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A South Maui Snorkeling Spot for Every Level

By April 24, 2024 No Comments

A South Maui Snorkeling Spot for Every Level

Picturesque South Maui, from Kihei to Makena, offers up a wealth of diverse snorkeling spots for ocean adventurers of all levels. However, with so many spectacular locales to choose from, it can be hard to decide where to start. We get this question in our stores…a lot. Well, if someone asks us to suggest a snorkeling destination, the first thing we want to know is whether our eager snorkeler is a beginner, intermediate, or more advanced water person. This is because our experience and skill level in the ocean and with snorkeling in particular make all other factors, like geography and conditions, relative to our ability to navigate them. So, with that in mind, we’d like to offer a favorite South Maui snorkeling spot for every level, whether you’re a beginner, intermediate, or advanced snorkeler.

P.S. When you rent a premium snorkel set from Auntie Snorkel, you’ll always get our best advice for where you should go so you can have the most fun. Cheehoo!


For Beginner Snorkelers – Maluaka Beach

Maluaka Beach Guide Overview

A family friendly, long and sandy beach with good snorkeling and facilities.

Maluaka Beach is a fantastic spot for beginner snorkelers on Maui’s south shore. Its gentle sandy water access, generally calm and clear waters, and abundant marine life make it an ideal location for those new to snorkeling to explore Maui’s underwater world.

Maluaka Access

One of the standout features of Maluaka Beach is its accessibility. The beach is easily accessible with a short walk from the free parking lot. Multiple beach access points and a relatively flat walk to the water’s edge make it convenient for families, seniors, and anyone with mobility concerns. The sandy bottom and gradual entry into the water also provide a comfortable and easy experience for beginners.

Maluaka Snorkeling

Maluaka Snorkeling Areas for Beginners

Snorkeling areas for beginners at Maluaka are highlighted in yellow. Maluaka has nice snorkeling close to shore with very easy access.

The snorkeling conditions at Maluaka Beach are excellent for beginners due to the clarity of the water and the relatively shallow depths near the shoreline. Snorkelers can expect to encounter a variety of colorful fish, coral formations, and possibly even sea turtles in the area. The calm typically calm conditions and lack of strong currents close to shore make it a safe and enjoyable environment for novice snorkelers to practice and gain confidence in their snorkeling skills. It’s important to check local weather and surf forecasts, and choose days when both are calm. 

On balance, Maluaka Beach’s easy access and diverse marine life make it an excellent choice for beginner snorkelers looking to experience the beauty of Maui’s underwater world in a safe and enjoyable environment.


For Intermediate Snorkelers – Makena Landing

Makena Landing Beach Guide Overview

A small park with good facilities and easy access to snorkeling and paddle boarding.

Makena Landing offers a rewarding experience for intermediate snorkelers seeking a bit more adventure and exploration. Situated along Maui’s picturesque far south shore, Makena Landing boasts clear waters, diverse marine life, and interesting underwater terrain, making it an ideal destination for those looking to take their snorkeling skills to the next level.

Makena Landing Access

Parking here is in a free lot that is close to the shoreline. So, access to the water is quite easy. From there though, one of the reasons Makena Landing is more for intermediate snorkelers is its accessibility to slightly more challenging snorkeling areas. While beginner snorkelers might find some fun things to explore close to shore, the more spectacular sights are farther out. Intermediate snorkelers can take the opportunity to venture out on a longer swim to explore deeper waters and encounter a wider variety of marine species and underwater features.

Makena Landing Snorkeling

Makena Landing Snorkeling Area

The snorkeling path for intermediate snorkelers at Makena Landing is highlighted in yellow. Be advised, this is a longer swim of at least 200-300 yards to get out to the Turtle Town areas.

To get the most of what Makena Landing has to offer, snorkelers will want to swim out along the rocky outcropping to the right of the small entry point and find the famous Turtle Town. This spot features a collection of distinctive underwater lava fingers and arches extending from the coast. These features now serve as habitats for a wide range of marine species and offer boundless opportunities for discovery and adventure.

