If you’re going to go anywhere to snorkel for the first time, it might as well be Maui. Snorkeling is a popular activity on Maui, and the island has many beautiful and diverse snorkeling spots to satisfy snorkelers of all skill levels.
If you are planning to snorkel for the first time in Maui, here are a few tips to help you have a safe and enjoyable experience:
Where to go snorkeling in Maui: choose a beginner-friendly spot
There are many snorkeling spots on Maui that are suitable for beginners, including Ahihi-Kinau Natural Area Reserve, Ulua Beach at Wailea, and Makena Landing. These spots tend to have calm water, a soft sandy entry and a good variety of colorful fish and other marine life to see.
Molokini Crater and Honolua Bay are also amazing snorkeling destinations.
Honolua Bay is one of the best places to go snorkeling on Maui, and you can regularly see Hawaiian green sea turtles, octopus, parrotfish, goat fish, ta’ape (blue striped snapper), vibrant corals, unicorn fish, urchins, and occasionally, spinner dolphins.
Molokini Crater is a crescent-shaped island located off the coast of Maui that is home to a wide variety of marine life, including tropical fish, sea turtles, and dolphins.
Rent or bring your own gear
You will need to have a mask, fins, and a snorkel to snorkel. You can rent snorkel gear at many beach rental shops on Maui, or you can bring your own if you have it (but it is not worth bringing on the plane, really). It is important to make sure that the mask fits well and that the fins and snorkel are in good condition, which you can usually tell at a glance unless the mask has a tiny hole in the front which you don’t realize until you are already miles out at Molokini Crater…
Learn basic snorkeling skills
Make the most of your trip to Maui and familiarize yourself with basic snorkeling skills, such as how to clear your snorkel, how to equalize pressure in your ears, and how to swim with fins, before your trip. You can find instructional videos and tutorials online or ask a local snorkeling instructor for guidance.
Follow snorkeling safety guidelines
Of course, the obligatory safety talk. Snorkeling can be a safe activity if you follow basic safety guidelines:
- always snorkel with a buddy,
- stay within your comfort level,
- avoid touching or harassing marine life, and
- be aware of your surroundings at all times.
Overall, snorkeling in Maui can be a fun and rewarding experience for first-timers. By following these tips and using common sense, you can help ensure that your snorkeling adventure is safe and enjoyable.
If you are planning a first-time snorkeling trip to Maui, here are a few things to keep in mind:
Tips for first-time snorkelers:
- be comfortable in the water before venturing out too far. It is also a good idea to wear a wetsuit or rashguard to protect your skin from the sun and to stay warm in the water.
- the waters around Maui are generally clear, but visibility can vary depending on the time of year and weather conditions.
- bring a waterproof camera to capture your snorkeling adventures.
Best snorkeling in Maui for non-swimmers
If you don’t feel comfortable swimming in the ocean, there are still ways to enjoy snorkeling in Maui:
- Float: Many beach rental companies offer floating devices such as boogie boards or inner tubes that you can use to stay afloat while snorkeling. This can give you more confidence in the water and allow you to enjoy the marine life without having to learn how to swim.
- Use a snorkeling vest: A snorkeling vest is a flotation device that fits around your waist and helps you stay afloat in the water. It can be a good option for people who are not comfortable swimming but still want to enjoy the underwater world.
- Go on a guided tour: Many snorkeling tours offer the option of a floating device or floatation belt, which allows you to snorkel without having to swim. The guide can also provide assistance and support if needed.
- Snorkel from the shore: Some snorkeling spots in Maui have shallow areas that you can access from the shore, so you can stand in the water and snorkel without having to swim. Some popular spots for shore snorkeling include the sandy Ulua and Makena beaches.
Listen to your own comfort level and limitations when snorkeling, and do what feels safe and comfortable for you.
Beginner Snorkeler FAQ
Here are a few additional tips for first-time snorkelers in Maui:
Are swimming fins absolutely necessary?
