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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 a boat snorkeling tour, and you are practically guaranteed to see green sea turtles in the relatively well-preserved coral landscapes with their wealth of fish.
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.
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.
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 colorful 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.
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.
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 spots are part of a wild environment and their aspect can be significantly altered by weather, seasons, sea conditions, human impact and climate events (storms, hurricanes, seawater-warming episodes…). The consequences can be an alteration of the seabed (coral bleaching, coral destruction, and invasive seagrass), a poor underwater visibility, or a decrease of the sea life present in the area. Snorkeling Report makes every effort to ensure that all the information displayed on this website is accurate and up-to-date, but no guarantee is given that the underwater visibility and seabed aspect will be exactly as described on this page the day you will snorkel the spot. If you recently snorkeled this area and noticed some changes compared to the information contained on this page, please contact us.
The data contained in this website is for general information purposes only, and is not legal advice. It is intended to provide snorkelers with the information that will enable them to engage in safe and enjoyable snorkeling, and it is not meant as a substitute for swim level, physical condition, experience, or local knowledge. Remember that all marine activities, including snorkeling, are potentially dangerous, and that you enter the water at your own risk. You must take an individual weather, sea conditions and hazards assessment before entering the water. If snorkeling conditions are degraded, postpone your snorkeling or select an alternate site. Know and obey local laws and regulations, including regulated areas, protected species, wildlife interaction and dive flag laws.
Sea turtles are a very familiar sight on many snorkeling spots in Hawaii, especially in Turtle Town. In order to be a responsible snorkeler, be sure to respect the following rules when observing them:
These spots are accessible to anyone with basic snorkeling skills, and feeling comfortable in the water and with his snorkeling gear. You will enter the water from the shore (beach, pontoon, ladder, rocks) or from a boat. The water height in the sea entrance area is reasonable, but you will not necessarily be within your depth. Moderate currents can occur in the area, even when the sea conditions are good. The distance to swim to reach the most interesting snorkeling areas of the spot does not exceed 200 meters.
This level only apply when the spot experiences optimal sea and/or weather conditions. It is not applicable if the sea and/or weather conditions deteriorate, in particular in the presence of rough sea, rain, strong wind, unusual current, large tides, waves and/or swell. You can find more details about the definition of our snorkeling levels on our snorkeling safety page.
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à 3.6 km
à 45.3 km