toward the ocean at the Shoreline Access sign. Park in the lot and walk through the tunnel to the beach. The best snorkel access is on the north side of the bay.

Facilities: Showers, change rooms, restrooms

Beach: Beautiful, sandy beach

Experience Level: Beginner to intermediate

Kahekili Beach Park

Kahekili Beach Park, also known as Airport Beach, is a nice place to spend the day with the family. Great facilities and lots of reef to snorkel. The calm water and easy access make it a popular spot for scuba instruction.

Location: North end of Ka’anapali, on Hwy. 30, just north of mile marker 25, turn toward the ocean on Pu’ukolii Road.

Facilities: Lots of parking, showers, change rooms, restrooms, large covered picnic areas, barbecues and pay phones

Beach: Nice, sandy beach

Experience Level: Beginner to intermediate

Black Rock

Black Rock is like a wall dive for snorkelers. A lava outcropping with coral attached. Swim from the South end up to the north and back again. If there is no ocean swell, this can be a very clear snorkel. One usually sees turtles along the way and an occasional tako (octopus). A common spot for night dives.

Location: On Hwy. 30 in Ka’anapali turn toward the ocean on Ka’anapali Parkway. Look for the free beach access parking. If it’s full, you’ll have to park at Whaler’s Village parking. If you decide to eat or buy something at this mall or have lunch, you can have your ticket validated.

Facilities: Lots of parking (some free some not – see above), showers, change rooms, restrooms, pay phones, shops and restaurants.

Beach: Beautiful, sandy beach

Experience Level: Beginner to intermediate

Keanae
Hana Bay
East side dive & snorkel
Ahihi
La Perouse
Wailea/Molokini
Makena Landing
5 Caves
Molokini Crater

Wahikuli Park

Location:

Facilities: Showers, change rooms, restrooms,

Beach: Nice, sandy beach

Experience Level: Beginner to intermediate

Olowalu

Acres of coral reef. You could spend the whole day here and not see it all. If it’s a little murky at first don’t get discouraged – just go further out. This area stays shallow for a long way out. Follow the sand channels until you are deep enough not to scrape your belly on the coral. This location is also a good choice in the afternoon as it more protected from the trades.

Location: On Hwy. 30 at mile marker 14, about 10 miles south of Lahaina. See mile marker post on the mountain side of the road. Be careful not to park in soft sand!

Facilities: None

Beach: Narrow sandy beach

Experience Level: Beginner to advanced

Coral Gardens

Great snorkeling with lots of coral and tropical fish. Good spot to see turtles. Unless you are on a boat, this is only recommended for advanced snorkelers due to the long swim and sometimes difficult access.

Location: On Hwy. 30, about 1/2 mile north of the tunnel. The first parking area north of the Pali (cliffs). Enter by parking area and swim south in front of the cliffs.

Facilities: Showers, change rooms, restrooms,

Beach: None

Experience Level: Advanced (beginner to intermediate from a boat)

Kamaole Beaches

Kamaole beaches 1, 2, and 3 are stretches of sandy beaches along South Kihei Road. Each beach is bordered by rocky points. These points are the best snorkeling. Great family beaches with plenty of stores and restaurants close by.

Location: On South Kihei Road in Kihei

Facilities: Showers, change rooms, restrooms, lifeguards, phones, park facilities

Beach: Nice, sandy beach

Experience Level: Beginner to intermediate

Ulua/Mokapu

Mokapu and Ulua are two beaches separated by a nice little snorkel point. This is a nice place for the family, especially if you are staying in the Wailea area. Parking lot may be full if you are not there early or later in the afternoon.

Location: In Wailea between the Renaissance and Outrigger hotels. See the sign on Wailea Alanui and turn toward the water

Facilities: Showers, change rooms, restrooms,

Beach: Nice, sandy beach on either side of snorkel area

Experience Level: Beginner to intermediate

Polo Beach

Polo Beach is by the Kea Lani Hotel. This is a pretty sand beach with the best snorkeling area to the right. Nice coral formations and plenty of fish.

Location: Between Wailea and Makena in front of the Kea Lani Hotel. Take Kaukahi (the road on the south side of the hotel) toward the ocean and turn right at the bottom of the hill, following the beach access signs.

Facilities: Showers, change rooms, restrooms.

Beach: Nice sandy beach

Experience Level: Beginner to intermediate

Five Caves

One of Maui’s best snorkel or scuba spots. Abundant marine life including many turtles. Not for beginners due to the swimming distance. Many caves and “swim-thrus” for advanced scuba divers. Visibility is sometimes poor after rain or south swells.

Location: South of Wailea on Wailea Alanui, turn toward the ocean on Makena Rd, just south of the Makena Surf Condos. In about 1/4 mile, you will see some dirt parking on both sides of the road and a small graveyard between the parking and the ocean. Follow the trail to the sea and look for an inlet for entry.

Facilities: None

Beach: None

Experience Level: Intermediate to advanced

Molokini Crater

Geologically, Molokini is a volcanic cinder cone that has eroded over the ages. Now the island is a Marine Life Conservation District Seabird Sanctuary, and a world-class dive location. Located 3 miles off the shores of Maui, it is famous for having incredibly clear water with visibility exceeding 100 feet almost every day. You will enjoy thousands of brightly colored tropical fish and it is possible to see monk seals, whale sharks, manta rays, spotted eagle rays and harmless white tip sharks. Molokini is one of the most popular & exotic snorkel & diving sites in the entire world. It is a must see destination for any visitor interested in Maui’s underwater world.

Location: 3 miles off the coast – boats only

Facilities: Whatever is on the boat

Beach: None

Experience Level: Beginner to advanced

Ahihi Keanau Reserve

Snorkeling at it’s best. Anywhere along this reserve you feel comfortable entering the water is great. Ahihi Bay itself is a great place to get used to your gear if you are new or rusty at snorkeling. After you get comfortable in the water, head out of the bay for some of the best snorkeling on the island.

Location: South of Wailea and all of the hotels, after the road narrows and follows the coast closely, you will begin to see Ahihi Keanau Reserve signs. Ahihi Bay is an obvious bay within the reserve.

Facilities: None – park where you can.

Beach: Rocky to none

Experience Level: Beginner to advanced

La Perouse

To the North is reserve and the best snorkeling. This is an excellent place to snorkel if it isn’t too windy. There is a pod of dolphins that frequents the area – usually in the early morning hours. If you are lucky they will swim with you!

Location: Past Ahihi Reserve, this is end of the road unless you have 4-wheel drive and a lot of clearance.

Facilities: None

Beach: Rocky to none

Experience Level: Intermediate to advanced

This is a map of Boss Frog’s favorite snorkeling spots. They are all on the West side of the island because that’s where the water is generally safer. When North swells come in, it is best to snorkel at the southern locations, i.e. numbers 7 through 15. During South swells, numbers 1 through 6 are best. Generally, ocean swells come from the North in the Winter and South in the Summer. This isn’t always the case so the best course is to check with The Frog when you get here for the latest report.

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