Imagine riding on a large power catamaran or kayaking on the open ocean. When you reach your destination, you slip into the water and experience an underwater world that looks like something out of a movie. That’s what you can expect from Maui snorkel tours.
When it comes to booking Maui snorkel tours, there are five main locations to consider. Our favorite place to snorkel is Honolua Bay with Gemini Charters. However, you can’t go wrong with any of these locations, as they all offer stunning underwater environments to explore.
- Honolua Bay Tours – Diverse fish, stunning corals, pristine bay
- Lanai Island Tours – Secluded, dramatic cliffs, vibrant reefs
- Molokini Crater Tours – Unique volcanic formation, abundant marine life
- Olowalu Coral Gardens Tours – Expansive coral gardens, turtle haven, blacktip reef sharks
- Turtle Town Tours – Sea turtles galore, lush coral, lava arches
Whether you’re a seasoned snorkeler or new to the underwater world, these Maui snorkel tours offer a fantastic experience for everyone. So, grab your snorkel gear, and let’s dive into the magical underwater landscape that awaits you in Maui.
Honolua Bay Snorkel Tours
Snorkeling at Honolua Bay is a personal favorite for us. It’s in West Maui (where we like to stay), so it’s an easy trip for anyone near Ka'anapali. This area is also a Marine Life Conservation District with no fishing allowed, making the ocean life abundant and diverse. It’s one of the few places I’ve consistently seen large schools of fish, as pictured above.
Honolua Bay is surrounded by lush green cliffs and dense tropical vegetation, creating a stunning backdrop for your snorkeling adventure. Its crystal-clear waters are home to 300 species of fish and a common gathering spot for green sea turtles.
It’s possible to snorkel here without booking Maui snorkel tours. However, it requires a small hike and then a not-so-small swim to where the coral is at. Your best bet is to sit back and relax on a boat while they take you directly to the best spots to snorkel. Trust us, it’s worth it!
We’ve done Gemini’s tour with family and friends many times, and it’s one of our favorite boats in one of our favorite locations. This tour is great for late risers as it’s one of the few that doesn’t start first thing in the morning. Included is a delicious hot buffet lunch and refreshing drinks from the complimentary open bar once you’ve finished snorkeling for the day.
Join Sea Maui’s half-day snorkel tour from Ka'anapali Beach. Cruise to top snorkel spots with an experienced captain and discover green sea turtles, tropical fish, and the chance to see dolphins or whales in season. Enjoy breakfast, lunch, and drinks onboard. Snorkel gear is provided. Please note this tour may visit a different location based on the day’s conditions.
Lanai Island Snorkel Tours
Lanai Island is one of three outer islands you can see off the coast of Maui. It’s renowned for being remote and secluded, with dramatic cliffs and vibrant reefs. The waters surrounding Lanai are known for their exceptional clarity, making it an ideal destination for underwater exploration.
If you’re looking to escape the crowds, a snorkel tour to Lanai Island is a great choice. It’s not as heavily trafficked as some of the other snorkel locations because it’s much further out. However, I’ve seen some people complain that you spend more time on the boat than snorkeling. Personally, I didn’t find that to be an issue, especially during whale watching season!
There are a few different locations that your tour may take you to, depending on the day’s conditions, including Shark Fin Cove and Manele Bay. On your way back to Maui, keep your eyes peeled for a chance to spot a pod of spinner dolphins playing in the water. We were fortunate enough to see dolphins the last time we were out there, and it was a real treat!
Join Pacific Whale Foundation’s 5-hour dolphin watch and snorkeling adventure from Ma’alaea Harbor. Sail to Lanai’s renowned dive spots, spotting Hawaiian Spinner, bottlenose, and spotted dolphins. Dive into vibrant coral reefs, equipped with provided gear. Enjoy breakfast, lunch, and refreshments on this eco-friendly catamaran, with chances to see humpback whales (Dec-Apr).
Embark on the ultimate day trip with Trilogy Excursions, sailing from Maui to the enchanting Lanai Island. Dive into the crystal-clear waters of Hulopo’e Bay for snorkeling, hike to Sweetheart Rock, explore tide pools, and relish a scrumptious breakfast and BBQ lunch. Enjoy 3 hours of free time at the bay, with options for swimming, volleyball, and soaking up the sun. Don’t miss this fantastic Lanai adventure, departing from central Maui’s Ma'alaea Harbor.
Molokini Crater Snorkel Tours
Molokini Crater is a small, crescent-shaped volcanic crater located off the coast between South Maui and the island of Kaho‘olawe. It’s designated as a Marine Life Conservation District with calm and protected waters that make it an ideal location for snorkeling and diving.
I’ve heard mixed reviews about snorkeling at Molokini Crater, including poor water clarity and being too crowded. So I was shocked when we visited, and it ended up being some of the clearest water we’ve snorkeled in Maui (see the pics above). This was also confirmed by our captain, who said the visibility is typically an incredible 150 feet!
Sure, Molokini is one of the more crowded snorkeling spots in Maui, but I didn’t find that to be an issue. There’s plenty of space to spread out, and you don’t have to swim far to see some of the 250 species of marine life that call this area home.
An added benefit of snorkeling at Molokini Crater is that most tours also make a second stop at a location near Kihei we’ll discuss below called Turtle Town. If you’re looking to maximize your time in the water by snorkeling at two locations, a Molokini snorkel tour might be for you.
