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Snorkeling

One of the reasons people love Maui so much is the great snorkeling here. Since the Hawaiian Islands are the most remote on earth, about 25-30% of the marine life is "endemic" and can only be found here. This makes snorkeling on Maui a wonderful experience. This webpage gives you tips on snorkeling here and some of my favorite spots. At the same time, it asks for your help in preserving our reef and sea life by acting responsibly while you snorkel.

Snorkel Fun
Snorkeling Tips
  • Please use caution!!! Review the County of Maui beach safety tips and watch the video. You can also chat with one of the Ocean Safety Officers (lifeguards) about beach, surf conditions, and ocean safety. Please obey their ocean safety signs.
  • Use the buddy system. Do not snorkel alone!
  • The best time to snorkel on Maui is in the morning before the wind picks up. This is the time the water is the most calm and clearest. While you may find good snorkeling after noon, it will really depend on the wind and the specific location. You'll just have to check.
  • The snorkel gear in the condo is from US Divers and available at Costco. Adjust the band so it will stay on your face with just a breath in through your nose. Not alot of pressure. If air leaks in, you may want to consider renting gear from one of the dive shops locally. After you've fitted the mask properly, I recommend putting a drop of baby shampoo (no tears) or anti-fog in the mask before you get in the water. Give the mask a quick rinse just before you're ready to put it on. The snorkel tube usually is installed on the left side of the mask. You'll find it easier to put your flippers on once you get in the water and past the shore break.
  • Speaking of shore break, if the surf is more than a couple of feet high, the water near shore will be churned up and not as clear. In that case, I recommend you take a snorkle trip out to Molokini or Coral Gardens.. There are several good snorkel trips available a Maui Dive Shops, the Four Winds II (glassbottom catamaran) or the Paragon II (snorkel & sail). Alternately, you can take the Blue Water Rafting trip (KANAIO/ MOLOKINI) that explores the sea caves south of La Perouse Bay and takes you to Molokini as well as "Turtle Town" with a lunch. It is one of our favorites. You may even see Maui's famous spinner dolphins.
  • Before you get to the water, apply a good waterproof sun screen - especially on your back, neck and legs behind your knees. The water can magnify the sun and because you'll feel cool while snorkeling, you won't notice a sunburn until it's too late.
  • While getting in or out of the water, NEVER turn your back on the ocean. Doing so invites a wave to knock you down.
  • If you want to get some pictures, there are several underwater camera choices. You can get a disposable film camera from many of the stores and shops located around the island. Many also have digital cameras you can rent for a small fee. When you return the camera you keep the memory chip with your photos. You can also purchase a digital camera for use underwater as well as for regular, above water shots. We currently like the 12.1 MP Canon PowerShot D10 which you can find online. The underwater shots at the bottom of this page were taken with a older 6 MP Sealife SL321 ECOshot.
  • Please do not feed the fish. Doing so actually drives the more colorful fish from the reef!!!
  • Do not touch or stand on the coral!!!
  • Sometime during snorkeling along the shores of South Maui, you will most likely see a Green sea turtle ("Honu" in Hawaiian). If so, do not try to touch it. If a turtle is trying to get to the surface, give it space to do so. Turtles need to surface to get air.
  • The ocean has a rhythm. If you watch the way the fish behave, you can see it. Floating over a spot on the reef, you'll notice the waves will move you back and forth. This is the rhythm I am talking about. Enjoy the relaxation it imparts while you snorkel.
  • Many of the most colorful fish are found in water between the depths of 6 -20 feet. Be aware of the ocean's rhythm and currents. Do not get in shallow water where a wave can wash you into coral or lava rock.
  • When you return from snorkeling, remove your flippers when you can comfortably touch the bottom. Watch the ocean and return to the shore when its safe between waves. Enjoy your snorkeling experience.
Snorkeling Spots

There are many great snorkel spots described in Maui Revealed: The Ultimate Guidebook I suggest you get a copy before you arrive so you can better plan your snorkel adventures. You can also request a free Maui Dive Guide with diving and snorkeling detailed maps from the Maui Dive Shop.

Here's are some favorite snorkel spots close to the condo.
  • Kamaole Beach II / III The point between Kamaole Beach II and III has good snorkeling and it's right in front of our condo! I recommend entering on the Kamaole Beach III side of the point. Snorkel out to the point across and around several lava/coral fingers. At the point, the water is 16-20 feet depth. There is often a school of goatfish here along with several varieties of surgeon fish, butterfly fish, wrasses, and puffers. Watch for the Hawaiian Cleaner Wrasses who have setup cleaning stations off the point. Continue around the point back toward Kamaole Beach II. Here you'll find a beautiful collection of sea urchins, more fish varieties and often a couple of green sea turtles. Complete your snorkel coming ashore on Kamaole Beach II.
  • Ulua / Mokapu Beach This beach is located just off Wailea Alanui drive just beyond Andaz Resort and before you get to the Shops of Wailea. Get here early as the parking lot fills up quickly. Sometimes if you wait a few minutes, someone will leave and give you their parking spot. Enter on the Ulua Beach side. You'll find a volunteer guide stationed at the entrance to the beach that can help advise you on fish, conditions, etc. Ulua has a large variety of fish, eels, and sometimes turtles, manta rays and an octopus. You'll often see scuba divers swimming below you as they use this beach for training.
  • Wailea Beach This beach is located in front of the Grand Wailea Resort Hotel & Spa and the Four Seasons Resort Maui in Wailea. Public entry and parking is available off of Wailea Alanui drive between the two resorts. Look for the small blue beach access sign on the right after you pass the Grand Wailea traffic light. The best snorkeling area is on the left side of the beach. There is more coral than Ulua / Mokapu but you'll need to swim further.
Underwater Pictures

The pictures below where taken while snorkeling in the areas mentioned above. To learn more about these fish, their habits, etc., pick up Hawaii's Fishes : A Guide for Snorkelers, Divers, and Aquarists. It is the best guide about the fish you'll see while snorkeling and makes a great reference.

Honu   Humuhumunukunukuapua'a   Kihikihi
Honu
Green Sea Turtle

  Humuhumunukunukuapua'a
Picasso Triggerfish

  Kihikihi
Moorish Idol


Threadfin Butterflyfish   Kikakapu   Kikakapu
Threadfin Butterflyfish


  Kikakapu
Racoon Butterflyfish


  Kikakapu
Teardrop Butterflyfish


Paku'iku'i   Manini   Puhi
Paku'iku'i
Achilles Tang


  Manini
Convict Tang

  Puhi
Whitemouth Moray



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