Hawaii`s underwater world contains such diversity. More than 20 percent of Hawaiian reef fishes are found nowhere else in the world. Some endemic species that are easily spotted close to the surface include the rainbow hued parrot fish and a wide variety of angel fish and wrasse. The Hawaii State Fish Humuhumunukunukuapuaa (which means fish with nose like a pig) is abundant, as are eels, crustaceans, invertebrates, and reef sharks.  Divers may see deeper water fish, manta rays, monk seals, sharks and on a rare occasion, humpback whales. 

A safety note on these ocean sports- Snorkeling and diving are popular activities on Maui, but they are not without risk. Please visit this Snorkeling Safety Guide produced by the State of Hawaii Dept. of Health, before entering the ocean. Scuba divers learn safety as part of their certification. But if you haven`t been diving in awhile, the Diver`s Alert Network (DAN) recommends reviewing your health and fitness, and refresh your diving skills and equipment before you get back in the water.  See more diving recommendations HERE.

Best Maui Snorkeling- South Maui  

Molokini is a tiny islet 3 miles of the southwest coast of Maui, and is a marine preserve. Due to its remote location there is incredible visibility for snorkeling and diving. The volcanic crater is open at one end, sheltering marine life and visitors. Most of the great snorkeling is toward the shallow shoreline. People are not allowed on the islet because Molokini is a bird sanctuary, not to mention steep cliffs. 

One of the best snorkels you can do from shore is Ahihi Kinau Natural Area Reserve. No fishing is allowed in this area just past Makena, so marine life is abundant. There is a mix of volcanic rock and coral close to shore with a small sandy entry with knee deep water. Please make sure not to step on corals here- coral is a living animal and the foundation of the marine ecosystem.

Many visitors zoom past Maluaka Beach on their way to Makena Beach State Park.  Off on a side road, the beach is the best entry point for a snorkeling spot called Turtle Town, aptly named for the abundance of green sea turtles. Walk to the southern end of the beach. Entering the water, follow the reef to the left. The area also parallels the 16th green of the Makena South golf course. 

Being among condos and hotels, Ulua Beach has gotten pretty crowded. But as a snorkel spot, there is a cool feature. Snorkel along the finger reef, keeping it to the right. At the end, turn right and follow it all the way back to shore on the other side, coming ashore at Mokapu beach. Then you can walk out to the shared parking lot. Just get there early to get a parking spot.

Best Maui Snorkeling- West Maui  

The high cliffs on either side of Honolua Bay Marine Preserve protect it from weather. The area is teeming with an abundance of marine life. From the rocky shoreline, snorkel along either side. The center has a sandy bottom and is not very interesting. Just outside the bay is a popular shore break for surfers. Combined with a few boats moored in the bay and views of Molokai, Honolua Bay is a very scenic spot. 

Sheltered Kapalua Bay contains two reefs that come together in an arc, making a great snorkeling spot. The convenience of this spot also makes it popular. The parking lot is next to the bathrooms and showers, and there is an easy water entry from the beach. Walk down to the southern end to enter for snorkeling, keeping the reef on your left. This area is more protected from the wind, with better visibility. 

SCUBA Diving

Many of the snorkeling spots mentioned are also great for SCUBA diving, especially Molokini Crater and the back wall of Molokini. However, there are two other incredible dives. 

Cathedrals off the island of Lanai is named for the tall volcanic structures that let rays of light in like a church window. Diving through Cathedrals is jaw-droppingly beautiful. 

A deep shipwreck off West Maui, the brig Carthaginian rests in 100ft. of water, and is semi-penetrable.  One of the most unique 
dives on the island, offered by Maui Diamond Scuba.

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