South Maui’s clear blue waters may have you tempted to snorkel anywhere and everywhere, but believe it or not, some places are better than others! Below, we’ve highlighted our favorite spots to meet Maui’s most colorful underwater locals.
Please remember to apply reef safe sunscreen to protect your skin and the island’s sensitive eco-system, avoid touching or standing on the reef, and keep a respectful distance from your new undersea friends! Be aware of your surroundings and your ability, and observe the buddy system out in the water.
Pro tip: Wake up early to get to these spots when the water is the most calm and clear, and avoid snorkeling in low visibility or after rainstorms where run-off is present.
Located just south of Wailea where Makena Road dead ends at the old Makena Beach and Golf Resort, Maluaka Beach is one of our favorite places to admire brightly colored coral and graceful sea turtles. Enter at the south end of the beach for the best access to the reef and the area known as “turtle town.” Maluaka Beach is one of the few South Maui beaches that is relatively protected from gusting trade winds, which means this area is typically calm and inviting.
Kama’ole Beach II, located directly in front of The Penthouse Maui, is one of the best snorkel spots for beginners due to its typically calm water and facilities including showers, restrooms and a lifeguard. The trade winds pick up here in the afternoon, so get here early for the best water clarity to spot triggerfish, butterflyfish and needlefish, and sea turtles cruising between the Kama’ole beaches.
This shallow bay is found in the ‘Ahihi-Kina’u Natural Area Reserve, and is an ideal snorkeling spot in the early morning when the waters are calm and you can still find parking along the narrow coastal road. The contrasting black lava rocks and brilliant coral create an incredible backdrop for spotting everything from Moorish eels to spinner dolphins (if you’re lucky!). Be careful not to step on any coral while entering the reserve – the best entrance is on the north side of the cove. And leave the spear at home. This is a marine life conservation district, so no fishing is allowed.
Ulua and Mokapu Beaches
Ulua Beach fronts the Marriott Wailea Resort, and is one of the most popular snorkel and scuba beaches on Maui’s south side. It’s neighbor, Mokapu beach, fronts the Andaz Wailea, and avid snorkelers will enjoy traveling around the reef that separates the two. There is free parking at the beach park next to the hotel, but it does fill up early! Come here to spot underwater lava outcroppings and green sea turtles. During whale season, dive down and listen quietly as the humpbacks pass through the area. Theirs is a song you won’t soon forget!
Located in the heart of South Kihei, The Penthouse Maui is a luxury oceanfront penthouse ideal for discerning travelers seeking the utmost in relaxation and privacy. The sprawling 2,824 square-foot penthouse is spectacular with upscale amenities and stylish accommodations. Ideally situated in one of the most sought-after beaches in Maui, it is in close proximity to a variety of coveted island experiences, restaurants and shops. For reservations and inquiries, visit thepenthousemaui.com or call (808) 283-8265.
*Photos Courtesy of LightSea Images