Turtle Town (Maluaka Beach)

Maluaka Beach is without doubt the most popular snorkeling spot that is accessible from the Maui coast. It can be reached from the beach or during an excursion, and you are practically guaranteed to see green sea turtles in the relatively well-preserved coral landscapes with their wealth of fish.
How to get there?

There are two ways to get to the snorkeling spot. Many tour guides organise half-day boat trips, but it is also possible to reach the area from Maluaka beach. The areas to explore are practically the same (the boats are moored at some distance from the shore), and if your aim is to see the turtles, either option is worth considering. From the beach, you will need to swim your way to the areas visited by turtles, about 200 yards away.

From Kahului or Makena, head south until you reach route 31 in Kihei. From there, continue south for about 10 miles. The spot is across from the Maui Makena Beach and Golf Resort, which is well signposted. As ever in Hawaii, the hotel complexes on the beach are required to provide parking facilities and free access for visitors. Once parked, you can continue on foot, following the signs to the beach, about 100 yards further on.

Water entrance

The snorkeling area begins at the southern tip of the beach, along the bar of black rocks to your left as you are facing the ocean. Enter the water from the sandy beach, near this area.

Aerial view


The snorkeling area extends for a length of 300 yards and a width of 100 yards along the rocky coast, beginning at the edge of the beach.

From the first few yards, the sand gives way to rock (↕3-7ft/1-2m), then coral, which quickly become denser (↕7-14ft/2-4m). Several species of sea urchins, including the highly colourful slate pencil urchins, cover the sea bed. The reef (mainly made up of porous coral beds) is the home of butterflyfish, wrasses, Moorish idols and hawkfish.

Snorkeling Report Turtle Town Maui Hawaii
Green sea turtle at Turtle Town

If you move a little further away from the beach, you will find the best area for seeing green turtles (↕10-16ft/3-5m). They are fairly inactive at this spot, and many of them rest on the sea bed, often between the rocks. But if you wait a little, you will see them swimming up to the surface to breathe. In this area, you will come across impressive shoals of thousands of goatfish, and smaller shoals of surgeonfish.

Since the spot is popular (in the area furthest away from the beach) with excursion boats and divers, you should stay alert and make your presence visible. Because of the sand on the sea bed, visibility can be lower when the sea is turbulent.

Restaurants and accommodation

The Maui Makena Beach and Golf Resort has the only restaurant and accommodation facilities on site, but prices are high. Otherwise, you can take a picnic. Sanitary facilities (with showers, toilets and drinking water) are provided for visitors on the southern part of the beach.

Snorkeling Report gives the most precise tips possible about the snorkeling spots and potential dangers, but each one of us is responsible for our own safety in the water. For more information, take a look at the snorkeling safety page. If you want to add extra information or make any corrections to the spot descriptions, please contact us.

Spot’s weather forecasts (°C)

Spot tips

  • Type of spot
  • Level of difficulty
    Intermediary level
  • Protected area
  • Maximum depth
    20ft (6m)
  • Water entrance
    Easy, from a sandy beach
  • Potential Dangers
    Usual precautions
  • Lifeguard
  • Visitor numbers
  • Access costs
    Free (or excursion price)
  • Restaurants nearby
    Yes, expensive
  • Public toilets & showers

Spot map

Spot photos

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Underwater spot photos