Winter Snorkeling on Maui

Winter Snorkeling on Maui

Hawaii is located wonderfully near the equator, meaning our temperatures don't vary much throughout the year. When the trades are blowing, and you're in South or West Maui at sea level during the day, temperatures in the seventies and low eighties are the most common. If there happens to be stormy weather, that obviously changes things, but otherwise, you're looking at nice conditions for snorkeling, especially if you go early in the morning between 6-8am. That is the time of day when the water is calmest and clearest, as a general rule.

You will want to be in South or West Maui for snorkeling, particularly if the trades (northerly winds) are blowing. Sometimes we'll get a Kona (southerly wind), and that is when the North Shore tends to be calmer, but this is less common. In any case, South and West Maui areas are the best places for snorkeling if you are looking for beautiful reefs teeming with life. There are a myriad of fish species you might see on any given day, and turtle sightings are common.

So where to snorkel? I good spot in Kaanapali is Black Rock, on the north end of Kaanapali Beach. It's a convenient location if you have Kaanapali accommodations and you want to stay nearby. In fact, you can find beautiful condos at The Whaler on this very beach. Black Rock offers a lovely reef that has long been growing at the base of the rock that gave this spot its name.

If you'd like to venture out a bit further, but still stick to the West Maui area, we recommend Oluwalu. You'll find it a short drive south of Lahaina. Here, the water is shallow, the beach is narrow, and the reefs grow close to the surface, so you will want to follow sand channels that form natural baths to and from the beach. Here, the water tends to be clearer if you get a little distance from shore. The expanse of reef here could keep you busy exploring all day.

The next stop out, further from West Maui, would be the beaches of Kihei. Kamaole beaches 1, 2, and 3 provide reefs at the ends of the beach. Whenever you see rock outcroppings and tidepools at the water's edge, you are likely to find reefs, as corals anchor themselves to rock surfaces. There is also a nice reef between Ulua Beach and Keawakapu Beach, right at the border between Kihei and Wailea. The nice thing about snorkeling at these locations is that you'll find plenty of space between you and the reef, and a lot of sandy shore if you want to sunbathe or swim.

The furthest location from West Maui that we want to recommend is La Perouse Bay, which boasts a really beautiful reef. You'll notice that most of the island that far south is still rocky, from Haleakala's last lava flow. This occurred long ago by human standards, but geologically speaking, the lava flow was recent enough that plants are still in the process of colonizing this difficult terrain. Since corals anchor themselves to rock, as we mentioned earlier, you can imagine why La Perouse is such a treasure trove of marine life. In fact, there is no sand here. All you'll find is a small shoreline of rocks worn relatively smooth by wave action and other weathering over the years. For this reason, La Perouse is pretty much exclusive to snorkelers and scuba divers. As a special bonus, there is a pod of dolphins that shows up in this location once in a while, so if you're lucky, you might get to see them!

In conclusion, we'd like to offer a few strong recommendations. Don't touch sea urchins, as some of them sting. Don't touch the corals, as you can damage some of them, and some of them can damage you! Please keep your distance from turtles. Some individuals chase them in hopes of catching a ride, but this is extremely stressful to the animals, and interferes with their ability to come up for the air that they need. If you're not convinced, be advised that they will sometimes defend themselves with a powerful bite if fleeing is not effective. Lastly, avoid snorkeling if the water is murky or the conditions are choppy. Your ability to see is important to snorkeling safely, and so are good weather conditions. Use good judgement. We hope you have found this blog helpful and informative! Check in every Friday for our latest Maui vacation activity ideas and event announcements! Mahalo!