Adventure to not one but two snorkeling locations with this Molokini Crater and Turtle Town tour from Pride of Maui. Cruise on a large power catamaran as you explore the underwater lava formations and abundant marine life at these exceptional snorkeling sites. Enjoy the convenience of an all-inclusive trip with meals, snacks, and drinks provided on board, including alcoholic beverages.
Experience the ultimate snorkeling adventure to Molokini and Turtle Town aboard Calypso Charters’ spacious catamaran, equipped with a glass-bottom viewing area, water slides, and multiple amenities. Enjoy a delicious breakfast and deli lunch while exploring the vibrant marine life and clear waters of these two premier snorkel locations.
Olowalu Coral Gardens Snorkel Tours
Olowalu is home to one of the most expansive coral reef ecosystems in all of Hawaii. It gets the name Coral Gardens because it boasts over 100 acres of diverse coral formations, and it’s a sight to behold. Just check out the drone shot above, and you’ll see what I mean!
The Coral Gardens are home to an impressive variety of marine life. In addition to a kaleidoscope of tropical fish, snorkelers may also see a turtle cleaning station, manta ray cleaning station, eels, octopuses, and blacktip reef sharks.
Snorkeling at Olowalu’s Coral Gardens can be done from the beach without booking Maui snorkel tours. It’s actually one of our favorite non-resort beaches near Ka'anapali, as you can pull your car right up to your spot. However, if you are interested in a tour, most are kayak tours and are a fun way to get some exercise while exploring with a guide that knows the good spots.
Paddle along the picturesque Olowalu coastline on a guided kayak tour from South Pacific Kayaks. Snorkel with vibrant tropical fish, encounter Green Sea Turtles, and keep an eye out for manta rays, dolphins, and even the elusive Hawaiian monk seal. With provided gear, light refreshments, and encounters with marine wildlife, this tour is perfect for families and nature enthusiasts alike.
Experience the wonders of the sea with Ohana Ocean Adventures’ Olowalu Coral Gardens snorkel tour in Maui. Glide through the crystal-clear waters on a clear kayak and explore the vibrant marine life, from colorful fish to graceful sea turtles. With provided equipment, snacks, and bottled water, all you need to bring is your sense of adventure for an unforgettable journey under the waves.
Turtle Town Snorkel Tours
Turtle Town is a snorkeling hotspot known for its abundance of sea turtles located off the southern coast of Maui, near the town of Makena (south of Kihei). It’s not an officially designated site but rather a term used to describe the general area where sea turtles are commonly found.
Beyond the sea turtles, snorkelers can encounter an array of tropical fish species while exploring Turtle Town. The waters surrounding Turtle Town boast vibrant and diverse coral reefs, providing a rich habitat for a variety of marine life.
If you’re taking a trip to snorkel at Molokini Crater, there’s a good chance you’ll end up here as a second stop. We’ve included one combo tour below. If you’re looking to only snorkel at Turtle Town, then we’d recommend a kayak snorkel tour, which is perfect for this area.
This Pacific Whale Foundation snorkel tour stops at both Turtle Town and Molokini Crater, giving your two locations to explore for the price of one! The tour starts out with breakfast followed by a flavorful lunch grilled onboard once the snorkeling is over. Premium snorkel gear, snorkel instruction, and a Junior Naturalist Program for kids are provided, ensuring an unforgettable and educational experience.
Paddle through the calm and clear waters of South Maui on this Turtle Town kayak snorkel tour with Maui Kayaks. This small-group eco-adventure ensures a personalized experience as you spot not only turtles but also dolphins, rays, octopuses, and eels. All necessary equipment, snacks, and bottled water are included, making it a family-friendly tour suitable for ages five and up.
Maui Snorkel Tours Map and FAQs
The locations where you can take a snorkel tour are spread out across West Maui and South Maui, and the neighboring islands. While a location might not be close to where you’re staying, don’t rule it out. Many snorkel tours depart from either Lahaina Harbor in West Maui or Ma'alaea Harbor in South Maui, making them accessible no matter where you’re staying.
What Sunscreens Are Allowed on Snorkel Tours?
Only reef-safe sunscreens are allowed in Maui. Look for mineral-based sunscreens with the ingredients zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. Only those are allowed. All others contain chemicals that are harmful to the coral reef and cause coral bleaching.
Are You Guaranteed to See Turtles or Other Marine Life?
While Maui’s waters are teeming with marine life, including sea turtles, encounters with specific animals cannot be guaranteed. There’s always a chance that you won’t see a turtle. However, the chances of spotting turtles or other fascinating marine species are quite high. It ultimately depends on nature and the specific conditions of the day.
What Happens If the Weather Isn’t Good?
In the event of unfavorable weather conditions, the captain may choose a different location or reschedule the tour altogether. It’s more common that the location will change than a complete reschedule, but it can happen. If the location does change, it’s usually to a comparable location that’s better protected from the wind.
Are Snorkel Tours Good for Young Children?
Many snorkel tours accommodate children of all ages, and some even have a Jr. Naturalist Program for kids. Each child’s swimming abilities and comfort level should be taken into account before deciding to include them. It’s best to check with individual tour operators before booking.
How Can You Help Protect Maui’s Reefs?
Maui sees thousands of visitors a year, straining the ecosystem. Here are three main things you can do to help and keep Maui’s coral reef beautiful for years to come.
- Only use reef-safe sunscreen containing zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.
- Avoid touching or standing on the coral reef. It’s fragile, and doing so can kill it.
- Don’t touch marine life, especially turtles which carry a hefty fine.
More Maui Guides
Discover the 10 best Maui snorkel tours from Kaanapali to Kihei that are great for beginners and experienced snorkelers alike.View Guide
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