Last Updated on October 10, 2022 by Snorkel Ken
While all of Hawaii’s islands are pretty coveted by sun and sea-starved vacationers, Maui is for the snorkelers. With its calm ocean waters and numerous shallow beaches, it is perfect for the beginner snorkeler, but it also has the sights to keep even the veterans busy for days.
However, Maui is a big island and there is a lot to see under the water. Instead of exploring just a small section of Maui’s waters alone with your family or spending hours trying to figure out where the best snorkel sites are, why not let a professional take you there instead?
As an island for the snorkelers, naturally Maui has attracted a number of snorkel tour operators to help visitors get the best possible adventure under the waves with no headaches over trying to figure out where those spots are or how to get there.
A number of the Hawaii islands (except maybe wild and rugged Kauai) have calm and clear waters, so beginner snorkelers can get some practice in on any island. So what really makes Maui such a fantastic snorkeling destination?
That question can actually be answered by looking at a map. Maui is surrounded by a number of smaller, less exciting islands that keep ocean currents down and overall make the water around the island shallower. This is not only more preferable for the people that swim there, but the sea creatures that need nice calm waters to rest and feed. This makes the coral reefs and sandy coves that surround Maui on all sides flush with marine life. It also makes it an attractive prospect to larger and more seasonal marine creatures like migrating whales and dolphin pods.
The number of nearby smaller islands also has a benefit to tour operators as well. If the ocean conditions aren’t too great at their usual spot, most of them don’t want to give their guests a less-than-perfect trip so they can always head to other great spots on Maui or go just a short distance away to Molokai or Lanai for other great spots.
Our Top Maui Snorkeling Tour Picks
Let’s get this one out of the way, the Molokini Crater is a world famous snorkel and diving spot. The island itself is just a thin crescent off Maui’s coast, but the land isn’t what makes the area special. As a half submerged volcanic crater, it has become a fertile sea playground for all kinds of marine life.
- Breakfast and Lunch Provided
- Morning Snorkel Times
- Glass-Bottomed Boat
- Equipment Provided
- 5 Hours Long, Weather Permitting
Departing from Maalaea Harbor, the Molokini Sail and Snorkel tour takes groups out on a 55-foot, glass-bottomed catamaran where you enjoy a light breakfast, lovely views of the Haleakala volcano, and some serious snorkeling.
This can be a great tour for first-time snorkelers out in Molokini’s deeper waters as you can hop right in (or take the water slide right in), but you can also enjoy the view from the glass bottom if you lose your nerve. After a few solid hours of seeing the watery sights, the tour treats you to some barbecue as a perfect way to end the day.
Other Awesome Molokini Tours:
- Molokini Snorkeling Adventure
- Small Group Molokini Snorkel and Green Sea Turtle Adventure
- Luxury Molokini Deluxe Snorkel Sail
Outrigger-style canoes are special to Polynesia, and many countries in the South Pacific still keep the tradition alive. In Hawaii, the outrigger is not only a part of their heritage, with this style of boat bringing over the first Hawaiian people, but it is also an eco-friendly way to travel. While sea kayaks are now very popular as well, you won’t find a better boat built for working with the ocean waves.
- Learn Ancient Sailing Traditions
- Enjoy Seasonal Viewings of Dolphins and Whales
- Snorkel with Sea Turtles
- Snorkel Equipment Provided
- 2 Hours Long
Shoving off from Polo Beach, this tour takes visitors paddling along the beautiful Wailea coast. As you soak in the scenery, the crew will teach you the Hawaiian traditions of navigating the sea which allowed ancient Polynesians to spread their culture so far and wide.
While you might have a chance to spot dolphins and whales in the area during the winter months in this South Maui wonderland, the true destination is the crystalline cover where you can get a chance to leave the outrigger in order to swim, snorkel, and enjoy the company of a few local sea turtles.
Throughout the tour, more industrious folks can grab a paddle and learn traditional paddling techniques, but those intent on enjoying their Hawaiian vacation can lay back and just let the wind and the crew do all the work.
While many of the snorkel sites around Maui are large enough to merit their own tours, why allow a tour to limit you to just one great site? If you want a tour that allows you to see multiple sites, you should go on a tour that lets you.
- Multi-Site Tour, Custom-Tailed Depending on Ocean Conditions
- Up Close Encounters With Wildlife
- Lunch Included
- Equipment Provided
- 5 Hours Long
Departing from the Mala Boat Ramp in Lahaina, the Aloha Nui tour can change each time you take it. The captains that lead the tour choose local snorkeling spots depending on which ones have the best visibility and the calmest waters at the time. This means this is a tour you can take multiple times in a lifetime and still see different things.
In different snorkel sites around Maui and even neighboring Lanai, expect to see a lot of tropical fish and sea turtles across the area. As the tours take snorkelers to a number of shallow bays, this is a snorkeling tour that is excellent with young children because the waters aren’t too deep nor is the current very strong. After a few hours of enjoying coral gardens that are flush with marine life, you can hop back on board for a light lunch as you enjoy the gentle waves and ocean breezes.
Maui, like a number of spots across the Hawaiian Islands, has its spots of coast so rugged and remote that they can only be accessed by kayak. In the case of Honolua Bay, it can also only be accessed during certain months of the year. This makes this snorkeling trip a real gem as you can see things that not every vacationer gets to see.
- Explore the Remote Honolua Bay
- Learn to Sea Kayak
- Snacks, Snorkel Gear, and Dry Bag Provided
- Small Groups
- 3 Hours Long
Departing from a small launch in D.T. Fleming Beach Park in the Kapalua Resort area, this sea kayak and snorkel tour takes visitors to the remote Honolua Bay, an area that is only accessible from June through September. On the trip, the tour goes through the beautiful Marine Life Conservation district where you can get a glimpse at the pristine reefs and bustling sea life.
Once you get to the protected Honolua Bay marine preserve, visitors are invited to get in the water and see just what makes this area worth protecting. With calm, clear water, the bay is actually perfect for snorkeling. As it is hard to get to, you won’t have to deal with any crowds either. Alongside spinner dolphins, eagle rays, and sea turtles, you will spot a number of tropical fish that are also enjoying the colorful reef, making this a snorkel trip like no other.
Due to the striking mountains rising over the sea on land and its close proximity to neighboring island Lanai, West Maui is a popular spot for boat tours. Of course, the beautiful white sand beaches tucked under those mountains don’t make it a bad land snorkeling destination either.
- Breakfast and Lunch Included
- Diverse Marine Life Sightings
- Different Tour Destinations Depending on Conditions
- Snorkel Equipment Included
- 5 Hours Long
From the beautiful Ka’anapali Beach in front of the Whaler’s Village, visitors get onboard the spacious Sea Maui for a day of adventure and snorkeling on the high seas. Depending on the conditions, the experienced sea captain may take you to different places as you enjoy your onboard breakfast and watch the scenery pass on by.
In the winter, you may be treated to views of whales and dolphins hanging around in the deeper waters, but Hawaiian green sea turtles are constant companions at the variety of snorkel spots that this tour visits on West Maui, as are the tropical fish. After fully exploring two different snorkeling destinations, guests are invited back onboard for lunch cooked by the chef as they take in the striking Maui scenery from where it is best viewed – the water.