Snorkeling may seem pretty self-explanatory – after all, what can possibly go wrong when swimming around looking at pretty fish in paradise?! – but there are definitely several tips to ensure your success at some of Maui’s best snorkeling locations. Though joining a snorkeling boat tour is a popular option, experienced swimmers can easily snorkel from the shoreline of some of Maui’s best beaches.

Whether it’s your first or hundredth time in the land of aloha, each experience in the ocean is unique and memorable. While Hawaii is the world’s most remote population center, it’s also home to endemic marine species you’ll find nowhere else on earth, including monk seals, turtles, tropical fish, rays, dolphins, and more, not to mention an array of coral reef systems and underwater lava formations. Keep an eye out for these amazing sites, and remember the following tips for the best Maui snorkeling experience possible!

Maui Snorkeling Tips Snorkel Set

Maui Snorkeling Tips

#1 Check The Maui Snorkel Report Before Going Out

On Maui, every day is beautiful, but no two days are exactly alike. Before you go out for your snorkel session, make sure to check the Maui Snorkel Report. Factors such as large swells, jellyfish or man o’ war, or murky conditions spell danger and are serious threats to your safety. Make sure you check the conditions at the snorkel spot you have chosen before you make the journey. There are always alternative places to snorkel if your favorite spot does not have ideal conditions that day.

Boss Frog's Maui Snorkel Report


#2 Bring a Buddy

Perhaps the most important safety rule when snorkeling is never to go alone! Always be sure to bring a snorkel buddy, and keep an eye on each other for the duration of your time in the ocean. If anything should go wrong, it is important to have someone nearby who can offer a helping hand or assist in getting you back to shore quickly and calmly.

Maui Snorkeling Tips Honolua Boats

#3 Not a Strong Swimmer? Bring a Floatation Device!

Don’t let your pride get the best of you. If it’s been a while since your last oceanic adventure, or you simply feel more comfortable with a float, grab a life jacket or noodle and relax! There’s no shame in safety, and many who aren’t used to swimming in the ocean may be thrown off by the currents and waves.

Maui Snorkeling Tips Floatation

#4 Don’t Breathe Through your Nose

It’s a simple tip, but one that people often forget when they get geared up and out in the water. Breathe through your mouth to avoid fogging up your mask.

Maui Snorkeling Tips Underwater

#5 Look Around, Not Straight Down

Instead of keeping your eyes straight down the entire time, keep an eye on your surroundings. This will help you to avoid any collisions with other snorkelers, as well as keep a safe distance from kayaks, outrigger canoes, and other boats in the area. This is also a great way to ensure you don’t get within close proximity to sharp rocks or shallow reef.

Maui Snorkeling Tips Kid

#6 Know How to Clear Water from a Snorkel

If you happen to get a little bit of ocean water in your snorkel, avoid taking off your mask and snorkel and instead take a quick, deep breath out through your mouth, which clears the water out from the top.

#7 Move Slow, See More

Believe it or not, most things you encounter in the ocean are afraid of you, and sudden movements often signal aggressive behavior. Keep your movements slow and calm, and you’ll find that you’re much more likely to encounter a wide variety of marine life, including octopai, eels, turtles, tropical fish, and more. Chasing or following any marine life only leads it (and everything near it) to go into hiding, so go slow and see more!

Maui Snorkeling Tips Sea Life

#8 Pick a Landmark

If you plan on going snorkeling from shore, be sure to choose a landmark to judge the distance you’ve traveled once you’re in the water. Usually, the best place to get out of the water is the same place you got in, so avoid drifting too far off course by making a note of a particular landmark, whether it be a house, tree, hotel, or restaurant in the area.

Maui Snorkeling Tips Landmark

#9 Put Fins On in the Water

Anyone who’s tried walking across a beach with fins on knows the struggle is all too real. Keep it simple and wait until you’ve gotten in the water to put your fins on. Or if that seems difficult, put them on a short distance from the water and walk backward into the ocean until you reach a comfortable swimming depth.

Maui Snorkeling Tips Calm Water

#10 Defog Mask Beforehand

Instead of attempting to clear the fog from your mask from within the water, plan ahead and bring some defog solution (baby shampoo also works well), or simply use a little saliva to rub on the lenses. Also, be sure to secure your hair out of your face, as hair can break the mask’s seal, allowing water to seep in.

#11 Avoid Hitting Fins on the Reef

Stepping on fragile coral not only damages and kills the reef system but can hurt you as well. Swim horizontally with your feet near the surface of the water (especially over shallow and sharp corals) to avoid unwanted damage to the surrounding marine life, ecosystem, and yourself!

Maui Snorkeling Tips Reef

#12 Take A Snorkel Tour

Whether you’re new to snorkeling or a seasoned vet, snorkeling tours are a boon for many reasons. Snorkeling is much safer in numbers, and snorkel boats usually have CPR-certified staff members watching over their guests in the water. Also, you don’t have to worry about lugging around or renting snorkel gear because everything is provided for you onboard. But the biggest benefit of snorkel tours is accessing faraway reefs that off-the-beach snorkelers can only dream of.

Maui Snorkeling Tips Molokini

For west-side-based visitors (Lahaina, Kaanapali), we recommend a tour with Maui Adventure Cruises. Maui Adventure Cruises hosts snorkel tours to Lanai out of Lahaina Harbor. You’ll ditch the crowds on Maui to explore Lanai’s vibrant reefs, crystal clear waters, and breathtaking coastal scenery. And if you’re lucky, you’ll spot Lanai’s local pod of spinner dolphins.

Over on the south side (Kihei, Wailea), set your sights on Redline Rafting. Based out of Kihei Boat Ramp, Redline also helps visitors escape the crowds by being one of the first boats to Molokini in the morning. You’ll also hit bonus snorkel locations like Turtle Town and do some sightseeing around Maui’s isolated south coast.

Bonus: Rent Snorkel Gear

If you’ve never tried packing snorkel gear into a tiny suitcase, we suggest keeping it that way. Boss Frog’s rents inexpensive gear by the day or week, which can be reserved online ahead of time for free and picked up from one of their many shop locations once you arrive. Call (808) 856-4264 for more information.

rent snorkel gear maui

Mahalo for reading, and we wish you an epic snorkeling adventure during your next trip to the Valley Isle!

4 Responses

  1. Brooklyn Johnson

    Thank you for stating that you shouldn’t breathe through your nose when snorkeling. I have never snorkeled before, but I am this summer and have no idea what to expect. I will definitely keep all of your great tips and information in mind on my snorkeling trip later this summer.

  2. Tom Campbell

    Make sure to use a reef safe sunscreen that does not contain the reef-killing chemicals, oxybenzone and octinoxate.

  3. Tammie Houston

    We will be out of the office for a 3-day vacation next week, and my wife is looking for travel itineraries that we can follow. I love that you mentioned about keeping our movements slow and calm while under the sea to enjoy the near encounter with marine life and tropical fishes. I think we need to look for snorkeling tour services so that we can discounts and freebies since we will be traveling as a group of 15 pax.

  4. Alice Carroll

    Thanks for the reminder that defogging my mask is important when preparing for a snorkeling trip. I’ve always been interested in underwater photography so I’d like to start getting used to snorkeling. I should probably learn to control my breathing first before doing anything with a camera.


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