Makena Coast Charters Review
94%Overall Score
Reader Rating: (5 Votes)

If you love sailing, snorkeling, and being on the ocean as much as I do, then you’ll love Makena Coast Charters’ sail and snorkel tour.

Makena Coast Charters is a local charter company that offers a variety of tours aboard two very different vessels – a 40-foot raft and a sailing catamaran. This company offers something for everyone, from Molokini rafting tours to sunset sails, whale watches, and DJ boat parties.

I recently opted for Makena Coast Charters’ longest excursion: a five-hour sailing jaunt from Maalaea to some of West Maui’s best snorkel spots. It was an epic day, and I can’t say enough good things about it.

Here are some of the highlights of my snorkel trip:

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The Vessel

Winona is Makena Coast Charters’ sailing catamaran. This vessel is a bit smaller than other popular sailboats, but Makena Coast doesn’t overcrowd their charters – which is a huge benefit. Who likes being on a crowded tour boat?

There were only about 25 people onboard during my tour (although Winona can welcome up to 40), so there was plenty of space to move around, hang out, and enjoy the views.

Winona has a special charm about her. As it turns out, Winona is the only Hawaiian-built catamaran in Maui’s waters! It’s cool knowing you’re sailing on a boat built right here in Hawaii.

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The Sail

We left Maalaea Harbor at 8:30 am, and the wind was already starting to kick up.

Immediately after leaving the harbor, the sails went up, and we cruised west along the coast toward our first snorkeling spot.

Makena Sailing

It was a smooth ride despite some chop and swell in the water. We were lucky to spot some whales off in the distance, even though whale season was almost over.

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The Snorkeling Spots

Our first stop was Olowalu, one of the best snorkeling spots on the west side. Olowalu is a massive reef – spanning over 800 acres – yet the captain knew just where to position us for the best snorkeling.

best Maui snorkeling

We saw all the usual suspects: colorful reef fish, big coral heads, eels, and turtles. But we got extremely lucky when two manta rays and a black-tipped reef shark showed up. Olowalu is known for reef sharks and manta rays, but they can still be elusive, so it was special to see both on one trip.

After about an hour and a half of snorkeling, we backtracked to Coral Gardens. We moored in a protected little cove at the base of the cliffs.

The snorkeling here was excellent as well. No bigger creatures joined us this time, but there were still a ton of tropical fish and healthy corals.

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The Crew

Makena Coast Charters’ crew is what set this excursion apart.

Any boat can take you to a snorkeling spot, but it takes an awesome crew to make the experience memorable.

This bunch was professional yet friendly, witty yet empathetic, knowledgeable, and incredibly passionate. It’s clear the crew loves the ocean and loves what they do.

Before any of us got in the water, they shared with us the importance of using reef-safe sunscreen and proper ocean and reef etiquette.

They were also kind and compassionate with those new to snorkeling and quick to share tidbits of knowledge about the marine animals we saw.

All in all, Makena Coast Charters and the Winona crew know how to manufacture an epic day. They provide you with top-of-the-line snorkel gear, plus a delicious breakfast and lunch.

However, there are some things you’ll need to bring with you, including reef-safe sunscreen, a towel, and a change of clothes. No alcohol is served on Winona, but it’s a BYOB vessel. So grab a six-pack of your favorite Maui Brewing Company beer and bring it onboard.

If sailing and snorkeling are your jam, I highly recommend this tour with Makena Coast Charters. And be sure to check out the rest of their excursions – they likely have a tour that’s tailor-made for you.

Makena snorkel and sail

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