The swim here is longer than many spots, around 200-300 yards out minimum. There is an expansive area to explore for snorkelers who are strong swimmers and maintain good awareness of conditions. Even for strong swimmers though, we do recommend bringing a floatation device for added safety and to help you you enjoy your adventure longer. This spot does get crowded with boat tour visitors after around 9:30am, so come early to avoid the rush. 

In conclusion, Makena Landing offers intermediate snorkelers an exciting and fulfilling snorkeling experience with its diverse marine life, interesting underwater terrain, and accessible yet slightly challenging snorkeling areas. Whether exploring vibrant coral reefs, encountering marine creatures, or simply enjoying the serenity of Maui’s underwater world, Makena Landing is sure to leave a lasting impression on snorkelers looking for a memorable ocean adventure.


For Advanced Snorkelers – Ahihi Bay

Ahihi Bay Beach and Snorkel Guide

A rugged, pristine snorkeling gem in one of Maui’s marine preserves.

Ahihi Bay, located along Maui’s southwest coast, is a renowned snorkeling spot that offers experienced snorkelers a unique and exhilarating underwater adventure. This picturesque bay is part of the Ahihi-Kinau Natural Area Reserve, known for its rich marine biodiversity, vibrant coral reefs, and fascinating geological formations. While Ahihi Bay’s snorkeling opportunities are rewarding, they are best suited for confident snorkelers with strong swimming skills and previous experience in open-water snorkeling environments.

Ahihi Bay Access

Access to Ahihi Bay is limited, with a paid parking lot and a rocky path to the water’s edge. There is little to no sand here in this area of relatively recent lava flow (~400-600 years old). However, where the soft comfort of sand is lacking, the sharp visibility of the lava rock and reef-dominated area provides an excellent experience for advanced snorkelers. Enter and exit the water at the one point marked by a fish sign at the south end of the bay. This can be tricky and slippery, so be cautious. One may also enter the water from Ahihi Cove to the north, but parking here is extremely limited. We recommend entering through the paid parking area.

Ahihi Bay Snorkeling

One of the main attractions of snorkeling at Ahihi Bay is its pristine coral reefs, which are teeming with a diverse array of marine life. Snorkelers can expect to encounter colorful fish species, including tangs, butterflyfish, wrasses, and occasionally larger species such as moray eels. The coral formations themselves are a sight to behold, with intricate structures, vibrant colors, and a thriving ecosystem that supports a wide variety of marine creatures.

Ahihi Bay Snorkeling Area

Snorkeling areas from Ahihi Bay for more advanced snorkelers are highlighted in yellow. This is a rugged area and conditions can change quickly, so stay aware and snorkel safely.

Due to its advanced nature, snorkeling at Ahihi Bay is recommended for confident swimmers and experienced snorkelers who are comfortable in open-water environments. The bay’s exposed location and potential for strong currents or surge require snorkelers to be vigilant and prepared for changing conditions. It’s essential to check weather and ocean conditions before entering the water, snorkel with a buddy or in a group, and follow safety guidelines to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.

In conclusion, Ahihi Bay offers advanced snorkelers a thrilling and immersive snorkeling experience with its diverse marine life, unique underwater terrain, and opportunities for exploration and discovery. While it requires skill, confidence, and respect for the environment, snorkeling at Ahihi Bay is sure to leave a lasting impression on those seeking an unforgettable ocean adventure in Maui’s pristine waters.

About Auntie Snorkel

Auntie Snorkel shop has been serving Maui’s fun seekers for over 33 years, established in 1985. We're the original South Maui Snorkel Shop. When I bought the shop 10 years ago from Auntie, we decided to keep the name. The name "Auntie" is a term of respect here in Hawaii. I'm living my dream. I get to meet awesome people from all over the world and share with them my love and knowledge of this magical island that I get to call home. We know all the spots. I have lived here since 2001. We're the true definition of a family owned and operated shop. I answer the phones and work the shop along with my family. When you shop with us you're supporting my ohana and for that I thank you!! Why go anywhere else? We're the friendliest, fastest, cheapest and our location is the most epic! Mahalo and Aloha”. ~Mark Noble (Owner & Maui Fun Expert)

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