The Top 10 Best Snorkeling Spots You Need to Add to Your Bucket List

dolphins top 10 snorkeling spots

Exploring a whole new world under the sea sounds like an easy yes for your next dream vacation , but how do you choose the 10 snorkeling spots you need to add to your bucket list?

Hawaii is home to some of the most beautiful reefs, tropical fish and is only a short flight away from the continental U.S. making it a go to for bucket list snorkel spots. 

Here are the top 10 snorkeling spots we think you should add to your bucket list!

  1. Cliff House

Cliff House, also known as Namalu Bay, is located in Kapalua, Maui. This spot is named for the Kapalua Cliff House that overlooks it’s reef. It was built in 1940 as a ohana for the managers of the historic Honolua Plantation and is now restored as an exclusive venue. A short climb down this cliff leads to a small bay with lots to see. Early summer mornings are the best for snorkeling this spot and finding calm, clear waters. Hawaiian green sea turtles, crabs, tropical fish including the Umaumalei or Orangespine Unicorn and sometimes Manta Rays can be spotted here. Jumping from the rock pilings adds to the fun!

  1. La Perouse Bay

Named after the French explorer, Jean-François de Galaup, comte de La Pérouse, La Perouse Bay is an easy add to our top snorkel spot list. This cozy bay is tucked into the south side beaches of Makena, making it a go to spot for seeing tropical fish and turtles. One of the perks of this spot is near shore reefs, so you don’t have to snorkel far before you start seeing marine life!

  1. Turtle Town

Although many reefs along Maui’s southern coast are home to the Hawaiian green sea turtles, Turtle Town represents a reef between Nahuna Point and Black Sand Beach that’s home to many honu (Hawaiian word for turtle). Surrounded by underwater lava structures, this reef can be reached by boat tour or by swimming 200 hundred yards from Maluaka Beach. Remember Hawaiian green sea turtles are protected so don’t touch, just observes and take in their grace and beauty. 

  1. Sweetheart Rock 

There is a legend surrounding this snorkel spot, about two lovers, a Hawaiian maiden and a warrior, their forbidden love and tragic end (you have to go on a snorkel tour to hear the full story), but not just the history got this spot on our list. Getting to this spot takes you on a scenic boat ride along Lanai’s coast, sea cliff and ancient burial sites. Once you’re snorkeling, you’ll see  tropical fish and Hawaiian green sea turtles. 

  1. Honolua Bay

Park in a vine and tree covered jungle turn out and take a path to this iconic surf and snorkel spot, known as one of the few sheltered bays on Maui. During north swells, this spot is ranks one of the top surf spots in the world, but when the waves are gone, this bay is one of the calmest and clearest snorkel spot. Swim half-mile out to shallow coral reef where you can spot tropical fish, turtle cleaning stations and the occasional shark.  

  1. Olowalu Reef

Large coral heads and sandy channels cover the floor of this 100 acre reef structure. Olowalu is one of the oldest reef structures in Hawaii, home to manta rays, reef sharks, green sea turtles, tropical fish and even the endangered monk seal. 

This spot can be one of the calmest snorkel spots on Maui due to its location on the leeward side of the West Maui Mountains, making it an excellent choice for all day snorkeling. Best part is you park just steps away from the sandy beach entrance where you can walk in and begin seeing tropical fish and unique color structure not far from shore. 

  1. Black Rock 

If you’re looking for a bigger jump, venture over to Black Rock in Kaanapali. Formed by lava flow, Black Rock or Pu’u Keka’a, is known for it’s legends of battles fought here and King Kahekili cliff jumping feats. 

The beach itself is 3 miles of white sand, running along a coast of pristine clear water great for snorkeling. This spot is great for short distance snorkeling as you don’t have to go far to see green sea turtles and tropical fish. When snorkeling Black Rock, avoid the point as the rip currents there are strong, staying close to the beach, it’s safer and just as fun! Always snorkel with a buddy, no matter the location. It’s helpful to have someone who is looking out for you. 

  1. Club Lanai

This beautiful cumulative reef system showcases living coral and sandy channels on the east side of the island. Named for the day club that used to be active at this spot, Club Lanai is now a quiet sandy shore with crystal blue waters, Hawaiian green sea turtles, tropical fish and the occasional reef shark. 

  1. Mala Boat Ramp

This snorkel spot may not look like much from the surface, but the underwater view is spectacular. 

Mala Boat Ramp was once used to load pineapples from the cannery onto boats, but with the end of pineapple farming, the ramp collapsed and was left to create an artificial reef system.  This spot can be reach by shore or by boat, and when you reach the underwater structure you would be delighted to see dozens of tropical fish, octopus, Hawaiian green sea turtles, and even shy reef sharks sleeping under the reef structure. 

  1. Molokini Crater

This well-known crescent shaped crater is a unique structure that has pristine blue waters and unique tropical fish. Take a boat ride 15 minutes from Kihei to this 80 ft deep crater and see a variety of marine life including tropical fish. The only downside is that is can be very crowded, so if you want to visit this spot we recommend the early bird boat tour that goes to the crater before the crowds, or if you are an experienced snorkeler, try snorkeling the backside, it’s a sheer underwater cliff that shows a wilder side of the crater.

  1. Shark Fin 

Our favorite snorkel spot on Lanai is Shark Fin! Named after the shark fin shaped rock that jets up from the water in the middle of the cove. The reason we picked this spot is because you can experience this unique pinnacle reef away from crowds. Leaving Lahaina, Maui, this spot is approximately a 45 minute zodiac boat ride away, making it a destination spot for small group tours. 

This snorkel spot is like swimming in a real life aquarium with hundreds of tropical fish including the yellow tang, chub and dozens of other species, making for epic close encounters and photos! Many of these species are found nowhere else in the world! 

As an added bonus the boat ride back to Maui typically includes wild dolphin watching as many species of dolphins make the waters near Lanai their home. 

 

Our 10 snorkeling spots you need to add to your bucket list is complete, so grab your mask, fins and a snorkel buddy and start checking these Maui snorkel spots off your list!

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