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
#1 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.
#2 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.
#3 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.
#4 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.
#5 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.
#6 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!
#7 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.
#8 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.
#9 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.
#10 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!
#11 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.
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.
Mahalo for reading, and we wish you an epic snorkeling adventure during your next trip to the Valley Isle!
Born and raised on Maui, I have a deep love for language and writing. At present, I work as a content writer at Hawaii Web Group, where I have the opportunity to showcase my passion for storytelling. Being a part of Hawaiian culture, storytelling holds a special place, and I am thrilled to be able to share the tales of the amazing people, beautiful locations, and fascinating customs that make Maui such an incredible place to call home.