Snorkeling isn’t so much about swimming as it is about floating, so as long as you have a face mask and perhaps a breathing tube, you’re good to go. When you’re in the water, relax. You’ll save a lot more energy (and breath) if you just float, only kicking when needed. Think of yourself as gliding through the water, rather than swimming. Less effort equals less disruption in the water and increases the probability you’ll see shy sea life up close. The more relaxed you are in the water the more relaxed the fish will be, too; relaxed fish will allow you to swim much closer. Plus the oxygen you save will allow you to hold your breath longer and get a closer look at the reef.
Rent or buy snorkel gear?
If you don’t have your own snorkeling equipment, you can rent it from a local dive shop or beach rental company. Be sure to try on the equipment before you leave the shop to ensure that it fits properly and is in good condition.
If you are new to snorkeling, you can rent some good snorkeling gear at a local rental store. Make sure you have a mask that fits you properly. If you want to explore Maui’s underwater world, do yourself the favor of not cutting corners on the gear. Nothing will ruin the experience faster than a leaky mask and a tube that allows water to flow into your mouth.
If you are concerned about sharing mouth pieces with other people, buy your own mask and tube and pack it with you, then rent the fins.
We rented our snorkel gear from The Snorkel Store, which we highly recommend. They rented us masks with tubes that automatically expel water, which was great for us. The staff work with each member of your family to fit your gear, which is hugely important. They also give you each a sack to keep track of your gear and color-code or have little symbols on each pack to help you keep track of which is whose. The pricing is good, they are responsive, they email you a snorkel report each day to outline the best beaches for snorkeling, and they will tell you on the day you get your gear which beach is best for whatever you want to do.
If you plan to snorkel a lot and want to buy your own gear, Costco offers high-quality snorkel gear at reasonable prices, making it the perfect place to shop for your snorkeling needs. Not only will you save money by purchasing your own gear instead of renting it, but you’ll also have reliable gear for your beach or boat snorkeling adventures.
And having the right snorkeling gear is essential. Not only will it help you stay comfortable in the water, but it can also make or break your experience; poor quality gear can create a frustrating experience, while good quality gear can ensure you get the most out of your snorkeling adventure.
So, if you’re planning a Maui vacation and looking to purchase snorkel gear, head over to Costco! You’ll find high-quality gear at a price that won’t break the bank, ensuring you have the best snorkeling experience possible.
The Pros and Cons of Snorkeling from a Boat or the Beach
Snorkeling is an easy and fun way to explore the underwater world, and now that you know your gear options, you have more options about from where to launch: from a boat or the beach. So which do you choose?
Pros of Snorkeling from a Boat
Snorkeling from a boat offers a unique and exciting experience, and gives a feeling of exploring areas untouched by others.
- Boats allow you to travel to more distant, and sometimes even unexplored, locations.
- Some of the best snorkeling spots are not accessible from the beach, so a boat is the only way to get to them, like around the Molokini Crater.
- Snorkeling from a boat allows you to access areas that are too deep for shore divers.
Pros of Snorkeling from the Beach
Snorkeling from the beach is how most people are introduced to snorkeling and is the easiest way to get comfortable with exploring the underwater world.
- It is an easily accessible and usually less expensive option than snorkeling from a boat.
- And don’t underestimate the cool marine life you can observe just by snorkeling from the beach!
Cons of Snorkeling from a Boat
- Snorkeling from a boat can be expensive, as boats typically require additional fees.
- Boats can be intimidating for beginners, Since you’re out at sea and have less control over where you go.
- And then there’s always the potential for getting lost or having an engine malfunction…
Cons of Snorkeling from the Beach
- Snorkeling from the beach can be limiting and you may feel like everybody has been when you’re going
- Shallow waters are usually the only option, and can be crowded, making it difficult to enjoy the serene underwater landscape or observe shy marine life.
- Rocky shorelines can also be close to strong currents, so be careful.
When it comes to snorkeling, there is no “right” or “wrong” choice. It all depends on your skill level and your budget.
If you’re looking for an exciting adventure, I’d say snorkeling from a boat is the way to go.
If you’re looking for a more relaxed experience and are just starting out, snorkeling from the beach may be the best option. No matter which you choose, snorkeling is a relatively inexpensive and fun way for people of all ages to explore the underwater world around Maui.